The Psyche in the Modern World

Contemporary Body Psychotherapy - The Chiron Approach

Selected publications
Diversity and culture as psychophysiological phenomena and states of being
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Published online: 06 Dec 2021
Abstract: This article aims to explore psychophysiological phenomena and dynamics associated with diversity and culture in the therapeutic relationship. Clients/patients experiences of feeling culturally met appears crucial for a successful therapeutic relationship but the historic struggle to include diversity and culture as psychological dimensions that generally warrant attention in the psychotherapeutic endeavour is ongoing. The author explores diversity and culture as psychophysiological states of being and associated presentations dynamics in therapeutic relationship, and considers ways to constructively engage with the complexities of culture and diversity in psychotherapy.
Acute crisis states as a presenting issue and some psychophysiological interventions
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Vol 16 (1) 2020
Abstract: Crisis intervention has become a widespread concern during the Covid-19 pandemic for psychotherapists seeking to support people acutely affected by this crisis. This article aims to introduce core principles of the crisis intervention conception as well as expanding these with relevant contemporary psychophysiological perspectives on somatic crisis phenomena and interventions. Conceptions and interventions are relevant and applicable in face to face, digital and telephone settings. The author draws on the contents of a virtual workshop, held multiple times from March to May 2020, which was created to assist psychotherapists who volunteered for online psychological initiatives and projects aiming to support frontline medical staff during the pandemic and assist with Covid-19 related acute psychological stress issues. The article clarifies distinctions between crisis and trauma and offers perspectives on recognising crisis states as well as ideas and conceptions that may guide psychotherapists seeking to support, contain and resource clients during a crisis.
The transpersonal is very personal: The transpersonal field in integrative psychotherapy practice
British Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol 15, 2019 (Download as PDF Document)
Abstract: This article considers challenges and controversies associated with the transpersonal field in psychotherapy for clients and psychotherapists, how transpersonal themes or concerns might be avoided or rejected, allowed or disallowed in the therapeutic relationship. It questions attitudes and hidden underlying conflicts or assumptions such as aggrandizement and shame dynamics, and puts forward a proposition how we might integrate transpersonal psychological spaces in integrative clinical practice.

The chronic fatigue enigma - ME Awareness Week Blog - Part 1 - Part 2
In support, Taylor & Francis currently offer a free download of my 2017 article "Chronic fatigue phenomena - somatic and relational perspectives" (see below for details)

The therapist's body and the intersubjectivities of the unconscious
In: T. Fuchs, S. Koch, H. Payne, J. Tantia, (eds) The Routledge International Handbook of Embodied Perspectives in Psychotherapy: Approaches from dance movement, arts and body psychotherapies. Routledge 2019, pp 333-341. 
Abstract: The therapist's body is not only a body to think and feel with but also a clinical utility that may contribute crucially to the therapeutic endeavour. By developing the art of looking inwards, a therapist's body-in- process may serve as a theatre for the intersubjectivities of the unconscious.  'Sensory-motor' and 'calm and connect' psychobiological systems may potentially facilitate a container for a client's psychic fragments, for raw somatic pre-verbal and pre-symbolic phenomena, an anchor for a therapist acting as a character in a client's internal drama, or a Winnicottian (1951) 'not me' space for creatively unfolding transitional phenomena.

Eros in body psychotherapy - A crucible of awakening, destruction and reparation
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy. Volume 13 (3) 2018: Special Issue on Eros, Gender and Sexuality pp 143-155
Abstract: Eros and Sexuality have been central to the development and the philosophy of body psychotherapy but have since been pushed towards the margins of the field. The author reviews historic paradigm shifts alongside contemporary perspectives and conceptions that recognise the continued significance of Eros and erotic dynamics for body psychotherapy practice. Relational and psychobiological perspective on working with Eros and erotic dynamics are illustrated with the help of clinical vignettes.
Chronic fatigue phenomena: somatic and relational perspectives
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy 2017 Vol 12 (4) pp 269-283 
DOI: 10.1080/17432979.2017.1385536
Abstract: This paper aims to develop therapeutic perspectives on relational and somatic phenomena but also difference and diversity dynamics associated with chronic fatigue as a presenting issue. In common with other complex and severe conditions, chronic fatigue will often appear as a single issue dominating the therapeutic space, a dynamic that may easily obscure sight of the person. The author reviews contemporary literature and considers dynamics associated with chronic fatigue phenomena commonly encountered in the therapeutic relationship. Autonomic nervous and sensory-motor systems also appear crucial for developing better understanding of, and sensitivity for, working with chronic fatigue phenomena.

A comparative analysis of body psychotherapy and dance movement psychotherapy from a European perspective
With Helen Payne, Vicky Karkou and Gill Westland
Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy 2016 Vol 11 (2-3) Doi: 10.1080/17432979.2016.1165291
Abstract: The role of embodiment within contemporary psychotherapy practice and its discussion are gathering momentum, and are part of a paradigm shift in psychotherapy in which theory and practice are being reformulated. Body psychotherapy and dance movement psychotherapy are playing a leading role in these deliberations. Although these two professions have separate professional bodies, distinct theoretical grounding and clinical methodology, they both place enormous value on the central role of the body and its movement as indicators of relational problems, and as agents of therapeutic change. There are few authors comparing and contrasting BP and DMP although they have much in common as they are both embodied, enactive psychotherapies. However, neither their overlaps in theory, methodology and some of their clinical practice nor their distinct character has been sufficiently delineated. This article elucidates some similarities and differences in fundamental assumptions, compares and contrasts definitions and terms and considers common and contrasting theoretical perspectives, techniques and methods. It is expected that this will contribute to the ongoing discussion of the articulation of core characteristics in both professions and will facilitate a better understanding and collaboration between them.

The Psyche in the Modern World - Psychotherapy and Society - Warnecke T. (Ed.)
UKCP Book Series Karnac 2015
Abstract: This book aims to transport psychotherapy from the consulting rooms into the realms of public discussion and interdisciplinary discourse. A psychotherapeutic culture of carefully guarded clinical confidentialities has inadvertently build its own proverbial ivory tower which contributes to the widespread myths that surround and veil psychotherapy in the public space. In this book, current discussion on a broad range of relevant subjects, encompassing socio-political as well as philosophical, theoretical and clinical dimensions, is presented without avoiding uncomfortable questions and in an accessible manner.

Interview by Tracy Jarvis at Psychotherapy Excellence (opens in new window)
Psyche and Agora: the Psyche at the crossroads of personal and societal contexts
In: The Psyche in the Modern World. T. Warnecke (Ed.).  UKCP Book Series Karnac 2015
What can psychotherapy do? Psychotherapy paradigms and sexual orientation
In: International Journal of Psychotherapy, 2013, Vol. 17 (2): 74-85  (Download as PDF Document)
Abstract: Homosexuality and same-sex attraction have vexed the psychotherapy field throughout its history and continue to draw controversy in the 21st century. Debates and arguments about the mental health of gay, lesbian and bisexual people mirrored and dwelled within the tremendous tensions that exist in society around this subject. The author examines the troubled relationship of psychotherapy theory and practice with gender and sexual orientation. Psychotherapy ideas, while revolutionizing the understanding of human functioning in the 20th century, blindly incorporated many common western cultural values but also a Christian-Judaic premise that procreative sex was normative. The ensuing conjecture of hetero-normativity created a conceptual bias about homosexuality's supposed pathological nature and left psychotherapy with a toxic legacy.

Stirring the depths - Transference, countertransference and touch
In: Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, Volume 6, Issue 3, 2011  (
Abstract: Touching is not just a skin to skin meeting but involves and affects psyche and soma far below the surface. Tactile contact and touch embody essential aspects of human existence and development. Touch directs our attention both outwards and inwards. Perceptions and sensations of the external, the 'not I', mingle with sensations of the living body and awaken the body-mind to itself. Developing our awareness and sensitivity for intersubjective engagement with touch and associated transference phenomena allows their meaning and creativity to come alive in the therapeutic relationship.

Developing through Embodiment and Movement
In: Self Awareness and Personal Development - Resources for Psychotherapists and Counsellors, Rose C. (ed.) Macmillan, 2011 (Flyer in Acrobat PDF format)
Abstract: Self awareness and learning through others involves examining our ways of being in the world, within ourselves and with others, the impact of personal and cultural experiences, our values and beliefs and our patterns of communication. All these dimensions of being invariably include bodily aspects - our self placement in the world is necessarily and irreducibly embodied. Paraphrasing Simone de Beauvoir (1989), our body is the primary instrument of our grasp upon the world. In this chapter, I will explore the body as an agency for self-discovery and learning and introduce some physiological aspects of mind-body relations to de- mystify and make psyche-soma dynamics accessible.

Paper - Scissors - Stone
Pluralism, psychotherapy values and public benefit

In: The Psychotherapist, Issue 49, 2011
(Download as an Acrobat PDF document)
Working as a psychotherapist in Europe
In: The Psychotherapist, Issue 47, 2010
(Download as an Acrobat PDF document)
The therapeutic modality of touch and statutory regulation

In: Self & Society, Vol 37-2, 2009
Abstract: Perceptions of touch and tactile contact are permeated by associations with nurture, care and healing on the one hand, and with erotic pleasures, sexual taboos and abuse on the other. With the prospect of statutory regulation looming, do we need to review touch as a therapeutic intervention?

The well tempered therapist - Psychotherapy integration and the personality of the therapist
In: British Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol 5-2, 2008. (Download as an Acrobat PDF document)
Abstract: Integration is inherent to the art and science of psychotherapy and constitutes a core function of the psychotherapeutic process. But integrative processes not only facilitate our clients' process of change but also crucially contribute to the development of psychotherapists. This paper is about the integration of the therapists personality with his or her clinical approach as a necessary aspect of professional individuation and maturation.

The Borderline relationship
In: Contemporary Body Psychotherapy: The Chiron Approach; Ed. Hartley, Routledge 2008. (Flyer in Acrobat PDF format)
Abstract: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has always been considered an elusive and puzzling phenomenon. Concept and theory are indeed anything but straightforward. The 'personality disorder' construct appears to suggest a pathological condition located solely in the client. At the same time, the borderline dynamic is most famously associated with difficult or unstable relationships and evokes images of harassed and tormented therapists. But borderline relationships are challenging for clients and therapists alike. Both may feel attacked, invaded, helpless, misunderstood or unappreciated by the other. Borderline patterns of organisation are evidently active across the continuum of intrapsychic and interpersonal fields. The word borderline - 'a line that indicates a boundary' - incidentally names what is most lacking in the borderline dynamic. But the borderline dynamic is also particularly apparent as a bodily experience for both client and therapist. Hyperarousal and catastrophic anxieties, both cardinal features of BPD, suggest disturbances of very basic functions and indicate that the organism is in a state of somatic disorganisation. Body and psyche of the therapist are impacted by and respond to disorganized or dissociated psyche and body states of borderline individuals. In this chapter, I propose clinical perspectives to psychological and somatic phenomena and disturbances commonly experienced by borderline individuals and their therapists.

The Borderline experience - A somatic perspective
A presentation given at the AChP AGM in 2004. Published in: British Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol 4-1, 2007 (Download as an Acrobat PDF document
Abstract: This paper explores a therapeutic approach to BPD that integrates somatic and relational aspects. From a somatic perspective, the Borderline dynamic is characterised by chronic dis-regulation of the autonomic nervous system, inadequate muscular structuring and a lack of surface boundaries. In the therapeutic relationship with BPD clients we are confronted with episodes of catastrophic anxiety which the borderline body-ego is unable to contain or defend against. Such catastrophic anxieties constitute states of unintegration which manifest at times as despair, rage, clinging or self-destructive pathologies. The therapist is frequently experienced as either 'too close' or 'too far away'. Somatic dimensions of BPD are equally evident in the transference relationship. The ruptures and dissonance typically associated with Borderline relationships reflect the extend of somatic dissonance, arousal and affect dis-regulation of the fragile Borderline structure. Our bodies constitute our primary means of dialogical engagement with the world and the complexities of BPD are best met by engaging with both dimensions.

Some thoughts on involuntary muscle
Published in: AChP Newsletter, No 25, 2003 (Download as an Acrobat PDF file)

Biosynthesis - a body centred psychotherapy
Published in: London & South East Connection, No 23, 1999  (Download as an Acrobat PDF file)

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