the free psychotherapy network

free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits

Andy Metcalf

I have been wondering why I feel strongly positive about joining the no-fee network, given that I already do a substantial amount of low-fee work. All sorts of explanations present themselves. But the one that sticks is that a more passionate political sensibility has got rekindled in me as our society has been facilitated to polarise into uber-winners or desperate losers.

I first got dragged into the political world by the events of 1968, while a student in Bristol. But my first political baptism was earlier – at boarding school – where insane purposeless rules were the order of the day. I tasted that authoritarian experience again while training at wpf to be a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. In my time there, wpf’s need to infantalise its trainees had become a cornerstone of its culture.

Professional life has led me to think that wpf is not alone in its embrace of an impenetrable, hierarchical and coercive culture. Many institutions in the therapy world participate in this. For me, part of the attraction of the no-fee network is that it offers a modest disruption to such defensively armoured cultures.

I have also been influenced by reading Lewis Hyde’s book, The Gift, recently. He persuasively shows the many benefits that flow from the free exchange of gifts, outside of the money nexus. The gift of diverse life experience and selves that the client brings to therapy. And also the gift of being there: the relating, listening and commenting the therapist can offer. I am curious as to how I will experience therapy outside the distorting context of an “overwhelmingly commercial world” (Margaret Atwood, introduction to The Gift.)