Australasian Journal Of Psychotherapy
NO.1 - 2017
It is with mixed feelings that I compose this Editorial, my final one as the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy’s Editor. I have enjoyed the role very much over these past five years, not least because it has been wonderful to collaborate with my colleagues in producing the journal, and I am rather sad to step down. I would especially like to thank Elisabeth Hanscombe, our Book Review Editor, and Tim Fluence, our graphic designer, who have both been unstinting in their support and encouragement. The Editorial Board members have also contributed significantly over the years to making the quality of the papers in the AJP one of which we can all be justly proud.
Counterpointing my regret at stepping down, however, is the great pleasure with which I introduce Judi Blumenfeld Hoadley as the new Editor of AJP. Judi comes with a background of psychotherapy, teaching and curriculum development as well as an interest in professional writing. She has been has been a regular and valued contributor to the journal, and possesses a fine, discriminating mind and beautiful written expression, as those who have heard her present at PPAA conferences will attest. I have no doubt that she will be a great new Editor of our journal.
This volume is something of a bumper edition, bringing together seven papers by psychoanalytic psychotherapists from home and abroad. We are again fortunate to have a contribution by Professor Jeremy Holmes, from the UK. In this thoughtful paper, Jeremy explores parallels between the process of writing and psychotherapy, once again drawing on his appreciation of a wide field of poets, novelists and philosophers to illustrate his thesis, that, as Humpty Dumpty put it, in Alice in Wonderland, “I don’t know how I feel till I can say what I see”.
Following Jeremy is a lovely paper by Melbourne psychotherapist Dr Daniel Brass. Drawing on two children’s stories — Where the Wild Things Are and Outside Over There — by the late American author, Maurice Sendak, and Bion’s theory of thinking, Daniel argues persuasively that, while the content of these stories is important in helping a child navigate the shoals of emotional development, it is “the reading situation [which is] fundamental to providing the containment required for the seeing-listening child to develop as a consequence of encountering the stories”.
Dr Adrienne Margarian is interested in the utility of “somatic countertransference”, whereby bodily sensations felt by the analyst — such as smells, tastes, physical discomfort — can illuminate the internal experience of the patient and the therapy process. She focuses on her doctoral research with Chinese therapists, who, she argues, generally have a more holistic understanding of the links between mind and body. She concludes that attention to bodily states is a cross-culturally relevant consideration of great clinical utility.
Dr Barry Jones, also from the UK, has published before in the AJP on the SUN model of group psychotherapy with patients struggling with affect regulation, self-harm and unstable sense of identity. In his current offering he extends this model to work with vulnerable adolescents, continuing to apply psychoanalytic principles to settings outside individual therapy. Focusing on the importance of developing new behavioural repertoires in treatment, Barry coins the neologism — “masterising” — which he argues is the “ ‘coping cousin’ to mentalizing”.
The last two papers were delivered to the VAPP and the APS Interest Group for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy late last year. Irish psychoanalyst Dr Margaret Boyle Spelman, and Melbourne-based Dr Wayne Featherstone took the opportunity to compare the approaches of Winnicott and Bion, respectively, to the psychological processes of “being” and “becoming”. Margaret, from the perspective of her thoughtful and nuanced understanding of Winnicott, says: “being … is to do with the growth of a boundary in absolute dependence, and becoming [with] the nature of the ‘distance between’ in relative dependence”. Her paper “compares the nursing and the analytic couples with baby observation examples as a good enough environment compared to deficit examples in clinical adult vignettes”.
Dr Wayne Featherstone, following Margaret’s paper, offers a Bion informed perspective on the concepts of being and becoming. Wayne develops ideas he presented at last year’s PPAA conference, to offer, via the images and dreams of his patient Victor, a rich and accessible bringing to life of Bion’s somewhat arcane theory and terminology. It is particularly valuable to follow, step-wise, the marrying of theory and clinical development in Wayne’s illuminating case example.
Thus, to conclude, my thanks again to the colleagues, writers, and readers, who have made my time as Editor of the AJP such a pleasure. I wish my successor just such a happy association.