Dreams, disability, psychotherapy and supervision : "we are such stuff as dreams are made on"
In Chapter One, in the first three of six sections, I trace aspects of my professional journey - processes of experience, reflection and formation - which woven together have brought me to create this document. This doctoral study is the culmination of my professional life and in the first section I show how my professional growth and development has evolved naturally to this point. The second aspect has felt quite different, and more like a sudden forced hothouse growth. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would read neuropsychology to understand and enjoy them, but the evidence is there! As I wrote up my experience of the professional seminars in the third section I realised how effectively they had provided a strong organic framework - a cumulative support and stimulation as I was ready for it, complementing and permeating my thinking. In section four I outline the work I have achieved and sustained at doctoral level. In section five I set out the effect my work might have both in the profession of psychotherapy and for others in their lives and relationships. The final section looks at the limitations in my work and future possibilities for further research. In CHAPTER TWO I describe how I used the agency that employed me as an external trainer along with my private counselling and supervision practice and various contacts outside my work, to set up experiential learning projects for others through which I could collect the evidence I needed to study the symbols, metaphors and themes in the dreams of disabled people, and compare them with those of non-disabled people, including my own. I became deeply involved in the research process. I hope I convey my amazement in the discovery I made that the physically able self-representation in the dreams of disabled people which I and many others before me had thought to be an odd phenomenon, is as it is because it is exactly the same as that of non-disabled dreamers! Along the way towards that discovery I found other fascinating dream features that I have illustrated throughout the chapter. CHAPTER THREE looks at the relationships - the professional context in which dreams are explored. Few reports gave evidence that dreams had been discussed in them, but that in itself was not essential for my study. I wanted to understand what would be likely to happen to such relationships in this area of diversity, and what more might be needed for them to be safe enough for dream exploration. This chapter is a catalogue of pain and struggle, in total contrast to the delight and surprise of chapter two. It is a record of what others told me of their experience in counselling and supervisory relationships where there were disabled and non-disabled people working together. I found what I suspected I would find, and because I dreaded finding it and then revealing it to others, I set out to be sure of my facts. I looked at the issue from several sides, and by including visualisation I encountered it also in depth. The record combines and analyses material from twelve different data sets. My findings are in the area of the effects of the differing body image on the dyadic partner and the working relationship, and in the contrast between the practice of those with long experience in working in this field with those new to it. From these I draw the conclusion that this area of diversity in our profession needs much more help than is currently given in training courses. I set out what I believe are essential areas for exploration and growth for all who choose to work in this field, and trust that those who supervise practice in our profession will take them on board.