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Chapter Twelve: Stories and Dreams

Aileen Webber Karnac Books ePub

Elias’ story (continued)

Elias was a personable young man in his early twenties. He had been struggling with his sense of identity and seeking to find purpose in his life. He had been raised in a strict, religious household and when he first came to see me, he was slowly trying to discard its prescriptive doctrines. At the same time, he was trying to maintain a sense of his core values. The reader may remember Elias’ earlier session with the frog and baby. He had worked through many issues since then, although we had still not uncovered what lay behind his complex relationships with women. I first recognised Elias’ conflicting attitudes towards women through countertransference. I had found myself feeling seduced by the charm of this young man and yet simultaneously pushed away by him. This gave me a better understanding of his tendency to feel drawn to women but later resent what they wanted from him.

About a year into his therapy Elias began a piece of work that spanned several weeks. Using miniature objects and art materials he started to recount and enact a metaphorical story called The Knight and The Baby (see Figure 12.1).

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Chapter Eleven: The Quantum World

Aileen Webber Karnac Books ePub

Christopher's story

“I think I'm having a nervous breakdown!” These were the first words uttered by Christopher—a smartly dressed student in his early twenties who came to see me for therapy one morning. He volunteered the nub of his difficulty without any prompting: “I'm stuck,” he said. “I can't write my college paper and it's so important that I do well.” Whenever he tried to start writing the essay, he said he would feel sick, panicky, and compelled to stop. He had not had any difficulty completing assignments before. He was so desperate for help that he had now referred himself for therapy.

I felt instinctively that Christopher was an intelligent, conscientious student who had become anxious rather than someone who was by nature an anxious individual. I noticed he kept fidgeting in his seat.

“What is the subject of this college essay you have to write?” I asked.

“Quantum physics,” he said, tapping the floor nervously with his foot. “What can and cannot be understood about the quantum world.”

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Chapter Four: The Present Moment

Aileen Webber Karnac Books ePub

Guy's story

My client Guy's breakthrough moment was particularly intriguing. Guy was thirty-three years old. He had come to see me to try and work out why he found it so difficult to relax and enjoy his life. On the rare occasion he did manage to have a good time, Guy said he would feel terribly guilty. Now he had a new girlfriend who was also beginning to complain that he never seemed to enjoy himself.

We had been going round in circles in our sessions for several weeks and Guy was growing increasingly despondent. He was always complaining that he never enjoyed himself and the less than productive therapeutic work had given him a new complaint—this time about me. I was not successfully helping him and thus failing in my role as his therapist.

I was beginning to feel impotent and stuck until about halfway through one session Guy pulled towards him a basket of postcards and began absentmindedly flicking through them. He rifled through the cards with almost exaggerated disinterest, as if he wanted me to know how bored and frustrated he was with the art materials and the therapy itself. After a while he pulled out one particular card and said, “Perhaps this one is significant in some way but I don't know how”.

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Chapter Thirteen: Conclusion

Aileen Webber Karnac Books ePub

Ali's story (continued)

There are many different ways for a client to end therapy. Some endings are planned in advance, others are more spontaneous. But however an ending occurs, it is individual to a particular client and the work they have explored. In general, we try to work with the ending in mind for around five to six sessions. During these sessions, the client and I will recall pivotal moments that have occurred along the way and look back at any images that have been created. On completing their therapy, ideally the client will leave with a new way of viewing themselves (or their issues) that can be practically incorporated into their everyday lives. There will hopefully be the potential for further change to take place in the future.

As my client Ali was approaching the end of her therapy, we discussed what she wished to do with her drawing of Eating Disorder Ali (that had been kept safely in my practice-room) (see Chapter Six, Figure 6.1). After much deliberation, Ali decided to create a ritual in which she would burn the image. The ritual was scheduled to take place five weeks before her final session. When the day in question arrived, she carefully and ceremoniously tore her drawing of Eating Disorder Ali into tiny pieces. Then she placed these pieces in the sand tray, clearing an area of sand where the fire would take place (Figure 13.1). To ensure our safety, the pieces would be kept small and within the confines of a metal candle holder as they burned. Everything was ready for the ritual.

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Chapter Eight: Art-Images and the Art-Experience

Aileen Webber Karnac Books ePub

Barbara's story

Barbara was trapped in a controlling relationship. She had become completely obsessed with a song she had heard playing on the radio. She bought the song on CD and told me that she kept playing it on repeat. I suggested she bring this CD and a copy of the song's lyrics to our next session. We sat together and listened through the song twice, each of us following a copy of the words as Barbara entered what appeared to be a trance-like state.

The lyrics were about a person feeling caught in the web of an addictive love triangle. As we listened I felt unaccountably sick. There was no connection to the song from my own life that could account for this sudden onset of nausea. I imagined it had to have something to do with Barbara's own feelings and her obsession with the song. At the end of our second listen, and while she was still in her trance-like state, I invited Barbara to select or draw an image of what she was feeling and to do this without thinking about it too much. My desire was for her to act without breaking the spell that seemed to have woven itself around her and also to give myself some time to recover from feeling nauseous.

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