Therapy and the Counter-tradition: the Edge of Philosophy.
By Manu Bazzano & Julie Webb (Eds) Abingdon, OX:
Routledge, 2016, paperback, 214 pp, £26.41, ISBN: 978-1138905887.
Self & Society – International Journal for Humanistic Psychology (44), 4, December 2016
Reviewed by Marcia Gamsu, existential psychotherapist, email@example.com
Although some schools of psychotherapy explicitly adopt a philosophical model, the editors of Therapy and the Counter-tradition suggest that other types of therapy are also based on philosophy, albeit only implicitly. In many cases these therapies adopt a philosophy associated with rationalism, a stream of philosophy which has dominated Western thinking since Aristotle. Our use of reason and a belief in the essential orderliness of the universe are some of the concerns of this philosophy. Therapy based on it is likely to appeal to the client’s power of reason in order to help her gain mastery over her life. Such therapy is also likely to be normative, with the therapist guiding the client and subtly pointing out the error of her ways.
A different kind of underpinning of therapy is possible however. This is the philosophy of the counter-tradition, philosophy beginning with Heraclitus rather than Plato or Aristotle, a philosophy which embraces the contradictions, limitations and pathos of human existence, reminding us that the world is ungraspable. Therapy based on the counter-tradition is going to accept the client’s contradictions and shortcomings and rather than being normative, engage in an honest exploration of the client’s experience.
In seventeen chapters drawing on a wide range of philosophers, literary figures and other thinkers, this book calls for a dialogue between therapy and philosophy from the counter-tradition. Although at times the therapy side of the dialogue could have featured more prominently, on the whole the discussion is rich and creative. It makes important reading in a therapy world so dominated by outcomes and measurements that is in danger of overlooking the contradictory, flawed human being at the heart of it.
Manu Bazzano opens the first section of this book The threshold experience with a subtle and enlightening reading of Nietzsche. In Changelings: the self in Nietzsche’s psychology, Bazzano critiques attempts to make Nietzsche’s philosophy into a systematic school of thought and interpretations of Nietzsche which either totally refute or embrace the notion of self. Nietzsche’s middle works do talk about care of the self but for Bazzano we need to guard against confusing the cultivation of tranquillity with cultivation of the ego, often the trap of spiritual seekers and those concerned with ‘self-development’. If there is no fixed self, some of the central tenets of various schools of psychotherapy, in particular those from existential-phenomenological psychotherapy (for example free choice) fall away. In a novel interpretation drawing on Hegel, Bazzano argues that Nietzsche does have a version of selfhood, one in which selfhood is inherent in one’s actions and deeds. As deeds always happen in a particular social and historical context, context then becomes an important component of selfhood.
It was intriguing to read John Lippitt’s interpretation of Kierkegaard as a philosopher who wants us to transcend, rather than embrace anxiety in What can therapists learn from Kierkegaard? Drawing on Kierkegaard’s little-known but inspiring Upbuilding Discourses, Lippitt demonstrates the futility of getting caught up in comparisons with others and being influenced by the ways other see us. He juxtaposes this with genuine self-acceptance. This self-acceptance and tolerance of the situation we find ourselves in has implications for the way we might understand clients ‘faults’ and their problematic histories. Using Kierkegaard’s’ distinction between a problem (that requires a solution) and a burden (that we need to consider how to shoulder), Lippitt suggests that if clients begin to consider their difficulties as burdens rather than problems, then significant progress will have been made. I found the suggestion in this chapter that we free ourselves from a constant striving for self-improvement (and the nagging sense of dissatisfaction that accompanies this) inspiring.
In John Keats and negative capability: the psychotherapist’s X-factor? Diana Voller discusses the notion of uncertainty in therapy drawing on Keats’ notion of negative capability (an ability to tolerate uncertainty) and his Ode to a Nightingale. Voller’s careful discussion is timely in our outcome and technique-centred therapy environment. She argues that the therapist needs to be able to move between two modes of relating to uncertainty. In one mode, the therapist is experiencing uncertainty herself; in the other, the uncertainty is centred on the client (and the therapist tolerates and contains this, using her skills to explore its meaning). Too much of the latter can close down spontaneity but too much of the former can make the therapist feel inept and even be an excuse for laziness on her part. In my view, the capacity of the therapist to be open and spontaneous but also grounded enough to be able to articulate any new meanings that have emerged is at the heart of good therapy.
Literature also forms the basis for Nick Duffell’s enjoyable chapter on Lawrence, That Piece of Supreme Art, a Man’s Life. Duffell provides an excellent introduction to Lawrence’s thought and life, covering his critique of our emphasis on rational thought rather than experience and the life of the body, his horror of mechanisation and war and his call for sex and tenderness. These themes play out in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, where Sir Clifford’s version of masculinity where achievement is privileged and vulnerability denied is still prevalent today. Duffell goes on to describe Lawrence’s rejection of childhood sexuality and reframing of the oedipal complex. I’ve read very little of Lawrence and this chapter made me want to read more; I would have liked a little more help as to its relevance to therapy. Duffell briefly mentions using Lawrence’s writing in his work with couples, so that the relationship is seen as mirror to self- knowledge.
Concluding this section of the book, Subhaga Gaetano Failla imagines Pascal’s night of enlightenment in Tears of Joy: Pascal’s Night of Fire. This is the night in which Pascal realised that God was immanent rather than transcendent. In a note sewn into the lining of his coat, he talks of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of ‘ordinary’ flawed human beings rather than the God of philosophers and scholars. In Failla’s account of that night, Pascal encounters a faceless man, a projection of himself, who confronts him with his fear of what is formless and in flux. The man teaches him that uncertainty is the only true certainty and that he won’t find God through reason or science but through the secrets of the heart. The dramatization of fear, uncertainty and transformation in this chapter mirror many of the concerns of the book overall – its emphasis on experience rather than knowledge, the priority placed becoming over being and the vulnerability and uncertainty that this all brings in its wake.
Opening the next section on ethics and politics, Julie Webb covers Judith Butler’s thinking in some breadth, including her notions of our need for recognition as subjects who also form others, the birth/death of identities, performance as an enactment of various social norms (including gender norms) and the dangers of identity categories. Webb argues that given that our identities are formed through the Other, it isn’t surprising that the breakdown of a relationship (often the cause of clients coming to therapy) causes a major crisis. Like other contributors to this book, Webb emphasises an ethic of becoming and not knowing. We don’t know what our possibilities are but these are reliant on the Other. This requires trust and this places an ethical demand for openness on the therapist. Despite the many attempts to connect Butler’s thinking with therapy, at times I found this chapter a little overly theoretical and would have welcomed more use of everyday language rather than the use of Butler’s terminology.
In the most autobiographical chapter in the book, Richard Pearce draws on his own early experiences to demonstrate various aspects of Sartre’s thinking. I enjoyed Pearce’s focus on the later (sometimes overlooked) Sartre, including Sartre’s discussion of the dialectical relationship between our subjectivity and the social and historical environment, and the notion of an existential ethic as a reciprocity of freedoms. In a point I wish he had developed further, Pearce suggests that the fault line in therapy lies between those who believe behaviour is mechanistically determined and thus able to be mechanically corrected and those who believe in human agency. He argues that the aim of therapy is to get the client to accept her own and the other’s subjectivity and that because our engagement with the world changes it in some way, this is also a political act. Pearce’s autobiographical examples are very sensitively drawn and the chapter is broad ranging.
In a short focussed and informative chapter on Rousseau, Instances of Liberation in Rousseau, Federico Battistutta discusses Rousseau’s thinking on the relationship between nature and culture and his belief in the instinctive life, relevant for many realms of life including education (education being about not interfering in and promoting a natural tendency to development) and self -transformation. This belief in an essential human nature puts Rousseau at odds with other thinkers discussed in this book. I particularly enjoyed Battistutta’s discussion of the development of Rousseau’s ideas by subsequent thinkers (including Carl Rogers) and this chapter made me start thinking about other ways of thinking influenced by Rousseau, for example the implicit anti-intellectualism in many therapy/self-development groups.
I struggled more with the following chapter by James Belassie on Camus and psychotherapy, despite its sensitive and insightful analysis of Camus’s work. I agree with the author that we need to bring philosophical thinking into aspects of existence, for example suicide, that would normally be interpreted as matters of pathology. This is an area that Camus has a lot to say about. I was also interested in Belassie’s argument that metaphor (eschews abstract rational thought and taps directly into emotional significance, making is more relevant for therapy than the dry logic of traditional philosophy. One of Camus’ recurring metaphors is that of water and Belassie draws on this to illustrate Camus’ argument for a rebellion against the human condition and the whole of creation.
Manu Bazzano’s exciting chapter, Desire-Delirium: on Deleuze and therapy opens the third section of the book, loosely centred on the connections between self, other, world. Bazzano finds Deleuze a refreshing antidote to the colonisation of once counter-cultural modes of thought (including psychoanalysis) by neo-positivism. For Deleuze, the unconscious has no underlying principles and rather than representing reality, creates it. Desire is not about lack but a constructive and creative and part of life itself. The encouragement to immerse ourselves in the ‘movement of becoming’ is one the central themes of this book. In an example that I find touching and genuinely respectful, Bazzano considers desire in relation to a client with an ‘unrealistic’ longing for a particular lover. Rather than considering her desire as about lack (of self-esteem and so on) he comes to value the longing in itself.
Paul Gordon’s chapter A Poetry of Human Relations: Merleau-Ponty and Psychotherapy contains much that is relevant for therapy and the therapeutic relationship and I would have loved this to have been drawn out more. The chapter deepened my understanding of Merleau-Ponty’s anti-Cartesian philosophy of embodiment. It covers language, sexuality, a critique of the notion of an inner world, our relationship to objects and the link between phenomenology and the work of artists and writers. I wonder if the chapter, enjoyable and enlightening as it is, might have benefited from a narrower focus and more homing in on therapy. The links are there implicitly but some examples from the author’s therapeutic experience would have made the chapter richer.
In a dense but illuminating chapter on the culture of the ‘selfie’, Eugenia Lapteva questions whether the selfie culture is an attempt to rid ourselves of the part of ourselves that resists standardisation. Lapteva quotes Dostoevsky’s statement that we attempt to become some kind of generalised human beings out of a sense of shame of our uniqueness. She examines psychoanalytical notions of human subjectivity which lead to her to conclude that we are bound up with the other from birth and this prevents us from achieving complete knowledge of self and other. Drawing on Derrida’s notion that secrecy is about an experience, associated with uniqueness, resisting knowledge, Lapteva suggests that by attempting to reveal everything, ‘the selfie forecloses the singularity of the self whose essence shows itself only when it is allowed to be what it is, namely withdrawn, hidden secret, unknown.’ (p 134). I find this fascinating and it made me think about the connections between the selfie culture and the confessional culture of therapy.
In Energy Ethics and the Thought of Difference in Luce Irigaray, Federico Battistutta explores Irigaray’s critique of the phallocentric nature of traditional philosophy and its emphasis on reason rather than embodied experience. He particularly focuses on Irigaray’s thoughts on Eastern philosophy, looking both at what it can teach us (for example overcoming the mind/body split) and critiquing some of its concepts (for example the notion that enlightenment involves overcoming duality). This chapter is an introduction to Irigaray’s thinking but I would have preferred to read more about how we might draw on Irigaray’s thinking in therapy.
Julie Webb opens the final section of the book, Therapy, language, metaphysics with Under arrest: Wittgenstein and perspicuity where she links Wittgenstein with therapy as ‘description therapy as opposed to prescription therapy’ (p 149). For Wittgenstein philosophy is a process of clarification and Webb argues that in therapy this is about describing and re-describing the clients experience until she experiences clarity. Drawing on Wittgenstein, Webb suggests that we need to pay careful attention to how words are used. Failing to do this and using our own words rather than the client’s places in a position of authority. This seems important and I’m personally very aware of how far my own words can take the client from their own experience and beliefs. However, I wasn’t convinced by Webb’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s statement in the Tractatus that when something is inexpressible we should stay silent. Webb suggests that this is where a poetic, non- propositional form of expression comes into play. This may be so but I don’t think we can use the Tractatus to support this.
I found John Mackessy’s chapter on Schopenhauer, A Penetrating Beam of Darkness, surprisingly accessible, balanced and relevant to therapy. The chapter provides a clear introduction to Schopenhauer’s thought, linking his notion of the will with Kant’s thing in itself and showing how it pre-figures the central concepts of psychoanalysis. The most thought provoking aspect of the chapter for me is the notion that a good outcome for therapy might not be a client learning how to get more of what she wants but her engaging more fully with experience. This would come about through her examining her behaviour and realising that constantly striving is egotistical and ultimately dissatisfying. I was also struck by the notion that being overly optimistic, whilst tempting for therapists, is a failure of compassion and a disregard of suffering. Mackessy does not claim to agree wholeheartedly with Schopenhauer about human nature but he succeeds in showing that his philosophy might be used as counter argument to ubiquitous solution-based therapy.
I struggled a little with the final two chapters in the book. Jeff Harrison’s Wittgenstein, Buddhism and psychotherapy is presented as a series of thoughts, rather than a coherent and systematic examination of Wittgenstein’s thinking. Harrison argues that this is faithful to Wittgenstein’s presentation of his own philosophy but I would have found it helpful if Harrison had explained some of the points he tries to convey more fully. That isn’t to say that Harrison doesn’t make some illuminating comparisons between Wittgenstein, Buddhism and therapy. For example, Wittgenstein believed that philosophical problems were caused by using language inaccurately and Harrison points out that the way people describe their issues to themselves is often bound up with the problem itself. Similarly, the way that we describe the issue in therapy can worsen the issue, diagnosis as opposed to description being an instance of this.
I was a little unclear on how Devang Vaidya’s chapter Amor Fati: Suffering to become the person one might be used to clarify the clients experience. Vaidya sets out to tie in Nietzsche’s call for us to love our fate with the Rogerian notion of being congruent with our experience. There are some potentially very interesting ideas in the chapter, including the question of how self-acceptance (Nietzsche’s notion of treating oneself as a fate) might be used in therapy. But many of these ideas remain unexamined. In an interesting section, Vaidya considers alternative responses to fate – for example considering everything that happens to us as fate and therefore failing to think about the things we can change, and having an apathetic or fearful response towards life. Vaidya also notes that loving fate is bound up with accepting suffering even though this suffering may be unjustified – an interesting point that would have benefited from further examination.
Sometimes I felt the authors in this book might have considered more carefully the relevance of what they were saying for therapy. Occasionally I disagreed with the philosophy or with authors’ interpretations of this philosophy. But these are small criticisms of a book that I have found inspirational and which I have drawn on several times when I’ve been working with clients. In the struggle to maintain an open, reflective and respectful style of therapy rather than one which directs the client where she supposedly needs to go, this book is immensely valuable. We need far more of this kind of profound thinking.
- Expanding a Humanistic Vision for a 21st Century Psychology
- Holloway Road Resources Centre, London
- Saturday 7 October 2017, 9 a.m. till 5 p.m.
- Cost: £60 (includes lunch, refreshments and live music)
This one-day conference brings together some of the most inspiring and challenging thinkers in the field of Psychology in general, and in Humanistic Psychology in particular. A CPD-certified event put on by the Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP) in conjunction with the UK Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (AHPP), five speakers will give us their own particular slant on the event’s umbrella title: “Expanding a Humanistic Vision for a 21st Century Psychology”
- Maureen O’Hara
- Dina Glouberman
- Jill Hall
- John Rowan
- Robin Shohet
- David Wasdell
This event is doubling as a book launch for the exciting new book Humanistic Psychology: Current Trends and Future Prospects.
For further details and booking information, see:
Expanding a Humanistic Vision for a 21st Century Psychology
The August 2016 issue of Self & Society has the following articles:
- Depressive realism: what it is and why it matters to Humanistic Psychology – Colin Feltham
- On the road to nowhere? Social-materialist psychology and depressive realism compared –
The Midlands Psychology Group
- Feminism, optimism and depressive realism –
Jeannie K. Wright
- When the desert starts to bloom: moving beyond depressive reality – Russell Stagg
- Is life a bitch? The need to contextualize depression and realism – Barbara Dowds
- Depressive Realism: an existential response
– John Pollard
An extract from David Kalisch’s review of Naomi Klein’s 2014 Book ‘This Changes Everything‘
Once every few years, Naomi Klein comes out with a new blockbuster that changes the terms of the debate about current issues of pressing concern. This new title is no different: not only does Klein revivify the climate change debate with the passionate urgency and sense of discovery that she communicates vividly, intelligently and in her typical pull-no-punches style, but she also joins up the dots between this and the previous concerns that she explored in her best selling books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine in fully coming to see that the problem confronting us and the planet is not just one of global warming but is one of the very system that organises our actions, thoughts and attitudes, namely global capitalism.
- Published online:14 Apr 2015
Stephen Joseph discusses the psychology of post-traumatic growth
The field of psychological trauma is changing as researchers recognise that adversity does not always lead to a damaged and dysfunctional life. Post-traumatic growth refers to how adversity can be a springboard to higher levels of psychological well-being. This article provides an overview of theory, practice and research. To what extent is post-traumatic stress the engine of post-traumatic growth? How can clinicians measure change? What can help people to thrive following adversity ?
To read the full article, download the PDF file.
Ahead of his Time: Carl Rogers on ‘Professionalism’, 1973
‘Leonard Piper’ IPN group, London
Published in IPNOSIS: an Independent Journal for Practitioners, 6 (Summer), 2002; reprinted in
R. House (2010) In, Against and Beyond Therapy, PCCS Books, pp. 202–7
Perhaps the safety, the prestige, the vestments of traditionalism that can be earned through certification and licensure may not be worth the cost. I have wondered aloud if we would dare to rest our confidence in the quality and competence we have as persons, rather than the certificates we can frame on our walls.
Carl Rogers, ‘Some new challenges to the helping professions’, p. 374
In this tribute to Carl Rogers, I want to offer a retrospective on his outstanding and inspirational article ‘Some new challenges to the helping professions’, published almost 30 years ago. On re-reading this seminal article, what strikes me most is its freshness and telling prescience for anyone concerned with the present state and future development of the ‘psi’ field in Britain. ‘Ahead of its time’, ‘definitive’ and ‘seminal’ are not descriptors to be thrown around lightly; but if I had to pick an article from the literature which for me offers the most convincing argument against the institutional regulation of therapy, it would be too close to call between John Heron’s brilliant paper ‘The politics of transference’ (orig. 1990, and reproduced as Chapter 1 in the Implausible Professions anthology); and Carl Rogers’ masterly article, the latter being published some years before Dan Hogan’s exhaustive 4-volume tour de force, The Regulation of Psychotherapists (1979), and well over twenty years before Richard Mowbray’s formidable anti-regulation treatise, The Case Against Psychotherapy Registration (1995).
In what follows I will highlight the relevance of Rogers’ ‘helping professions’ article for illuminating the arguments about statutory registration that are (thankfully, and at long last) beginning to spread throughout the institutions of therapy (most notably, the UKCP and the BACP). That Rogers’ prophetically incisive arguments have stood the test of time across some three decades is testimony both to the enduring universality of perennial wisdom, and to the quality of insight possessed by this remarkable man – some other examples of which will no doubt be recounted by other contributors to this Ipnosis centenary symposium.
Rogers’ article (which, for ease of reference, is usefully reproduced in The Carl Rogers Reader) would make compelling reading on any general “Sociology of Professionalism” course. Rogers poses five distinct questions which focus on ‘the challenges that are currently facing us, or will… face us in the near future’ (p. 358). He asks, first, whether the psychology profession dares to develop a new conception of science; second and relatedly, whether our current taken-for-granted notion of ‘reality’ is the only one; third, whether we dare to be designers of society rather than reactive ‘fire-fighters’; and whether we dare allow ourselves to be whole human beings. In this short article, however, I will reluctantly confine myself to Rogers’ third question, constituting one section of about four pages (pp. 363-7), and provocatively titled ‘Dare we do away with professionalism?’.
In just four pages, Rogers succeeds in elegantly distilling a quite devastating indictment of ‘the professionalising mentality’; and one of the more remarkable features of the current therapy landscape is that, to my knowledge, not one of the proponents of therapy’s statutory regulation has even acknowledged, let alone engaged with, Rogers’ anti-professionalisation arguments. In Nick Totton’s parlance, it has essentially been ‘ignored to death’ by the nascent therapy ‘profession’; and I hope the current article helps to re-awaken a richly deserved interest in this much-neglected paper.
Rogers began by referring to ‘the radical possibility of sweeping away our procedures for professionalization’ (p. 363) – and the ‘terror’ that such a possibility strikes in the heart of the ‘psi’ professional. For Rogers, ‘as soon as we set up criteria for certification …, the first and greatest effect is to freeze the profession in a past image’ – an ‘inevitable’ result, he maintains (p. 364). For Rogers, then, certification is always and necessarily rooted in the past, and inevitably defines the profession in those terms.
Second, Rogers starkly exposed the flakiness of the one argument consistently adduced to support regulation – ‘protection of the public’ – when he wrote: ‘there are many with diplomas on their walls who are not fit to do therapy… [T]here are as many certified charlatans and exploiters of people as there are uncertified… Certification is not equivalent to competence…, [and] tight professional standards do not, to more than a minimal degree, shut out the exploiters and the charlatans’ (p. 364, 365, Rogers’ emphases). A pernicious and hyperactive ‘surveillance culture’ and ‘low-trust ideology’ have recently swamped our institutions without public debate, and with minimal public awareness (e.g. Power, 1997; Clarke et al., 2000; Cooper, 2001). The fashionable drive towards the statutory regulation of therapy is arguably yet another case of such uncritical ‘control-freakery’; and it would surely be a tragedy if the field were unwittingly to collude with such damaging cultural forces. Any remaining semblance of creativity, innovation and child-centredness within the mainstream education field, for example, has been comprehensively decimated by this mentality and the soul-less aridity of ‘modernity’ (House, 2002a). If Carl Rogers were alive in now in ‘UK 2002’, he would surely be arguing that it would be a disaster for a therapy field that makes claims to openness, awareness and insight to embrace pernicious values and practices such as these.
Third, Rogers indicts the tendency for professionalisation to ‘build up a rigid bureaucracy’ (p. 364). Issues of quality so easily come to be neglected, and ‘The bureaucrat is beginning to dominate the scene in ways that are all too familiar, setting the professional back enormously’ (p. 365).
Rogers goes on to argue not only that there are plenty of ‘psi’ workers who are ‘unqualified’ by conventional standards but who are nonetheless ‘both dedicated and competent’ (ibid.), but further, that ‘If we were less arrogant, we might also learn much from the “uncertified” individual, who is sometimes unusually adept in the area of human relationships’ (pp. 365-6). The important work of Peter Lomas and David Smail comes to mind, with their emphasis on the healing value of unaffected ordinariness, in contrast to the often precious professionalised mentality which can so easily come to dominate psychotherapeutic ‘regimes of truth’ (House, 2002b).
Rogers continues, ‘If we certify or otherwise give… individuals superior status as helpers, their helpfulness declines. They then become “professionals”, with all of the exclusiveness and territoriality that mark the professional’ (pp. 366-7). I am reminded here of a personal communication I received from Professor Art Bohart (of the Psychology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills), commenting on the American situation in the mid-1990s: ‘I’m sorry to hear about the fight over licensure in Great Britain… The battle, of course, is over here, and we are busy becoming more and more medical-like, rapidly losing our human souls. But we are a “Profession” ’. It is somewhat of a cliché that what happens in the USA almost inevitably follows here some years later; yet surely if we listen to the dire warnings given by Professor Bohart and others, a responsible and mature field still has time to choose not to pursue the statutory regulation route (House, 2002c), with all its unwanted and unpredictable side-effects – and to find a better way. Certainly, it is highly noteworthy that in his article, Rogers expressed deep regret at not himself having stood out against the formation of the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology in the late 1940s. And just as it is unknown for turkeys to vote for Christmas, so it is also quite unheard of for “professions” to legislate themselves out of existence… So let everyone who deeply cares about the future of the therapy and human potential field take note: once the regulatory path is engaged with, there will almost certainly be no turning back; and, like Rogers in the 1970s, we will almost certainly be left to repent at out leisure.
Rogers posed perhaps the crucial accountability question, when he wrote: ‘Can psychology find a new and better way? Is there some more creative method of bringing together those who need help and those who are truly excellent in offering helping relationships?’ (p. 366). Rogers did offer a positive (if little fleshed out) proposal for an alternative to soul-less professionalisation, when he wrote that ‘we might set up the equivalent of a Consumer Protective Service… If many complaints come in about an individual’s services to the public, then his [sic] name should be made available to the public, with the suggestion “Let the buyer beware” ’ (p. 367). Both Mowbray (1995) and Hogan (e.g. 1999) have taken this kind of proposal further, and the most comprehensive alternative framework for accountability yet developed is that of Postle (forthcoming). With these detailed proposals shortly to be out in the public sphere and drawn to the attention of government, there is no longer the slightest justification for arguing that there is no viable alternative to statutory regulation.
It is interesting that in his latter years, Carl Rogers moved more and more in a transpersonal, even mystical direction (Thorne, 2002a). There have indeed been interesting parallel discussions and controversies about ‘professionalism’ within the pastoral field. Herrick and Mann (1998: 103) epigraphically quote Alistair Campbell, who wrote, ‘If we professionalise pastoral care, we will lose the spontaneity and simplicity which characterises love’. They interestingly point out that the term ‘profession’ originally referred to the public declaration of faith associated with a life of religious devotion (p. 104, quoting Campbell). Herrick and Mann also draw what is surely a crucial distinction for the therapy field – between ‘being professional’ (adjective) and ‘being A professional’ (noun). For them, Jesus himself was certainly not a ‘professional’ in the modern sense: rather, he was ‘a maverick in splendid isolation!’ (p. 108) (rather like the so-called ‘wild analyst’ – e.g. House, 1997) – ‘neither detached… nor emotionally neutral’ (p. 109). Further, ‘Jesus was “untrained”. His knowledge and expertise came in the form of a natural “gifting” in relating to people and a unique sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit’ (p. 106). Jesus also ‘reversed all the world’s hierarchies in his own nature… The great challenge… is to learn how to de-egotize leadership’ (Richard Holloway, quoted on p. 110, my emphasis). I think much of this is consonant with what Carl Rogers was saying in, or implying by, his seminal 1973 article.
Returning briefly to the more profane matters of modern ‘professionalism’: thankfully, the debate about therapy’s regulation has recently been opened up within the UKCP (House, 2002a); and in the counselling (recently renamed the “counselling and psychotherapy”) field, several major figures have recently dared to address an issue which had erstwhile been studiously ignored. Coming as it does from the Chair of the UKRC executive, Ian Horton’s recent paper (2002) is well worth reading; yet it is notable that in his discussion of ‘Arguments against regulation’ (pp. 59-60), he makes no attempt to refute those arguments. Rather, he simply invokes the ex cathedra technique of tacitly dismissing one’s opponents by referring to their arguments as ‘vitriolic’ and ‘polemical’ (p. 59) – as if this were somehow of itself sufficient to refute those arguments! Perhaps it is precisely because of this kind of attitude to the manifold arguments against professionalisation that its critics often feel driven to resort to polemic and passion! Moreover, there is simply no basis to assume, as Horton and other supporters of professionalisation commonly do, that ‘professional bodies, presumably reflecting the views of the majority of practitioners, either accept the inevitability of some form of regulation or welcome it as an important milestone in the evolution of the profession’ (ibid.: 50, my emphasis).
The recent intervention by Brian Thorne (2002b) is far closer to the critical dissenting tradition demonstrated in Rogers’ article. For Thorne ‘smell[s] the allurement of the “closed shop” and the not easily disguised smugness of the “expert” who can claim the power to exclude’ (p. 4); and ‘Behind much of the thinking and activity directed towards statutory registration, I detect not humility but scarcely veiled arrogance and power seeking…’ (p. 5). Certainly, with such formidable cohorts as the late Carl Rogers and Professor Thorne challenging so convincingly the foundational rationale for statutory regulation, ‘the profession’ must surely think long and very hard before pursuing a path which may do untold – not to mention quite unpredictable – damage to all that is best in therapeutic practice.
In this short tribute commemorating Carl Rogers’ centenary, it’s only right that he should have the final word. In a statement that resounds across the decades, and whose recommendation this journal itself is doing so much to actualise, he wrote: ‘If we did away with “the expert”, “the certified professional”, “the licensed psychologist”, we might open our profession to a breeze of fresh air, a surge of creativity, such as it has not known for years’ (p. 366)… Amen to that.
Clarke, J. and others (2000) ‘Guarding the public interest? Auditing public services’, in J. Clarke and others (eds), New Managerialism, New Welfare, London: Sage, London, pp. 250-66
Cooper, A. (2001) ‘The state of mind we’re in: social anxiety, governance and the audit society’, Psychoanalytic Studies, 3 (3-4): 349-62
Herrick, V. and Mann, I. (1998) Jesus Wept: Reflections on Vulnerability in Leadership, London: Darton, Longman & Todd
Hogan, D.B. (1999) ‘Protection, not control’, in S. Greenberg (ed.), Therapy on the Couch: A Shrinking Future, London: Camden Press, pp. 70-5
Horton, I. (2002) ‘Regulation, registration and accreditation: some issues’, in J. Clark (ed.), Freelance Counselling and Psychotherapy: Competition and Collaboration, London: Routledge, pp. 49-63
House, R. (1997) ‘Therapy in New Paradigm perspective: the phenomenon of Georg Groddeck’, in R House and N. Totton (eds), Implausible Professions, Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books, pp. 225-40
House, R. (2002a) The Trouble with Education: The Socio-Cultural Disaster of Politicised ‘Modernisation’, Nottingham: Education Now Books (forthcoming)
House, R. (2002b) Limits to Professionalized Therapy: Critical Deconstructions, London: Karnac (in press)
House, R. (2002c) ‘The statutory regulation of psychotherapy: still time to think again’, The Psychotherapist, 17 (Autumn): 12-17
Mowbray, R. (1995) The Case Against Psychotherapy Registration: A Conservation Issue for the Human Potential Movement, London: Trans Marginal Press
Postle, D. (forthcoming) ‘Psychopractice accountability: proposal for a national “full disclosure” trade directory’, in Y. Bates and R. House (eds), Ethically Challenged Professions: Enabling Innovation and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Counselling, Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books
Power, M. (1997) The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Rogers, C. (1973) ‘Some new challenges to the helping professions’, American Psychologist, 28 (5): 379-87; reprinted in H. Kirschenbaum & V.L. Henderson (eds), The Carl Rogers Reader, Constable, London, 1990, pp. 357-75
Thorne, B. (2002a) The Mystical Power of Person-Centred Therapy: Hope Beyond Despair, London: Whurr
Thorne, B. (2002b) ‘Regulation – a treacherous path? Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal, March: 4-5
At the time of writing (2002), Richard was a practising counsellor/therapist in Norwich, and a Steiner early years teacher. He is now a freelance education campaigner and writer living in Stroud, and (with David Kalisch) co-edits Self & Society.
Why a Zen monk of dubious repute persists in calling himself thus
by Manu Bazzano
Because I inherited this love of living-and-dying.
Because I never took the bourgeois vows of purity, property & patriotism but the bodhisattva vows of complicity with living-and-dying.
Because I see a Buddha in everyone.
Because the Dharma is paradox.
Because I like sitting on my bottom, doing nothing, an hour a day.
Because doing nothing an hour a day is not ‘a higher level of consciousness’.
Because consciousness comes out of phenomena like a child from her mother.
Because when I sit I listen to the inexorable decay.
Because ‘those bright fires shine subject to decay’.
Because ‘my death is certain but the hour unsure’.
Because there is nothing missing.
Because ordinary mind is the Buddha.
Because inauthenticity is the Buddha.
Because to the question ‘What is Buddha?’ Joshu replied ‘Dry shit-stick’.
Because enlightenment is delusion.
Because delusion is enlightenment.
Because there is no self.
Because there is no Self.
Because my head is shaven but I respond to beauty all around.
Because ‘beauty all around’ is not just clouds and daffodils but for instance the beauty of women.
Because it’s autumn and dead leaves remind me that nothing lasts: neither joy nor pleasure, nor bitterness and pain.
Because I have feet on the ground but they are not planted; I can still move or dance.
Because illusions are illusions but they give me a taste of life.
Because the Dharma too is an illusion even though majestic and making me weep with joy.
Because the Dharma is a raft for crossing the river.
Because after crossing the river you don’t put the raft on an altar and light incense and prostrate.
Because the Dharma is a wild plant and cannot breathe in the greenhouse of academia.
Because the Dharma cannot be bought by a major academic publisher.
Because love is the sweetest illusion.
Because love, art, and meditation are illusions that make life liveable and delay its denigration.
Because to see the world in black & white is to wage war to myself and the world.
Because ‘Zen monk’ doesn’t mean I’m an effing priest.
Because I’m not having my brain scanned to measure the beneficial effects of zazen for your research.
Because I don’t really believe you can measure empathy and neither do you but I understand that it comes in handy for your Ph D.
Because the Dharma is in everything, living/non-living, human/non-human.
Because without a sense of the non-human ecology is the last resort of the narcissist.
Because the greatest idiocy is to make of the Dharma a religion.
Because the second greatest idiocy is to make of the Dharma a science.
Because the Dharma is affirmative art.
Because I learn from the rivalry and jealousy of women.
Because I learn from the passion and tenderness of women.
Because I learn from the solidarity and tender heart of men.
Because I learn from the rivalry and envy of psychotherapists.
Because I learn from the rivalry and envy of spiritual people.
Because I learn from my own rivalry and envy.
Because through sex I give my body, but my heart too; I give what I have, though it is not that much.
Because in the above is partly the cryptic meaning of offering incense to the Buddha.
Because this very body is the Buddha.
Because the greatest offering is to give what I do not have.
Because this imperfect and muddled life is the life of the Buddha.
Because the idea of perfection erodes the beauty of imperfection.
Because samsara is nirvana.
Because there is no nirvana apart from samsara.
Because this valley of tears is paradise.
Because you can polish a brick all you like, it’ll never become a mirror.
Because my Zen Buddhist esoteric practice consists in managing to pay the rent.
Because I’m learning some gratitude at last.
Because it’s 2.24am and I’m wide awake.
Because we just moved flat.
Because one day I will die.
Because Zen ordination, tokudo, means becoming homeless.
Because there is no permanent dwelling anywhere.
Because we are all migrants.
Because I haven’t got a clue.
Because this mystery beats me.
Kan ze on bon nen kan ze on nen nen ju shin nen nen fu ri shin.
The Spring 2015 issue of Self & Society has the following featured articles:
Before and after mindfulness — Manu Bazzano
Confessions of a mind-wandering MBSR student: remembering social amnesia — Ronald E. Purser
Painting eyeballs on chaos: on Zen and birth trauma — Dorinda Talbot
A popular misconception — David Brazier
Mindfulness now — R.J.Chisholm
Beyond mindfulness, towards antiquity — Rebecca Greenslade
Subscribers can read the issue online.