Sunday, 02 June 2019 16:57

No Stone Unturned

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"Psychotherapists are applied neuroscientists who create individually tailored enriched learning environments designed to enhance brain functioning and mental health." (Louis Cozolino)

I put this great quote on the front page of my website because this extravagant way of describing my work made me smile. In retrospect, I guess people sometimes wonder what it really means

Lots of folk come to therapy for the first time, of course, & don’t know what to expect. Some of those will inevitably ask me: So what’s the management plan? How is this going to work? And there always is a plan, of course, but not a one size fits all.

The direction and substance of the work that we do together is constantly evolving, influenced by your history, your current concerns, the patterns of your life and the choices you have made. Sometimes even by the reactions and responses you have to your therapist – me! Lots of these things are hard to talk about.

There is a mysterious part of you that you probably don’t know very well – I call it the unconscious but there are other names for it too. Christopher Bollas called it “the unthought known.” That is because somewhere in you it is known, perhaps as a bodily sensation under various circumstances, perhaps as the reactions you have at times that are out of your control, perhaps in other ways that often go unnoticed.

So this part and the important information it holds is ‘known’ deeply within you, but cannot be thought about consciously because there is no language around it. It’s just a feeling, or a niggling doubt, or a big fat NO!, for example, that surprises you because you didn’t know it was in there or why it comes now.

In your work with me, all of these things help to build our information base about who and how you are in the world. We talk about them, if we can, and as they come more and more into your awareness, you begin to understand yourself more and more. There is some hard work, sometimes painful work, involved. People sometimes leave therapy before the work is done for this reason.

Louis Cozolino is writing in the quote above about neural pathways too, many of which were laid down in the very first years of your life, from the first day forward, perhaps even before that. They have an enduring influence in your life, and the nature of the stories they tell you and your body are part of the information we seek. And we can track them, even though they are so old and indeed preverbal.

A lot of what we are interested in comes from a very well researched knowledge base called Attachment Theory. I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks.

Because at the heart of all this is relationship, and the one between you and me counts too. It’s all part of the plan.

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