In mainstream modern psychotherapy, there seems to have become an emphasis on “positive psychology”, “strengths based practice”, “evidence based practice” and “mindfulness”. Not to mention therapy that is completed in 6-10 sessions, as the expected format of completion. Darker themes and problematic snares seem to be resolved by cheerful, thoughtful, scientific attitude (if their very existence is acknowledged at all).
This presentation takes the position that the Shadow and the Trickster are lurking in the vicinity of every psychotherapy and every therapy session; and at times, they are lurking with intent. The clinician who practices without some conceptualization of these two powerful archetypes may be, not only naïve, but inadvertently exposing her or himself to a world of distress. And perhaps, even more alarming, such a clinician might be missing a complexity and richness provided by these archetypes and the dynamics in which they manifest, which can lead to profound and valuable change.
The Shadow and the Trickster will be considered here with regards to their appearance in the client’s life, in the therapist’s psyche and in the dynamics of the therapeutic interaction. Case snippets and cultural phenomena will be used as illustration. The role of these two archetypes in the current presentation of therapy in our society today will be considered.
About Paul Gibney
Paul Gibney, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and family therapist who has been in full-time private practice in Brisbane since 1988. His doctoral thesis (1993) focused on the theoretical relationship between psychoanalysis, systemic therapy, time in therapy, and the matter of context. His theoretical and academic interests and practical contributions to the field have been in the areas of brief therapy, systemic practice, Jungian psychotherapy and psychoanalytic thought. He has a deep interest in ‘everyday therapy’, and how to apply complex frameworks to the practical demands of the real world. He has consulted and supervised across a wide range of institutional settings.
Paul worked as a psychiatric social worker for a decade in public practice and for ten years held a part-time senior lectureship, teaching Advanced Casework and Family Therapy in the Social Work Department at the University of Queensland. Paul currently provides consultation and professional supervision to agencies providing services in trauma recovery, child health, trans-cultural psychiatry, child protection and residential care. His current research interests are in the areas of professional supervision and developing personal frameworks for practice.