Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown
- Counselling; A time to end and a time to begin1st March 2017
- Counselling and the art of giving back1st February 2017
- And this year I will…..1st January 2017
- Social Anxiety, Counselling and Christmas1st December 2016
- Couple Counselling – and just when is a discussion an argument1st November 2016
- Therapy, Mobiles and the Challenge of Choice1st October 2016
- Counselling, September and an Ellison’s Orange 1st September 2016
- Counselling – A room with a view1st August 2016
- Counselling: Choices and Decisions1st July 2016
- Counselling, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire and the Inevitability of Change1st June 2016
- Counselling and the art of Ambiguity. 1st May 2016
- Repetition; Normality or Folly. A Counselling Perspective1st April 2016
- Lions, Lambs and Therapy3rd March 2016
- Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown1st February 2016
- Janus Faced? The New Year, Counselling and Psychotherapy1st January 2016
- So which road do we travel this Christmas...1st December 2015
- Counselling, Guy Fawkes and Scapegoating1st November 2015
- Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy1st October 2015
- Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer1st September 2015
- Wheat, Rye and Counselling1st August 2015
- Counselling and a break away3rd July 2015
- Counselling and the unexpected1st June 2015
- Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose1st May 2015
- Therapy, an April fool and the art of lost memory1st April 2015
- A Spring Clean Therapy and Counselling1st March 2015
- Couple Counselling & Valentines Day1st February 2015
- Nothing changes if nothing changes but this year can be different!1st January 2015
- Social Anxiety Disorder A Christmas Concern1st December 2014
- SAD & those dark Winter nights1st November 2014
- Existential Counselling A useful approach or pretentious jargon?1st October 2014
- Counselling, Therapy and a return to work1st September 2014
- Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow1st August 2014
- Couple Counselling and Choice1st July 2014
- Counselling, Jules Rimet and you A therapeutic perspective1st June 2014
- Counselling and Mayday A different take on a familiar story?1st May 2014
- Useful Therapy and not an April Fool1st April 2014
- Counselling, Floods and Pandoras Box1st March 2014
- Counselling and the art of being normal1st February 2014
- The New Year and a time for change?1st January 2014
- Christmas & Counselling The first Noel1st December 2013
- Counselling, Broomsticks & Halloween1st November 2013
- Couple Counselling and just what is a successful relationship?1st October 2013
- Counselling An issue of choice?1st September 2013
- Existential Counselling From Yalom to Basingstoke1st August 2013
- Counselling and the art of reframing1st July 2013
- Counselling - Change or Conformity?1st June 2013
- May Day Counselling - Celebration or Conflagration ?1st May 2013
- Summer Time & the Counselling Room1st April 2013
- Depression a useful diagnosis or an unhelpful label?1st March 2013
- An Emotional Timeline3rd February 2013
- Resolution, Revolution & Counselling1st January 2013
- Christmas, Carols & Counselling2nd December 2012
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and the SAD Season4th November 2012
- Psychotherapy & Counselling A Stoic Perspective17th October 2012
- 10th October 2012 - World Mental Health Day5th October 2012
- A First Meeting Explanation or Exploration?5th September 2012
- CBT, Mental Filtering and the Olympics19th August 2012
- I am not an angry man 14th July 2012
- Art, Counselling & Interpretation26th June 2012
- Murder Mysteries and Psychotherapy25th May 2012
- The importance of choice in therapy29th April 2012
- Reflections on Spontaneity6th April 2012
- A personal trainer for the mind 12th March 2012
Last month in this space I was musing on the gods – at least the Greek and Roman variety. If I now drift down the table of celestial beings, the next stop is presumably the saints – and for February the most visible saint for a secular world is St Valentine.
February 14th must be one of the most widely known saint’s days, albeit one with rituals more closely aligned to wine and roses rather than piety and worship. It is suggested that the linkage of St Valentine with romantic love is relatively recent, perhaps around the fourteenth century. It is certainly apparent that many of these rituals now associated with February 14th will have been manufactured by contemporary commercial interests with an obvious eye alas on profit rather than love or lust.
Of these rituals, there is one which I often puzzle over – and that is the sending (or alternatively the receipt) of the anonymous Valentine’s card.
Most of the practices around Valentine’s Day seem appropriate. We make sure that those we are enamoured with, intrigued by, married to or simply in some form of tenuous romantic relationship with, receive evidence of our affection by the despatch (or receipt) of traditional tokens, from roses to chocolates and cards. Our words are seen to be reinforced by our deeds.
But this practice of despatching an anonymous Valentine card? To send a card but deliberately disguise the origin of the sender? At first sight this seems a little odd. Anonymous communications can carry malevolent undertones. But an anonymous Valentine’s card? It is certainly likely to provoke some rather interesting reflections on both the likely motives of the sender and also on the thoughts of the receiver of the card.
For example, if I am delusional enough to think that someone has a romantic/erotic yearning for me (and with sparse greying hair and more wrinkles than the a prize winning Sha Pei at Crufts we know that is not going to happen but let’s suspend disbelief in order to just develop the idea!) and I also receive an anonymous Valentine card, it is possible that I may make a link between the two, the card and this other individual
That association could be either right or wrong. I have no way of being certain about the assumption I have made unless I actually ask the person concerned and I am given an answer. If I do so and the response is affirmative then was the card necessary in the first place as I was already aware of the other.
What purpose did the card serve? Is there something about the sense of intrigue? Or it was just to nudge me into taking action or making some form of contact with the other? Is that encouragement to action, conscious or subconscious the reason? Or is this all just too rational an interpretation?
An interesting link from these ad hoc musings about the anonymous Valentine card across to counselling work inside the therapy room is around the issue of what is known and what is not known. Within the therapy room all I ever know about a client comes from what the client tells me. That communication can be overt through the spoken word, or suggested by visible signs such as calmness, agitation, body language or clothing. Even if the information offered seems clear I may often check just to ensure that my interpretation is rooted in fact and is not just an erroneous assumption.
Perhaps another link is also through the common currency of relationships. Therapy is about a relationship. That is evident irrespective of the modality be that CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) Psychodynamic work, or Solution Focused work. Therapy is two people working together to explore, to understand and to consider a way forward. Therapy is about questioning. It is concerned with assumptions, interpretations, hypothesis and the development of a creative experience. It involves trust and acceptance. Therapy is also about checking, testing and risking.
Back in the early days of psychotherapy much of the work in the traditional therapy room was about exploring the unknown, of bringing into daylight that which had been lurking in the unconscious albeit with a sometimes malign or disruptive influence. The unknown was to be made visible. Understanding then brought enlightenment and the disruptive impact diminished. Or at least that was the theory.
Of course it may now be suggested on some occasions the unknown is be better left alone. Nevertheless the world including our inner world is a fascinating place and there to be explored - and exploration of any sort carries a risk. Therapy is no exception
Back to Valentine’s Day. Perhaps that potential process is also present when that anonymous valentine’s card is sent or received. It can be seen as an invitation to exploration. The despatcher sends out a signal and the recipient can choose how to respond to this.
There may just be mild curiosity or as the recipient we may be so moved as to actively search out the sender. If we do begin to seek, then an exploration process has been inexorably set in train. This also means that we then need to be prepared to deal with the consequences of that process.
All rather serious stuff so perhaps we should conclude on a lighter note.
There are probably a myriad of reasons why anonymous cards are sent and we are free to choose those ideas which works best for each of us. Perhaps one of the reasons can just that it is a fun and slightly mischievous thing to do. It is a way of brightening someone’s day or very gently teasing them.
So whatever the cause, reason or effect I hope you receive on 14th February whatever it is you wish to receive – be that a single, a profusion or an absence of cards and be these signed or otherwise!
added on 1st February 2016
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