free psychotherapy for people on low incomes and benefits
It is quite obvious that in the general economic sphere, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. This “gap” is also reflected in the types of talking therapies that are on offer for people from a less “rich” background.
As it stands today, the NHS provides free psychological therapies from the limited perspectives of time (e.g., 6-12 sessions) and modality (e.g., therapy based on the cognitive behavioural model or the currently endangered species/models of humanistic, psychoanalytic, and counselling type talking therapies). More alarming is the fact that talking therapies are now being dominated by the evidence based scientific discourse; that therapy, patient, and therapist are objects like any other, can be measured and predicted. Further, from the evidence based perspective, psychotherapy is based upon arbitrary reductive concepts defining mental health, based on the demands of a scientific/capitalistic discourse. However, even the concept of mental health can be challenged as it is a highly dubious concept.
As a result, the talking therapies, despite lip service given to the ethical and humanitarian values of them by state institutional rhetoric, have been and are continually being turned into commodities.
In the private sphere, the very same kind of people who offer time-limited and limited modality therapy on the NHS (e.g., CBT 6-12 sessions) can also offer highly exclusive and expensive therapy and dubious claims of effective therapy (e.g. cosmetic psychotherapeutic efficacy; improved well-being and life style, less psychopathology, life coaching etc). This situation obviously amounts to a discourse which rests upon “if you have enough money you can get more well-being, more therapy, happiness, mental health, and sanity etc.”
It is my belief that psychotherapy is a subversive activity that needs to take a critical stance on the “inner” and “outer” world and even the idea of “mental health”. By pathologising individuals (e.g. NHS approved clinical disorders, depression, OCD, anxiety etc) one is straight away one step removed from the whole picture, and engaged in politically infantilising individuals. Further, due to the availability of talking therapies founded on economic power (e.g. if you can pay high fees you can get therapy privately and for as long as you want), this maintains the status quo of the discourse of well-being and “mental health” based upon being “richer”.
From my nearly twenty years working with people in mental distress (I do not use the term mental health) in my various roles (i.e., volunteer, support worker, psychologist, and psychoanalyst) I feel it is imperative to combat market forces (whether ideological or economic-they are both the same). From my own experience, I feel grateful for being offered therapy which was affordable and free from the politically motivated market and ideological forces which strive to culture out certain people and their experiences. I therefore feel passionate about being able to offer an endangered “space” that may be accessed by all kinds of people, whatever their economic capabilities.
I am a member of and on the board of Governors of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK, and a member of both the Philadelphia Association in London, and Human Development Scotland. I am a writer, author, independent researcher, and psychoanalytically orientated therapist. I work in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. I can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org