Addiction is often relegated to the status of an issue to be dealt with in counselling – not psychotherapy. Many psychotherapists offer addiction as an exclusion issue for taking on clients. We needed to raise the issue of the connection between addiction and psychotherapy – especially as it moves beyond simply a crisis issue requiring strategic intervention. We see addiction then as a process of labelling a behaviour which can offer identity e.g. “I am now seeing myself as simply an alcoholic”. The value of the label is that it makes sense of chaos. However, it can also offer a means of distancing and objectifying the individual. This labelling process can also protect those in the system of the individual so labelled. Furthermore it can also offer the recipient of such a label a new source of identity.
While we see the dangers of broadening the theme too widely to have a cogent meaning, we want to expand the theme beyond alcohol and drugs to include food as an example of how the issues can be generalised. We hope our choice of contributions will stimulate psychotherapists to question how they relate to addiction and to question the labelling process involved. Addiction, we believe, can be a convenient way of containing a lack of personal identity and can be a collusive way of offering such an identity and thereby avoiding a deeper sense of personal pain and chaos.
As we have done each year, our summer issue will be on psychotherapy training and will include an update on courses available both in Dublin and nationwide. Training in psychotherapy has blossomed and expanded so much in Ireland over the past three or four years that we will be focusing the whole summer issue on this theme. While we will be in contact with trainers we will be pleased to hear from trainees and those considering training. The consumer’s viewpoint is of particular value in searching for a rounded perspective.