Issues in the Practice of Therapy
(This essay was originally written for and addressed to students at the beginning of their 2nd year of study in the foundation course.)
We need to examine, question and challenge some of the most fundamental ideas that are currently part of the practice of psychotherapy.
In conventional therapy, one of the most important questions addresses the nature of the relationship between the therapist and the client. What is permitted and what is not? Should the client sit and face the therapist in sessions or is it better to lie on a couch with their eyes closed, with the therapist behind them? Should a therapist disclose anything about themselves or is this a taboo? Should a therapist encourage therapy with other family or friends or is it best to remain in a restricted relationship with the client only? Should a therapist offer direct advice or should the client be obliged to resolve their issues themselves, with the therapist’s indirect support? Should they visit their homes, share a meal or be allowed to meet socially? Should they hug? Should a therapist reduce fees for certain clients and should they ever loan money to a client? These and many other questions and the answers to them vary according to the basic principles of the type of therapy offered.
We will begin with Jung’s views on Transference and Countertransference. You might find Warren Steinberg’s ‘Circle of Care’ (Jung series/ inner city books) somewhat useful. Many other works also address these basic issues. Also follow through on any other research on related issues that are relevant to proper Jungian Analysis, particularly the concepts of Idealisation, Erotic Transference and Anger. Use your Jungian Dictionary to give you an introduction to these subjects. Cross reference with James Hillman’s more radical views on transference in ‘A Blue Fire’ (pp270).
However, we need to both widen and deepen the search. What I am really after, is to understand the whole issue of – prominence, even dominance of, really – transference and counter-transference in ‘conventional’ therapy. I have put the word ‘conventional’ in quotes, because we are primarily only interested in focussing our discussion on Jungian, post-Jungian, Humanist, Transpersonal and similar therapies, where ‘soul-and-spiritual values’, (however you define that,) or some sense of an ‘evolved self’ play an essential role. I have no interest in a dry academic analysis of desiccated and worn-out therapies. I will leave that job for the humourless historians who seem to have enough time or a personal need to defend and protect the dogmas of those long-since outgrown. Everything we are discussing concerns those therapies that still have life and moisture. As we all know, the modalities with which we are concerned are not really ‘conventional’ at all, in the usual sense of that word. Even when added all altogether, our approach still constitutes only a small portion of the therapies practiced in main-stream psychology today. Clinical treatment, ‘coaching’ and Behaviour-based therapies (or ‘Neuro-Psychology’, as the new spin dictates) still dominate consensus treatment and variations of Freudian therapies still influence most of the so-called ‘depth psychologies’.
However, even in this ‘sacred arena’ of what we would consider the ‘better’ therapies, we are obliged to challenge and question the legitimacy of making ‘the transference’ either the single most important mechanism within Jungian analysis, or at least one of the most important.
To understand Jung’s ideas better, you would need to poke around Freud’s work and the Freudian origins of the entire method of psychotherapy and the original understanding of the transference dynamic between therapist and client. Jung took his lead from Freud. Naturally, Jung disagreed with Freud, but his primary disagreement was more about what the transference meant, rather than whether or not it was of primary significance. And Jung, being consistent within his own system, also distinguished different types of transference. For example, some of the material might be ‘personal’, such as transferring mother or father complexes onto the therapist, while at other times it might instead be ‘archetypal’ material, “revealing the course of healing required by the client”.
Jung also had some other views on the value of transference and even contradicted himself several times in the course of his own writings regarding its primary worth. This is part of the material that you need to explore, as best you can, from whatever sources you can locate. This is what I mean by needing to ‘deepen’ the search.
I will continue on this theme. The founding fathers of depth analysis tell us that it is the job of the therapist to discover or track and then to expose The Transference. This revelation is supposed to give the client some understanding of their own unconscious processes, which would allow them to evolve.
According to traditional Jungian analysis, (once or twice a week, every week, for at least two years or more, 150 sessions is ‘normal’,) the therapist would become, over time and through continuous and unremitting exposure, effectively the primary relationship of that client, an intimate partner with whom to share every nuance of life and all thoughts, feelings and experiences. I am not suggesting that Jungian Analysts would exactly be comfortable with my statement that this relationship becomes the ‘main event’ in the client’s life, but that is how I see it, as a necessary consequence of such intense work. At least everyone would agree that, for the considerable duration of therapy, this therapeutic relationship is a very important and deeply intimate connection. Some people have lovers and partners for less time than that, or else for longer, but with less intimacy, and we would all agree that those relationships can and do shape the individuals involved. So we can legitimately suggest that ‘an analysis’ will certainly shape the client. Presumably this is a consciously-valued and desirable objective and the client is being ‘shaped better’ for the life that follows therapy?
Does it also shape the analyst? And what is the personal cost, the ‘psychic infection’, to the therapist, of such involvement? (Do some research on ‘psychic infection’, therapy burnout’ and related matters.) And if the therapist has 10 or 20 such relationships, is s/he also influenced by all these, which in turn re-influence the individual client? Or could or should the therapist rather be ‘immune’ to being influenced by the client and retain ‘professional distance’? And if this ‘professional distance’ were desirable, what then are the implications on the ‘balance of power’ between the analyst and analysand. And what would the client be learning from their therapist, at least on a secondary-process level, about genuine intimacy as a result of being in a so-called ‘deep’ relationship without mutual sharing and the risk of intimacy?
If we accept this process (of intense meetings, sustained over years) as the ‘preferred method’ offered to us by Jungian Analysts, then perhaps they are right and ‘the transference’ might indeed be the Royal Road to well-being and ‘the work’ is to constantly examine the feelings, images and behaviours contained, hidden or projected within the actual dynamic of that therapeutic relationship. Two of the formal methods used in dealing with the ‘primary material’ of the transference are called the ‘reductive’ and ‘synthetic’ approaches. You can research these terms yourselves.
As a primary source of uncovering hidden material, this method apparently holds the key to, and will eventually unlock, the client’s neurosis. If that were to occur, could the client be expected to now resume their lives with a fresh sense of vigour and without the discomfort that brought them into therapy in the first place? Ram Dass reveals that, notwithstanding everything he went through, he never ‘got rid of’ even one of his neuroses, although he was no longer strongly affected by them. (Read ‘Promises and Pitfalls on the Spiritual Path’, in your ‘Spiritual Emergency’ books from last year.) What, then, is the goal of such therapy? To ‘learn to live with’ our neuroses, to transform them into something else or to get rid of them? What would any of these three options actually look like? Are they inclusive or exclusive options? Does depth therapy acknowledge these various possibilities?
My questions at this point are relatively simple, but not necessarily easy. The first layer of questions we must ask relates to actual methods and perceived outcomes of traditional depth analysis. Amongst other questions: does this method even work and who is qualified to decide this? If it works, how does it achieve its aims and according to what paradigms? What value has emotional catharsis (Freud loves it; Jung thinks ‘abreaction’ is of limited value and he eventually discarded it as a therapeutic procedure. But other Jungians, like Arnold Mindell, have brought back ‘emotional release’ as useful, albeit in a different form to the Freudians. Refer to your Lexicon and to Mindell’s ‘Dreambody’ work.); what about the ‘balance of power’ inherent in therapeutic relationships (further on the questions raised above); in a system where the inter-psychic and intra-psychic material constitutes the whole of the subject matter under examination,, what place is there for concept of the Anima Mundi or ‘the soul of the world’ to influence insight and growth? (And define these terms please) Under the long shadow still cast by Descartes, where the world is inert matter and only humans have a ‘soul’, there is little opportunity to relate meaningfully with the living processes of the planet, including animals and places, which might also have ‘soul’. This over-values human relationships and undervalues any connection with the rest of life. The consequences of this paradigm are seen in the ‘trouble with the world’ we are currently experiencing. These issues are not just the concerns of environmentalists and biologists. These views are carried into and directly inform the way in which therapy is practiced. This subject, part of what we would consider a ‘shamanic view’ of the world, is dealt with at greater depth in James Hillman’s ‘ We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Therapy and the World is Getting Worse’ and Robert Sardello’s ‘Love and Soul’ and many other places.
The second level of questions related to The Transference and everything implied within that belief are even more pressing: Do we actually need this approach to therapy as our primary tool and method? Can we do without it, and if so, what can we offer to fill the vacuum we would have created by removing this all-important method of uncovering the layers of the psyche?
Consider the often ‘radical’ and accelerated methods that we use in Tamboo in our type of Soul-based therapy. These include our neo-tantric processes, such as Breathwork (Wilhelm Reich); amplified body-based therapies (Psychodrama); catharsis is essential to healing (Aristotle, Freud); can be experienced by the principle of ‘intensify and go into the process’ (Gestalt); healing the soul by conscious attention to the body (Yoga); healing the body by attention to the needs of the soul (all spiritual beliefs); a healing is not necessarily a cure as far as the soul is concerned (Asklepios); connecting our highest aspirations with our lowest desires (Tantra); understanding the line between, and different demands of, ritual and profane space (Georges Bataille); expanded states of consciousness reveal the true nature of reality (Carlos Castaneda); find, explore and transgress edges to discover your own authentic nature (Sam Keen); chaos is an essential aspect of evolutionary process (Quantum physics); light and shadow together as two parts of one whole (Taoism); non-attachment to emotional states, even jealousy and possessiveness (Buddhism); be willing to live and die for your truth (Arnold Mindell); trust spirit and be appreciative for what is offered by that living source (Kabbalah); risk transparency and even betrayal (M Scott Peck); open to the experience of love which is the goalless goal (Osho); transformation and self-development (Alchemy), and so on.
And the neo-shamanic processes we use, such as pathology is a ‘royal road’ (Hillman); depression and betrayal are essential elements of the journey (Aldo Carotenuto); the living world as initiation, (Mercia Eliade); death, renewal and rebirth are essential and necessary (all mythologies); madness is more often a breakthrough than a breakdown (Thomas Szasz); perinatal and even past life access (Stan Grof); moving backwards in time and re-creating the present (Quantum physics); pay attention to the world processes (Robert Sardello); learn the difference between ego- and soul-sourced images (Ann Ulanov); trust the images of your own intuition (Marie-Louise von Franz); inner wisdom is reliable and ultimately reveals personal mythologies (Joseph Campbell); meditation and prayer as important channels to experience the divine (all evolved teachings); faith is paramount in exploring and experiencing interior worlds (Chogyam Trungpa); the micro-cosmic self as an accurate mirror of the macro-cosmic whole (all mysticism); consciousness self-organises into Archetypal patterns (Plato); images are a valuable and even essential source of self-knowledge (Marsilio Ficino); any viewing point is one possibility and valid for that moment (Post-Modernism); synchronicity is a reliable source of insight (Carl Jung); the world as illusion (Vedanta); imagination constructs reality (Henry Corbin); the soul has its own agenda which may not coincide with the demands of the ego (Thomas Moore), and so much more.
Nota Bene: The processes and the names in brackets above indicate some of the teachings and the teachers that we have incorporated into our practice of therapy. The categories are contrived and not intended to be definitive. The names are somewhat arbitrary and most of them could be associated with many other statements. Other ideas and names have been overlooked. The point is not to be exhaustive or to be taken literally. My intention is only to draw attention to some of the actors who fill our stage and who have enriched us with their performances and dialogues. To literalise the groups and teachings above is to miss the essential point, which is to draw attention to some of the traditions and ideas that we have inherited and which we now include in our therapeutic approach.
To analyse the above statements too critically, as to who belongs in which group and so on, is precisely the mistake that therapy has made in its manic defence of itself as a science, against what it truly is, which is an art. Like music, dance and sculpture, the real process of therapy is better understood by nuance and the power it has to evoke images and memory, rather than through precise measurement. The ‘clinical’ method reveals more about those who believe in it than they might care to have exposed. The Apollonian retreat into the mind reveals the desire to control the environment as a defence against the chthonic truth of our existence. See more on this in James Hillman’s ‘The Myth of Analysis’. No dictionary definition or analysis could ever really exhaust the meaning of even one short poem, if that poem was truly inspired and in turn evoked meaning in those who read it. Modern therapy reduces the vast and complex story of the human condition to a linear description of so-called historical events in that person’s life and limits them to one meaning, the ‘interpretation’ according to which ever school of psychology is being followed. The word ‘personality’ comes from per sona, the ‘sound through’ the mask that was worn by actors in Greek theatre. The real tragedy would be when the mask gets so stuck as to be unable to play any other role. If we were subtle, playful and courageous enough, had read enough to have a wealth of material to draw from and were prepared to put in the effort, we could understand the client’s story as a ‘literary fiction’, one out a choice of several styles through which they tell their story. By using different styles we could allow for varied interpretations and these could all co-exist for that client.
Given all that, we are obliged to ask whether we must ‘buy in’ to the need for prolonged and protracted analytic therapy, which has the potential to become personal to an obsessive degree. Refer to Hillman’s point that some of the most capable and creative individuals are being lost to the real world because these people are being ‘turned inwards’ by psychotherapy. (“If you’re looking backwards, you’re not looking around. This trip constellates what Jung called the ‘child archetype’. Now, the child archetype is by nature apolitical and disempowered.” James Hillman, ‘We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the Worlds Getting Worse’ p6). Would our methods, only some of which are outlined above, be sufficient to replace the lacuna left by ejecting contemporary depth Analysis from its seat of power?
Psychotherapy internalises all experiences and in the process risks losing the connection with the reality of the world. It is reasonable to consider the view that unconscious material not integrated into consciousness will likely be projected elsewhere outside the individual, into world and onto other individuals, polluting and infecting both. How does psychotherapy, which reduces of our experiencing of world into inner emotions, thereby encourage projection into the world?
A further point to note is that to use the conventional method would by definition preclude some of the actual practices within our therapeutic methodology, which is essentially a ‘mystic’ and somewhat Dionysian approach, that we also refer to as ‘Kadeisha’, built on the rock-solid foundations of those sources mentioned above. These include that a client could and should make use of and benefit from workshops, interactive groups and an active network of several mentors, teachers and therapists. All these methods would however ‘expose’ the client to the potential confusion of numerous viewing points that might differ from the opinions of the primary therapist. Jungians and others place great store in therapy taking place ‘within the sealed vessel’, Therapy as Alchemy. Hillman reminds us that the vessel always leaks and indeed should, for meaningful growth to occur. (Blue Fire p278). When does this apply? Should this concern us?
In addition to considering all this to deepen our insight, we need also to ‘broaden’ our search. By this, I mean we need to be at least basically familiar with some of the other issues that are the cornerstones of the tradition of ‘talking therapy’. Aggression, Erotic Transference and Idealisation are some of the usual suspects, so far as projection is concerned. There are any number of layers of manipulation that potentially occur between the therapist and the client, seeking approval of, mutually fixing or disappointing each other.
Implied in any therapeutic relationship is a fundamental trust of the therapist by the client. If this trust does not occur, the client is deemed ‘not a suitable candidate for analysis’ or at least not suitable for that therapist. Trust in what exactly? The therapist’s wisdom, ability, experience, honesty, confidentiality, personal morality or some other quality? I refer you back to the Healers workshop and remind you of the two conditions required for a ‘genuine healing’ to occur. These are a) Belief by the Patient in the Healer or the Healer’s viewpoint and b)The ability of the Healer to properly address the actual cause, not merely the effect of the illness. So, supposing the patient ‘believes’ in the therapist. That takes care of the first condition. Regarding the second, is it any different here, if the therapist cannot see the ‘real cause’? Anyway, is there ever a ‘real’ cause or are these merely different viewing points (and remember, ‘the dream goes according to the interpretation’). Jung is clear that we can only take another so far as we ourselves have gone. Would a healing still occur if the therapist was lacking in imagination, wisdom and personal experience? And if so, to what level?
Curiously, the other way round seems to not be required. It would seem that the therapist is not required to ‘trust’ the client in the same way. Perhaps this is because it is the client who is seeking the support. Perhaps this is also a good thing, because the therapist should have a reasonable amount of suspicion or at least caution, to be able to see through the strategies and games of the client, both conscious and unconscious. And especially those who arrive on our doors who have already been in previous therapies and so know how the ‘therapy game’ is played. These individuals often have a vested interest in sustaining their own myths, or the labels imposed on them by previous therapists, and in reaping the many benefits and advantages that these diagnoses and labels offer. (Refer to Thomas Szasz’s ‘The Myth of Mental Illness’).
Given the considerable emotional and financial investment expected of the client in a therapeutic relationship of this ‘conventional’ type, how appropriate is this implicit imbalance for the client? Does the therapist have a pre-determined and unspoken attitude towards the client and an apparently non-negotiable expectation as to how therapy should be conducted? Is Idealisation actually implicit, even desired, as the vantage point in conventional therapy, including depth therapy? If we could imagine a situation where Transference did not occur, perhaps because the therapist exposed it and refused to even ‘play ball’ from the start or because other methods were used to empower the client to move out of a dependant-idealising role with the therapist, on what would the therapy then become based? One of Hillman’s radical proposals is that we need to use ‘Dionysian’ rather that ‘Apollonian’ logic, which would change both the way the therapy game is played and the aim of the game. What does this idea mean and, more urgently, what would this actually mean in applied therapeutic practice?
As a diversion, let us create an imagined dialogue. The client might say: ‘It is my opinion that you are lousy therapist, you appear to be constantly distracted and tired in session and you do not appear to know what you are doing with me. I have been here for four sessions and you have not really offered me constructive advice. You always ask me what I feel about it. If I knew that I wouldn’t be here. And since I have recently learned that you are currently on your fifth marriage, I must question whether you are able to offer me the guidance I require in my intimacy and relationships issues, which is why I came to see you’. The therapist can reply ‘Let us examine the roots of your aggression and why you would have expectations of me. Perhaps you are looking for parental approval and guidance by me and expect me to always be there for you, just like an infant wants their mother and father to be endlessly on duty, and you probably do this also in all your other so-called adult relationships. You are angry because I have shown you this side of yourself. You have also made a judgement about my personal life. Perhaps you are projecting your unresolved conflict and sense of betrayal that followed your parents’ divorce when you were six. Let us discuss how you really feel about your father’s sexual behaviour and your mother’s depression that followed.’ ‘No, actually, I just think you’re useless and I’m leaving therapy’. ‘Yes, well, of course that is your right but I must tell you that I do not feel this would be healthy for you and it is exactly what you have done in every other relationship, where you have not resolved conflicts and the relationship has ended. Anyway, you are now in touch with your anger and that is good and we have a real chance to examine your issues.’ And so on and on. I am not saying that this does occur in therapeutic exchange. But it could.
The therapist is able, through pre-determined roles, to avoid any personal responsibility for, or real involvement with, what has occurred. Even if that client leaves, it is they who walk away with a stigma about their own neurosis.
Since we have no interest in this occurring in our own therapeutic work, how could we avoid this type of situation? I suppose we could continue to see our own analyst, as we would if we were all good Jungians. Ad infinitum. Only death stops the process and the buck stops with oldest living analyst! Or would self-examination, let’s suppose it were rigorous enough, be enough and does this mean we should allow ourselves to offer therapy to others without support and supervision of our own processes? How do we therapists set up our own checks and balances to not allow our own inflation and blind spots from affecting our clients and inter alia, preventing us from being really excellent poets, nurses, mavericks and therapists?
Then we have the question of offering input or guidance to the client. Apparently, in conventional therapy, any input from the therapist’s side is considered a serious no-go area and would interfere with the client’s growth and self-realisation. This is a basic principle of therapy, the way it is taught and practiced around the world. (Do some research on this point.) Is this true, or is it really another avoidance strategy that protects the system and loads the dice all in favour of the therapist? Should we be allowed or even obliged to guide and instruct and even directly prescribe action to certain clients or is this always inappropriate? When should we listen quietly and oblige the client to reflect on and decide the issue themselves, when should we have the courage and commitment to intervene in what, to us, appears as an obviously bad situation, such as severe addictions or abuse, and when could we directly instruct? And further, to what extent should the therapist be willing to expose and reveal their own processes and lives? Conventional therapy says not at all. Does it serve the client to have what is absurdly referred to as ‘pure reflection’ or imagined objectivity from the therapist? Who does such a system really serve? On the other hand, even if we could find a way through these obstacles, does that mean that any and every part of the therapist’s personal processes should be available to the client’s curiosity?
Which leads to the next issue of counter-transference. And a bulky section called ‘The Therapeutic Utilization of Counter-transference.’ These are valid and important concerns, because the therapist can and will get hooked into the unconscious games being played along with the client. And without fairly extensive self-knowledge and conscious checks, this can certainly be dangerous. And without some form of mentoring, someone to oversee our personal lives and therapeutic behaviours, this is usually inevitable. On the other hand, the amount of time and energy expended in the writings on this subject by and for Jungians, make me wonder just what exactly some of these people are doing being therapists in the first place. Supposing we had awareness of these potential problems, how could we revision these processes for ourselves and get the outcome of offering better service to our clients and, at the same time, not being quite so paranoid about the possibility of showing our own human vulnerability?
But the bigger question is; how far do we differ in our therapeutic approach to what we would allow for as ‘conscious counter-transference’ as yet another valid tool in evolved therapy. James Hillman has some radical views on the subject of Eros constellating in a therapeutic relationship. He says this is both inevitable and desirable. We would still need to properly understand what Hillman means by this, but supposing we did, the question is how we deal with this occurrence. We could analyse it, as therapy currently does, and so reduce it to a discussion of archetypes and one-sided reflections on the client’s inner processes. (Hillman is emphatic that Archetypal Psychology is not a Psychology of Archetypes. What’s the difference?)
Or we could be more playful and simple and explore the process in more creative ways, which would imply a more human dialogue emerging within therapy. What options and alternative approaches are open to us to deal with these inevitable occurrences?
It is a given that the therapist’s own level of personal development profoundly affects the progress of the client. A sexually, emotionally or spiritually repressed or immature therapist will likely reinforce, rather than evolve, the client’s immaturity or repression in exactly those same areas. Should we be exploring a client’s world-view, for example of religion or sexuality, before we even accept them as clients and guide them (that is, impose on them) with our beliefs? Freudians, Jungians and others don’t ‘check them out’! They all believe that they have some access to ‘the truth of how things really are’, or at least should be, and the client needs to be educated in this wisdom. For Freudians, penis-envy and the oedipal myth are axiomatic. Spiritual inclinations are regressive desires to re-enter the womb and we are traumatised by our parent’s sexuality. For Jungians, the Soul’s teleological desire to Individuate underpins all activity. It follows from this that all activity, from the soul’s vantage point, is self-regulating; hence the Jungian view on depression will be at odds to the behaviourist view. Behaviourists and clinical psychologists confuse the brain with the mind and the mind with the soul, and are all ultimately biologically or materialistically oriented. Naturally they will confuse orgasm with ejaculation, confuse statistics with the actual human lives and direct outcomes to successful Ego functioning in society.
I appreciate that I have made broad generalisations and there are many discussions that might be had over what each therapy aims at and the methods it uses to attain those aims. But those discussions would be immaterial to my central point at this moment. The over-simplification of the complexities of behaviour and potentials of the human experience, promoted by all therapeutic orientations, reduces individuals and their unique pathways into those which can be shaped into pre-existing paradigms and it makes little allowance for the creativity, eccentricity, authentic play, pathos and genius of the actual human. But none of this has stopped any of the schools of therapy from imposing their paradigms onto whoever crosses their therapeutic threshold.
And there’s more. Based on my own experience as a client, on listening to my own clients for many years and on fairly extensive study, I have my own views on the state of contemporary therapy. I believe that the majority of the individuals who practice as therapists leave much to be desired in terms of their personal lifestyles, and here I only mean here relative to the ‘basic principles’ of conscious living that underpin our system. To take a few simple examples, how does a person who does not prepare and eat food consciously, who does no yoga or similar practice and who has not learned and so cannot practice conscious sexuality, how could that person guide another person into physical or sexual well-being? Should we not care about such matters?
The actual value system of the therapist, for example their views on bodies, sexuality, money, charity, art, religion, sickness and death and other areas, are a subject for discussion in itself, one remarkably absent in almost all books on therapy and the training of therapists. In addition, we are influenced by the more general moral and social consensus of the historical moment in time in which we find ourselves. For instance, before masturbation was bad. Now it is good.
So is it enough to have learned a system, such as Freud’s Primal Scene, or to be learned in Mythology and Archetypes, or to have learned the techniques of Rational-Emotional therapy, to be able to guide clients through their processes without personal practice? It might well be better to have individuals with a little less academic information and a bit more personal practice, self-reflection and therapist or teacher mentoring offering their services to ‘Care for Souls’, which, in our view, is what Psychotherapy really means and what it should be.
We could argue for the other side. As post-Jungian in our basic orientation, do we even need to be concerned? In a post-modern universe where Synchronicity is an accepted and believed in feature, we can understand matters differently. If the Soul is the true guide, the daemon guiding the ego through whatever experiences it requires for self-realisation, then we can legitimately assume that the client came to into that therapy with that therapist at a perfect time for the lessons their respective souls needed to learn. The therapist can simply ‘trust the process’ and assume little or no responsibility. Is that a correct understanding of ‘co-arising’ and is it acceptable?
Finally, I need to ask whether the whole way that traditional analysis has been constructed is intrinsically sound. Half-jokingly, I suspect that the usual ‘one or two sessions a week for three to five years’ is designed with one of two aims. Either it allows the therapist to mature, through observing their own counter-transference issues, without having to pay, or even be answerable (as the ‘authority’), for their processes. Or perhaps, more cynically, the system has been designed as an economic construction to feed and sustain the therapeutic community. Review the current notion, which we studied last year, that ‘one in three Americans need and should be in therapy for at least some part of their adult life’. I recently saw similar statistics for South Africa. (Do some research to see what’s being said about the need for therapy here and elsewhere.)
Are people really so unable to manage their lives as adults and if they are, does conventional therapy offer them the correct tools or address their real needs? Estimate the number of ‘service providers’ required to treat 50-100 million Americans or more than 10 million South Africans? Who trains them, at what cost, and what do they expect to earn when they are qualified? Then you can begin to see the vast economic implications of such a statement – and why so much effort is invested in attempting to control the system, with the support of insurance and medical-aid policies and ever-expanding government regulation!
Drums and Bass
So my real question, after attempting to understand all these ‘issues and concerns that arise in therapy’ is this: is all or any of this even relevant to our style of therapy? Perhaps all these subtle divisions and sub-categories of ‘issues’ are really so much mumbo-jumbo, something like we see in highly inventive, ever-expanding, sub-divisions of ‘mental disorders’ of the DSM, which add little except more labels that legitimise the use of more drugs, more companies to produce them, and the need for medical aid, continued medical treatment and social control. What, if anything, is actually useful in the traditional therapist-client approach and what needs to be jettisoned as we journey forward into the future of those whose calling is caring for the soul? What really makes therapy successful, if indeed it works at all?
And finally, is there an end to therapy, some legitimate point where therapy can be considered successful and then at that point, the therapy should be terminated? (Reference Freud, Jung and Hillman on this, if you can.)
We can be clear about this. It might seem easy enough to dismantle and expose the obvious flaws in the system as it currently stands, but you need to ask the far more difficult questions of what and how you would construct something in its place that meets the real and often pressing needs that clients have and which psychotherapy claims to address.