Britain’s therapists have been active over the past six months. In there was hardly a client who didn’t start things off with Brexit. Some needed to reveal feelings of disenfranchisement and wrath, alongside guilt for not having done more to convince others of their opinion. Others, who’d struggled with feeling excluded or rejected previously, felt alarm bells ringing again. As one therapist blogged last summer, “External occasions can often trigger deep-seated feelings of nervousness” – and this was one hell of an outside event. Other larger occasions have followed.
The dialogs which take place in the consulting room are critically different from the sort you might have with relative, close friend or a neighbour. There are really no nods, no groans, no knowing grins; that’s not the way most therapy works. Sigmund Freud was the first to argue that a therapist needed to be a blank slate, so that their feelings could project on to them, a procedure called transference. These feelings can then be admitted and talked about.
But Freud lived decades before the internet. On-Line searches and social media mean clients can now unearth myriad private details about their therapist – not just whether she or he is married, but whether they have children, sign petitions, share pictures, supported Leave or Stay.