On Becoming a Psychotherapist by Windy Dryden

By Windy Dryden

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In spite of these feelings I accept the need for a conceptual framework to help me understand people’s so-called normal and abnormal behaviour, their passions, their sorrows, their achievements and failures. I experienced the group analytic training as more flexible and more open to other ideas. No doubt there were group analysts with very definite or even rigid concepts of a right and wrong approach to group work, but the society as a whole retained some of the openness and flexibility of its founder, and this made me feel nourished rather than indoctrinated.

The same illness could affect people in such different ways. People’s behaviour was often very astonishing and unpredictable. When the men had to be given their TAB (typhoid, anti-tetanus) injections, they formed up in a line and received a tiny prick in the arm which was barely noticeable, but almost invariably one of the toughest and biggest of the men would pass out. It did not make much sense after some of the horrors they had witnessed and experienced. Then there was the senior officer who had always been the life and soul of the social events in the unit.

Their capacities are often unacknowledged or unappreciated by the clients themselves, and, hence, one of the major contributions a psychotherapist can make is to encourage individuals to step forward to some kind of empowerment of self: who they are, what they are capable of, what they have survived in their lives up to this point, and, perhaps, that one does not have to understand something completely in order to harvest its lessons. I believe that the power for change in therapy lies primarily in the realm of the client, and secondarily, in the realm of the therapeutic relationship and the psychotherapist as a human being.

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