Head Space: Photographs Of Psychotherapeutic Environments
- "I became aware fairly early on that being interviewed by a rather charming stranger was a complicated mix of intimacy and threat, made somewhat more intense by Nick not only wanting to photograph my 'room' but me too. There was something conflicting about this, did I want my room attached to my face or indeed my face attached to my room. Time will tell, in fact last I heard my face had been disguarded all together."
- "It's [taking part in HS] given me food for thought - brought home to me how my consulting room - my shed as I call it, because that's what it is, is a kind of container for a part of myself which, perhaps, I have a tendency to hide away. It takes me back to the step I took when I first decided to train - when I entered my training therapist's consulting room as the jolly one in the family and got to know a much more serious, reflective person. Nick's coming here and taking these pictures has prompted me to think about what my analysis really did for me. It's reiterated this need in all us, to get in touch with who we really are rather than what others tell us we are."
- I have found the process of meeting and talking with Nick over an extended period, a rewarding opportunity to reflect on my life and work with someone from another discipline. His expertise in photography and background in anthropology, have given me a new experience of being received and heard, myself. This has been a moving and enriching experience for me. One of the things taking part in his project has brought home to me is how in a sense I'm not a psychotherapist. I'm only a psychotherapist when I'm actually working with people, within that special space the analytic temenos. But I don't think of myself as a psychotherapist, if people ask what I do for a living I tend to say, 'people come and talk to me.' Nothing has been directly said of the human dramas, and dire situations which therapists seek to address daily, with the people who come with courage and tenacity to face their demons. What of these demons? They include anxiety, depression, phobias, abuse, meaninglessness, grief - paralysis in the face of life and death. Also writers, singers, actors and visual artists coming with issues of performance anxiety, energy blocks and further developing and enjoying their creative gifts. For my part, psychotherapy has over many years transformed my life, enabling me to live with greater freedom, resourcefulness and creativity than I had ever thought possible. So for myself, psychotherapy is a profession in the old fashioned sense of the word, including commitment, vocation and openness to what is unknown in human nature and life, to making discoveries, and also, to living with the unknowable. Every therapist must first, become a patient. I hope this exhibition will be a resource and an encouragement to others."
- 'We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.'
- "By participating in Nick's project I gained an objective look at myself in my working environment via Nick's lens and his curiosity. Having weighed up the implications of taking part, I felt it was valid, and offered more than a voyeuristic peek into the privacy of the consulting room; in the interests of encouraging prospective but hesitant patients to risk coming forward, I think the very pleasant ordinariness of the rooms and the therapists offers a helpful normality.
- I liked the differences he portrayed – the variety. (Although I have a feeling that Nick's own desire to be a controlling hand and eye in these psychologically fascinating inner spaces, is a defence against the risk he fears to take to go into such a place as a participant rather than observer.)
- A major consideration in my regarding Nick's project as commensurate with my professional boundaries is this: I believe the true heart of psychotherapy lies neither in the look of the room, nor the appearance of, or expression on the therapist's face, but in the hidden and internal experience of the relationship between patient and therapist, which cannot be captured on film."
- "The mug-shot of me, taken soon after Nick and I had first met, seems to reflect my initial anxiety about what I had let myself in for. It is me with my back to the wall, pinned down by the inscrutable gaze of the camera/photographer – the subject as object.
- The series of shots in which Nick and I took turns in releasing the shutter on a fixed setup comes later. By now, there is a creative interplay between us. Nick captures a characteristic movement of my hand, creating a ‘portrait’ of me more revealing than any mug-shot. I capture a gesture of painful vulnerability in Nick. These images become material for us to engage with further, reflecting on how we see each other, and what it means to us, to be seen by each other in that way – subject to subject.
- The possibilities of human relationship are opening up for us, as we interact in shared space. The camera is both detached from and integral to the event, bearing witness to our process like a psychoanalytic eye."
- No therapist came forward to discuss any aspect of their work at either of these facilities.
Dear Mr Cunard
- "As you know, we are an NHS Trust and have very ordinary NHS rooms which would not add much by appearing in your photographs. So we would not feel it was appropriate for you to come here to take photographs. I am sorry to disappoint you. Perhaps your curiosity about psychotherapy indicates that you are hoping to find something. Yours sincerely."
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