Thursday, January 28, 2010

Outside the Container

Psychotherapists often talk of containers. They mean a set of boundaries designed to offer a secure space within which to operate. The room where psychotherapy takes place is a container. It's safe and confidential and some analysts insist on it being leak proof - that is, it's wise not to talk to anyone about what you discuss in therapy. Put a boundary on it and let it keep or even "stew" until next week. CG Jung referred to it in an alchemical way. Like a chemical process, you might confine the elements in a pressurised vessel to achieve the desired outcome. In the picture, the rubbish never got into the container at all. By dumping it outside the container, the owner ensured that it would become litter and spread around. In some youth group discussions, there is sometimes a space set aside before the start so that participants can get things off their chest. These might be important for the person involved but could impede the business of the meeting. This is called "dumping the garbage". Within the allotted time, the more reluctant participant could even be encouraged to "spit it out". That's expectoration. Best carried out within a container!