Brian Thorne on belovedness, sexuality & power in therapy

In the passage before this excerpt, Brian has been talking about the idea of the ‘beloved’, in the context of the writings of Julian of Norwich. How any of us makes sense of ‘beloved’ will depend on personal experiences and conceptual structures/language. It is an idea that rests at the heart of person-centred work: the idea that within us all, there is an inviolable core that is sacred, trustworthy, loving, of value, and of meaning – whether we understand that as the expression and manifestation of divine energy within us, or in more humanistic terms as the personally/relationally enhancing nature of the actualising process.

Brian continues in the passage below, by relating this to the therapist’s sexual being and situation where sexual feelings arise in a client relationship (as inevitably sometimes happens). He is reflecting on what creates safety in the therapy room. For him (and for us), safety cannot meaningfully or reliably be created with rules or fixed ‘boundaries’ – only in the personhood of the therapist. Trust, safety, depth and healing power in relationship require a therapist who has done their own work sufficiently to have a strong and reliable sense of the ‘beloved’ within themselves – and thus within their client, for the one cannot exist without the other. We might equally express this in terms of a therapist who offers themselves presence and the core conditions to such an extent, that they are reliably able to relate to their client from a place informed by presence and the core conditions – no matter what comes up. Such a therapist will not act out their own wounding in sessions in the way Brian describes, by seeking validation or control at the client’s expense. Such a therapist will not seek power over, but will relate from a sense of equality and sacredness, to empower. This ability arises in – and only in – the therapist’s deep commitment to their own personal work and engagement with shadow work (however that is accomplished).

And Brian expresses it better than we can….Beautiful passage about the essence of loving relationship, be that in therapy or any other context:-

“I have come to see this sense of being infinitely beloved as the key to the integration of sexuality into one’s total responsiveness to another person or, indeed, to the created order in general. Sexual energy can clearly be a formidable force, and its potential for destructiveness is inevitably heightened when it is fuelled by an overriding need to possess or to control. If I feel essentially unvalued or, worse, abandoned and rejected, my need for validation can be so great that only the possession of another person will provide the way out of my loneliness – or so I falsely believe. Again, if I feel powerless or, worse, humiliated and victimised, it may be that to seduce another person or, in the worst case, to perpetrate their emotional or physical violation will restore to me – or so I falsely believe – a sense of my own power and of my ability to control the lives of others. Sexual energy in these instances becomes a monstrous and unanchored force which perversely and destructively sets out to remedy a lack of self-love or personal power, but in the process not only does untold damage to others but also, in the long run, intensifies my own sense of personal worthlessness and impotence. It is against this background that the therapist must be sure of his or her own existential worth and freedom from power seeking if there is to be any likelihood of sexual energy informing and, indeed, irradiating the total response to the client in a way which can bring life and healing. For my own part, it is only when I experience a profound conviction of my belovedness, no matter what may happen to me, that I am able to let go of anxiety and fear and offer myself to another person in trustfulness that the process – whatever the difficulties – will work out well. Such a sense of belovedness, although enhanced and buttressed by the love and validation of other human beings, cannot, I believe, be securely founded on them alone. I know that I am only free to be fully myself – and that means with every part of my being – when I am utterly caught up in a stream of love which pours itself out unreservedly on the whole universe. What is more, when I am secure in such all-embracing love, not only do I have no desire to possess or exert power over another person but such a desire is abhorrent to me. It is as if my whole being undergoes a transformation and I become transparent, empathic, compassionate and yearn only that the other may become self-loving and fully alive. Miraculously, too – and I believe it is of the order of miracles – the whole universe seems ready to offer its resources to two human beings who, because they are fully alive in the moment, have been swept up into eternity.”

The Mystical Power of Person-Centred Therapy: Hope Beyond Despair – Brian Thorne

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994


This entry was posted in abuse, actualizing tendency, autonomy, boundaries, Brian Thorne, compassion, compulsive behaviour, conditions of worth, congruence, core conditions, cultural questions, cultural taboos, embodiment, empathy, empowerment, encounter, equality, ethics, healing, identity, immanence, interconnection & belonging, love, meaning, non-directive counselling, objectification, perception, person centred, person centred theory, power and powerlessness, presence, relationship, self, self concept, sexual being, sexual violence, shadow, spirituality, therapeutic growth, therapeutic relationship, transformation, trust, unconditional positive regard, values & principles, violence, vulnerability, working with clients and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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