REVIEW IN THE PSYCHOTHERAPIST: To read a review published in The Psychotherapist: Issue 64 Autumn 2016
Book Review by Pat Hoare:
This book written by Juliet Grayson is unusual in its presentation and content by allowing the reader into the privileged position of witness to very specific therapeutic engagement with clients as they struggle with relationship issues.
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A chapter on emotional fusion offers clarity into roles often played out in relationships,giving positive suggestions for growth and change. A model of “Five Star Conscious Relating”created by the author and described in detail is a valuable resource for anyone seeking a deeper awareness of roles chosen by couples.By introducing Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor therapy to her clients Juliet makes this fascinating reading,she gives a clear explanation of the therapy,its effectiveness and the profound changes that often evolve as a result. Further chapters give more detail about the unfolding process of PBSP which is such a remarkable and as yet little known therapeutic intervention in this country. The chapter on Juliet`s story and her experience with horses tells how this eventually led her to train as a therapist and later to use some of the insights she had developed whilst riding, in her work with clients.
I found this book totally absorbing in its clarity and wisdom, above all the depth of compassion which Juliet possesses and brings to her therapeutic practice make it quite remarkable. This excellent book is full of insight which I feel sure will inform and appeal to couples and therapists alike as a reliable therapeutic resource on which to draw.
REVIEW IN EatMoreCake: This book review was published by Sophie Rosina Banks on May 25 2016 on www.EatMoreCake.co.uk: The Therapist Will See You Now – Review of Landscapes of the Heart: The Working World of a Sex and Relationship Therapist by Juliet Grayson
Ever wondered what a therapy session may be like? Just open up Landscapes of the Heart and let Juliet Grayson welcome you in.
Landscapes of the Heart is my type of non-fiction reading. I adore fictional TV medical series and have read previous biographies from the medical world. However, I never thought I would find a book on therapy so fascinating. I never thought therapy would be for me but while reading this book I found that it might be for everyone, in fact I’m now on a waiting list to actually see a therapist. I have things to sort out in my head and I’ve known that for a while but I never saw therapy as an option. I think this all comes down to the no fuss narrative of Grayson. Each chapter is dedicated to a different case with various relationship or sexual problems. Firstly, you are a fly on the wall in their first session. The powerful emotions of both anger and sadness draw you into another persons life, but what keeps you locked in is the way Grayson so easily describes how each patient must be feeling. She appears to have quite the gift in ‘walking in someone else’s body’ – the reader almost goes through the therapy session themselves. The emotions that begin each chapter are so raw that they seep from the pages onto us, making Grayson’s words applicable to us. The reader senses change in the atmosphere. While the patients leave the therapy session with a hint of development, the reader leaves the chapter in a similar way.
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After the couples’ therapy sessions have been described and their paths revealed, Grayson moves on to a more technical section. What the author does in these sessions is explain in more detail a theory or idea that was mentioned in the therapy sessions. For example, Grayson explains how one takes on a certain role in a relationship: the Boss, the Loner, the Pleaser and the preferred, the Self-Developer. Grayson manages to find level of knowledge to pass on. It is enough for us to understand and apply to our own lives but not too complex that we may never understand it.
Even though the stories of the couples were enjoyable and full of emotion, I think that this book also plays a great role in helping the reader. When I started this book I didn’t think I would get any help from it. Instead, I have found that some of the ideas are ones I will try to use in my own relationships, that therapy may be a great way for to deal with my emotions and ultimately, that we are not alone when facing problems. Everyone has their own problems and I think that sometimes we forget that. Many people hide problems so well, we may never fully understand them. As they say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and Grayson can help with that.
One final tip whilst reading this intriguing book: don’t skip over the poetry and quotes!
REVIEW IN THE DAILY MAIL: Published in Femail, the Mail online 22 May 2016. Written by Unity Blott
Confessions of a relationship therapist: Counsellor reveals what it’s REALLY like to be on the other side of the sofa (and yes, she does take sides)To read the whole article including a long excerpt from the book, click here
- Juliet Grayson has 25 years of experience as a counsellor and therapist
- She has written a candid account on what really goes on during sessions
- Reveals she cannot imagine living with one client’s ‘furious’ wife
- Her new book, Landscapes Of The Heart, is released on 23 April
In the book, which comes out on April 23, she shares stories of real couples’ lives, giving readers access to the therapy room, and providing a candid picture of the therapeutic process – including the therapist’s thoughts
Therapist Juliet Grayson has laid bare what really goes goes through her mind during her gruelling sessions by penning a book that gives a ‘therapist’s-eye view’ of what really goes on during couples’ therapy
In the book, which comes out on April 23, she shares stories of real couples’ lives, giving readers access to the therapy room, and providing a candid picture of the therapeutic process – including the her thoughts and opinions.
The reader sits on Juliet’s shoulder, witnessing the trials and tribulations of her clients (whose names have been changed to protect their identity). In this extract taken from Chapter Two, she recalls her first session with married couple Frank and Maxine.
Chapter 2: Frank and Maxine
They sit in my therapy room. Frank looks defeated. Maxine is furious. Furious! ‘If it wasn’t for him, his lack of caring, his indifference, not to mention the fact that he flirts with other women…. I know I can’t trust him,’ she whines. ‘If only he would pay me attention…’ She doesn’t bother to finish the sentence, but I imagine she’d say if only he would pay me attention then everything would be okay.
I put myself in his shoes. How would I feel living with this fireball of fury? Every fibre of her fulminating against who I am. With each breath she condemns me, hates me, shrinks me. I am helpless in front of this onslaught. This vitriol. Why on earth is she still with me?
And here they show me their stuckness. I have several different reactions all at the same time. The first is helplessness. How on earth can we get out of this painful place? I feel the weight of grief underneath his cloak of calm. Her pain carries a gut-wrenching agony that penetrates me.
The second reaction is compassion. How can they live with this?
The third is a kind of rightness. This is real, this is truth. We are right here, where the work is needed. But what to say? My next words will be important, I have to get it right (or right enough).
Or rather I have to be careful, watching as I speak, reading their reactions to what I am saying. Too strong, and they may not be able to bear the pain, too sugary sweet or too hopeful and they won’t trust me.
I pause, giving myself time. I know how important it is that I stay real. That is what I have to offer, my honesty. But I also hold the place of hope. ‘This is really painful,’ I say. They both nod. I notice this moment of agreement between them. ‘I imagine this has been going on for a while?’ Again, both nod.
‘And you could separate, but I imagine a part of you hopes that you won’t, or you wouldn’t be here.’ I state this, rather than asking the question, but I notice they don’t nod this time.
In reaction to the absence of a nod, I say, ‘Or maybe you feel like this is the end of the road, and separation is the only option?’ I notice that Maxine almost imperceptibly nods, and breathes out, and I realise she has been holding her breath for a long time.
Something in the room eases, a very slight shift in the energy, a small relief. I wonder if it is because I have brought in the idea of separation. It has been named. This prompts me to talk about the way I work.
‘Usually I help couples to stay together. That is the focus of my work, until one or both of you tell me that you want to separate, and then my job is to help you do that with dignity.
‘However, in that process, we might well explore what it would mean to each of you to separate, and how that could work, to see if it might be a realistic option.
‘But my main focus is to work with you two to stay together. Does that sound okay?’
Again they nod.’And you will never get back the relationship you started with,’ I say. ‘That is over. Finished. Gone. The task now is to help you find a relationship that is good enough, that you both want to buy into. To help you work out what would make you really wantto stay together.
‘So one of the things we need to do is to get clear about that. Does that sound helpful?’ They cautiously nod. ‘What do you hope to get from coming here?’
Frank starts speaking. His presence and voice fill the room. I wonder if he is really as calm on the inside as he appears on the outside. I suspect not. Despite his obvious attempts to present himself well – the smart suit, impeccably polished shoes, crisp Jermyn Street shirt and gold cufflinks – he also has a wearied and fragile quality.
After mentioning a possible split between a husband and wife, Julie says: ‘Something in the room eases, a very slight shift in the energy, a small relief. I wonder if it is because I have brought in the idea of separation’
There is something in the way he talks that I can’t quite name. It is as if he is appealing to me to see past the disguise, to read his despair. As I begin to feel into where he is coming from, I sense that he is at the end of his tether.
‘I love Maxine. I always have. I just want to make it right between us. Nothing I do seems to help. I’ve tried everything, and it isn’t enough. Maybe the kindest thing is for me to go. I sure as hell don’t make her happy. So I guess I want to know what I should do.’
Now a tiny quake enters his voice. ‘What can I do that will help… should I leave? I think that is what she wants.’
As I tune into my body, my heart begins to open, responding to his vulnerability, and hearing how defeated he feels. Now it is her turn.
‘I wish I could feel his love. He says it occasionally, but I don’t feel it. I don’t know what the block is, but I don’t believe him. I guess he is not affectionate with me, and if he does give me a hug I know it is because he wants sex. So then I pull back. I don’t want to be a sex object.’
She sounds defeated too. Again I feel the stuckness. It is a hollow place, with no signposts. A well of grief, distress, hurt, anger, and fury. Underneath, it is as if they are saying, we have tried everything, we can’t be bothered anymore. It is all too much pain and effort.
But isn’t this just the normal stuff of relationships? Yes, they have gone a bit further down the road of despair than I might have done –but they are still together. Just. We seem to have a myth that relationships are easy, it is the ‘happy ever after’ scenario that occurs when the prince meets the princess.
Once you have done the difficult thing of meeting the ‘right one’, then the rest just happens. Relationships should be effortless! Something sometimes arises as I sit with clients who are in therapy. It is what the psychologist James Hillman would call an imaginal process; not only being with ‘what is’ (using Second Position), but taking it a step further, to imagine what ‘might be’.
Attuning myself to the tiny, unspoken messages and signals in the room, I hypothesise that if I had a session with Maxine on her own she may say, I hate him. And I hate myself. I want to give up.
I might sit there, not saying much. Not trying to change her mind, or make it easier. Simply breathing and staying with her. But after a few moments she might go on, now sounding defeated. But if I give up I will be a failure.
Feeling her pain, I continue my reverie. She’d say, Being single will show I am useless. Single. Again. Contempt for herself would drench the room. This is a lot to surmise from so little time with them, but there is something unspoken, hanging in the air between us, that takes me right to this point.
Then I empathically envisage a one-to-one session with Frank. I imagine him saying, It’s her fault. Not mine. I have really tried. And she has let me down. I sit, breathing, offering myself as a witness, and in my mind’s eye I see him continuing.
I have invested too much to let this go… It’s going to cost me a lot of money if we split. I wait. Minutes pass. Then, I picture him starting to cry, I can’t bear to live without her. Sobbing now, he says, I’ve never actually lived on my own and I’m scared!
Silence as he absorbs this shocking revelation. And I don’t want to be the one that gives up. She’s going to have to make the decision… Another minute passes, and I imagine him quietly admitting, I’m terrified. I’m terrified that I will never find anyone else.
I think these may be the double binds that they are fighting. If I am right, then whatever decision they make, they will feel like they can’t win.
The essence of her struggle is this: I hate him and I want to leave. But if I give up I will have failed, and I can’t bear to fail again.
His double bind is: It’s her fault. Why should I have to pick up the cost of that? I will stay to spite her... but underneath that, driving him, is: actually I’m terrified of leaving. There is no good solution to this; at least if you stay in their perspectives, there is no easy way out.
These impressions of Frank and Maxine have been so strong that I am curious to see if I am on track, or way off! I let them flood into me, informing me. But, never sure that I am right, and knowing there’s a greater complexity than I’ve so far seen, I keep an open mind and a willingness to be wrong.