I don’t know about you, but I love it when something I hear in one part of my life connects with something I have heard from somewhere else. It is like there is an almost audible ‘ring of truth’ that sounds out. Do you ever get that?

This week I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Family Therapy conference in Brighton for a day. The theme was diversity. After a stimulating day of workshops, talks and casual conversations with colleagues, I was listening to Imelda McCarthy, systemic therapist at the Fifth Province Centre in Dublin, and the responses her listeners gave at the end of her talk. It became apparent that we were talking about systemic thinking not as just another therapy, but as a whole world view that has power to bring about significant shifts in perspectives in our increasingly individualised cultures. The words in the room chimed with words from earlier in the day from Jaako Seikkula, Professor of Psychotherapy in Finland – “ in the beginning was relationship”, a deliberate allusion to religious understandings of how the world began. He quoted Bakhtin, saying “I see myself in your eyes”. The whole experience chimed with themes of spirituality from last year’s conference in Canterbury, when Beth and I had presented our workshop on forgiveness.

So relationship is everything. We only know anything about ourselves by seeing ourselves as others see us. And I was left wondering ‘where have I heard this before, and recently?’ Ah, yes, in my daily readings of Richard Rohr, psychotherapist, theologian, Franciscan brother –  ‘ unity is diversity embraced by an infinitely generous love’ – they could have invited him to speak at the conference!

I shall finish with more words from Richard Rohr – ‘ the principle of one is lonely; the principle of two is oppositional and moves you toward preference and exclusion; the principle of three is inherently moving, dynamic and generative’. A great description of the ethos behind family and systemic work, from a Franciscan monk – bing bong!

Jools, September 2016