I write..... occasionally
I write blog posts and articles which sometimes are featured in psychotherapy and counselling publications. Details are listed below with PDFs for download for the articles.
Blog: Living Life Anxious
Being anxious can be described in many different ways: as tension, feeling on edge, nervous, insecure, or worried.
Other words used to describe anxiety include uncertainty, vulnerability, and feeling apprehensive, scared or insecure.
Describing the experience of anxiety, a fairly common expression is “Anxiety is an inevitable part of life”. Or, there might even be some comfort taken from a diagnosis of anxiety. A feeling of reassurance may be provided by a certainty of having an “anxiety disorder” Yet, there might also be a normality to being anxious. Erich Fromm, for example says that: The experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety.
The Emergence of Anxiety
Taking Fromm’s view, we might consider how feeling anxious can begin at birth with an experience of a primal separation from our mother. Beingattached to her feels safe and secure, and separated from her as danger and threat. Later in life, the polarities between separation and attachment, and being at risk, insecure, or under threat may lead to a constant sense of danger. But danger of what exactly? Melanie Klein, according to this line of thought, considers that anxiety signals danger in the relationship with our internal maternal object (the internalised image of mother). The loss of this object, this image, or relationship is feared.
Perhaps there is also fear of a more generalised loss – loss of control, of all relationships, of identity. Fear of a ripping apart, perhaps, because while anxiety may begin at birth it also may have many triggers, arising not only from internal sources, but external ones too – our own neurobiological makeup on the one hand and our life experiences on the other.
So, we might say that anxiety reflects our state of self, the extent of development of our internal structure, the state of our relationships, and our sense of security and satisfaction. Perhaps when anxiety is present and overwhelming there may be deficiency in one of these areas.
Yet, anxiety is not simply a thing that exists. It is dynamic – both a signal of danger and an initiator of a defensive response. It may signal danger to our sense of self, of wholeness, or of completion. We may fear destruction, engulfment or fragmentation and we may seek to control or to avoid a range of circumstances or situations.
Psychotherapy for Anxiety
The good news is that psychotherapy can help.
It can do so by, first of all, by understanding the individual history of each person’s anxiety. If we take the view that who we are, and who we are becoming, emerges from our anxieties, then the first task is to understand each person’s history of anxiety. Then, acknowledging and understanding the protective role of anxiety may be important. To see anxiety as the best strategy for coping with what has been felt as scary or uncertain. Then, perhaps to work through, or re-work through early relational histories, and the insecurities (feelings of not being safe) that may have emerged in these. All of this is possible when the therapeutic environment is felt as safe, and is experienced as a place for curiosity and exploration. A space can then emerge for new feelings, new reactions and responses, and a reframing of the lens through which life is experienced. It may not then be one of psychological danger, but instead one of safety and security.
If you feel ready to begin therapy for anxiety, or want to explore the possibility, please visit the anxiety page on my website for information about how to get started.
Book Review: Freud and the Spoken Word
For the Autumn 2016 issue of Private Practice, I reviewed a book by Ana-Maria Rizuto. The idea that nothing takes place between client and therapist except that they talk to each other is explored by considering the development of all of Freud's theories, with On Aphasia: A critical Study (1891) and The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) given particular prominence. In my review I comment on how fascinating I find Freud's various understandings of the use of words in the therapy room and how the book provides an insight into Freud the man as well as his theories.
Book Review: We Are Our Brains
Another Book Review I wrote for the BACP Magazine Private Practice, this one published in the Winter 2015 issue. This is a book which takes as its central thesis the idea that by the time of birth are brains are fixed. Our anatomy defines us and neuroplasticity is limited to development in utero. Environmental influence on development is limited, the author argues, to the chemical environment within the womb. In my review I consider how persuaded I am by this line of argument and how useful it is when considering the processes of psychotherapy and counselling
Book Review: The Body Bears the Burden
A book review I wrote for the BACP Magazine Private Practice which was published in the Winter 2014 issue.
Article: Portfolio Approach
Published in The Transactional Analyst in Summer 2013, this is an article advocating a portfolio approach to Transactional Analysis training. The article’s full title (not shown in this publication) is Negotiating the Frame in Transactional Analysis Psychotherapy Training. With this title the idea of trainees choosing the frame of therapy is highlighted. There is the possibility of a containing, stable space on the one hand (in an integrated four-year programme) and on the other hand, for those people for whom this may represent a limiting and restricting environment, there is the portfolio approach which, I suggest, provides a less limiting and restrictive environment for the training process.
Article: Wounding the Healer or Healing the Wounded
Published in The Transactional Analyst, in Autumn 2012, this piece of writing explores the value of personal therapy for psychotherapy trainees. In it I consider the potential benefits for trainees (insight into personal conflicts, sensitivity to experiences, learning effective therapeutic procedures and demonstrating a personal belief in the efficacy of therapy) as well as the opportunity to learn about personal limitations, and to experience deep emotions. I also present my personal view of why personal therapy for trainees should be separate from training programmes, and not integrated into it, citing the avoidance of dual relationships as a primary concern.