So many of life’s distresses have their origins in lack of love, disruption of love, or are a result of trauma. A good secure base or solid attachment in early life is considered to lay down the foundations for the future. Similarly, a lack of Love is believed to be a primary factor in unhappiness and distress in adult life.
The philosopher Martin Buber continually spoke about valuing the other through an “I-thou” relationship; Freud referred to psychoanalysis as “a cure through Love”; and Carl Rogers unreservedly stated that the kind of relationship that he hypothesized and experienced as healing was one in which the client is offered “unconditional love”.
Our three expert speakers are Victoria Settle (CEO, The Bowlby Centre), Robin Shohet (Centre for Supervision & Team Development), and Professor Divine Charura (York St. John University), share their thoughts on aspects such as the very foundations of love in infancy and the importance of early attachment, the problems we encounter when love goes wrong and the ways in which we block and shield ourselves from loving and being loved, and therapeutic theories of love and how therapy can, through love, provide transformation and change in the human condition.
Professor Divine Charura: Love, interconnectedness, trauma and therapy
In this presentation Divine draws on some of the themes from his own practice as a psychotherapist, and his co-edited book (with Stephen Paul) Love and Therapy.
He outlines the different contemporary theories of love and how human psychological and relational development as well as trauma can be understood. He explores questions including:
Divine also focuses on Love in therapeutic settings and the psychotherapeutic frame. Many influential figures of religious faith, philosophers, psychologists and psychotherapists are known to have pointed to the importance of love and the traumatic impact of its absence on the human psyche.
However the issue of Love in relation to working therapeutically with clients often raises cautionary conversations, despite so many key figures in the field of therapy referring to a relational approach being a curative dimension of the therapeutic encounter.
Thus, Love in the psychotherapeutic context is not referring to unethical practice but rather to experiencing a process in which the client moves from a position of seeing her or himself as unworthy and unlovable, to realizing that s/he is deeply accepted, respected, deeply understood, in contact and connection, an authentic-encounter.
Questions that are considered include:
Victoria Settle: A Theory of Love
Love lies at the heart of John Bowlby’s theory of Attachment and starts with the love between an infant and their primary caregiver.
From the cradle to the grave, secure attachments with family, friends and partners remain key to our sense of safety and contentment. An attuned parental response to their baby’s cues begins to lay down the foundations for the adult’s attachment security. One of the most powerful factors in the development of insecure attachment patterns lies in the failure of the parent to read their infant’s states of mind.
In this presentation, Tori focuses on the attachment perspective on love and explores the care exchange between care giver and care seeker which can either build security, if it goes well, or undermine and compromise security if it goes badly.
Drawing on both Attachment theory and research and over two decades of clinical experience as an attachment-based psychoanalyst Tori delves into what is effectively a “Theory of Love” and uses clinical vignettes to illustrate the complexities of the care exchange and the impact of our fear systems on that exchange when working with traumatised client groups.
Questions considered include:
Robin Shohet: Love Never Fails
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love… rejoices with the truth… Love never fails”. (Corinthians 13)
What’s Love Got to Do with It? (Tina Turner)
Six year old, Albert, is learning to read and reads out the title of the book on his mother’s desk. ‘In Love with Supervision’ he reads.
“Do you know what supervision means,” she asks.
“Oh yes”, he says “Super – Vision. It’s when you can see through things and you can see what’s really there.”
She didn’t ask him what he thought was really there, but he might well have replied, “Love.” It is the basis of A Course in Miracles, where a miracle is described as seeing another through new eyes. It’s what supervision offers to help the practitioner do, which is why I see supervision as spiritual practice.
And here is the paradox.
Much of Robin’s presentation looks at how and why we block this love from our awareness in our daily lives and in our work. And because we block it, we don’t trust ourselves and each other and we create rules to take the place of connection.
Having ‘othered’ each other, these rules are held in place by a fear of being shamed and blamed. The fantasy that without them we would all be having sex with clients, breaking boundaries, abusing power. If we knew ourselves as love, then none of these dysfunctional behaviours would attract us because they come from a place of lack.
“Glorious, stimulating and profound presentations.”
“It felt like an incredibly important topic in the light of current world events. It helped ‘reset’ my values and commitments as a therapist!”
“What a wonderfully comprehensive take on love. The three speakers complemented each other brilliantly.”
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