Client Wisdom and Holism in Anthroposophic Psychotherapy
Since the latter part of the twentieth century there have been many significant developments in the counselling and psychotherapy profession. First, managed care emerged from the introduction of neoliberal ‘new public management’ by Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s, and evidence-based practice was then developed in the early 1990s. But the same period since the 1980s has also seen considerable innovation within the therapy profession and the advent of more holistic approaches based on the integration of philosophical positions and worldviews and disciplines. This involves the integration of different disciplines, philosophical outlooks and worldviews and not just theories. There is, for example, the development of relational and intersubjective therapy in the field of psychoanalysis which has led to a growing respect between psychoanalytic therapists and humanistic practitioners. Therapy is thereby seen as an interaction between two imperfect and fallible subjectivities as opposed to an interaction between a knowledgeable and sorted therapist and a helpless and needy client. But there has also been an integration between the disciplines of therapy, sociology and politics and between therapy and medical science which overcomes Cartesian dualism, idealistic monism and materialistic monism.
This chapter looks at the contribution of one approach which has been part of this new climate; namely, anthroposophic psychotherapy. It incorporates many of the findings of these new developments, particularly the psycho-social aspects of the integration between therapy, sociology and politics and the biological aspects of the integration between therapy and medical science but it also incorporates a spiritual worldview. It could thus be described as a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach to practice which contributes to contemporary innovations in psycho-social humanistically inclined relational psychoanalysis and recent psychosomatic research and practice.
In order to appreciate the extent of its contribution this chapter will look at the way in which anthroposophic psychotherapy investigates the fine liminal qualities of the therapist–client interacton and the issues that clients present which are often unnoticed in contemporary theory and practice. It will also look at the power of the client’s spiritual individuality, or genius. Using case vignettes the chapter will illustrate these aspects of anthroposophic psychotherapy and, in so doing, will look at clients’ healing gestures in clinical practice arising out of their individuality or genius.