• Relationships,  What is Therapy

    Relationships are Therapy: Part 1 #Honesty

    I don’t write because I am good at it. I find writing particularly difficult. I write because it helps me make sense of things and, in that case, I don’t write nearly enough. If there was one thing that is challenging to make sense of in psychotherapy, it is the complexities of intimate relationships. So I am making a commitment to write more about them in an attempt to make more sense of them.   Humans are an interesting species. We’re a bit like beavers, weavers, budgies or hamsters; we are designed to pair up with a mate and build a nest together. We are all, even the most liberal…

  • What is Therapy

    The Wing Chun of Psychotherapy

    This weekend, sitting at the foot of the Drakensburg, I decided to start re-reading “Maps of Narrative Practice”, by Michael White.  The book was a gift from one of my dearest friends and colleagues when I left Johannesburg.  As i started to read it, this time around I was struck by the correlations one could make between the life long study of Psychotherapy and my more recent commitment to practicing Kung Fu. Because of Michael White’s teachings, I have never had much of an affinity for overly structured therapy.  Michael was adamant that you could never determine your responses to people’s expressions of their troubles ahead of these expressions and…

  • Uncategorized,  What is Therapy

    Living despite tears. Living to the point of tears.

    I’ll tell you a little known secret and perhaps save you some disappointment: the idea that psychology can cure the pains of the human heart is mythical. For this reason I envy the achievements of modern medicine. Through good science and thorough practice it has managed to successfully cure many of the physical ills we face. It conquered Smallpox, combated many bacteria through the advent of antibiotics, and saved many lives from Malaria through the advances in preventative treatment. The biomedical science behind most illnesses has been carefully worked out, enabling effective treatment and greater longevity amongst the human population. However, when it comes to the symptoms of the “problems…

  • Injury and Illness,  Uncategorized,  What is Therapy

    Truth vs Hope

    Lately, colleagues and I have been debating the issue of “prognosis”. More specifically, when it comes to people with severe illnesses or injuries, in a physical rehabilitation setting: how, when and if we should communicate “prognosis” to them? There seem to be two camps of thinking when it comes to this. On the one hand, there are those who feel the professional obligation to introduce patients to the “truth” about their circumstances. Alternatively, there are some of us who feel that “hope”, even if completely unrealistic, should be kept alive. Although I, without a doubt, camp steadfast on the pro-hope side, I have nevertheless become interested in the counter argument.…

  • Uncategorized,  What is Therapy

    Why tell stories?

    “If you want to know me, then you must know my story, for my story defines who I am. And if I want to know myself, to gain insight into the meaning of my own life, then I, too, must come to know my own story. I must come to see in all its particulars the narrative of the self –the personal myth-  that I have tacitly, even unconsciously, composed over the course of my years. It is a story I continue to review, and tell to myself (and sometimes to others) as I go on living.” McAdams D.P. (1993) The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making…

  • Uncategorized,  What is Therapy

    Put it in writing

    1) Language.  Being able to put your thoughts and feelings into words is essential to human existence.  Our ability for what is called “symbolic thought” is what distinguishes us from most of the animal kingdom.  So, for example, my little boy is starting to learn that round things are balls.  At first he would call all round things balls.  Now he is learning that some round things are actually called apples and that these are things you can eat.  But, slowly, we also start to learn symbols for our thoughts and feelings….for now, he mostly still just screams his head off, but he will learn eventually. 2) Language and meaning.…