As a long-time Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, the intimacy and individuality of my relationships with clients is a precious thing and one which we, of course, jealously protect by confidentiality. Nevertheless, this work I do, this vocation I have, engenders every week at least, and almost every session, a host of reflections, insights, and conversations about aspects of the human experience which for want of a better term we call “psychological.” I’m grateful to C. G. Jung for having taken this term “psyche” and restored it to its wider original meaning, something closer to “soul” and not merely “mind” or “personality.” It is thus in this broader sense of psyche that I’m taking the time here and making space with this blog to jot down on a regular basis what my psychotherapy practice brings up for me and my clients, material that perhaps at first blush may not seem especially “psychological” but which in fact has a great deal of bearing on the growth and healing of my individual clients and by extension the culture and society at large.
Examples abound. Working in Berkeley inevitably brings up issues around politics and social issues and yet, within the field, I have often been frustrated by the lack of attention or the simplistic, sometimes dismissive quality of the dialogue around the intersection of inner life and outer engagement. Another somewhat surprising absence of reflection is likewise around what is so blithely termed “family” or “marriage,” terms which are in the very title of our licensure. What constitutes a “family”–or not–and what the nature of a “marriage” is–or has been, or should be—seems at the very heart of my client work and yet, it feels to me like there is a very unsophisticated quality about our collective notions of these most important or all our relationships. The life of body also figures greatly into my work with my clients, certainly with survivors of physical trauma or abuse, but really with all clients on some level, and the somewhat awesome mystery of that intersection of spirit and flesh, our material existence and our immaterial, more fundamental, nature, is an experience that is frequently at the heart of my work. Sometimes on this point we meander down specific avenues–sexuality, food and weight, beauty, illness and health–but there is always behind each of these, for me at least, a delicious and a seemingly endless field of exploration.So I look forward to availing myself of this 21st century medium to talk about some archetypal truths behind some very contemporary situations and issues. Will it engender some thoughtful and smart conversations both with and within my readers? I hope so.