Thursday, August 27, 2009

Search for Containers

It's no joke being a smoker these days and really it's not good for you. No-one can argue otherwise. But the bans have made some people inventive. Where there is no container, one will be found. So maybe there's a lesson here. Like many psychotherapists, especially Jungians, I argue a lot for the value of a container. Indeed, I've been waiting for a shot like this because there are many points in the city where cigarette butts gather. They spill out of these too-small, designated containers outside offices and gather under the doors of disused shops. Without adequate containers we are clearly in trouble. The family is a container and the best ones have clear boundaries, especially for raising children. If we don't set clear boundaries for young people, they will demand them - in one way or another. The psychotherapy relationship is also a container, which can be best observed in therapy groups. One key rule for this kind of group is that outside group meetings, there shall be no discussion about what been said or has taken place. Otherwise the group is said to be "leaky". It is an inadequate container. The same goes for the psychotherapeutic relationship. It's best not spoken of outside the boundaries of the therapeutic space. At the collective level, containers set social boundaries - such as in civil and political society, legal frameworks and religion.