Life itself is an uncertain journey. We only know that it ends, not when and how.
This is our common context, our humanity. We are experiencing more than ever, how we are all affected, physically or mentally, almost immediately by rapid changes in any part of the world. Virus pandemics, climate and ecological changes, wars and the threat of war, migration, political and social pandemics remind us of our common vulnerability. And yet, as our lives are more and more globalized, we are experiencing increasing differences in exclusion and inclusion, rich and poor, them and us.
Many are experiencing uncertainty, apprehension, and anxiety about the future. Some are excited about a new dawn, many are pessimistic. This is also reflected at the personal level, in our work and therapies.
It is hard to keep our inner balance, maintain hope in the future and retain a feeling of security. If we as family therapists and systemic practitioners start to feel despondent, how does this affect us, our own families, and our therapeutic work with clients?
What will be essential to lean on in training of therapists and in our work?
Relational and contextual perspectives are the guiding lights for systemic practitioners. They form our missions and our visions. The position of the therapist contains multitudes. Ideas about how to position oneself are also manifold. One vision is the need to train for uncertainty. Conversations take place in the context of uncertainty. Our mission is often to find ways to carry on, to find the next step. Is there a space for the expert position and the not-knowing position to guide each other with sensitivity in finding it?
In training for meeting complex relational challenges in the world of uncertainty new spaces may also be found in art, music, and literature. Creativity in finding common values may strengthen our common humanity, also in the rooms of conversations.
Hans Christian Michaelsen is a family therapist, supervisor and former assistant professor at VID Specialized University, Oslo. His academic background includes Nordic language and literature, English and American literature, psychology, medicine and Master in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice. He has formerly worked with theatre, intercultural understanding and teaching. In 1980- 2008 he was director of LEON, a foundation working with families suffering from relational and severe dependency problems, substance- and alcohol dependency, eating disorders, gambling, mental challenges, and family crises. The LEON foundation developed network programmes in local communities and prevention work. From 1989 they developed a multi-family group-therapy practice where several families (from 50 – 100 people) worked through weekends in various narrative processes.
Hans Christian Michaelsen was editor of the Nordic journal Fokus på familien and has written articles and book chapters. He was Chairperson of the Norwegian Family Therapy Association 2005-2009 and is currently President of the NFTO Chamber of EFTA and a Board Member of EFTA.
He works today in his therapy practice as well as doing supervision and teaching in Norway and abroad.