“The willingness to bear with our wounds opens our eyes and potentially our hearts to what is going on around us. A wounded planet is also potentially a healing planet,” write Chris Robertson and Sarah Van Gogh.
Their new book, Transformation in Troubled Times: Re-Vision’s Soulful Approach to Therapeutic Work is an invitation to reconsider the opportunity that every wounding offers — to once again restore our faith in the process of healing.
Much of the work of the therapist is to sense the possibility that exists in the connection between the ego and the soul. The authors explain, “Each therapy session is an interplay between conscious and unconscious dynamics between the therapist and the client and within each of them.”
Facilitated by learning to trust their intrinsic experiences — what Robertson and Van Gogh call “inside out” learning — students’ experiences at Re-Vision become rooted in their own subjective experiences.
“Students are imbibers of the organizational culture, both consciously and unconsciously. So where the agenda of training is instrumental (success, large group numbers, status for trainers), this attitude will be reflected in graduate’s work in the wider community,” they write.
The foundations of Re-Vision are based on exploring the margins, shadow material and uncertainty, and one of their first courses, “The Borderlands and the Wisdom of Uncertainty,” was the subject of a BBC documentary.
“This emphasis on what is at the borders — between the conscious and the unconscious, between the therapist and the client, between the therapeutic couple (of therapist and client) and wider culture — has developed from those early seeds in the ‘Borderlands and Wisdom of Uncertainty’ course into a major ingredient of the training,” write Robertson and Van Gogh.
Rather than question power in the relationship, Robertson and Van Gogh’s approach is to appreciate the mutuality of a creative interaction whose outcome holds inevitable uncertainty.
Drawing on the community for containment, Robertson and Van Gogh were reminded to listen to the voice of the exiled, to stay open to feedback even when it wasn’t comfortable, and to dare to speak the truth.
They write, “Community as a container allows for connection as well as differences. Respect for differences is so often the grit of the oyster, the discomfort that leads to change.”
Similarly, when suffering is seen as the voice of the soul longing to be heard instead of as a problem to be fixed, clients and therapists can find a way to value the journey and all of its respective parts.
“We trust that the wound is the gateway to the soul”, they write.
By remaining open to one’s own wounds as part of the healing process, Re-Vision’s therapists learn to use their self to enter into their client’s reality — an approach that likely means being subjected to intense emotions, painful states and distress of all kinds.
“For better or worse,” they write, “we regulate and shape one another.”
Likely we are more permeable and affected by one another than we realize, and we may not consider the shared unconscious life that emerges in the space between the therapist and client.
Robertson and Van Gogh write, “We cannot make the Third Body happen. It comes into being spontaneously yet always exists in the potential space. Paradoxically it is often as a result of an impasses or an enactment that the therapist is pushed to the edge of or even beyond their comfort zone and defenses.”
Learning to value both knowing and not-knowing, therapists at Re-Vision also learn to trust uncertainty and their embodied experience. Robertson and Van Gogh write, “Re-Vision teaches a craft that requires practitioners to integrate a developmental and transpersonal lens, through which they can look again at any aspect of life.”
By finding a deeper meaning for suffering, therapists can learn to integrate it into the work of soul-making and allow depression to guide the way to greater reverence for life.
Robertson and Van Gogh tell the story of a whaler whose practice was to kill baby whales in order to draw their mothers in close. “One day a local fisherman, despite his fear, and for some inexplicable reason, reached out to touch a whale near his boat. ‘I don’t know what compelled me to reach out my hand. The moment I touched the whale for the first time, I felt something incredible. I lost my fear.’”
Inviting uncertainty, embodiment and perspective on wounding as an opportunity for deep and powerful growth, Transformation in Troubled Times calls upon us all to listen deeply and clearly — our soul is calling.
Transformation in Troubled Times: Re-Vision’s Soulful Approach to Therapeutic Work
Transpersonal Press, September 2018
Paperback, 196 Pages