Conscious and Unconscious

Conscious and Unconscious

Conscious and Unconscious

Conscious and Unconscious


All forms of psychotherapy deal with the limitations of our awareness. We have limited knowledge of our creative potential, of the details of our own behaviour, of our everyday emotional states, of what motivates us, and of the many factors within and around us which influence the decisions we make and the ways we act.

Some therapists, especially those influenced by Freud and Jung, speak of the 'unconscious', giving the unintended impression that it is a kind of realm or domain of activity. Others, reacting against the specifics of Freudian theory, shun the word 'unconscious' altogether. However, so limited is the reach of everyday awareness and such is the range of unconscious factors, that one way or another these limitations must somehow be spoken about, sometimes in metaphor, sometimes more explicitly.

This book offers a broad survey of psychotherapy discourses, including:

The psychoanalytic
The interpersonal
The experiential
The cognitive-behavioural
The transpersonal

This book offers a comprehensive overview of the ways in which these discourses employ a rich variety of concepts to address the limits of our everyday consciousness.

Conscious and Unconscious is invaluable reading for all those interested in counselling and psychotherapy, including those in training, as well as for experienced therapists.


A major aspect of intellectual and cultural life in the twentieth century has been the study of psychology – present, of course, for many centuries in practical form and expression in the wisdom and insight to be found in spirituality, in literature and in the dramatic arts, as well as in arts of healing and guidance, in both the East and West. In parallel with the deepening interest in the inner processes of character and relationships in the novel and theatre in the nineteenth century, psychiatry reformulated its understanding of the human mind, and encouraged, in those brave enough to challenge the myths of mental illness, new methods of exploration of psychological processes.

The twentieth century witnessed, especially in its latter half, an explosion of interest both in theories about personality, psychological development, cognition and behaviour, and in the practice of therapy, or perhaps more accurately the therapies. It also saw, as is not uncommon in any intellectual discipline, battles between theories and therapists of different persuasions, particularly between psychoanalysis and behavioural psychology, and each in turn with humanistic and transpersonal therapies, as well as within the major schools themselves. If such arguments are not surprising, and indeed objectively can be seen as healthy – potentially promoting greater precision in research, alternative approaches to apparently intractable problems and deeper understanding of the wellsprings of human thought, emotion and behaviour – it is none the less disturbing that for many decades there was such a degree of sniping and entrenchment of positions from therapists who should have been able to look more closely at their own responses and rivalries. It is as if diplomats . . .

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