For many years I have been actively exploring the healing potential of altered states. Particularly in working with trauma and pre-verbal wounds I have realised that accessing the 'inner healer' through various forms of 'energy work' such as Holotropic Breathwork can be effective in helping the client's process. All of this is most safely achieved within the context of a container of relational therapy.
More recently I have become involved in the burgeoning renaissance of psychedelic medicines and have been facilitating on medical trials of these substances, most notably psilocybin. I believe that these substances offer a paradigm shift in the help offered to people with various mental health presentations. During trainings to orient my practice towards psychedelic facilitation and particularly clinical trials, I have learned afresh the importance of preparation and integration for these experiences to be useful. I am also deeply mindful of the wisdom traditions of indigenous communities that have taught us how to use ritual and ceremony with respect to plant medicines.
I do not offer private psychedelic assisted psychotherapy sessions as this type of work is still illegal outside licensed facilities, nor do I encourage people to experiment with substances that have the potential to destabilise outside a clinical setting. However I am able to offer one-to-one integration sessions as needed when slots are available.
I don’t usually bring politics to my therapy blog but waking up on Friday June 24th 2016 to such a sense of shock and the subsequent sequence of clients through my consulting room all of whom had been triggered in different ways by this referendum result has given me pause for thought.
The easiest response is to blame the 17 million people who voted ‘Leave’, to judge them as racist imbeciles who want a return to a long lost fantasy of a bucolic little England. But that, in psychological terms, is splitting and projection. You know, I rid myself of any shadowy bits of my unconscious (my own internalised xenophobia ?) and place them firmly within ‘the other’. But do I really believe that over half of my fellow voters are complete idiots ? That doesn’t sound like a very humanistic position - ‘I’m OK, they’re NOT OK’ ! I still disagree with their opinions and feel angry and dismayed by what the consequences of this decision may be in years to come. Yet how do I understand what has happened without diminishing myself or my neighbours ?
Bill Plotkin has just articulated what I have been thinking so instead of a 'depression' blog - here is his musing..
Probably the most common condition addressed by psychotherapists is depression. For me, the most precise definition of depression is a bad case of suppressed emotions — emotions that had been managed, deflected, or defused instead of being fully felt, digested, assimilated, and acted on in a way that improves our relationships with self and others. When a person is depressed, he has a significant backload of undigested feelings piled up behind an inner dam, blocking the natural flow of his psyche and his life. If this blockage becomes severe or prolonged, his physical and psychological vitality will grind to a halt. He’ll become sluggish, spiritless, and possibly suicidal.
What the depressed person needs is to feel more, not less. This highlights the disastrous consequences of thinking of depression as a bad case of sadness and that the cure is to feel less sad. Such a prescription is exactly wrong. If the person is depressed because of a backload of unassimilated sadness — or of any number of other emotions — then what he needs is to feel his sadness more fully, to grieve wildly. Any attempts to talk him out of his grief, distract him from it, or suppress it with pills would just make his depression worse.
Depression is, at root, the suppression of one of the innate facets of human wholeness, namely the blockage of the wild, emotional, erotic, and fully embodied dimension of our human wholeness, about which I’ll say more in the next Musing. The best therapy for depression begins with the resuscitation, animation, and liberation of our capacity to feel fully and to be in communion with other people and with the greater web of life. Wholing supports the deepest and most effective healing.
One reason the cultivation of wholeness has become so rare is because most everything about mainstream culture neglects, or even actively suppresses, these aspects of normal human development. Another reason is that Western psychology has lacked a comprehensive map of human wholeness. It’s much easier to catalog ways that people can be psychologically or socially unhealthy — such as in psychology’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals — than it is to identify all the ways people can be healthy or whole. Even psychotherapists who do attend to the cultivation of wholeness — and there are many — rarely recognize or embrace the full spectrum of our innate human resources. Most focus on only one or two dimensions.
Read more at his website site the Animas Valley Institute
I have been thinking about the generally accepted truth that we all crave intimacy, and that many of us fail to find or maintain it. What is it - this thing that shows up as central in loving relationships, that drives so much of human activity, yet presents so many pitfalls ? And what has any of this to do with therapeutic relationships ?