1. When Home Is Not Your Haven

    March 30, 2020 by Juliette Clancy
    Click image to enlarge

    As we find our way through this pandemic let us take a moment to consider those for whom being at home does not offer safety, but the living hell of domestic violence. The experience of being in enforced isolation with an abuser, at this time, when we are experiencing the increased stress of the impact of the corona virus is a very serious concern. We need to ensure that this does not lead to the increase of domestic emotional and or physical abuse of women and children.

    Domestic abuse is NOT acceptable and can happen to anyone. The definition of domestic abuse is defined by Women’s Aid as, “An incident or patterns of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex partner, but also by a family member of carer. It is sadly very common. In the vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.”

    The Deluth Project is a programme developed to reduce domestic violence and their wheel a useful tool to use when considering whether you or your clients are in an abusive relationship.

    During the next few months access to services will, without doubt, be made far more difficult. It will be much more challenging to make a call or ask for help whilst being at home with the abuser. It is vital to know that support and help is available. Domestic abuse services provide a wide range of information and support including refuge accommodation, helplines, outreach support, floating support, resettlement support, specialist children and young people services, domestic abuse prevention advocates and drop-in support. The National Domestic Abuse helpline https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk and Women’s Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk offers a live chat support service, which provides online support. If you or a friend need help call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. If you are in immediate danger call 999 as you would ordinarily as the police are there to protect you.

    “Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety”

    William Shakespeare


    The NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/getting-help-for-domestic-violence/ has a useful questionnaire that goes through the different kinds of abuse, which is worth looking at.

  2. Never, ever give up

    February 12, 2018 by Juliette Clancy
    In the pitch-black night, stung by jellyfish, choking on salt water, singing to herself, hallucinating … Diana Nyad just kept on swimming. And that’s how she finally achieved her lifetime goal as an athlete: an extreme 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida — at age 64. Hear her story. (more…)

  3. Trauma & Therapy

    June 15, 2017 by Juliette Clancy

    I was privileged to be asked to work yesterday with a group who had been directly involved in the recent terrorist attack in Borough Market. With one of my specialities being that of a Trauma Therapist, I am continuously reminded of the resilience of the human spirit and how, sometimes it is out of the most horrific situations the most profound lessons are learnt. (more…)

  4. Understanding Transference In Relationships

    March 10, 2017 by Juliette Clancy

    Transference is a dynamic that most couples are unaware of and when I work with couples it is something that we explore that most find useful. www.thebookoflife.org explains perfectly how transference plays out in relationships.

    ‘You’re flicking through a fashion magazine and playfully suggest that your partner might want to make a few experiments with their wardrobe. How about a different pair of jeans or a new T-shirt, a duffle coat or platform heels? But at the mention of this possibility, your partner gets very agitated indeed: they scornfully declare that money is tight, they haven’t got any time, they have too many clothes already and why are you deliberately annoying them by making vapid proposals like this? This response is very off-putting. You only made a perfectly reasonable suggestion and now they are declaring war. You didn’t do anything. Their behaviour seems utterly out of proportion with what triggered it. You may conclude, as you have done on other occasions, that in some areas the person you love really does seem ‘a bit mad.’ This conclusion, though perhaps depressing, also feels strangely satisfying. At least you know what is up. Couple having serious interaction But we are all a ‘bit mad’ in ways that preclude such dismissive statements and demand closer and more generous examination.

    For all of us, there are situations and behaviours which can be counted upon to elicit swift and powerful responses which don’t seem in any way in line with what is happening right now. Our behaviour seems not to fit what is unfolding in front of us. For example, someone we love is going away for a month, and tells us they will miss us very much indeed. They move to hug us. But far from feeling sad and tender, we just register numbness, pull away and can’t say anything other than that the weather is unseasonably chilly today. Or we return home to find there is a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but rather than taking this in our stride, we start to shout at our partner that the house is chaos and life with them has become impossible. Or a friend is only ten minutes late for our birthday party, but we are compelled to send them a text calling them an a**hole and asking them not even to bother coming.

    These sort of behaviours don’t make any sense if we try to justify them simply according to the facts in the here and now (as we and their perpetrators are inclined to do). The clue to them lies in something known as transference – a psychological phenomenon whereby a situation in the present elicits from us a response – generally extreme, intense or rigid in nature – that we cobbled together in childhood to meet a threat that we were at that time too vulnerable, immature and inexperienced to cope with properly. We are drawing upon an old defence mechanism to respond to what feels like a very familiar threat.

    In most of our pasts, when our powers of comprehension and control were not yet properly developed, we faced difficulties so great that our capacities for poise and trust suffered grievous damage. In relation to certain issues, we were warped. We grew up preternaturally nervous, suspicious, hostile, sad, closed, furious or touchy – and are at risk of becoming so once again whenever life puts us in a situation that is even distantly evocative of our earlier troubles. Perhaps a parent we loved left us for long periods to work abroad. They didn’t mean to but the pain was so intense at that time, we reacted by shutting down our capacities for affection. Our way of coping was not to feel, to grow numb – a response that we keep producing even now, 30 years later, whenever someone we love has to go away for a time. Or perhaps we had chaotic, unreliable parents whom we dealt with by rigidly organising our room, arranging books by size, and reacting with alarm at the slightest bit of dust – and even now, outer disorder ushers in a panicky feeling within that everything is out of control once again. Or we had a sister who was always late to events that mattered to us, or a mother who was both humiliating and obsessed by fashion.

    The unconscious mind is slow to realise that things have changed in the outer world but sadly quick to mistake one person for another, seeming to judge only by crude correspondences; ‘someone we love’ or ‘a person coming to our party’ appears to be enough to confuse us. Because transference happens without us knowing it, we generally can’t explain why we are behaving as we are. We carry years behind us that have no discernible shape, which we have forgotten about and which we aren’t in a position to talk others through in a manner that would win us sympathy and understanding. We just come across as mean or mad. What we would ideally need is a guardian angel who can pause the present and carry our partners back to another time and place, to the moment when the neurotic defence that we are projecting originated. They’d be able to see the unreliable parents, the chaotic house, the loving but neglectful father, the fashion-obsessed mother etc. – and might be appropriately moved by what we had to cope with before we knew how to.

    The concept of transference – and the accompanying idea of projection – provide a vantage point on some of the most frustrating behaviours that we ever meet with in relationships. And they allow us to feel sympathy and understanding where we might have only felt irritation. If we cannot always be entirely sane in our relationships, the kindest thing we can do for those who care about us is to hand over some maps that try to chart and guide one through the more disturbed regions of our internal world. In good relationships, people are ready to accept that they might be involved in transference. Ideally, we should all rationally disentangle and un-distort our transferences and explain them to others in good time. But it rarely happens and collectively we pay a big price for our ignorance. We keep making things tough for everyone by over- and under-reacting – and so our relationships are far harder than they need to be.’

    Please feel free to contact me should you want to explore this or any other topic further.

  5. A letter from a father to a son – Ted Hughes to his son Nicholas

    November 23, 2016 by Juliette Clancy

    Dear Nick,

    I hope things are clearing. It did cross my mind, last summer, that you were under strains of an odd sort. I expect, like many another, you’ll spend your life oscillating between fierce relationships that become tunnel traps, and sudden escapes into wide freedom when the whole world seems to be just there for the taking. Nobody’s solved it. You solve it as you get older, when you reach the point where you’ve tasted so much that you can somehow sacrifice certain things more easily, and you have a more tolerant view of things like possessiveness (your own) and a broader acceptance of the pains and the losses.

    I came to America, when I was 27, and lived there three years as if I were living inside a damart sock—I lived in there with your mother. We made hardly any friends, no close ones, and neither of us ever did anything the other didn’t want wholeheartedly to do. (It meant, Nicholas, that meeting any female between 17 and 39 was out. Your mother banished all her old friends, girl friends, in case one of them set eyes on me—presumably. And if she saw me talking with a girl student, I was in court. Foolish of her, and foolish of me to encourage her to think her laws were reasonable. But most people are the same. I was quite happy to live like that, for some years.) Since the only thing we both wanted to do was write, our lives disappeared into the blank page. My three years in America disappeared like a Rip Van Winkle snooze. Why didn’t I explore America then? I wanted to. I knew it was there. Ten years later we could have done it, because by then we would have learned, maybe, that one person cannot live within another’s magic circle, as an enchanted prisoner.

    So take this new opportunity to look about and fill your lungs with that fantastic land, while it and you are still there. That was a most curious and interesting remark you made about feeling, occasionally, very childish, in certain situations.

    Nicholas, don’t you know about people this first and most crucial fact: every single one is, and is painfully every moment aware of it, still a child. To get beyond the age of about eight is not permitted to this primate— except in a very special way, which I’ll try to explain.

    When I came to Lake Victoria, it was quite obvious to me that in some of the most important ways you are much more mature than I am. And your self-reliance, your Independence, your general boldness in exposing yourself to new and to-most-people-very-alarming situations, and your phenomenal ability to carry through your plans to the last practical detail (I know it probably doesn’t feel like that to you, but that’s how it looks to the rest of us, who simply look on in envy), is the sort of real maturity that not one in a thousand ever come near. As you know. But in many other ways obviously you are still childish—how could you not be, you alone among mankind? It’s something people don’t discuss, because it’s something most people are aware of only as a general crisis of sense of inadequacy, or helpless dependence, or pointless loneliness, or a sense of not having a strong enough ego to meet and master inner storms that come from an unexpected angle. But not many people realise that it is, in fact, the suffering of the child inside them.

    Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside, and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it. So everybody develops a whole armour of secondary self, the artificially constructed being that deals with the outer world, and the crush of circumstances. And when we meet people this is what we usually meet. And if this is the only part of them we meet we’re likely to get a rough time, and to end up making ‘no contact’. But when you develop a strong divining sense for the child behind that armour, and you make your dealings and negotiations only with that child, you find that everybody becomes, in a way, like your own child. It’s an intangible thing. But they too sense when that is what you are appealing to, and they respond with an impulse of real life, you get a little flash of the essential person, which is the child.

    Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It’s been protected by the efficient armour, it’s never participated in life, it’s never been exposed to living and to managing the person’s affairs, it’s never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it’s never properly lived. That’s how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced.

    Every single person is vulnerable to unexpected defeat in this inmost emotional self. At every moment, behind the most efficient seeming adult exterior, the whole world of the person’s childhood is being carefully held like a glass of water bulging above the brim. And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful. So there it is. And the sense of itself, in that little being, at its core, is what it always was. But since that artificial secondary self took over the control of life around the age of eight, and relegated the real, vulnerable, supersensitive, suffering self back into its nursery, it has lacked training, this inner prisoner. And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears. And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy.

    That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems—he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tomorrow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

    And that’s how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy. End of sermon.

    As Buddha says: live like a mighty river. And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you.

  6. Couples workshop in September 2016

    January 23, 2016 by Juliette Clancy

    I am excited to announce that myself and a colleague will be holding a couples workshop on the 17th – 18th September in Richmond, London. This workshop will be non residential and for a maximum of five couples. The purpose of the workshop is to give couples an opportunity to take some time out of their busy lives and look at issues within their relationship that might be preventing them from having the relationship they yearn for. In a gentle and supportive environment there will be a chance to spend time together connecting, learning more about each other and addressing anything that might be causing tension within the relationship.

    This workshop is not only for couples who might find themselves having a challenging time, but also for couples who might want to explore how to enhance their relationship.

    If you have any questions/concerns please feel free to contact me on 07969787355

  7. Shall We Talk?

    January 1, 2016 by Juliette Clancy

    In our society fewer and fewer people grow up seeing a strong relationship modelled between their own parents and so it comes as no surprise that it is not because of incompatibility that many marriages break down, but because the couple have no idea what it takes to make their relationship work.

    As a relationship therapist I am often astonished when working with couples just how little they know about each other’s views on things that are of fundamental importance to a relationship. I see couples shocked in the realisation that they have never really talked about what their partners reveal to me, a complete stranger. Feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, disappointments and expectations that they had not known even existed which can be both painful and enlightening.

    At the heart of a strong marriage is a strong friendship and like all friendships they need time and attention to be maintained. Communication is at the very core of any relationship and yet topics such as money and sex seem to be cloaked in mystery between two people who have chosen to spend the rest of their lives together.

    Relationships that break down are usually as a result of a process of growing apart over many years as this poem describes: –

    The Wall
    Their wedding picture mocked them from the table.
    These two whose lives no longer touched each other.
    They loved with such a heavy barricade between them that neither battering ram of words nor artilleries of touch could break it down. Somewhere between the oldest child’s first tooth and youngest daughter’s graduation they lost each other.

    Throughout the years each slowly unraveled that tangle ball of string called self and as they tugged at stubborn knots each hid their searching from the other.

    Sometimes she cried at night and begged the whispering darkness to tell her who she was while he lay beside her snoring like a hibernating bear unaware of her winter. Once after they had made love he wanted to tell her how afraid he was of dying, but fearing to show his naked soul he spoke instead about the beauty of her breasts. She took the course in modern art trying to find herself in colors splashed upon a canvas and complaining to other women about men who were insensitive. He climbed into a tomb called the office, wrapped his mind in a shroud of paper figures and buried himself in customers. Slowly the wall between them rose cemented by the mortar of indifference.

    One day reaching out to touch each other they found a barrier they could not penetrate and recoiling from the coldness of the stone each retreated from the stranger on the other side. For when love dies it is not in a moment of angry battle. Nor when fiery bodies lose their heat. It lies panting exhausted expiring at the bottom of a wall it could not scale.


    I work with couples at all stages of relationship. I offer five weekly marriage preparation sessions, which allow couples to have the often forgotten conversations before walking down the aisle together. I offer sessions for couples having a challenging time. These can be anything from a fifty minute session, to sessions of up to four hours in one go. These allow enough time for issues to emerge and time to devote to creating a better understanding of what is happening to the space between the couple, which is ‘the relationship’.

    In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson ‘marriage is one long conversation chequered by disputes.’ Sometimes couples are under the impression that it is because they argue that things are wrong in the marriage. From my experience it is not the topic that is usually the main issue, but how disagreements are or are not discussed and resolved. In relationships, disagreements are not nearly as dangerous as secrets and for as long as there are strong emotions there is hope. As written in the poem it is when barriers of self-protection are created that resemble impenetrable walls that a relationship is most at risk.

    I offer a safe space for couples to come and speak to each other and support them in doing so in a way that has perhaps not been done before, so that each party feels heard, which is often the starting point to resolving issues that have seemed insurmountable.

    There is no magic to couples therapy and yet for many couples who have had the courage to seek help at times when it would have been easier to walk away, turn a blind eye or ‘wait for another time to have a conversation’ magical moments of connection can be created by talking to each other in new ways.

  8. How motherhood challenges us to let go of control and love unconditionally

    October 5, 2015 by Juliette Clancy

    In a Bill Plotkin workshop many years ago, I recall him saying that ” there are two kinds of spiritual practice, one is parenting and the other is everything else!” It took me a while to understand what he meant. But then I got it.

    As a mum of six children now adults, I recognise the parts of me touched where no other spiritual practice could come near. The main context of this ‘practice’ that isnt even really a practice, is namely ‘surrender.’

    Surrendering to what cannot be controlled, i.e. the life of another human being. Surrendering to the pain this can inflict on our hearts because we just cannot make it right for another or force them into safety for our own needs. We cannot blame another for our feelings or how our life is because of them. We surrender to the deepest of fears and fears of loss, betrayal, insignificance and the fear of not being the most important person in anothers life.

    We learn to let go, let be, be present, be detached, love unconditionally and trust deeper than any experience could possibly allow. Our very soul can be trembling and we are forced into a realm of anxiety and inner criticism. Wondering if we have done our best, could have done better, been different, got it wrong, it goes on and on.

    I am just talking about motherhood here, fathers have their journey too, but I cannot speak for them, I can only assume it is quite the similar!

    Spiritual practice asks us to be present. Try and not be present for a screaming child, baby, one who is hungry or just plain upset and you’ve no idea why! Try and not be present through endless needs and wants and demands, for what can seem the most futile of missions. Walking along narrow walls for the twentieth time, run up and down a garden and play bat and ball when your body aches to sit and relax or even go to the loo! Another story from the favourite book, again and again and again! Off to the park again and again because there is no rest until this is done, and question after question must be answered, and we do it through love and pleasure, because we want to and we give our all, and then those moments wave over us, please go to sleep for a moment, please let me rest for a moment. Bed time and Ahhh, relief, I can now sit and there is time for ME!

    My own discipline when my children were small, when it got to the evenings I knew if I sat down, I would not get up again. I made sure I kept on my feet until each one was in bed and asleep. Then I could simply go to bed, too tired to do anything else for the ME. But that was lush and gorgeous, the feeling of just having that ‘me’ to myself. At least until the first waking moment and night time is punctuated by breastfeeding, fetching drinks of water, or that needed cuddle because of a bad dream.

    I love/loved my little ones, so much, loved being with them, playing with them, teaching them and sharing our worlds together, I would not change it for anything. And I know what it taught me in the world of patience and grounding. Having to remain centered and together in myself, it was not a time to fall apart, there was always work to be done. I was surrendered in service to the growing up of my little family with all of its challenges, dysfunctions and heart aches. But we loved each other, they loved each other, we were a family that despite everything, the children shared a lovely deep connection. I felt blessed with this.

    And babyhood and childhood changes to the grown up kids and the teenagers, where all hell breaks lose and we meet with the rebel, knowing this rebel needs its time to grow to learn about him or herself. To begin that detatchment from the parent, to find out who they are as a seperate being. Surrender, I had to. With each one I had to. To step back and witness this person who I felt I barely knew. What were they becomming?

    Surrender and let go, I told myself over and over, they must go through this, they must detatch and find their own way. I have to let go, for sure we hold certain boundaries, but let go at the same time. If we ever try to control a teenager, then for sure we are creating a volcano that is preparing to erupt right in our face, and most definitley in our hearts. Let them go and let them grow!

    Let them find their own way into adulthood, because they will return to you much more easily if they are given the freedom to find their own way and walk their own path. Making space for your loved ones, creating space between you takes courage, it takes trust and the most profound and liberating thing, for myself and my children was to say “I trust you to find your own way” Handing over the reins, the control, and the staff of wisdom and knowledge is returned to you and they walk freely, into the unknown territories into the mystery of their life, that is only for them to unfold!

    We gasp and hold our breath, breath that is so full of fear, but if we have done our job well, there can only be trust. I did not do my job as well as I would have liked, I knew this. But at the time and with the knowledge that I had at such a young age, to begin with a mere teenager myself, I did the best I could. So the guilt and shame emerged time and time again, it scourged my bones and rubbed my belly raw with anxiety. It taught me to breath deeper, to remind myself this was their journey and now it had nothing to do with me. All that was to do with me was to love them unconditionally still, and to surrender and witness them on their  journey. To let go!

    And then the adult journey can begin. As they steal that key, as in the tale of Iron John ( Robert Blye ) from under mothers pillow, no matter how she frets, the deed is done and now it is their own personal journey to take and any mature mother knows this, her job is done, but it does not take away the anxiety, the gut wrenching pain as she worries about the little child within her grown man or woman. For the mother still sees that young being despite the pride she feels for the adult walking their path.

    Again our work is to surrender, to learn to trust even more deeply. To meditate on our own pain and detachment, to walk our own path and keep letting go.

    And I find myself in one of those places, focusing on my own work giving attention to the ‘other’ part of my spiritual practice, yes my work, my offering to the world of my own journey, now holding a space for others. The phone call comes the distress is there and I am in a place far away from the ability to hug, to comfort to try anything to soften some of the blows that life presents. Is it a good thing that mother cannot be there at this time, so the adult can grow and find his or her own way with this? Must I melt into my own abandoned feelings of despair and relinquish any ability to be useful? I feel my redundancy, I feel my stomach churn, I know it is my dance to be danced and I must find that inner freedom for myself by giving them their freedom for themselves.

    I switch of the phone with dread and I focus on what I must do. I dance with my own challenge and I learn once more to be totally present with what is in front of me. I am surrenderd to the ‘what ifs’ I am present and held within my own circle of strength and support. And I teach from this very place, my wounded-healer place and we learn and grow together.

    And then all is well, no harm is done and I hand over more and more the responsibilty to them, to their own hearts knowing that the greatest love is there, always, will never be lost no matter what. It is always there. This is my spiritual practice, to surrender, to let go of control, to be present, to love unconditionally, and what better teacher for this than to be a mother to my wonderful children. They have their journey as we all do, they have their challenges and suffering as we all do. And none of us are perfect in this world, least not myself. We simply become more humble and carry our own humility within our own circles and do the best we can.

    My experience with my chldren has been my greatest spiritual teaching, I have no doubt of that. Watching them grow with such pride in my heart is an immense and beautiful thing. And it continues, with every day that passes. We are growing together and apart continually, we are learning to let each other go and lose that co-dependancy that lingers. Deepening love, maturity and a sense of spiritual belonging, learning surrender, humility and compassionatly witnessing who we each are.

    Caroline Carey

  9. How does your survival suit impact your relationships?

    September 6, 2015 by Juliette Clancy

    What I have come to learn from my work with couples is that what often disconnects us is our reactive survival dance. Each of us has learnt a way of protecting ourselves that is rather like putting on a survival suit.  Some of us resemble a turtle by our behaviour of withdrawing from difficult conversations or conflict. Others like an Octopus, loud and flailing, trying to get heard and understood. From either of these places we know how to defend, attack and protect the most vulnerable aspects of ourselves. Often the way we protect ourselves has been learnt from childhood, either continuing the patterns of our caregivers or, as a result of having made a silent vow to ourselves to act differently. What we don’t stop to consider is if that well-worn suit supports us in having the quality of relationships we so long for in the here and now.

    Often from behind this defensive façade we feel lonely, unseen and even more detached from the very people we are desperate to be in connection with. I work more and more with partners, siblings, parents, work colleagues and friends who have reached a place of desperation and who are at a loss of how to communicate effectively with each other.

    What prevents most people from moving forward when there has been conflict is the desire to be ‘right’, which in turn makes the other person by default ‘wrong’. When we are in conflict with another we often assume we know what they are thinking or what they are going to say. We have made up stories about their behaviour and are reluctant to consider their point of view. This makes communication impossible and is often the first stumbling block when trying to resolve differences.

    I see my role as a teacher, teaching people the ‘three invisible connectors’: the Space, the Bridge and the Encounter.  We don’t often stop to consider the space that sits between us, which is our relationship. Truly connecting with one’s partner is being willing to metaphorically ‘cross the bridge’ to their world, being curious and open to learning about their inner landscape. Listening with compassion is being a ‘visitor’ and learning the culture of the ‘other’. Speaking intentionally, in a clear and concise way is being a ‘host’ and sharing one’s truth and vulnerabilities enables the encounter.

    When we invite someone into our world as a Host it reminds me of Otto Scharmer’s U theory. The U theory of Otto Scharmer says that if we allow ourselves to go to the deepest truth of ourselves, it’s like coming down the left side of a U. At the bottom of that U are our core truths, some of them riddled with pain, some of them riddled with confusion, some of them riddled with frustration. It is the truths we’ve not been able to speak. And when we can speak them, we start moving to the other side of the U, the right side of that U. And that, Otto Scharmer says is ‘the future calling us’.

    To be willing to Host a visit from someone is being willing to enter the U, and to go to the very bottom of the U, to sense what is at our deepest core and to share that with our visitor, so that we can come out of the other side, being better understood, feeling heard and moving from all the negativity that can be so destructive in our relationships.

    By visiting your host you need to do more than just be an empathetic listener. Being a visitor is about ‘generative listening’. Generative listening is the kind of listening that allows us to land deeply into the world of the other, to surf the waves of their emotion, to see the landscape of their face as if for the very first time, essentially learning the geography of their soul.  In order to do this we need to be willing to leave behind all our own thoughts, assumptions and judgements, thus making ourselves truly available and curious to hear what the other is saying.

    My role is to bring awareness to the couple present, whether they be intimately involved or not, the guiding principle being that what disconnects us is our reactive survival dance. What connects us is the mutual embrace of three invisible connectors: the Space, the Bridge and the Encounter.  I support the visitor in bringing their presence in the ‘now,’ and the host in speaking their truth no matter how dark, shameful or painful that might be. I see my role as being in the service of unravelling the ‘survival knot’ between two people, because in that unravelling there is the often unspoken becoming spoken, and the possibility then of healing past hurts and misunderstandings that have prevented us from being the very thing most of us yearn to be ……. in connection.








  10. Why don’t more people talk about sex and grief?

    August 17, 2015 by Juliette Clancy

    Katrina Taee broaches the topic that so many counsellors/therapists find hard to do – Sex & Grief.

    She writes :-
    ‘I think most people would agree that sex appears to be everywhere these days. It’s on book shelves in newsagents, on television, in popular books (think 50 Shades of Grey), at the movies, in magazines and all over the internet at the touch of a button. On the other hand, grief, death and dying remain taboo subjects for the vast majority of people, though I think the tide is turning slowly.

    So why don’t more people talk about sex and grief? Lucie Brownlee braved the subject in her book Me After You with honesty, humour and insight and Amy Malloy wrote about her experiences as a very young widow in
    Wife Interrupted but in general, there seems to be a wall of silence around it.

    If a couple have had a close, loving and happy sexual relationship, they will inevitably miss sex (not that many, if any, friends will ask them about that, which makes that admission that it is on their mind rather tricky). This poses lots of problems because their body may tell them one thing, but their head another. They might start having lots of sexual fantasies and longings but what are they to do? They may feel very married still and not see themselves as free to date, or engage in sexual activity with another person. On the other hand they can consciously try to repress those feelings or engage in masturbation if they want to but for some, that misses the very thing they are yearning for, the intimacy and the closeness that they had before.

    This brings to mind a moving scene in the movie The Things We Lost In The Fire, with Halle Berry where after her husband’s death, she asks her husband’s friend to get into bed with her, to hold her a certain way, to put his arm around her just as her husband did and then to rub her ear, just as he used to.  It is excruciating to watch her longing and her need for that kind of comfort.

    Sex can mean many things to different people, to name a few: a wonderful distraction from grief and misery, a comfort, a relief, a way to feel alive again, a way to feel attractive and wanted again,  a way to fill the void and sometimes an outlet for grief (maybe letting go). It probably depends on one’s attitude to and experiences of sex before the death. When people have been in a loving relationship, they are ‘programmed’ for relationships and they can long for that warm connection to fill that space and sex would naturally be a part of that.

    There seems to be a conflict between the ‘unwanted’ freedom to have sex again and being bound to the one they already love.  We might say it is a conflict between spirit and flesh. Then throw into the mix, the difficulty in later life to find opportunities for developing sexual relationships. If someone finds a relationship with leads to sex, they may find themselves feeling very vulnerable because it is a very intimate act and it requires trust to let another see their true sexual self.  Understandably too, the bereaved person embarking on a new sexual experience carries with them their history, their partner, their family, their emotions and their loss and it complicates things. It really isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    As if that isn’t hard enough, the bereaved person’s family and friend circle will often all have views on what is appropriate and most certainly what isn’t (according to their own ‘Book Of Rules for Widows, Widowers and Partners’).  This sort of judgement can impact the surviving partner badly, adding to their grief, distress and their own feelings about their predicament.

    Having said all this, there are of course, people who move from grief to new relationships and a renewed sex life successfully, so those of you who are bereaved, please don’t despair when you read this, there is so much hope, and in time a new and different life will emerge around you, in spite of your grief, and you don’t know as yet, what that will look like.

    I spoke earlier about the  repression sexual longings after a death; I believe this leads to difficulties later on.  We should have nothing but empathy for those who struggle with sexual issues after the loss of someone they have loved.  Bereavement  is a very hard and rocky road, and we should not judge anyone who struggles with it, until we have walked in their shoes.  We human beings are sociable animals, we are drawn to companionship and love, it is what makes our lives meaningful and leads to contentment, and disruption of that is a big struggle oftentimes.

    If you have a good friend or counsellor to talk this through with, it can be good to air it and talk it through.’

    Katrina can be found at www.katrinataeecounselling.com