Psychosynthesis is known worldwide as the psychology with a soul. Roberto Assagioli, psychoanalyst, neurologist and the founder of psychosynthesis was way ahead of his time by incorporating mindfulness and spirituality into western psychiatry and psychology. He was a major influence in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Piero Ferrucci, psychosynthesis psychotherapist, philosopher, student and collaborator of Assagioli writes,
‘…the principles that Roberto Assagioli and his pupils have enunciated in the last hundred years now find a precise correspondence in the data and models of neuroscience.’
Today, psychosynthesis theory and practice is continuing to evolve and grow as rigorously trained practitioners worldwide integrate new philosophies, ideas and evidence based practice – such as neuroscience – into their theory and practice.
Some of those practitioners are sharing their philosophies, ideas and wisdom through blogging. You can check them out here…
Therapy Rocks! I have been blogging for over two years about the gifts of psychosynthesis counselling, psychotherapy and issues pertinent to women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Recent blogs include, On the body series, Why your therapist should be in therapy, Does psychotherapy work? and How to silence the inner critic by cultivating self-compassion. You can also read a full list of my blogs, guest posts and interviews on my Media page.
Living a Life of Purpose is written by psychosynthesis psychotherapist, professor of psychology and author, Didi Firman. Her blog is about asking the biggest question, WHY? And the most pressing question, HOW? Some topics include Creation, Spring and Living the bigger picture.
The Trust’s Blog is a place for sharing insight and pointing to interesting things. A place for ideas, creativity and exploring psychospiritual development. Posts are from members of the training team and other guest bloggers. The articles, essays, podcasts and films are a resource for those interested in psychosynthesis, psychospiritual development, and the world of counselling and psychotherapy.
Emotional Medicine Rx. is the blog of Penelope Young Andrade. She is a licensed psychotherapist and founder of the San Diego Center for Psychosynthesis. Penelope also writes an acclaimed monthly advice column called Transformational Talk and is the founder Transformational Talk Radio. Some topics on her blog include, You’re lucky to feel sad, mad, scared, Men and depression and Are you having enough fun in your free time?’
Molly’s Musings is the blog of Molly Young Brown. Following her initial training in psychosynthesis, she had the privilege of studying with the founder, Dr. Roberto Assagioli, in 1973 (the year before he died). His teaching deepened her understanding of the principles and practice while he encouraged her to share psychosynthesis with others. Molly has done so through training programs in North America and Europe, individual guiding sessions, writing, and serving on the Advisory Board and the Professional Development Committee for the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis. Although not updated frequently, some topics include, Greed, fear and love and The secret behind the secret.
Love and Will is the blog of Catherine Ann Lombard, M.A. She is a psychosynthesis psychologist, counsellor, coach and author of, From Culture Shock to Personal Transformation: Studying Abroad and the Search for Meaning. She blogs bi-monthly and is on her way to 100 blog posts! LoveandWill is also on facebook.
Seasonal Inspiration is the blog of Juliet Batten. She writes extensively about the seasons, and the importance of celebrating our southern hemisphere festivals at the right time of year, in harmony with indigenous, Celtic, ancient European as well as Christian traditions. Recent blogs include Looking for the light and Resonating with the dark.
The Deep River Within is the blog of Abby Seixas. She is a psychotherapist, author and speaker specializing in issues of life balance. Her television appearances include NBC’s The Today Show and the Hallmark Channel and her work has been featured in O – The Oprah Magazine, Self, Woman’s Day, Fitness, Body & Soul, and The Boston Globe. Blog topics include, Challenges to being present and Taming expectations.
Emerging Horizons is the blog of the Emerging Horizons team and the founder and director Damian Grainer, a UK leading addiction specialist, therapeutic counsellor, coach and trainer. You will find articles and book reviews on addiction, mindfulness and neuroscience. Damian wrote one of my most liked posts ever, Addiction Recovery: The Starting Point for Recovery is Hope, Not Abstinence
Reflections of a Transpersonal Psychotherapist is the blog of London and Eastbourne based therapist Patrick McCurry. He blogs about personal development, relationships and soulful psychotherapy. Recent topics include, Are you a rescuer, persecutor or victim in your relationship? and What are men unconsciously seeking in internet porn?
Live Your Life and Enjoy It is the blog of psychosynthesis psychotherapist and teacher Mariann Marthinussen. She blogs in Norwegian about topics such as Letting go of the old, Burnout and Heart Power.
Ashen is active as poet, writer, therapist, photographer. You can connect with her blog, a Course of Mirrors.
Fibromyalgia and Self Disorders is the blog of Dr Ewa Danuta Bialek who is a passionate scientist searching for answers about health and human functioning. After almost 25 years of being involved in medicine, she found a system of psychosynthesis which permitted her to find the deep core of her own health problems derived from early childhood experiences. She is the author of 25 books and 150 scientific articles concerning health and self-education. She also writes poems and fairy tales. Her latest blog is How to express your archetypal energies in life.
Saphira@DPsych is the blog of Saphira Bjørnå Wahl; she writes, ‘I love psychosynthesis! Simple as that!’ Having completed her Master’s in psychosynthesis psychotherapy focusing on, “An exploration of recovering alcoholics’ lived experience of residential AA 12-step treatment and program in conjunction with psychosynthesis in after care in a group setting”, Saphira’s blog is an attempt to describe the onset of and the ongoing process of studying at a doctoral level, related to psychotherapy.
Holistic Mental Health is the blog of psychosynthesis practitioner Marjorie Gross. She has been involved in the areas of personal growth, counselling, and coaching for over 30 years as a teacher, student and practitioner. Some of her blogs include, The secrets of surrender, Bring your vision to life and The silence within.
Feel Better Every Day is the blog of psychosynthesis practitioner Eve Menezes Cunningham. She writes reviews of workshops, conferences, book launches, movies and blogs about holistic health and well-being. Recent blogs include, Lessons on failure from Rainbow Magnificat and a review of the Bowlby Couples and Attachment Conference.
21st Century Psyche by Chris Payne reflects his original training in psychosynthesis as well reflections of Jungian analysis and further teachings in Melanie Klein’s object relations and Bowlby’s attachment theory. Recent topics include Reparation or replacement and a post on clinical diagnosis and labels.
Although not updated for some time, The Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis Blog is dedicated to the evolution of wholeness and spiritual integration world-wide. It is the first professional psychosynthesis organization in North America and is open to all who are interested in supporting its evolution.
Find Yourself Psychosynthesis Forum is the blog of Lars Gimstedt. He has been a psychosynthesis therapist and life coach since 1992. Although his blog hasn’t been recently updated, there are some articles on Positive thinking, The life-wheel and Personal versus spiritual development.
Goypaz is the Spanish blog of Gloria Paz. She shares a path to Awakening the Soul narrated in articles that challenge the psychological conditioning with the intention of stimulating the search for answers. Recent topics include, We need and complement each other, Searching for happiness and The ego as a tool for awakening the soul.
The Will and Initiation is the blog of Will Parfitt. In more than forty years of spiritual exploration, Will’s passions are Psychosynthesis and Kabbalah. He writes extensively on these topics in his books, articles and blog. His website is a great resource to assist your personal and spiritual development.
On Emerging Purpose, Greg arites about topics to support his work with 12-step members, relationship issues, co-dependency, addictions, traumas, , performers, family constellations, depression, self-esteem, anxiety & stress, panic attacks, family & relationship concerns, career or life choices and questions of meaning and spirituality.
The benefits of blogging are countless. If you would like to start blogging but are stuck with where to start – check out the two blog challenges I mentioned earlier – they are full of great ideas to take your voice, ideas, practice and psychosynthesis out into the world.
This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.
Sydney counsellor, soul-centred life-coach, psychotherapist and private practice business coach Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
In my recent Infographic: 20 Ways to Practice Gratitude, I spoke of finding value, meaning and purpose out of suffering as a gratitude practice.
Throughout history, there have been many inspirational people who have shown us that even through unimaginable suffering and tragedy in life; it is possible to find value, meaning and purpose out of major life crises. They provide hope – in times of despair – that it is not only possible to merely survive, but to thrive and triumph in life.
Nelson Mandela was a perfect example of someone who was able to do this. He turned his suffering into hope. His attitude was one of optimism, even in the face of extreme adversity. He declared,
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lies defeat and death.”
In Man’s Search for Meaning, holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes,
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life.”
To find value, meaning and purpose out of life’s difficulties and to turn tragedy into a triumph, we are required to become present to life and to reach some level of acceptance of ‘what is’.
But why on earth would we want to do that? It feels scary and painful – so we get busy trying to avoid, sweep under the rug, numb, eradicate, check-out from, quick-fix, medicalize and medicate our crises and resulting symptoms. In doing so, we miss the opportunity to find the value, meaning and purpose hidden within our anxieties, addictions, depressions, eating problems and physical illnesses.
It’s not about suffering unnecessarily. Frankl clearly states, ‘to suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.’ Rather, it is about holding the context that every crisis contains within it the seeds for transformation and growth. And…ultimately, we have the ability to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances even if at first, it doesn’t appear so (Frankl 1947).
Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.
This year Fat Talk Free® Week is celebrated during the week of October 21-25. Fat talking is not only the domain of those suffering with an eating disorder – it has crept its way in to everyday society.
When I work with women recovering from eating disorders, they often comment that one of the most difficult parts of their recovery, is hanging out with their existing friendship groups. Whilst many of their friends may not be suffering with an eating disorder, they are however, often trapped in body comparison and obsessively talk about dieting, weight and fitness regimes.
Women, we are so much more than our bodies! It is time to value all of who we are: our body, our feelings, our mind, our sexuality and our spirituality.
‘Fat Talk Free Week is an international, 5-day body activism campaign to draw attention to body image issues and the damaging impact of the ‘thin ideal’ on women in society. This annual public awareness effort was born from Tri Delta’s award-winning body image education and eating disorders prevention program, Reflections.
The purpose of Fat Talk Free® Week includes:
(Reference: Tri Delta BodyImage3D®)
Sydney counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing. She has a wealth of personal and professional experience and knowledge in the field of addiction and eating disorders. Her experience includes a Master’s thesis on eating disorders titled ‘Call off the Search: Eating Disorders a Symptom of Psychospiritual Crisis’, (you can read an excerpt here); post graduate training in addiction and ‘women’s business’; work experience in the ‘Eating Disorder Unit’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London; the Eating Disorders Foundation (now part of The Butterfly Foundation); and Women’s Health NSW. She is an EATFED accredited practitioner, an approved service provider for South Pacific Private Addiction and Mood Disorder Treatment Centre and works in private practice, treating eating disorders as well as other women’s issues in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie (via Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance).
A long-term study performed by UCA on the power of gratitude reported many amazing results. As a result of keeping a gratitude journal and practicing gratitude on a regular basis, the researched showed that people who did so received the following benefits:
(Reference: UCA, HealthWatch & The Gratitudes)
For examples of all things mentioned in this 20 Ways to Practice Gratitude list, check out my Gratitude Board on Pinterest.
Sydney counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches.
This post is part of my Children and iDevices 5 part series.
Worried about her three totally wired teenagers – how they used their time, their space, their minds and with fears for their social, intellectual and spiritual development – single mother, Susan Maushart (PhD Media Ecology, author, social commentator & ABC Radio program maker) made a choice to pull the plug on technology for 6 months. She detailed their experiences in her book, The Winter of Our Disconnect, which has been described as, ‘smart, funny, important, informative and a must read for the digital generation.’
Maushart wasn’t just worried for her children; she found herself warding off loneliness by sleeping with her iPhone and her homesickness for New York by living in two places at once (but present to neither Perth or NY). She is transparent regarding her family’s dependency issues, identity struggles (my iPhone/my self) and how the more they ‘connected’ as individuals to their iPod playlist, social media and screen based devices in their bedrooms, the more disconnected they had all become from self, others and life in general.
Throughout her book, Maushart discusses the cultural implications of a disconnected society. She also raises concerns in relation to helicopter, absent and narcissistic parenting. When she spoke of the family’s 6 month ‘experiment’ to friends, she continuously came up against, ‘are you sure you want to do this to the kids?’; likening internet, iDevices and screen time as a new ‘need’ wedged between Maslow’s basic and love needs.
Like Susan Maushart, I love technology, social media and of course my iPad!
But…in the many years that I have worked as a counsellor and psychotherapist in the field of addictions, there has been a dramatic increase over the last few years in internet, iDevice and touchscreen based addictions.
Addiction of any kind is complex. There are multiple influences, causes and concerns to consider. Some of these include biographical, psychological, social, neurobiological and spiritual concerns. Whilst it is imperative to consider addiction from a holistic perspective, the primary issues underlying dependency and addiction problems are about relationship and connection; with self and other. Increasingly this is being backed up through a plethora of research in the field of early attachment relationships and neuroscience. When our will is trapped in maintaining cycles of dependency and addiction, our primary relationship is with the substance or process; in this case, our iPad, iPhone, or other screen based trapping.
iAddiction has become one the most socially acceptable problems of our time. We fear being ‘left behind’ or ‘left out’ and are bombarded with rationalisations and justifications such as, ‘get over it, it is a part of life’. Cocaine, binge drinking and playing the pokies are also a part of life but that doesn’t mean they are recommended practice, healthy or good for our overall wellbeing (Maushart 2010).
Other concerns associated with iAddiction highlighted in The Winter of Our Disconnect include an escalation in anger, anxiety, co-dependency, comparison, depression, disconnectedness, impatience, intolerance, low self-worth, obsessive compulsive behaviours, narcissism, an inability to relate, rude manners, risk taking and dangerous behaviours such as sexting, texting and driving, as well as a myriad of sleep issues. Subsequently, some of the issues related to sleep bankruptcy are anxiety, depression, hostility, attention deficits, a greater risk of drug and alcohol use, headaches, fatigue, stomach and back aches (Maushart 2010).
The Winter of Our Disconnect shines the light on numerous sources of research regarding the impact of excessive screen time. The Pew Internet American Life Project found that families with multiple communication devices were less likely to eat dinner together. Family meals are consistently correlated with positive outcomes for children; those who eat family meals 5-7 times a week get better grades, have a sunnier outlook on life and have significantly fewer problems with drugs, alcohol, nicotine and eating disorders. This research was across all socioeconomic spheres (Maushart 2010).
From the first night of the experiment, Maushart noticed a change in the way her family communicated with each other. Here are some of the other benefits they experienced as a family once disconnected from media in the home (they were allowed to log on at school and at the library):
Maushart asks us to consider, ‘How are we fostering digital dependency and unhealthy use in our relationships, family and home life?’ She recommends the following (pp. 283):
If you are struggling with iAddiction, consider trying the above guidelines for healthy screen use as well as seeking support from a registered psychotherapist in your area to work through the underlying issues.
Sydney Soul-Centred Life-Coach, Counsellor and Psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.
Over the last 15 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives.
She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!
Guest blog by Damian Grainer, UK Addiction Specialist, Therapeutic Counsellor, Coach, Trainer and the Founder & Director of Emerging Horizons.
“You cannot transmit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.” Thich Nhat Hanh.
For me the starting point for recovery is hope, not abstinence. I see it as my job, and that of any counsellor or psychotherapist, to hold hope for the individual seeking recovery, until it can be fully internalised and experienced by the individual, whose current perception of themselves is often one of failure, helplessness and shame. Hope can be nurtured by exposure to success – people who have done it themselves and where recovery is visable.
Psychosynthesis psychology has a wonderful concept known as bifocal vision. Bifocal vision involves seeing both the being – with emerging purpose and immense potential – and also the person as they present in the here and now, with their current struggles and difficulties.
Far too often, I find practitioners who have set “glass ceilings” for their clients, often citing the client’s complexities of need or lack of motivation as the reasons why they cannot progress any further. If there is no hope, there is no motivation. If there is no vision, no purpose and no meaning, then sustained motivation is unlikely. There is growing evidence of the significant impact that the therapist’s own expectations have on efficacy of interventions and this is particularly so in addictions.
“If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is, but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” Goethe.
A concept that has gained great ground over the last few years is that of ‘recovery capital’; a term used to describe the collection of personal, social and community resources that are available to individuals to help start and sustain recovery journeys. It is a way of looking at the strengths and assets that individuals have. For example:
I get up in the morning because I have to, I have a vested interest in my work and my family – this is part of my capital. Relationships and community ties are some of the things that help me to manage and adapt to adversity and the unexpected.
If the individual suffering with addiction had no resources, no social buy in, why would they give up the one thing that in the short term comforts them and provides them with some purpose or connection?
“If what we focus on is magnified by our attention, we want to be sure we are magnifying something worthy.” Sue Annis Hammond.
Whilst it is important to acknowledge someone’s suffering with attention and compassion – of equal, if not greater importance, is to recognise their qualities, strengths and their gifts to the world. This is especially pertinent when the individual is highly self-critical, may lack confidence or is trying to find evidence to confirm their self-limiting view of themselves and the world.
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) was commissioned to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing. The NEF completed a large scale analysis of research on wellbeing, with a particular focus on ‘Positive Psychology’. Having come up with a list of the key common findings, they were tasked with reducing these down to a simple and workable message that would support people to adopt behaviours that promote wellbeing, in a similar way that the public health message of ‘5 a day’ aims to encourage healthier eating.
This work led to the development of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.
What has been interesting is how quickly this has been adopted by the growing recovery movement in the UK; both mental health & addictions. Last week I was training a recovery coach, who self-managed his own recovery, exclusively using the 5TWB, monitoring his life around these 5 core behaviours.
Holt Lundstad et al (2010) showed that having supportive relationships was a bigger predictor in decreasing mortality than giving up smoking. The importance of authentic relationships (quantity and quality) is essential to wellbeing. It is especially important for individuals addressing an addiction where their social needs and identity may be intimately linked to the culture of addiction they have lived in – with its rituals, beliefs, roles and relational networks.
Connecting or being connected works on a multiplicity of levels and is both intra (within) and interpersonal (between). For the person suffering with addiction, it is about building or utilising existing networks of support, be that through family, friends, peers, mutual aid groups, the wider recovery community, community groups and associations. It is also about overcoming the possible barriers to relationship and connection: shame, stigma, attachment difficulties, limiting core beliefs, issues of trust, pride and social competence.
For the counsellor and psychotherapist, ‘connect’, is as much about how they connect to the client as to how they are connected in their own lives. I believe that the more connected we are, the more likely we are to create the conditions where the client is empowered or supported to establish new and/or rebuild existing connections that support them in their chosen life journey.
Having a sense of autonomy is also important in overcoming addiction. Paradoxically the greater our sense of belonging, the greater our sense of autonomy is likely to be. Because connection is so important, I would suggest that a more proactive approach to working with the client’s network of support is called for. Examples of this would include incorporating social behaviour network therapy and/or systemic therapy as standard practice in addiction treatment along with interpersonal effectiveness skills.
“…the ability to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and actions – in the present moment – without judging or criticising yourself and your experience.” Jon Kabat-Zinn.
From a holistic perspective, it goes without saying that diet and physical activity play a key part in wellbeing and addiction recovery. For me, the application of mindfulness based psychologies and teaching to support the maintenance of recovery, resilience and wellbeing is also key and should now be the norm and a definite in any credible relapse prevention program.
In addition to mindfulness training, a willingness and ability to appreciate beauty and experience moments of awe – which often connect us to a deeper sense of who we are – also supports and enriches the recovery process.
Finally, it is worth noting the significance of reframing recovery as a “learning process” with opportunities to gain mastery over new skills, do what is important and experience greater autonomy with plenty of opportunities to give back and engage in altruistic activities.
Damian Grainer (MA. Dip. Couns) is trained in psychosynthesis psychology, therapeutic counselling, life and performance coaching, substance misuse, management and engineering. He has worked across a range of substance misuse and mental health services; spanning areas such as engagement, medical and non-medical community treatment and residential rehabilitation. With particular expertise in change management and leadership, Damian has a strong track record in the implementation and turnaround of large, recovery orientated, integrated substance misuse services and treatment systems. He has special interests in group work, mutual aid, conflict resolution, mindfulness based practices to support healing and wellbeing and community development and regeneration. Damian is passionate about helping others to connect with their values, meaning and purpose and translating this into action.
The team at Emerging Horizons offer cutting edge recovery solutions underpinned by a vigorous commitment to supporting the development of world-class recovery support services in the UK. They have delivered training to some of the largest voluntary sector provider agencies in the UK as well HM Prison Services, Probation Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts.
Connect with Emerging Horizons on Facebook for the latest in addiction and well-being news.
Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing. She has a wealth of personal and professional experience and knowledge in the field of addiction and eating disorders. Jodie is the author of Addiction: A Psychospiritual Perspective, featured in CAPA Quarterly. She has post graduate training in addiction and ‘women’s business’. She is an ‘approved service provider’ for South Pacific Private Addiction and Mood Disorder Treatment Centre and works in private practice, treating addiction recovery and eating disorders as well as other women’s issues in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
As a therapeutic counsellor, soul-centred life-coach and psychotherapist specialising in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being – there are many books that I recommend over and over again. Many are listed in my bookstore and on my Pinterest page but here are my top 10 recommendations to help women find change as well as adding depth and meaning to their lives.
by Brené Brown
Having taken part in The Gifts of Imperfection Art Journaling Course with Brené Brown – this is my new favourite go-to book for women. Her research focuses on shame, vulnerability, authenticity and belonging. If you have a relentless inner perfectionist and never quite feel enough – this book is for you! You will come away chanting, ‘I’m imperfect and I’m enough. Brené is a wonderful storyteller and that makes this an easy read.
by Dr Christinane Northrup
“By the wisdom of the body I mean that we must learn to trust that the symptoms in the body are often the only way that the soul can get our attention.”
This is the ultimate bible for women’s health. It covers topics such as the body, menstruation, infertility, motherhood, menopause, sexuality, intuition, wisdom and self-nourishment. Dr Northrup takes a holistic approach towards healing physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns.
by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés
This deep, soulful and inner life enhancing book has been described as ‘vitamins for the soul’, ‘a gift of profound insight’, ‘fertile and life-giving’, ‘a bible for women interested in doing deep work’.
Jungian analyst, Dr Estés uses intercultural myths, dream symbols, fairy tales and stories, to help women reconnect with the fierce, wild woman and instinctual self within.
by Robin Norwood
Along with ‘Codependent No More’ by Melody Beattie, this is one of my most recommended books to women who suffer with a fear of abandonment, controlling behaviours, co-dependency, love addiction and relationship problems such as choosing unavailable or abusive men.
by Geneen Roth
Geneen Roth suggests that food, diet and weight related issues are an attempt to fix something that has never been broken. We are already good and whole; our journey is to awaken to our goodness and wholeness. She writes,
“It’s never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels…We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves.”
by Sarah Napthali
Along with ‘Attachment Focused Parenting’ by Daniel Hughes – this book is my bible for parenting in a calm and peaceful way. Napthali applies Buddhist teachings such as mindfulness, presence, acceptance and compassion to the everyday challenges and stresses of raising children. Rather than focusing on the child’s behaviour, this book focuses on the inner self of the mother.
by Rachel Clyne
‘What matters is that we stop hating ourselves; when we do so what has to replace it is Love!’
At the heart of addiction, food related issues, depression and other modern day concerns – working to increase self-esteem and self-worth is always at the core of the healing process. Psychosynthesis psychotherapist Rachel Clyne gives very practical suggestions in each chapter for developing a healthier and more loving sense of self.
by Dr Christopher K. Germer
This is one of the best books out there for healing a toxic, harsh, punitive and critical inner voice. With practical mindfulness techniques for living in the present moment, this book teaches us how to nourish the spirit, reconnect and show kindness, compassion and empathy towards ourselves. Germer shows us that through self-compassion, we can heal pain and suffering.
by Stephanie Sorrell
This book is rigorously researched and takes a well-balanced view. Psychosynthesis practitioner Stephanie Sorrell explores indepth – the medical, psychological and spiritual aspects of depression. She writes poetically about suffering and depression as a ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. Sorrell shows us that it is possible to find value, meaning and purpose out of our suffering.
by Thomas Moore
This life affirming and soothing read illustrates how to add spirituality, depth, and meaning to modern-day life by nurturing the soul. Moore uses myths, stories and dreams to help us understand everyday concerns such as depression, anxiety, death, low self-worth, envy and narcissistic wounding.
by Dr Viktor E. Frankl
‘If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”
This moving book was named one of the 10 most influential books in America. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl spent time in four Nazi death camps. He survived his pregnant wife, parents and brother. Man’s search for meaning is based on Frankl’s own life experience as well as those he worked with in private practice. His ultimate message is that we cannot avoid all suffering in life but we can choose how we respond to it and ultimately, we can find meaning and purpose in it.
Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a therapeutic counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
I am often asked about the difference between a psychotherapist and other helping professions.
For many years in Australia, funded psychological services have been monopolized by what Yalom calls, symptom focused, pathologising and medically orientated approaches. Whilst appropriate for some people, these masculine based approaches are not suitable for everyone.
Increasingly, people are looking further afield than GP mental health care plans and making a choice to pay privately so that they can have a broader range of choice regarding their preferred practitioner and treatment style.
The clients who come to my private practice are looking for a more holistic and soulful approach to their health and well-being as well as one which is evidence based and firmly grounded in western psychology; a balance of both masculine and feminine energy.
There is an increasing base of evidence which confirms what practitioners and clients of psychotherapy have known for years – psychotherapy really does work.
Clients report healthy lifestyle changes after just a few sessions and many see a significant difference in their lives within three to six months. Psychotherapy is a soulful approach to healing which provides long lasting change and resolution of the pervasive, underlying issues that continue to impact on life and relationships. Psychotherapy sessions are at least once a week.
There are many different schools (psychoanalytic, humanistic, existential, transpersonal, somatic, Buddhist, psycho-spiritual etc) and standards of psychotherapy training range from Degrees, Post Grad Diplomas and Master’s degrees. Most psychotherapists work in private practice integrating a multitude of techniques and theories.
Psychotherapists, who have had a classic and rigorous training, would have trained to the equivalent of degree level for at least four years and sometimes up to eight years. Psychotherapists trained at this level are also required to have a significant amount of their own personal therapy per year (approximately 40 sessions per training year) and usually group therapy throughout the duration of their training. This means that they have ’walked the path’ similar to that which their clients will be journeying along. This is one of the most important aspects of any helping profession training. Underpinning change in psychotherapy, is the use of transference and countertransference within the therapeutic relationship. If the psychotherapist is not using this, they are more likely providing counselling, not psychotherapy.
PACFA registered psychotherapists in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before they are accredited.
Counsellors work in a wide range of fields. Counselling normally focuses on a specific issue and tends to be more short-term work, from 6 sessions to 6 months (longer for therapeutic/psychotherapeutic counsellors). Counselling works best when it is consistent and attended weekly.
There are different standards of training for counsellors. Some train for a few hours, some for up to four years and at Master’s degree level. The three main types of counsellors are:
Therapeutic and psychotherapeutic counsellors are able to work at greater depth, using the transference, countertransference and the therapeutic relationship, and usually with a wider range of issues (UKCP).
Some counselling programs require their trainees to participate in their own counselling and some do not. PACFA registered counsellors in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before they are accredited.
A life coach works to help clients maximize their potential. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has (ICF).
Coaches can gain qualifications through short online courses or at greater depth through private coaching organisations. Coaches often learn counselling skills, however, they are not trained in psychotherapy. Many psychotherapy, counselling and psychology trainings contain coaching components.
The ICF requires members to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before being accredited.
Social work’s primary focus is on the social determinants of health. Social workers advocate for social change. They take a holistic view of health and well-being and they work towards maximizing human potential (AASW).
Social workers often work in the fields of child protection, family welfare, youth, women’s and refugee services, hospitals and increasingly in private practice. In Australia, a Bachelor of Social Work takes four years and students are not required to participate in their own clinical social work, counselling or psychotherapy sessions. Social workers who provide psychotherapy in private practice should have a post qualification in clinical social work (US) or psychotherapy.
AASW registered social workers in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and placement hours under their belt before they are accredited.
Psychological theory underpins all helping professions. All of the above have elements of psychology within their training.
Psychology is predominately a medically orientated model which often focuses on diagnosis and symptom reduction of mental illness. Psychologists also use scientific methods to study the mind and human behaviours. They work in many fields: research, health and welfare services, government departments, academic institutions, education, corporations, marketing, training and development and in private practice (APS).
Many psychologists provide cognitive behavioural therapy. Psychologists providing psychotherapy should have a post qualification in clinical psychology or psychotherapy. Psychologists are not required to participate in their own clinical psychology or psychotherapy sessions.
Psychiatry is a medically orientated model. It involves the study of medicine and then training in mental and psychiatric illness. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication.
Training in psychiatry sometimes includes depth psychoanalytic psychotherapy, however, there is an ever increasing focus on prescription based psychopharmacology. If you feel that a psychiatrist is the professional best suited to you, find one who also specialises in talk therapy. Alternatively, participate in psychotherapy alongside taking medication – this will help get to the root of the problem.
The latest evidence shows that psychotherapy works better than medication alone for symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
NB. Training standards vary from country to country. Please check with the appropriate associations and federations for the requirements of where you live.
Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has qualifications in psychotherapy, social work, therapeutic counselling, eating psychology coaching and has extensive experience and training in psychology and psychiatric illness. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy and works in private practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
In Why Love Matters (2004) psychotherapist Sue Gerhardt covers a plethora of research on early parent-baby relationships, attachment, emotional and brain development in early life and how these are linked with adult physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns. Gerhardt’s clinical practice and expertise stems from her many years of working with mothers and babies in private practice. Her solid argument, with research to back it up, is that children are best cared for in their early years by their parents because of the love they have for them. When separated from loving caregivers, even though babies may appear calm, their heart rate and autonomic arousal is sky rocketing. The exception to all of this is when the primary caregiver/s cannot provide ‘good enough’ parenting. She writes,
‘If we want to provide our children with good emotional foundations, in the form of a balanced stress response and good development of the pre-frontal cortex and other areas of the emotional brain, we have to think about what THEY need in the period when these emotion systems are developing. I think that infants need relationships that keep them in a reasonably stress-free state, with people who respond positively to them as potential, emerging personalities and pay attention to who they are becoming over time…attachment security takes time to develop, most of the first year, so it still brings us back to parental care for at least the first year unless things are not good at home’.
Attachment theory has been widely used in psychotherapy for over 50 years. Gerhardt’s research offers scientific evidence to back up Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Attachment theories. Between them, ‘neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis and biochemistry are offering a deeper understanding of how human beings become human and how they learn to relate emotionally to others’ (2004, p.2).
Gerhardt argues that the social brain, our emotional style and resources are developing and established in the early years of life. ‘The social brain is the part of the brain which learns how to manage feelings in relation to others, as well as the development of our stress response, immune response and neurotransmitter systems which all affect our future emotional life’ (2004, p.3).
Gerhardt claims that the following experiences can have dire consequences on our overall wellbeing, our self-esteem/confidence/worth and our relationship with self and others:
The evidence that Gerhardt provides shows that the possible consequences of such experiences are attachment disturbances, psychosomatic illness, eating disorders, addiction, antisocial behaviour, personality disorders, chronic stress, anxiety and depression (p.3). Linda Graham, MFT, in ‘The neuroscience of attachment’ writes, ‘when our early experiences have been less than optimal, unconscious patterns of attachment can continue to shape the perceptions and responses of the brain to new relational experiences in old ways’ (2008, p.1)
Gerhardt proposes that for those of us who have experienced disturbances in our early attachment relationships and family of history – through psychotherapy – we can indeed grow a socially and emotionally intelligent brain. She writes,
‘The missing experience of having feelings recognised and acknowledged by another person, particularly of having strong feelings tolerated by another person is provided by the therapist…slowly through these types of experiences with a psychotherapist, a new muscle develops, an ability to be heard and to listen, to listen and be heard…Psychotherapy offers a change to rework the emotional strategies… [but] it takes time to establish new networks in the brain.’ (2004, p.205)
In conjunction with Gerhardt’s work, there is an amounting base of evidence showing that through psychotherapy and in particular, via the therapist showing us empathic love, compassion, emotional presence and acceptance, we can go a long way in healing from our past suffering, old wounds and traumas. Increasingly, neuroscience is speaking of ‘the shaping physiological force of love, finding that ‘attachment relationships’ and ‘limbic resonance with significant others shape the neural core of the self’ (Lewis, Amin and Lannon, 2001; Seil 1999, cited in Firman & Gila, 2010, p. 2).
Psychotherapy is often mistakenly seen as a place whereby we get ‘analysed’ or ‘fixed’. In my personal and professional experience, psychotherapy is primarily about building a healthy relationship with self and others. It is important we choose a therapist who is able to love us unconditionally. The therapist must also be able to work at depth not only attached to certain techniques or models aimed at changing thoughts and behaviours.
Alongside psychotherapy, Graham suggests that we also need to hang out with other healthy brains. For example: self-help groups, yoga or meditation classes, personal growth workshops and at expressive arts, dance and movement classes.
NB. This research is not about blaming mothers, parents or primary caregivers. It is highlighting through neuroscientific evidence, the impact that early attachment relationships have on our children’s wellbeing. Gerhardt talks about the policy implications of this reasearch, one of the major ones being more support for mothers/parents/primary caregivers.
This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.
Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a soul-centred psychotherapist + eating psychology specialist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
Firman, John and Gila, Ann, (2010), A psychotherapy of love
Gerhardt, Sue, (2004), Why love matters: how affection shapes a baby’s brain
Gerhardt, Sue, (2006), Why love matters (Daycare revisted) Crooked Timber comments
Graham, Linda, MFT, (2008), The neuroscience of attachment
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love.
When we hear about the defense mechanism known as repression, we usually think about repression of dark energies; those that are present in our lower unconscious such as painful thoughts, feelings, memories and experiences.
In a ‘Psychology of Love’, John Firman and Ann Gila suggest that ‘under the threat of personal annihilation, significant sectors of our ability to experience pain and suffering are split off from ongoing awareness’. They describe these as a ‘disowned range of experiences most directly related to the pain of primal wounding – experiences such as anxiety and disintegration; lack of meaning and self in the world, feeling lost, trapped, or buried; isolation, abandonment, banishment, feeling overwhelmed, helpless or hopeless; emptiness or hollowness; despair, shame and guilt.’
Furthermore, Firman and Gila write that there is something else that cannot be held by a non-empathic early environment; our greatness and our gifts are also disowned and repressed as a form of protection. Their work is based on that of Roberto Assagioli – a pioneer of the humanistic and transpersonal movement and founder of psychosynthesis. He recognised early on that just as we have a lower unconscious, we also have a higher unconscious. This means that not only do we repress dark energies, we also repress our higher and spiritual impulses such as a sense of community, service, wisdom, love, compassion, empathy, will, creative, artistic and scientific inspirations and activities as well as other innate spiritual drives such as a call towards value, meaning and purpose in life. Repression of the higher unconscious and associated transpersonal qualities later became known as ‘repression of the sublime’; a term coined by French psychotherapist Robert Desoille.
Frank Haronian PhD in, ‘The repression of the sublime’, says that we often fear the challenge of personal growth and avoid taking responsibility for our lives because it means abandoning the familiar and the known which results in feeling anxious. Another, and perhaps the most disconcerting, is the fear of one’s own greatness.
Not only do we fear being envied or labelled as having ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ but a major issue we experience when we repress the sublime is how we project our greatness onto others; we envy them for being ‘brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous’. Haronian affirms this by stating that ‘we are in necessary conflict and ambivalence over these same highest possibilities in other people.’ We adore, idolize and idealise skinny, beautiful and talented (or not so talented) celebrities, models and other ‘great’ people. At the same time we hate, loathe and envy them because they have what we want (or not as the case may be!). They hold for us our light and dark projections that we cannot see, bear or own in ourselves.
There is a saying in the recovery movement, ‘if you spot it you’ve got it’. Recognising our sublime in others is a perfect way to begin to re-own the repressed, denied and split off parts of ourselves. So the next time we experience that hook, we need to stop for a moment and reflect, ‘what am I projecting onto this person?’ and ‘what do I need to own in myself?’ Is it my beauty, compassion, love, empathy, greatness or worth?
Once we start to become aware of our projections, it pays to take action. There is nothing more painful to our well-being than the self-betrayal of waking up but continuing to ignore our brilliance. Assagioli says it very clearly, ‘what we repress controls us’ and Jung, ‘what we resist persists’. It brings great detriment to repress the sublime – the higher, deeper and spiritual Self will nag and pull at us until we acknowledge its presence and allow it to be expressed for the common good of the whole (Sewell, 2005).
Assagioli, Roberto MD, (1965), Psychosynthesis, Thornton Press
Firman, John & Gila, Ann, (2010), A psychotherapy of love, State University of New York Press
Haronian, Frank PhD, (1967), The repression of the sublime, Psychosynthesis Research Foundation
Sewell, Marilyn, (2005), Repression of the sublime, UUWorld.org
Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a therapeutic counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia