As you know I’ve been studying child and adolescent counselling as a post graduate for the last 18 months and it’s a while since I’ve made any reference to that. That’s mostly because what I’m exploring in personal therapy and in group isn’t for this space but I’ve had a big aha moment recently that I wanted to share.
We often out here in the sober blogosphere talk about the inner critic – that voice that for me was soul destroying when I was drinking and although it is much less present it is still there. Well we’ve recently had to video a 30 minute counselling session with a peer and our assignment is to critique our performance! As you can imagine this is uncomfortable stuff but offers up such valuable insights both personally and in our learning about the therapeutic process. As part of that I’ve been learning about Kleinian & Rogerian theory.
Melanie Klein was a psychoanalytic therapist and “Klein stresses Freud’s concept of transference, meaning the conscious but also unconscious expression of past and present experiences, relationships, thoughts, phantasies and feelings, both positive and negative, in relation to the analyst.” (source)
She also talked about other psychoanalytic defences such as splitting (splitting a person into good and bad objects) and projective identification and that these can be projective and introjective phantasies operating together.
And Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Abraham Maslow, but added that for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood). (source) Self-actualisation was the title of my 2 year post so ties in nicely 🙂
I am going somewhere with this I promise! So we can not only project parts of ourselves that we don’t like outwards onto others but we can also internalise them. And one of the strengths I was complimented on by my tutor during the review of the footage was my therapeutic presence (as indicated by Roger’s above).
So fast forward to some processing going on while running and some of the feedback I’ve had during personal therapy recently and the penny dropped. For us to heal we have to provide a positive therapeutic presence for ourselves just as we do for others. We have to internalise the ability to be kind to ourselves and when we are in a place of emotional distress rather than reverting to the introjected bad, & for me punitive position (which is usually the voice of someone else not my own), it’s important to recognise that and acknowledge it and be gentle. We do this in the early days of getting sober but as time goes on that critical voice finds new outlets and new ways to punish us and we have to see it for that.
So this The The song span round while I was on the same run and felt very appropriate:
In the words of Matt Johnson ‘I don’t even know what’s going in myself’ and ‘You’ve got to find your own salvation’. I’m working on both of those now …… slow emotion replay indeed.