In modern culture love has a prominent position. Television dramas, songs and novels as well as popular magazines all focus on love in its many forms. Is love the answer to suffering? Sigmund Freud noted the importance of love in the healing of the human psyche and his concerns around the erotic nature of love distanced this relationship with his patients.
So many of life’s distresses have their origins in lack of love, disruption of love, or 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 this is believed to be a primary factor in unhappiness and distress in adult life. People naturally seek love in their lives to feel complete. Is therapy a substitute for love? Or is it love by another name? In our latest book, Love and Therapy: In Relationship, we look at the place of love in therapy and whether it is the curative factor.
If love is an answer to life’s ills, how do we offer it in therapy? Do we offer it? Can a professional offer a reparative loving in the therapy room? Of course, within psychotherapy both ethical and professional boundaries need govern this ‘Love’ at all times in order for it to be experienced as healing and therapeutic.
As well as Freud the forerunners of psychology and psychotherapy, including Carl Jung, Donald Winnicott, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Carl Rogers, and other writers such as John Lee, Robert Sternberg, and Helen Fisher, have made reference to the importance of love and the impact of its absence on the human psyche. So much more has been said about love and its impact, and continues to be said, by philosophers, anthropologists, religious faiths and cultures, poets, musicians, film directors, photographers,and those living in different societies worldwide.
Our book offers explorations of the complexity of love from the different modalities: psychoanalytic, humanistic, person-centred, psychosexual, family and systemic, transpersonal, existential, and transcultural. We challenge therapists and other allied professionals to think about their practice, ethics, and boundaries. We consider the therapeutic relationship in terms of ‘Love’, and explore the complexities of the impact of love/lack of love on clients’ lives and experiences and how this impacts on their behaviour, and how they present in the therapy room.
We believe “Loving”, in therapy, cannot be reduced to particular words, therapeutic skills, or an objectified state. Rather, it is “an authentic encounter” with a quality of relating, dialogue, contact, and collaborative process moment by moment, in a way that fully embraces our experiencing.
Divine Charura is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Leeds Beckett University. He is an adult psychotherapist who works in the NHS, voluntary sector, and in private practice. He is also an independent trainer, supervisor, and coach. Divine has been a key note speaker at various conferences and continues to give lectures and to facilitate training in different areas of psychotherapy, including the importance of love and attachment in psychological well-being and lifelong development. He has published various papers and book chapters. Divine is also a keen saxophone player and is passionate about music, poetry, art, photography and outdoor pursuits.
Stephen Paul recently retired as Director of the Centre for Psychological Therapies at Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University). He is a client-centred psychotherapist, and co-editor of The Therapeutic Relationship: Themes and Perspectives (with Sheila Haugh, 2008). His published work includes chapters on love, spirituality and therapy, as well as on coaching and group therapy. Stephen has worked in both adult and child and adolescent psychiatry. He opened one of the first independent counselling centres in the UK, in Bradford, in 1978, and has been head of a therapeutic school and director of the VSO programme in Bhutan. He now writes, practises therapy, supervision and coaching, and provides training.
Their latest book, Love and Therapy: In Relationship, has recently been published by Karnac Books.