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'What do you do when you don't know what to do?': The respected other of Peter Lomas

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The paper explores Peter Lomas's influence on the author as a therapist, and in particular his idea that therapy is inescapably an ethical endeavour, however much we try to avoid this. Less persuasive, however, is Lomas's belief in therapy as a moral influence. The author sees it more as an ethical space (after Roger Poole) where people can feel free to explore, without judgement, the difficulties that have brought them there - despair, loss, inauthenticity, unfulfilled lives. The paper also explores R.D. Laing's idea of 'fear of the soul' which afflicts therapists (including those who do not hold much with ideas of technique) - despite our title - as well as many of those who come to see us. This fear is, it is argued, understandable as it takes us into uncharted waters, a minefield. In other words, therapy can be dangerous. The paper draws both on the author's work with individuals, and in the Philadelphia Association's community house, with which he has been involved for many years.

Keywords: Philadelphia Association community houses; ethical space; ethics; fear of the soul; ordinariness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Philadelphia Association, London

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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