You can find an edited published version of this post at PsychCentral.
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
“Every month we put practitioners on the spot — figuratively known as the clinician’s couch — and pick their brains about everything from the trials and triumphs of working with clients to how they healthfully cope with stress.”
Jodie Gale is a qualified therapeutic counsellor, soul-centred life-coach and Master’s trained psychosynthesis psychotherapist who specializes in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Along with her husband, their two children and two British Short Hair cats, Jodie lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney in Australia. She currently balances being a full-time stay at home mother with a part-time, evening and weekend, home office, private practice.
1. What’s surprised you the most about being a therapist?
Just how much I have learnt from my clients!
I sit with the most resilient, courageous, interesting and creative people out there. Through their stories and by doing this work, I learn about the world, history, human nature, relationships and myself on a daily basis. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to be allowed into my clients lives and to engage with them in such an intimate, meaningful and soulful way.
2. What’s the latest and greatest book you’ve read related to mental health, psychology or psychotherapy?
I am presenting alongside Dr Anita Johnston at the Sydney EatFed Eating Disorder Conference in August so I am currently researching psychosynthesis texts.
I am loving, Depression as a Spiritual Journey by author, poet, spiritual counsellor and psychosynthesis psychologist Stephanie Sorrell. Stephanie has suffered with depression for most of her life so she brings both personal and professional experience to her writing. Her book challenges the prevailing mindset around depression as a mental illness and provides the reader with an alternative view – that we don’t need to just help, fix or cure depression, rather, we need to be with and find the value, meaning and purpose of it. This books holds a hopeful context for not only working with depression but with other concerns such as addiction, anxiety and eating disorders.
3. What’s the biggest myth about therapy?
That people who go to therapy must be mentally ill, diseased, disordered or just down right crazy!
Many people come to therapy to heal from longstanding, deep-rooted problems and trauma. Others come because they need to find help in dealing with day to day concerns that arise out of being human. For some, they come not because they have problems but because they want to get to know themselves better and live a richer, deeper, soulful, more meaningful life.
Ultimately, therapy is about building healthy relationships with self and others.
4. What seems to be the biggest obstacle for clients in therapy?
Many clients come looking for a quick fix to what are usually deep rooted and long-standing emotional, psychological and spiritual issues. Due to earlier wounding, many clients struggle with poor self-esteem/self-worth and at the beginning of their therapy, they usually don’t believe they are worth the time, effort and money that therapy requires. Letting go of whatever it is that they are using to numb their pain, rage and shame, and moving towards a place of trusting the therapist is often the biggest obstacle at the onset of therapy. As a therapist, I hold trust, faith and hope until they are able to own these qualities for themselves. Ultimately, clients need to allow themselves time to trust and heal.
5. What’s the most challenging part about being a therapist?
Whilst it has numerous advantages, for me the most challenging aspect is the isolation of working from home in private practice – I miss office lunches and parties!
It is also challenging being a sole trader and having to be an accountant, a website designer, a marketing manager and content creator – alongside being a therapist.
6. What do you love about being a therapist?
When clients first arrive at my door – their lives are often full of chaos and they are frequently drowning in a sea of despair, suffering and a sense of hopelessness. I love witnessing overtime how they grow, blossom and transform their lives.
7. What’s the best advice you can offer to readers on leading a meaningful life?
One of my favourite books of all time is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning . Ultimately, Frankl suggests that we cannot avoid suffering in life but even under the most difficult circumstances, we can derive a deeper meaning from it.
Rather than trying to eradicate your suffering, welcome it with open arms like you would a guest who has come to stay for a while. Treat it with acceptance, compassion and empathic love. Engage and build deep relationship with it. Ask, ‘what is the value, meaning and purpose of this suffering?’ This will help you to find value, meaning and purpose in life.
8. If you had your schooling and career choice to do all over again, would you choose the same professional path? If not, what would you do differently and why?
One of the most life changing times in my life was when I lived and worked as a housekeeper at Ballingtaggart House in Dingle in Ireland. There has been a resident wild dolphin called Fungie living in Dingle Harbour since 1984 and I was fortunate enough to swim with him every morning before work. I started swimming with him in the early nineties and on my first ever swim, I encountered what Maslow termed a ‘peak experience’ – it catapulted me out of addiction and disordered eating into recovery and my own journey through therapy. It is a long-held dream of mine to incorporate therapy and swimming with wild dolphins in some way.
9. If there’s one thing you wished your clients or patients knew about treatment or mental illness, what would it be?
From a holistic and psycho-spiritual perspective, symptoms are not so much considered mental illness as they are soul sickness.
I love this quote by Geneen Roth in Women, Food & God,
‘…your eating disorder [or addiction, anxiety or depression for example], is an attempt to fix something that has never been broken.’
This is an alternative way of thinking that turns the dominant disease, illness and medical model on its head.
So…just because you feel broken, it doesn’t mean that you are. At the core, you are whole and unbroken but for whatever reason, your true self has had to go into hiding, usually as a way of protecting itself. Psychotherapy provides a space whereby you can discover and awaken to who you really are; a soulful being with the immense potential for inner peace, balance, love and so much more!
10. What personally do you do to cope with stress in your life?
I have been in and out of my own therapy since before I started my training to become a psychotherapist. Therapists are human, we all have issues and I see that it is crucial that I work through my own ‘stuff’ so that I don’t project this onto my clients. I also think it is important to have personal experience of the modalities and the techniques that I use. Over the years I have worked with psychosynthesis, gestalt, Jungian, art, couples and group therapists. I am currently working with a therapist who specializes in mindfulness.
For my day-to-day self-care, I love to:
– art journal and recently participated in the Brené Brown Art Journaling Course
– take long-hot-mindful baths. I love the essential oil recipes in The Enchanted Bath
– my husband and I often take the kids for a Sunday morning bush or coastal walk
– dance. I used to dance 5 rhythms in the UK and have recently found a facilitator in Sydney
– get away on women’s retreats for self and spiritual development
(Photo credit: PsychCentral)
This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.
Sydney counsellor, soul-centred 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 of Sydney.
Along with other leading Australian experts in the field of eating disorders – I am excited to be presenting at the eating disorder conference:
I have a body. But I am not my body. So who am I then?
Themes of disidentification, detachment and surrender are spiritual practices known throughout the world’s many spiritual traditions. And… there is an increasing expanse of neuroscientific evidence to back up the long-term benefits on emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of such practices.
In this experiential workshop, you will learn about and practise a classic psychosynthesis mindfulness meditation to gain a sense of who you really are, underlying your identifications with your body, your feelings, your mind and your thoughts.
This is a powerful, transformational tool for those suffering with food and body image issues as well as for practitioners working with this client base.
Sydney counsellor, soul-centred life-coach and Master’s qualified 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. Jodie was Assistant Clinical Director at a Sydney Outpatient Treatment Centre, 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. Her experience includes a dissertation on eating disorders titled Call off the Search: Eating Disorders a Symptom of Psychospiritual Crisis; post graduate training in addiction and Indigenous sacred 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); Riverglen Mental Health Unit and Women’s Health NSW.
Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy and helping women to find value, meaning and purpose out of their suffering.
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.
Psychosynthesis – the style of therapy that I practise – is known worldwide as the psychology with a soul. Roberto Assagioli, the founder, was trained in neurology and psychiatry – he was part of the early psychoanalytic movement with Freud and Jung. His style of psychotherapy was deeply influenced by eastern and western spirituality – psychosynthesis – is therefore an integration of the best that western psychology has to offer, along with the philosophies, beliefs and techniques of eastern and western spiritual disciplines. Psychosynthesis was not meant to replace psychoanalysis; rather, Assagioli wished to enhance it.
In the therapy room, we use the latest in evidence based practice alongside our self, soul and spiritual work. One of the core methods of working is via a psychodynamic approach – a school of thought and practice that has a considerable amount of research to prove its long-term effectiveness.
Through my own recovery and from having the privilege of watching people blossom and grow for nearly 15 years in my private counselling and psychotherapy practice – I know therapy works! I love it when I find solid research to back it up.
In The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D. reviews over 160 studies of psychodynamic psychotherapy. He provides a considerable amount evidence to show that not only does therapy provide symptom improvement but through developing inner resources, self-knowledge and awareness, you can continue to improve long after your therapy ends – in fact – the tools and awareness you develop will last you a lifetime.
Comparable to psychosynthesis, psychodynamic psychotherapy is not a sticky plaster fix – it offers depth, understanding, meaning and long-term change from whatever it is that is causing you distress.
Shedler’s paper highlights the following features of psychodynamic psychotherapy:
– For optimal results, psychotherapy takes place once a week and it can be short-term or long-term and open ended.
– The essence of psychodynamic therapy is exploring those aspects of self that are not fully known.
– Psychodynamic therapy encourages exploration and discussion of the full range of emotions. The therapist helps you to describe and put words to feelings, including contradictory feelings, feelings that are troubling or threatening, and feelings that you may not initially be able to recognize or acknowledge.
– Psychodynamic therapists actively focus on and explore avoidances and other defence mechanisms.
– Psychodynamic therapists work to identify and explore recurring themes and patterns in your thoughts, feelings, self-concept, relationships, and life experiences.
– Psychodynamic therapists explore early experiences, the relation between past and present, and the ways in which the past tends to “live on” in the present. The focus is not on the past for its own sake, but rather on how the past sheds light on current psychological difficulties. The goal is to help you to free yourself from the bonds of past experience in order to live more fully in the present.
– Psychodynamic psychotherapy places emphasis on your relationships and interpersonal experiences.
– The relationship between you and the therapist is itself an important interpersonal relationship, one that can become deeply meaningful. Because our original wounding often happened in our early attachment relationships – it is through the loving, empathic therapeutic relationship that reparation, healing and change can take place.
– Therapy encourages you to speak freely about whatever is on your mind. Everything you bring (thoughts, fears, desires, dreams etc) are considered a rich source of information and can help you to find value, meaning and purpose in life.
This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.
PHOTO CREDIT: CANSTOCK
Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!
I share some of the things that I am passionate about, why I became a counsellor & psychotherapist , how I believe people change, the hopeful and soulful approach that I use and what to expect in your first counselling session. Check it out here.
This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.
Jodie is a therapist who has a passion for working with women and the issues that women experience throughout their lifetime. Jodie also uses an approach called psychosynthesis, which she explains in her responses below.
I have a background in women’s health and provide therapeutic counselling, life-coaching and depth psychotherapy to women who are looking for emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. The types of women who come to see me range from ages 18 to 70+, come from all walks of life and a variety of career and cultural backgrounds.
I currently balance being a full-time stay at home mother to two young children with a part-time, evening and weekend, private practice in Allambie Heights and Manly on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
In the early nineties, I was working at a new age bookstore and crystal shop in Covent Garden in London, when I discovered a book called Swimming with Wild Dolphins. That day, I zipped out at lunch time and booked a flight to Dingle, a small fishing village on the South West Coast of Ireland where Fungie, a wild bottlenose dolphin had made his home. I continued to swim with him for 15 years, but it was this first encounter that I had what Maslow called a peak experience. In many ways, my spiritual awakening shone the light on the darkness that I had been living with for most of my life.
I returned to London and so began my self-development journey through many women’s workshops and then weekly, long-term psychotherapy sessions. The unconditional love and acceptance that I received from my therapist helped me to heal my early childhood wounding, chronic low self-worth, addiction and disordered eating.
In 1998, I attended an open evening at The Institute of Psychosynthesis in London, participated in their four day Fundamentals, then submerged myself in their Foundation Year; predominantly for my own self-development. Having worked through my own suffering, I felt that I had something to offer others and decided to train firstly as a therapeutic counsellor, then as a psychotherapist.
Nowadays, I consider myself to be aligned with what Jung called, a wounded healer of the soul.
I believe that people are more able to engage their will, make healthy choices and change when they have a lived experience of altruistic love, acceptance, empathy, kindness and compassion. All of these spiritual qualities make up a large part of the therapeutic relationship and are internalised by the client over the period of their therapy. It’s really about finding harmony and balance between love (feminine energy) and will (masculine energy).
A large chunk of the therapy is spent helping people to redirect their life energy towards identification with their authentic self (that has for whatever reason had to go into hiding) and disidentification from the false self, subpersonalities, defence mechanisms and the maintaining cycles that have been keeping them stuck and unhappy. Getting in touch with anger (which has often been turned against the self or perhaps swallowed down) is also useful for freeing the will to make changes.
Many women today are tyrannized by punitive and harsh internal voices resulting in self-loathing and self-hatred – so as a way of sustaining change, we work a great deal in therapy building self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-love, self-worth and a self-care program. When people are being kind and taking care of themselves, it is hard to stay stuck in old and self-destructive ways that are no longer serving their well-being.
The soulful, holistic and integrative approach that I work with is called psychosynthesis. It was founded by Italian psychiatrist and neurologist, Roberto Assagioli MD, who was a colleague to the likes of Freud, Jung and Maslow. He was a pioneer in the field of humanistic, transpersonal and spiritual psychologies and was way ahead of his time (early 1900s), by integrating mindfulness and spirituality into western psychological disciplines. Today, there are schools all over the world with psychosynthesis practitioners leading the way in areas such as mindfulness and neuroscience as well as revamping national health systems and addiction treatment centres with the psychosynthesis holistic and psycho-spiritual approach.
Psychosynthesis as a modality, is loved by both therapists and clients because of the hopeful context that is held. If someone is suffering with addiction, depression or an eating disorder for example, and they are being told, ‘once an addict, always an addict’ or, ‘you are suffering with a mental illness, disorder or disease and you will need to manage that for life’; many people find this doesn’t fit for them and this labelling adds to the sense of hopelessness that they may already be experiencing. From the first session, clients hear, ‘even though you may feel or think this way right now – you are not broken, diseased or in need of a cure. At the core, you are whole and unbroken and we’ll work together in a way that you can begin to realise and actualise this wholesome way of being’. One of my favourite quotes to support this is by Geneen Roth, ‘your eating disorder [for example] is an attempt to fix something that has never been broken’. This way of thinking and working turns the dominant disease, illness and medical model on its head.
Psychosynthesis is therefore non-pathologising and each individual is viewed by the therapist through what we call bifocal vision; ‘the client as a Self, a being with a purpose in life and with immense potential for love, intelligence and creativity…also as a personality, an individual made up of a unique blend of physical, emotional and mental characteristics’ (Whitmore, 2000, pg. 70). For example, someone suffering with an eating disorder is often immobilised by their identification with the body. When they hear, ‘you have a body but you are more than your body’ – they often see themselves clearly for the first time. This provides hope and motivation to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours in addition to providing a context for the work.
Although clients report feeling better and start to make changes within the first few sessions, psychosynthesis psychotherapy is not a quick fix, or, a come when you feel bad kind of therapy. It is a process of self-awakening, a journey of the soul and a (re) discovery of who the person was always meant to be!
Being in therapy, the client will often have one of the most intimate, important and life changing relationships they will ever experience. So, from my perspective, the first session is a space for them to assess whether I am the right therapist or not.
As a way of discovering the context and emerging purpose for the work together, I ask what we call in psychosynthesis, the golden questions:
Then I ask the super golden question, ‘what makes your heart sing?’ as much of the work is about helping people get in touch with value, meaning and purpose in their lives.
Clients are usually nervous and may have perceptions of therapy that are true or false (most TV therapists spring to mind here!), so I talk about how therapy works and the methods that we may use: talking, self-reflection, dream work, visualisation, meditation, journaling, art therapy and homework. We also discuss boundaries, policies and the working contract – this includes ethics and confidentiality, risk of harm, fees and cancellations, consistency of sessions, review sessions, borrowing books from my library, social media and their choice to end therapy.
At the end of the session, many people report experiencing a sense of catharsis at having talked about something that has been deeply shameful and troubling to them for a significant amount of time.
I am passionate about my own self and spiritual development. Some workshop highlights over the last fifteen years have been a Jungian/Indigenous women’s retreat in the South of France called Women, Power, Sex & Soul, a Marion Woodman Body/Soul Retreat in New York, Day Soul Spas in Sydney with the Soulful Woman and conferences with Anita Johnston, author of Eating in the light of the moon and Linda Bacon, author of Health at every size. In the last few years I have also seen live, some of my long standing, female role models: Oprah at a taping of the Oprah Show, Geneen Roth in New York launching her latest book, Lost and found: unexpected revelations about food and money and recently Brené Brown talking live in Sydney about The Power of Being Enough.
Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private supervision, counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest 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.
“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
This meditation was devised by Roberto Assagioli and is in his book, Psychosynthesis (1969). It is now widely used in mindfulness based therapies including ACT: Acceptance Committment Therapy. It should take about 20 minutes. This meditation is useful for fostering and observing, authentic self and helps to move away from being overly identified with body, feelings or mind and thoughts.
Put your body in a comfortable and relaxed position, and slowly take a few deep breaths. Then make the following affirmation, slowly and thoughtfully:
I have a body and l am not my body. My body may find itself in different conditions of health or sickness, it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my self, my real I. I value my body as my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well, I seek to keep it in good health, but it is not myself. I have a body and I am not my body.
I have feelings and I am not my feelings. My feelings are diverse, changing, sometimes contradictory. They may swing from love to hatred, from calm to anger, from joy to sorrow, and yet my essence—my true nature—does not change. ‘I’ remain. Though a wave of feeling may temporarily submerge me, I know that it will pass in time; therefore I am not this feeling. Since I can observe and understand my feelings, and then gradually learn to direct, utilize, and integrate them harmoniously, it is clear that they are not my self. I have feelings and I am not my feelings.
I have a mind and thoughts and I am not my mind and my thoughts. My mind is a valuable tool of discovery and expression, but it is not the essence of my being. Its contents are constantly changing as it embraces new ideas, knowledge, and experience. Sometimes my mind refuses to obey me. Therefore, it cannot be me, my self. I have a mind and thoughts and I am not my mind and my thoughts.
Who am I then if I am not my body, feelings or mind I am a centre of pure awareness, love and will. This is the permanent factor in the ever-varying flow of my personal life. It is that which gives me a sense of being, of permanence, of inner balance. I affirm my identity with this centre and realize its permanency and its energy. I realize that from this centre of true identity I can learn to observe, direct, and harmonize all of my psychological processes including my body, feelings and mind. I choose to achieve a constant awareness of this fact in the midst of my everyday life, and to use it to help me and give increasing meaning and direction to my life.
I have a body and I am not my body
I have feelings and I am not my feelings
I have a mind and I am not my mind
I am a centre of pure awareness, love and will.
NB: Some psychosynthesis practitioners prefer to use ‘more than’ instead of ‘not’. I use both. If you are a Psychosynthesis practitioner, feel free to comment below regarding ‘more than’ or ‘not’.
Which aspect were you most identified with?
Is there one part that you barely know?
How could you build a better relationship with these 3 aspects?
What was it like to realize that you are a centre of pure awareness, love and will…and not in fact your body, your feelings or your mind/thoughts?
This is a powerful exercise. You may want to find a psychotherapist experienced in this kind of meditation to help you work through an over identification with the various parts of who you are.
You can change this to suit any area of your life that you wish to separate and disidentify from.
I have a mother and I am not my mother
I have work and I am not my work
I have an eating disorder and I am not my eating disorder
I have things and I am not my things
I have a victim subpersonality and I am not my victim subpersonality
Jodie Gale MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, Dip Therapeutic Counselling, CMPanzA, CMCAPA has a wealth of personal and professional 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 ‘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.
This Journal article is subject to copyright. To cite this Journal article: Gale, J. (2010). Addiction: A Psychospiritual Perspective. The CAPA Quarterly, Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW (4), 20-23 retrieved from http://jodiegale.com/addiction-a-psychospiritual-perspective/
‘In every human being there is a special heaven whole and unbroken’
The word ‘holistic’ is used often within the helping professions, yet on deeper exploration, ‘spirituality’ is often neglected. It is not seen as legitimate and is rarely given space in psychology, social work, counselling and psychotherapy training (F. Gale, 2007). Considering global emergencies such as financial and environmental crises, war torn countries and displaced peoples, the widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian’s health and well-being, levels of addiction to the internet, food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex and shopping and a growing sense of disconnection from self and others – neglecting a spiritual context continues to have dire consequences for individuals, communities and the ‘whole’. ‘Outcomes based’ medical models supported by many governments are primarily concerned with ‘getting rid’ of problems rather than caring for the whole person (WHNSW, 2002). Yalom sees that our field is in crisis due to economically driven, perforce symptom orientated, brief, superficial and insubstantial therapies (2002, pg. xiv). In ‘Healing the Split’, John Nelson (1994) suggests that no area of Western thought is more in need of the input from spiritual disciplines than our understanding of [neuroses] and psychoses. Wilber (1994) writes, Continue reading