As we bring you this edition of Inside Out we are moving into the shorter, cooler days after an exceptionally warm Irish summer. After many wet summers, there was something wonderful about being able to trust in the predictability of day after day of bright, dry weather. It allowed a deeper warming of our hearts and bones than we’ve had for some time.
We are sharing some inspiring and thoughtful contributions from our authors in this issue, exploring issues of humanity, vulnerability, compassion and growth. In our featured interview with Hank O’Mahoney, founder of the Irish Gestalt Centre in the nineteen seventies, we are offered a fascinating journey through Hank’s life and formative experiences. He also shares his ongoing understanding of, and commitment to, the core Gestalt principles of growth – for instance, the value of continually nurturing a fuller awareness of our here-and-now experience, and of being securely held in relationship as we work through pain and trauma towards change.
The work we do as psychotherapists is often challenging as our clients bring the painful edges and troubled cores of their lives to us. However, it is also privileged and personally rewarding work when clients trust us to journey with them into such deeply felt places. As we know, there is both light and shade in this. As therapists, we have the satisfaction of engaging in meaningful, authentic relationships and of encouraging growth through trauma and distress. But, as fellow human beings, it can also be hard for us to bear pain and to be regularly reminded of our own vulnerability as we work with clients. However, as some of the authors explore over the following pages, allowing movement into our own vulnerability forges a greater strength and depth of humanity, and a fuller range of emotional life. Kahlil Gibran frames it beautifully:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was sometimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Inside Out and would like to encourage you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards), and to share your own experience and knowledge of life, growth and psychotherapy. We are saddened by the recent loss of our great but humble poet laureate Seamus Heaney, but he leaves behind a rich legacy. He was a master at writing personally about his experiences in a way that held universal meaning and evoked a depth of emotional resonance. In reflecting on the technique of writing, he said that: “finding a voice means that you can get your own feeling in your own words and that your words have the feel of you about them” (Heaney, 1980:43). We welcome such experiential, personally grounded writing from our readership and we invite you to dig with your pen, as Seamus did.
Gibran, K. (1926; 1980) The Prophet. Suffolk: Pan.
Heaney, S. (1980) Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978. London: Faber and Faber.