Interview: Ger Murphy talks to Thérèse Gaynor

T: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I want to start by
 explaining the reason for asking you. You made a brief speech at the re-
launch of Inside Out recently. Your comments were interesting 
and, I felt, needed an opportunity for expansion. Could you do so

G: Yes. The reason I was speaking at all was that I was one of the
 founders of Inside Out in 1990. I joked at the re-launch that that
 gave me a grandfather role, and like grandparents, I had the honour 
or permission to give advice, whether it was taken or not, was
 another question. So the advice I gave Inside Out was two-fold.
 What it might do for itself and what it might do for the Association

Firstly, I think Inside Out needs to clarify what niche in the market 
it is aiming to fill. I suggest that it is unlikely to become a weighty
 academic Journal. There were times in the past when this was seen
 as a draw-back or a lack, that Inside Out did not rank with say, the
 European Association for Psychotherapy Journal for the depth of its 
academic essays, research and referenced material. I suggest that
 while such a Journal is of great value and I congratulate Henedt
 Wilkinson, its editor on a fine job, there is an equally respectable and
 valuable niche which Inside Out can occupy. This could be
 categorised as it being a Journal of experience. In a sense, the name 
speaks to this quite well as it embodies the attempt to bring the 
Inside Out, to give a platform for articulating inner experience
 through language on the Journal’s pages. In that sense, I was
 suggesting that Inside Out was a reflective space rather than
 attempting to be a surveyor of knowledge.

T: If Inside Out took your advice, how might the Journal look?

G: Firstly, it would make no apology for not being an academic Journal
 and would sell itself as the voice for experience in the profession. It
 would then search out the experiences of members of the profession
 and those affected by it. For example, we would see articles on the 
experiences of clients, trainees, psychotherapist, supervisors,
 trainers, partners and children of practitioners. It would offer a 
platform for articulating the changing experience of those within it.

It would seek out the struggles and excitements of practitioners. It
 would ask simple questions like why someone becomes a humanistic 
and integrative psychotherapist rather than another kind of
 practitioner. Why a client comes to an I.A.H.I.P. practitioner, and 
how their experience as a client is different from being a client of 
say, a behaviourist or a psychoanalyst? How is supervision different
 and similar to other approaches? What are the professional pressures 
and opportunities for practitioners in this relatively young branch of 
the profession?

T: You seem to have a strong conviction that these are important
 questions to be asking and answering right now. Ger. can you say

G: Yes, I do. I see this branch of the psychotherapy profession to be in
 need of clearly stating its basic mission or value and I see the
 articulation of the questions I mentioned above to be of assistance in
 doing so.

The humanistic and integrative section was, from the beginning, in 
danger of being diffused and somewhat confusing boundaries. I was 
there in 1988 in the U.K.C.P. or Rugby Conference as it was then 
called when the title H.I.P. was coined. So it is only less then 20 
years old. When we then started the Irish Council in 1990. we took 
over this section title. As the first Chairperson of I.A.H.I.P, I
 remember we struggled to define the term more clearly. We did not 
want it to become a catch-all for therapists who did not fit in
 elsewhere. The definition at the time was that it was a section for 
psychotherapists who practised one of the humanistic therapies, 
Gestalt, psychodrama, bioenergetics, etc. or who integrated one of
 these with another form of therapy. Thus, it could potentially
 exclude a practitioner whose integration was between, say, cognitive
 and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. This is what I think Inside Out
 can do for I.A.H.I.P. is to focus a lively debate that will help the 
organisation be clear on its boundaries and mandate.

T: Where do you stand now in this debate? Where do you place 

G: I see myself as belonging in the Integrative Psychotherapy place I
 have been involved in the European Association tor Integrate 
Psychotherapy and I belong to I.A.H.I.P. It was interesting that 
many I.A.H.I.P. members named themselves as integrative in
 applying for the European Certificate in Psychotherapy whore they 
had to name a European-wide body to which they sought allegiance
 to support their application. As you know, there is no international
 body of Humanistic and Integrative; it is a hybrid which grew only 
in these islands.

T: What does Integrative Psychotherapy mean to you?

G: Now there is a question. Firstly, what it is not, for me, is integrated. 
It is not complete or formed. It is a fluid process. It is not eclectic.
 Eclectic psychotherapy is valid and useful but it is different. Eclectic 
is about combining whatever methods in one’s tool bag that will
 benefit a particular client at a given time. Integrative for me assumes 
a process which has constancy over time and is not activated by the 
individual client alone. Integrative is about a process of becoming 
which is intrinsic in nature and is a protection from a static form. In
 particular, this means that the therapist is helped to avoid knowing 
too much. Knowing too much is a danger in any profession. While 
it is essential to know and study at depth, it is also important to 
remain open, inquisitive, fluid and innocent. Freud’s original 
scheme for study had great value. He suggested that all 
psychotherapy trainings should cover, along with technique and 
applied theory, the study of myth, language, contemporary religions 
and classical literature. I would agree although I would add poetry
 and meditative practices, film and art.

Having absorbed all this knowledge and practice, the
 psychotherapist has to remain open. For me, integrative is about 
holding and living consciously in the place of paradox, knowing and
 not knowing free will and destiny.

T: Could you give a practical example?

G: Yes, the practical example of myself as a psychotherapist is that I am
 a psychotherapist who uses physical touch in work, and who does
 not use physical touch but rather interprets the demand for that touch 
in terms of the client’s history. These are two antithetical positions 
in psychotherapy. One is seen as gratifying the demand for touch
 and as meeting the important developmental need in the client, while the other can be seen as either withholding or as helping the client
 understand themselves and not develop dependency.

T: Do you work out of a particular model of integrative psychotherapy?

G: Yes. A model that we at the Institute of Creative Counselling and
 Psychotherapy have developed over some years.

Forgive me needing a brief drawing here, hut it may help the reader 
to follow what I am saying.

  +   Knowing   –
Experiment Routine
Presence Chaos

The practice of psychotherapy can be seen as comprising of 
endeavours made up from the joining of knowledge and action. 
Sometimes we know, sometimes we act, and sometimes we do not.
 This means that we can see there being four realms of activity in the
 practice, be that a session, a therapy or in our work generally. These 

Knowing Action                  –       Experiment

Unknowing Action             –       Routine

Unknowing Inaction          –       Chaos

Knowing Inaction               –       Presence

So all psychotherapists engage in the same area of routine, money, 
time, boundaries, etc. Some psychotherapists engage in the area of
 experiment, initiating with the client a particular body exercise, a piece
 of psychodramatic action, etc. Some psychotherapists engage in the area
 of chaos – where we consciously attempt to hold the disparate and at
 times, strong feelings we experience while with a client that may be understood as projective identification.

All psychotherapists engage, whether consciously or not in the area 
of presence, stillness, being spaciously there for the other. This is a 
core area. The difference in any craft between real creative
 excellence and adequate practice relates to how one meets the task 
from being. The creative person is “lost” in the task – the ego and
 personal trying are more absent and the work happens through the 
person. In the stillness, personal ownership is loosened.

My view of integrative psychotherapy is that an integrative person 
engages in all four activities. One of the key areas is in being able 
to experiment and hold. Many humanistic practitioners would be
 good at experiment but might not engage in holding chaos.
 Conversely, many analytic practitioners would be good at holding
 chaos but might not engage in experiment.

This then tells us that to train an integrative psychotherapist, you 
need to train them in being comfortable to use all four quadrants.
 They must be well able to manage the routines of psychotherapy.
 They must be able to work creatively with the creation of
 experiments which will assist clients. They must be able to work 
with, hold and think about strong emotion and they must be able to 
know themselves in their own being.

T: If all four are important, and if we are to follow your own advice and
 stay close to one’s own experience, where are you drawn to now?

G: Thank you for bringing me back to myself. For a good number of
 years, I was very interested in the area of what I called chaos. I 
studied a lot of object relations theory, especially the works of 
Guntrip, Fairbairn, Klein, Balint and also Lacan. I was also 
interested in routine. So I was very involved in supervision and 
clinical practice. I ran a supervision group on the training 
programme at the Institute for 15 years.

Now I am more interested in the area of knowing non action or
 presence. I see this as a key area now. Knowing who we are comes 
before doing. So I have become fascinated by the Advaita lineage
 from the Hindu tradition. Advaita meaning knowledge. I have been
 lucky to have been able to sit with a number of fine teachers in this
 tradition and to glimpse at who I am at essence. Such an awareness 
is key to deep work I believe, from whatever tradition it comes.

I am also very interested in the area of experiment or knowing action.
 So I am teaching body psychotherapy theory and technique to our
 trainees. I think the work of Reich is now much overlooked and his
 work on resistance, the necessity to work with resistance and how it
 is embodied in the character structure is fascinating and useful. It is
 also key to understand how the body acts as an unconscious and is
 so vividly an access point to our history or as Bollas would call “our 
unthought – known”. Finally, the recent works of Boadella and
 Smith are, I think, key for us in judging how to intervene with clients.

T: And where is your own work taking you now?

G: My eldest daughter will be 21 this year and like that, my own focus 
is moving out into the world more too, and paradoxically more into 
myself also. At the moment, my work is taking me to work in the 
broader systems more. I am fascinated how the principles of
 integrative psychotherapy can be applied to the world of broader 
systems such as the world of work.

I am doing a good deal of work with teams in businesses and
 organisations. Some of this has a starting point of some crisis such as 
team conflict and some is simply starting from team review and an 
urge to reflect and work more creatively.

I see a growing value in the development of emotional language and
 fluency in teams to solve problems and to create positive
 environments. Integrative psychotherapy with its understanding of 
thinking and feeling and the inter-play between them is very useful. 
Bringing my work to this field is an area that I have been finding 
fruitful and exciting. For example, I can see many parallels between
 the model of integrative psychotherapy I spoke of earlier and a map 
for good leadership, and in that I see parallels with the exciting work 
done by Bill Torbert on transformational leadership.

T: Unfortunately we need to finish now but I have no doubt there is 
more that could be said or elaborated on. Again, thank you for taking 
the time to speak with me – I have found it interesting, thought 
provoking and enjoyable.

G: I have enjoyed it and thank you.