In this short video, Eugene Gendlin introduces the idea of focusing – a dialogue with the body at a conference in Toronto.
Gene Gendlin has been researching the use of focusing as a way of enquiring within and helping to uncover what may be difficult to put into words. The focusing.org website has a wealth of material for those who want to try focusing or to think about Gendlin’s philosophy of the implicit.
One of the first things for any focuser to learn are the six steps:
clearing a space
This is a well worn path and it’s relatively easy to work through the instructions on the website or in the book.
I decided to find a way of clumping together different therapeutic approaches and I’ve already run into difficulties, as not all therapists describe their own ‘school’ of counselling or psychotherapy the same way.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) lists their version of an A-Z of therapies: Adlerian Therapy; Behavioural Therapy; Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT); Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); Cognitive Therapy; Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT); Eclectic Counselling; Existential Therapy; Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); Family Therapy; Gestalt Therapy; Humanistic Therapy; Integrative Therapy; Mindfulness; Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP); Person/Client-Centred Therapy; Primal Therapy; Psychoanalysis; Psychodynamic Psychotherapy/Counselling; Psychosynthesis; Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT); Re-Birthing; Relationship Therapy; Solution-Focused Brief Therapy; Systemic Therapies; Transactional Analysis; Transpersonal Therapy … and I can already see therapies that are not included!
So it’s going to be difficult to distill my own categories. I want to include the work of Eugene Gendlin in focusing and Les Greenberg and Robert Elliott in process experiential, emotion-focused therapy – do I set them up as separate categories or include them within the person-centred tribe? I decide that that is about politics and I’ll leave that for another day. For now, perhaps separate categories are best …
My interest is broadly in the area of therapies that I would describe as relational (ie the relationship between therapist and client is a significant factor in the relationship, worthy of attention), experiential (ie the process of experiencing the world in which we live and the relationships that we inhabit, including the therapeutic relationship, is important) and process oriented (ie there is some attempt to engage with the process of counselling in a reflexive way – engaging with questions like ‘I wonder what happened just now’ or ‘I’m noticing something in my body’). I’m not disinterested in the kind of cognitive processes that are foregrounded in cognitive therapies, or the insight that psychodyamic therapies can offer but I am more interested in the ways that therapies attend to power in the relationship, where the client finds their own way in their own time.
So, for now, I think I’ll work on trying out different clumpings of categories, seeing where they land over time …
It’s a start!
Emmanuel Levinas (1906 – 1995) was a French philosopher, counsellors interested in philosophy, existentialism, ethics and ontology have been reading his work more closely in recent years, especially his profound thinking on the subject of our ethical responsibility for the other. His obituary published in the New York Times offers a summary of his life work. The article below, which is free to access (albeit via a slightly clunky University of Chicago website), ponders some links between Levinas’ work and psychodynamic theory.
Suffering, Relatedness and Transformation: Levinas and Relational Psychodynamic Theory
Using the work of 20th century French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, the following article examines the theoretical basis for the clinical concepts of empathy, attunement, and responsiveness. It demonstrates that Levinas provides a crucial path for understanding human relatedness, a concept indispensible for social work practitioners. Examining relational psychodynamic literature, the author explores ways of viewing psychopathology, modes of psychosocial intervention, and opportunities for transformative results in psychotherapy, as informed by Levinasian concepts. The paper argues that by developing a basic understanding of Levinasian ethics, social work practitioners can gain a better understanding of pain and suffering, and of the transformative power of the therapeutic relationship.
From the 2010 issue of the Advocates’ Forum, SSA Magazine, The University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration, USA.
Domrzalski, Ruth (2010), Suffering, Relatedness and Transformation: Levinas and Relational Psychodynamic Theory. SSA Magazine – Advocates’ Forum. The University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration. USA. Available from: <https://ssa.uchicago.edu/suffering-relatedness-and-transformation-levinas-and-relational-psychodynamic-theory>. [24 April 2014].
In these two videos from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) website: What is therapy? and Myths about therapy, two counsellors, Andrew Reeves and Lynne Gabriel describe what to expect from counselling.
This is the first post of this blog.