“The Patient who will not suffer pain fails to suffer pleasure.” Wilfred Bion 1970.
I’ve been a therapist for over ten years now and one of the things I love about the job is how demanding it is of me to stay awake and stay alive. The training never stops and development is always a work in progress.
After many years of various work and an enduring interest in self-development and study, encompassing Eastern thoughts and practices and various experiential group experiences, I started my formal Psychotherapy training in 2008 and finished in 2014. However, what I didn’t realise was that this was the beginning much more than the end of something.
What makes Psychotherapy so important to me is that it requires one to become a psychotherapist rather than to do psychotherapy. The non-behavioural psychotherapeutic interaction is not one where I teach someone strategies, but one where I seek to on a sustained, regular and meaningful way to contact another human being, always in service of them and focusing on them but using my own present being to help make sense and bring to awareness what is going for them. I do this with all that I have available my mind, my senses, my bodily feelings, my intuition, to try and get a felt sense of what things are like for them.
Jonathon Shedler, the American Psychotherapist and researcher, says “don’t ask what model your therapist practises but how much therapy they have had.”
For me this is what makes psychotherapy truly interesting, of course learning about different theories of the mind and the way it functions and disfunctions is hugely important but it is in our own therapy that we truly learn the ‘praxis’, (practice) of psychotherapy. This involves being challenged to reflect deeply on our own internal processes, our own avoidance and defence mechanisms all human difficulties are on a spectrum and that if we look deeply enough all of us can relate to our patients through our own reflecting selves.
Paul Salvage is Psychodynamic Psychotherapist trained to work with adolescents from 16-25 and adults across a wide range of specialisms including depression, anxiety, family issues, self awareness and relationship difficulties. He currently works with individuals in our private practice in Hove.
Further reading by Paul Salvage –