chapter  16
8 Pages

Dwelling on the Edge

WithWilliam West

Typically, counsellors and psychotherapists have grown up on the edge of their families, sometimes spending a lot of their childhood alone, perhaps being the confidant/carer to siblings and occasionally to a parent, and mostly growing up too soon. Becoming a therapist as an adult, one can draw on these childhood experiences but there is a potential cost. Therapists are not the only ones who might find or see themselves as edge dwellers; for example, religious leaders, doctors and nurses – especially GPs and community nurses. But beyond these professional roles, dwelling on the edge is experienced by many others, again at a potential cost. These include people who are marginalised by the wider society, for instance refugees, immigrants, people who just look different, disabled people and people with mental health issues.

Dwelling on the edge is not necessarily and always a wholly negative experience. It can be seen as liminality, as a choosing to not belong or be in one situation, place or group. It gives the person involved an interesting and potentially creative perspective on what might be under examined situations. Also, being on the edge in one scenario does not necessarily mean that it happens at all times in all situations.

In this chapter I will explore the experience of edge dwelling, including the challenges, the costs and the potential benefits involved, drawing on my own experiences and the experiences of therapists and others.