Changing Your Relationship Patterns Psychology - Dr Jacqui Winship
In this episode you'll meet one of Todd's mentors, Dr Jacqui Winship to discuss a relational style of psychotherapy. Changing your relationship patterns psychology requires you to experience relating with others and yourself differently. A relational style of psychotherapy supports and challenges you to do this live with your therapist by examining what is happening between you as a team.
Todd Zemek (00:05):
When patients reach out to me for help with their relationships, they’re typically in their forties or fifties. And if you’re listening, this might be your experience and you know your relationship patterns at some level, but you also know that you’re repeating them over and over. No matter how much you try, no, how much you read, they just don’t seem to change. So you might have seen one or two therapists before and taken away a new idea or a new skill, but then you stop therapy because there’s just not any traction. And this is when the therapist is able to go with you to a deeper place and lead a process that’s beyond what you’re consciously aware of. And this is what could change your life. And that’s why we’re talking with our guest today. She’s Dr. Jackie Winship. She’s got 25 years’ experience as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, and she’s the author of a fantastic book called The Talking Cure, normal People, their Hidden Struggles, and the Life-Changing Power of Therapy. For anyone who’s my patient, today’s pulling back the curtain a little bit because Jackie’s also a mentor of mine, and much of what we’re speaking about is a strong influence on the way that I work. So really appreciate you making time to meet with us today, Jackie.
Dr Jacqui Winship (01:16):
It’s a pleasure. Todd, I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Todd Zemek (01:19):
One of the things that’s interesting about you, I’ve read many therapists bios over the years, but you’re the first person that puts it front and center that we’re not blaming parents. Why is that such an important point and such an important point to you?
Dr Jacqui Winship (01:36):
Well, I think for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m a parent myself and I know just how hard it is to get it right. And that we inevitably all get some of it wrong. And I also know that almost all parents have good intent. Very few parents look at their child lying in the cri and thinking, you know, think I want to screw up your life. Like generally they’re going to be thinking, I want to do the best for this child. I love them. But what the best is is also limited by their own historical baggage, their own capacity, their own beliefs, and their own unconscious worlds and trigger points and how they play those out. And so, you know, parents are human too, just like therapists actually. We also don’t get it right all the time, . And so I think while we look at what pa, how influential parents have been in terms of how they shape us, it’s not about blaming them, it’s about understanding ourselves and our own histories and our own stories.
And the other thing that I would say is that it’s not only about parents. You know, they’re not the only factor in who and how we become. I think that there’s sort of four things that we have to take into account, and the one is nature, the temperament that we’re born with our, our dna, if you like. The other is nurture, and that’s where parents and environment become very important. The third is Zeit guys, the particular sort of sociocultural mil that we grow up in the historical age, it’s going to be very different over different periods of time, and that’s going to influence us. And then the fourth really important thing is choice. That we do also make choices along the way. And we have a degree of autonomy. We are not just passive recipients of nature and so I think that gives a sort of broader perspective that we can take rather than simply getting into, well, it’s my mum’s fault.
Todd Zemek (03:52):
A common thing that I see is that when we start to go a little bit deeper and we integrate this into a broader narrative, there are these honorable parts that come forward to protect our parents. Have you encountered that?
Dr Jacqui Winship (04:07):
Absolutely. You know, I think it’s a bit like in life more generally that we can slag off our family, but the minute somebody else says something bad about them, we leave to their defense know. Cause ultimately, however much, you know, we might hold a critical view of them. We also love them, and part of us also knows that they did their best.
Todd Zemek (04:29):
So often, like honoring those honorable parts is really important. And I find myself providing a lot of reassurance for you. Just the points that you’re making.
Dr Jacqui Winship (04:38):
Todd Zemek (04:40):
Are we reparenting in therapy or are we doing something different?
Dr Jacqui Winship (04:45):
I think there is an aspect of therapy in which we do what we call limited reparenting, which is if we try to give our patients a corrective emotional experience, an experience of something that perhaps they were lacking. So for example, somebody whose vulnerability was never seen when they were a child, we might consciously lean into recognizing vulnerability in that patient and holding it gently and encouraging the expression of it because we’re trying to, if you like, develop a part of the self that was somehow stunted in their earlier life. And so in that way we can see ourselves as providing a kind of reparenting experience. But I think patients don’t only bring their child’s selves to the room. They bring many cells. We are all made up of a sort of series of multi multiple self-states, different aspects of ourselves that we bring to different situations. And so in other moments, we’re talking to the adults in our patients and we are having a more adult to adult collaborative relationship with them.
Todd Zemek (06:00):
Yeah, it’s, it’s very interesting to see the relationships are kind of at the core of everything we’re doing, including multiple different parts of ourselves and, and the relationship that we’re having with patients as well. I’m really conscious that in your, in your book The Talking Cure that you, you make reference to pop culture and in particular to TV shows. Great examples of relationships. Just wondering if you’ve got a favorite TV show?
Dr Jacqui Winship (06:24):
Oh, that’s a really difficult question to answer, Todd. Perhaps I’m giving away that I do watch quite a lot of TV . I’ve read a lot of books too in my, in my defense that’s necessary. But I think I’ve watched a very broad range of things. And so from the sort of more hard brow to the pretty low bras sometimes brow, oh, the low brow, you know, the sort of sitcom kind of very light
Todd Zemek (06:53):
I consider that high art. I love comfort TV.
Dr Jacqui Winship (06:56):
You know, my daughter calls it, you know and there’s nothing wrong with it. I think, you know, we all need some that need a degree of comfort and, but I do like shows as well that highlight the complexity of human nature. And so in the book you’ll notice that the Sopranos is referred to a a few times, you know, as a sort of television show that was really quite groundbreaking in terms of highlighting complexity. And you know how bad people can also do good things and good people can do bad things. And it, it highlights the unconscious nature of much of our functioning in the world. So shows like that have a pull. For me, a more recent show that I really enjoyed was Wakefield, which is about a psychiatric nurse in a fictional psychiatric unit in the Blue Mountains in the unraveling, wrote about in him through his own trauma history, as well as the sort of interplay between him and the patients could come in. I thought it was brilliant, a brilliant show and perhaps cause of, you know, the age of my own children, I’m quite drawn to this coming of age TV shows, sex education, never have I ever, you know, I I enjoy all of this as well. .
Todd Zemek (08:15):
Yes. Sex education was amazing that first season. You really hooked me in with the Sopranos in the book. So groundbreaking in terms of the antihero, but the way it would switch between the therapy and then the guys in the strip club trying to make sense of their world, like Neanderthals and back and forward. In terms of, I’ve heard you speak about the story we can’t tell. What does that mean to you?
Dr Jacqui Winship (08:40):
Well, I think firstly I would start with the importance of being able to tell a story that actually being able to have a coherent narrative of ourselves and our lives is very central to feeling coherent and grounded in the world to good mental health, essentially. But we all have stories we cannot tell. And that’s either because of shame around the story or because the story is so unconscious that it’s something, maybe a story we live out, but that we’re not actually able to tell it. And then there’s the impact of trauma. We know that trauma actually the experience of trauma interrupts the laying down of narrative memory. And so often people who’ve been through a significant trauma don’t have a very coherent narrative of it. They feel it in their body, they’re triggered by certain things, they’re live it out, but they can’t tell you a sort of blow by blow account of it. And so all of those would sort of fall into the category of stories we cannot tell.
Todd Zemek (09:44):
So that’d be very validating for people who weren’t able to make sense of their life on paper relative to how they felt. So there could be a, an emotional tone or a soundtrack to their lives that was kind of at odds with the way things appeared even to themselves.
Dr Jacqui Winship (10:02):
Yes, that’s right. And if parts of their experience may be sort of repressed or dissociated from them. And as I say also sometimes never really encoded in memory in the way that we encode so-called normal events that happened to us.
Todd Zemek (10:21):
It’s so interesting that there’s different levels of knowing. I, I can relate to that in terms of my own trauma treatment, I’ve done quite a bit of therapy and I felt like I was on top of things, but there was still something that didn’t quite fit until that was started to, to be uncovered. And again, something that I already knew in inverted commerce, but I didn’t really know the full extent and the implications that that was having in my life when patients turn up or don’t turn up. But one of the fears that keeps them away from therapy is the idea that I’m going to have to explain this and I don’t know if I can…
Dr Jacqui Winship (10:57):
That’s right. Cause it hasn’t really been formulated yet. There’s an experience, but it remains unformulated and still extremely vivid and influential, but not formulated in a sort of logical, coherent narrative sense.
Todd Zemek (11:17):
So what drew you to becoming a therapist?
Dr Jacqui Winship (11:20):
Well, my first love was literature. I spent six years at university studying literature and didn’t do any psychology hadn’t considered being a psychologist or a therapist. And then in my sort of early to mid-twenties, I went into my own therapy for various reasons. And it was so, the experience was so transformative for me that I thought, I want to do that , that’s what I want to be. And I think, you know, the study of literature is really the study of human nature and motivation, you know, and so there was a strong crossover between those interests. But I was so inspired by that experience that I went back and started studying psychology from the beginning and ended up as a clinical psychologist.
Todd Zemek (12:13):
And your therapy was with one person.
Dr Jacqui Winship (12:17):
That initial therapy that inspired me was with one person. Yes. Later I did go back into therapy again with a different person. And I’ve spent quite a few years of my life in therapy and, and actually I think it’s a really good training ground for being a therapist. I think it’s really important to know what it feels like to be on the other side, to know what it feels like to be a patient, but also to be really as in tune with our own stuff as we can be. Because we bring out, we are the tool when we work as therapists, we bring ourselves to the room and if we’ve got a lot of blind spots that are going to perhaps play out in that arena, it can get in the way of really being able to help the other person in the room.
Todd Zemek (13:06):
And so the therapist you saw was a dynamic therapist.
Dr Jacqui Winship (13:12):
Yes. Psychodynamic psychotherapist. Yes.
Todd Zemek (13:16):
I guess I had a, a similar experience in a training group. And what drew me to this relational style was I was training in gestalt therapy. And so very heavy technique. We had someone come in to do some training with us who was more analytically trained, and the depth he was able to go to reliably within five minutes was just amazing. And I remember being 25 and my jaws dropping go, what, what is this magic? What, what is this person doing? . And so that was definitely my path
Dr Jacqui Winship (13:54):
Was perhaps influenced, I, you can probably tell from the accent, grew up in South Africa and that’s where I first saw a therapist and that’s where I did my training. And in South Africa, certainly at that time, our training was all in psychodynamic psychotherapy. So that was just the sort of accepted mode. We perhaps did a few days a workshop over a few days on cognitive behavioral therapy which is sort of more technique based and focuses more on the conscious and the rational. And that’s very different to the sort of landscape in Australia where the training would be far more weighted towards cognitive behavioral therapy and the sort of third wave therapies following that. And there isn’t a strong focus on psychoanalytic psychodynamic approaches.
Todd Zemek (14:46):
My training was in the nineties, so I’m so glad I’ve had time to add to that . But we had a a dynamic group experience where all of these anxious want to be psychologists come into a room and these two people facilitating said nothing. And the anxiety rose and this poor lady, 10 minutes in just burst into tears, grabbed a bag, ran out of the room, people were following her, and the rest of the day was just, there was no explanation, there was no integration afterwards. So the experience for that group was “Oh, that’s what dynamic work is” and then here’s all these skills with C B T… so we’re going to go that way. So it was such a great shame.
Dr Jacqui Winship (15:30):
Yeah, a real shape
Todd Zemek (15:32):
and not uncommon at that stage, but I, I think we’ve come, come a reasonable way, at least heading in a more balanced direction. So what, what is this relational style that you, are you embracing?
Dr Jacqui Winship (15:45):
Well, what I’d say first is that all therapy is relational. It involves two people sitting in a room talking. So there is a relationship of some kind that is there. And increasingly we’ve got really good research data to show that it’s the quality of that relationship between the therapist and the client that has the biggest impact on the success of the therapy. They’ve done sort of large-scale outcome studies on psychotherapy, and aside from client factors, which are the things the client goes into therapy with, the second biggest factor in terms of their capacity to have got something useful out of the therapy is the quality of the therapeutic relationship. So firstly, I take that very seriously. I sort of lead with a focus on developing that relationship. But the kind of relational psychoanalytic psychotherapy that I practice and that we write about in the book goes a little further than that.
In that it focuses more explicitly on the relationship as the sort of unit of analysis that by looking at what happens in that relationship, you’re able to gain a better understanding of perhaps what it is the client does in the world. How do they relate to others in the world? What do they play out? What is this sort of hidden relational script that emerges with other people and will emerge within the therapy relationship? And you bring a sort of explicit lens that focuses on that in order to, in the room, in the experiential process between the therapists and the patient, begin to work through some of what is going on in that relational pattern.
Todd Zemek (17:32):
So what type of patients, for anyone that’s listening, what type of patients would benefit from that most?
Dr Jacqui Winship (17:40):
Well, I’m, I’m influenced by the fact that I think most of us could benefit from it. Because actually we all are, there is no such thing as a separate self. We are self in relationship. We develop ourselves in relationship. We live our lives in a world where we self in relationship, even our internal world, the thoughts and narratives in our head are usually things that we’ve internalized through our relationships with others. Often parental figures, but others in our lives as well. So it’s hard to separate those things out. It’s also an integrative style of therapy. So it’s not that you wouldn’t within that also perhaps bring some cognitive behavioral techniques or acceptance and commitment or other, other ways of working. It’s, it’s not just the standalone form of therapy, but to go more to your question, I guess it is for those who want to go a bit deeper because it doesn’t focus just explicitly on symptom relief. It tries to go to what is the sort of bedrock, the underlying issues here that are resulting in these symptoms and can we address those? And so for some people who are perhaps wanting to focus more on symptom relief, it wouldn’t be their therapy of choice. But for those who wanting to go to greater depths and particularly those who wanting a greater understanding of their own relational patterns, it would probably be a good choice.
Todd Zemek (19:07):
The majority of the way that we think about psychology and our culture is a one-person psychology. And so do we culturally have some blind spots about the importance of relationship where we can be wounded in the potential for growth within relationship.
Dr Jacqui Winship (19:25):
I think firstly, perhaps I’ll just expand on what you, what you mean when you say one person psychology. Cause I think you and I both know what that means, but perhaps some please do. Wouldn’t. And in a one person psychology, when a patient is seeing a therapist, the focus is only on what is going on inside the patient. It’s about their internal world, their intrapsychic experience. The therapist themselves is kind of an outsider to that who might offer interpretations or explanations, but they’re not seen to be impactful in actually what’s going on at that moment in the room. A two-person psychology is where we move towards both the therapist and the patient being important in terms of co-constructing whatever is happening in the room. And that goes to a broader sense or idea of that all the time. Our experiences are being co-constructed that when something happens between two people, they each bring in something to that maybe not an equal measure or you know, but there is always something of each.
And if you put each of those persons with a different person, something different would emerge. And so it takes seriously the idea that there are two subjectivities in the room and therefore we’re working in a two person psychology, which means that the therapist will very much go to also thinking about what’s going on in themselves, what are they feeling, what thoughts are coming into their head. And that’s not just so that they can somehow also take space in the room. It’s about what is this telling them about how the patient operates in the world. And they’d share those thoughts and feelings with the patient and try to make sense of the
Todd Zemek (21:16):
To give people an example, perhaps in our supervision, you’ll support me in that process in terms of how I’m feeling as the therapist, any experiences I’m having or any imagery, for example, that’s coming up within me and then you’ll support me of, well, how would you share that with the patient? Would that be helpful for them?
Dr Jacqui Winship (21:36):
That’s right. And the sharing with, you know, the idea of sharing it with the patient is not for your gratification. It’s about how is this useful? If we share this, will it be useful? It’s not just coming up in you for the sake of it, it’s actually something that the patient is talking about or doing or bringing to the room that’s evoking a response in you. And sharing that response helps you and the patient to think about something that happens to them and from them. So yeah, it’s a really important aspect of this kind of therapy. And the supervision for this kind of therapy focuses on that aspect of therapists being more aware of their own internal responses and being able to reflect on them in terms of what it means about the therapy.
Todd Zemek (22:26):
It’s a amazing, once you call it courageous language, when you step into that authenticity with a patient, the roles drop. And so the, the patient’s role, whatever it might be, if it was helplessness or anger or whatever, there’s often a shift at that point. And then we get another version of them that comes forth
Dr Jacqui Winship (22:48):
When we can be authentic. It encourages authenticity in response and, and there’s a feeling of meeting or mutuality where, aha, we are seeing each other here as two human beings. And it can be a very transformative moment in therapy.
Todd Zemek (23:07):
I think for a lot of therapists and perhaps psychologists in particular, there’s almost a pride in that veneer in that role.
Dr Jacqui Winship (23:15):
Yes. And perhaps it’s about Harding behind the role of the expert if we can feel like we are the neutral expert somehow, and the patient is the troubled, frail human being in front of us. So that’s quite a comforting feeling as a therapist. Yes, but it’s often not that helpful. Of course, we bring a degree of expertise to the room, otherwise why would someone be coming to see us? But our expertise is in facilitating a process. Usually patients are much more expert on themselves than we are expert on them. Mm-Hmm. . But by engaging with them in a particular way and being able to engage with them in a sort of real human relationship, often we can actually break through a level of defensiveness that enables the work to move forward.
Todd Zemek (24:06):
I think it’s a really common experience for patients that if they’re looking for that depth and they’re assuming that that therapist would be trained or capable of going to those places mm-hmm. , that their experience is often that they get something a akin to artificial intelligence that’s just running a psychoeducational program. And then here’s some skills.
Dr Jacqui Winship (24:28):
Well, I think what many people come up against is manualized therapy, which is a big movement in, in some of the training institutes. And it’s the idea that if we can have an evidence space for a particular kind of therapy, and if the therapist can roll it out step by step in this way and follow the manual, you’re going to get a certain result. However, I think it doesn’t always take into account the complexity of human nature and that we don’t respond as well to manuals as perhaps more mechanical things do. And we’re going to react in very different way, ways to different things. And so sometimes for people who go to therapy and have that experience, they can feel quite unheard or unmet. You know, if you come along to your session and the therapist says, right, okay, well today we’re going to talk about how to challenge your thoughts and actually your thing. But I had a fight with my wife last night and I’m feeling hugely distressed about that and I want to tell you about that. I don’t want to talk about . You know, so it’s and it’s not to say that teaching people how to challenge their thoughts isn’t an important skill. It’s how we integrated it in, can we integrate it into a more human relationship with them as opposed to a sort of manual or agenda.
Todd Zemek (25:57):
The training based on research is often saying that, well, this is going to work, this is proven to work with most people most of the time. But your patient is not most people most of the time.
Dr Jacqui Winship (26:09):
No, your patient is a very specific person in a specific moment. Also, I think a lot of research in psychology is done on a particular sort of group of people. So, you know, you sort of select people for a research study and you screen out any confounding variables because that’s the way, you know, good research if you like, takes place in the true empirical method. But when we see people in the real world, well there are a lot, lot of confounding variables. So it isn’t always such a perfect match.
Todd Zemek (26:49):
Why does therapy take so long?
Dr Jacqui Winship (26:51):
Well, it takes us a long time to become who we are. And a lot of the things that we struggle with are quite hard wired in us, and they are almost, they’ve become almost instinctive reactions. And so it takes time to actually be able to firstly recognize and uncover those things because awareness is the first thing. Until we are aware of something, we have no power to change it. But once we’ve developed awareness, it still takes time to change. It’s not easy. We can have a cognitive awareness of, oh yeah, , that’s go wrong. I should do it next time my partner says . I should just stay grounded and calm and communicate my needs in a particular way. But we get into the moment and something plays out for us that sort of takes us out of that. And so therapy takes time to sort of lay down new ways of being. And because as I say, the most important part of therapy is a therapeutic relationship, it can take time also to establish that relationship. Mm. it doesn’t just happen overnight or in two or three sessions. Mm-Hmm.
Todd Zemek (28:03):
Would you, would you have any advice, because we could perhaps give advice for people who haven’t experienced therapy, but, but equally for people who are in therapy mm-hmm. and again, every character is going to be different, but would you have any advice for people who’ve, you know, gained some insights but you feel like they’re sort of plateauing?
Dr Jacqui Winship (28:24):
Mm-Hmm. I think there can often be moments of plateau in therapy. I the way that I see therapy is not really a sort of linear progression where you move from A to B to C to D. The analogy I often uses out of a big jigsaw puzzle. Mm-Hmm. you’ve got all the pieces on the table and the therapists and the client are trying to put this puzzle together. And you might stop by sort of putting the border together and then work in one corner. And there’ll be exciting moments where an image becomes clear, aha, I see that. You know, and then there’ll be other times where it feels like you spending quite a lot of time just filling in the sky. But you can’t complete the puzzle unless you put in the work for the whole picture. Not just the, the exciting moments.
And so sometimes some of the plateaus can be the filling in the sky before you get to the next more aha moment. I think also often people come to therapy in crisis and initially the work involves helping them resolve the crisis and restabilize. And at the point of restabilizing, people can begin to think, well what now? Like, why am I continuing to come? What’s the point of this? Or in other cases, people come and in the first part of therapy, just their level of empathy, somebody listening, understanding, you know, them getting to tell their story. It’s actually very powerful. People often feel a lot better and they think, oh, okay, therapy’s fantastic. And then it’s, well now what? But if you stop therapy at the point where the crisis is solved, it’s quite possible or likely that you’re going to have another crisis in a year’s time and be back in therapy, possibly repeat crisis. So continuing to work through helps you to get to a point where the crisis is less likely to occur in the future. It’s also, for me, it’s easy to reach a level of intellectual understanding and therapy where you’ve got an intellectual cognitive understanding of something. But it takes longer for there to be an experiential understanding where actually you’re beginning to get it at a more process level. Sometimes when you reach a plateau in therapy, it’s maybe a sign that you actually need to move deeper into examining the process rather than staying in the intellectual.
Todd Zemek (31:00):
Yeah. I think it’s very different to experience it live in the company of another rather than to take it back privately into the intellect mm-hmm. . And often that’s the gap for people cause that’s how they’ve functioned
Dr Jacqui Winship (31:13):
Todd Zemek (31:18):
In terms of that retreat into a more isolated self in couple’s work, I’m, I’m finding myself just with a sensitivity to the, the wounds of absence and neglect, I’m finding myself just asking routinely, have you ever been close to anybody? Mm-Hmm. I’m really no longer surprised at the number of people who haven’t, or the number of people who simply don’t understand the question.
Dr Jacqui Winship (31:45):
Mm-Hmm. , it, it’s surprising and sometimes people will say, yeah, yeah, I’ve got, you know, quite a few close friends. And then you sort of depth out of it and ask them what it means. Like, are these people who you confide in? Are there people who you would tell if you were really struggling? Have you told them that perhaps you’re coming to see me and Oh, no, no, no, I’d never tell them anything like that. And you know, you sort of begin to realize that what they’re calling a close relationship doesn’t have much intimacy to it. That there isn’t much of themselves that they truly share in that. And often people like that will then struggle to rarely share their true selves with you. And the therapy that you’ve got to put quite a lot of work into developing intimacy because it’s like a, an unfamiliar place for them. Mm-Hmm. and a very uncomfortable place
Todd Zemek (32:39):
. And it’s interesting as that sense of self starts to strengthen internally and with you in, in the therapy, as that gets taken out into the world, they start to review all their other relationships because these old relationships were, were based on a connection that didn’t have a lot to do with them. Mm-Hmm.
Dr Jacqui Winship (32:58):
Todd Zemek (32:59):
And that that can be difficult too. I’ve been putting all this work into therapy to get close to people and I’m just losing people now,
Dr Jacqui Winship (33:06):
, because I think perhaps as they discover how to be more intimate those relationships no longer feel as satisfying. Mm-Hmm. And some of those relationships might be able to transform and others may not and perhaps may become less satisfying for them or not enough anymore. And people might be motivated to try to seek out relationships where they can find greater intimacy with people.
Todd Zemek (33:38):
I think that’s why having some structure around this over time provides the opportunity to, to grow with a greater variety of experiences, including the losses along the way, including the grief of what we didn’t receive. Yeah.
Dr Jacqui Winship (33:54):
Yeah. We’ve got to come to terms with, acceptance is a big part of therapy. We, we focus a lot on the idea of change and of course we want a degree of change, but we also have to have a degree of acceptance. Acceptance of our own limitations, of the limitations of others around us, the limits our parents had, their reduced capacity perhaps to give us everything we need. The limitations of existence, you know and coming to an acceptance of what perhaps we just have to live with, as well as what we can change.
Todd Zemek (34:30):
When I’m talking with couples, I’m just struck by, in my practice at least, so I would say 75% of the couples who come in conform to this dynamic. And it’s, it won’t be unfamiliar to you, but mm-hmm. , the man will be struggling with his worth and he’ll say something to the effect of, no matter what I do, no matter what I provide, it’s not good enough for you. And then the woman’s struggling with her sense of value also. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care, but he doesn’t even notice. And he, he couldn’t be bothered trying to, to even take an interest in me anymore. And there’s heartbreaking fear and pain underneath. I recognize that that’s a, a very brief snapshot, but have you got any thoughts on that? Cuz you, you would’ve seen this before, surely.
Dr Jacqui Winship (35:14):
Yeah, of course. I mean, the first thing I would notice is the commonality there that actually, although they feel like they are saying something very different, both of them are struggling with self-worth. The, the man in this example is seeing his worth through being the lens of being a provider, which is, you know, how society has socialized him to consider his worth. Am I being a provider? And so when he feels wobbly about self-worth, that’s where he goes. Whereas the woman in this example is going to another kind of self-worth. Am I lovable? No. And when you don’t do certain things that make me feel cared for, I go to feeling unlovable and unloved. But they’re both, if you can help them get to their common struggle, even though it’s being expressed in different very gendered ways, I think it’s a good starting point.
But with these particular things, I think what you’re highlighting is that we take with us into our relationships, our particular struggles, our particular schemers would be one way of putting it, or the lenses through which we tend to look at ourselves in relation to the world. And we then interpret what we get from our partner through those particular lenses. And it, it’s not necessarily whether what our partner does, you know, in reality, although they can, you know, there’s that saying, just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean I don’t have enemies. Like there can be a reality base as well, but it will be escalated by the particular lens that you interpret everything through.
Todd Zemek (36:57):
I can only imagine having this relational perspective would really assist tremendously in working with couples. So many therapists, despite their training default to go back to working with one person and taking turns. But I find it very helpful.
Dr Jacqui Winship (37:13):
And I think couple therapy is, is always that, but more challenging. You know, we speak about a two person psychology, all of a sudden in couple therapy you’ve got three people in the room, you know, cause the therapist is not, couples might imagine that the therapist is a neutral participant in that and often turn to you as a kind of referee, you know, which of course you can’t be, but you are also another subjectivity in the room. And it’s, you know, it’s a complex process, but I think a really valuable one. Mm-Hmm.
Todd Zemek (37:46):
, I can relate to that. I’ve had people come with extensive lists as though they’re in court wanting to provide evidence of how they’ve been injured. Not really interested in themselves very much, but
Dr Jacqui Winship (37:58):
I think, you know, couple therapy can only really get started when people reach a point of being able to look at what am I contributing to this? What am, how am I contributing to the problem? Most people come into couple therapy very prepared to tell you how their partner is contributing to the problem. And I think that’s where, you know, a strength of relational psychotherapy, even when you’re working with the individual, is that it’s not just about what has happened to you and how are you experiencing what others do to you, but there’s a strong focus on what is it that you do that impacts, you know, what is it that you do that perhaps makes others respond to you in that way. How are you cons co-constructing your own misery? And I think that’s, if people can get to that particular place in couple therapy can really move forward.
Todd Zemek (38:51):
So since the pandemic, there’s been so many shifts, but one of them has been online therapy and even Medicare provides rebates for working with someone online from this relational perspective. It’s so interesting. Like in my own therapy, the, the advantage has been that I’ve been able to select the style of therapy and the actual person. And so it’s really empowered me with my research to have some therapeutic success because I’ve been able to eliminate any of the guesswork and go straight to it. I’ve spent years laying on people’s couches and countless hours and doing all sorts of therapies. It wasn’t that effective. And you know, it’s not just because I was doing it online, it was probably because of a, you know, my age and preparedness. But, and then other people will commonly say, oh, well that wouldn’t work. You know, d doing it online. That’s good. Surely that would be inferior. Mm-Hmm. , what are your thoughts about pros or cons, but particularly from this perspective of, of working at greater depth?
Dr Jacqui Winship (39:47):
Initially I was somewhat skeptical and felt quite uncomfortable with the shift to online work, but the pandemic sort of forced it upon me. And my whole practice moved online for many months at a time. And actually I came around to it and even began to see some of the advantages of it. I think I do sometimes miss the energy in the room when I’m working online that there’s a particular sort of energy, an X factor that you can’t quite name that you can feel when you’re actually sharing the same space with someone. But there is a different kind of intensity to the work online. I find a particular kind of intimacy actually, that I’ve discovered in it that I think can be really helpful. Perhaps it’s the, you know, that you’ve seen each other really up close in a way. So you lose the body , but you have a much closer view of the face and, you know, a face-to-face kind of interaction. And I think sometimes patients also feel more comfortable in their own space and almost like they can disclose more because the screen provides a level of anonymity at the same time as enabling, you know, a degree of intimacy.
Todd Zemek (41:05):
I’m finding that a lot of people feel safer knowing that they don’t have to worry about their mascara, or they don’t have to worry about what they’re going to look like if there’s a motion coming up at the end of the session. They don’t have to have that car park experience where they’re between worlds quite as much and they can sort of learn to comfort themselves and sometimes be comforted by others who are at home as well. So yeah, I’ve certainly found that there’s a lot of, lot of advantages and, and there’s something, I don’t know, it’s a little bit more direct mm-hmm. That we’re, we’re not friends. This is, this is work at depth, but we’re, we’re here for a purpose.
Dr Jacqui Winship (41:39):
Mm-Hmm. Yeah. We agree. And you know, I think we also just have to recognize the advantages of it in terms of, you know, it’s not always easy for people to get away from work or home and get to sessions and the time that it takes to commute park get there, you know, it’s made it much more accessible and it’s certainly opened up the range of therapists. You know, I see quite a lot of people now who live in, I’m based in Sydney, but people who live in Melbourne or Brisbane, Darwin, you know, even one or two overseas. So it sort of makes as you say, the sort of selection process. Yes. a lot broader.
Todd Zemek (42:26):
Yeah, no, likewise. I, I’ve taken part in a somatic based men’s group in the states and had some ongoing work with someone in Utah and a group that was based in Los Angeles. And so yeah, it’s if if you’re specific about your growth, the options are fantastic.
Dr Jacqui Winship (42:43):
Todd Zemek (42:44):
What would be, you know, you’ve been doing this for quite some time and, and clearly had a, a great passion for it once you started your own therapy. What would you, what would be the thing that you’ve learned that has surprised you or, or the thing that sort of emerged as you look back over the last five or 10 years? Is there anything that’s sort of come into focus?
Dr Jacqui Winship (43:07):
I think I’ve increasingly over time, moved more into working very much with the process in the room. And so that, and you know, I think there’s, there are ongoing developments all the time within relational psychoanalysis as well that, you know, I continue to learn and grow through more generally. You know, the thing that always surprises me is that the things that patients find helpful are often not the things that I imagine they’re going find helpful. You know, I’ll say something that I think has been quite profound and important, and yet
Todd Zemek (43:46):
Waiting for it to land and
Dr Jacqui Winship (43:47):
Have no traction. And, you know, after a session where I kind of thought, oh, what did we do? Like, I don’t know, and they’ll come back the next week and say, you know, that was such a helpful session when you said X mm-hmm. , you know, it really landed with me and I’ve been thinking about it all week and this has come up and I can barely remember having said X. So, you know, it’s also that sort of feeling of, you know, some of it is beyond my control and that,
Todd Zemek (44:12):
But it was a, it was an important jigsaw piece that kind of
Dr Jacqui Winship (44:15):
Yeah. But I didn’t necessarily know it at the time and having to sort of trust in that a bit.
Todd Zemek (44:20):
Great. Great. So sort of, yeah, humbly trusting in the process. I, I just think that this is, this was something that was missing in my original training and, and something that I, I think the consequences of certain parts of us being neglected and how we protect ourselves through our lives robs us of so many opportunities. I think this style of work is just so, so important and I’m really grateful for the book. I think as I say, highly, highly recommend anyone who’s got an interest in going deeper in therapy to check out the Talking Cure. And that’s email@example.com au can find it on Amazon. There’s even an audiobook on Audible. But highly, highly recommend people check out that book. Thank you so much for your time and for, for sharing this and for your inspiration in my work. It’s very much appreciated.
Dr Jacqui Winship (45:11):
Thank you, Todd. It’s been a pleasure as always to talk to you.
Todd Zemek (45:16):
Okay. So I hope you enjoyed our episode with Jackie Winship. If you’re interested in some of the more technical aspects of this style of therapy, set tune now for part two. So just to introduce people to some of the ideas, continuing to pull back that curtain, there’s some principles that we might use to track or understand or engage with patients. And I was going to introduce people to a few of those. If we talk about mirroring, what does that mean?
Dr Jacqui Winship (45:43):
So mirroring was first really, well, Lacan wrote about mirroring, but when Winnicott sort of brought it much more into the sort of popular domain, Donald Winnicott, who was a psycho child psychoanalyst, and he looked very much at what were the needs of the infant in order to develop psychologically healthy ways of being in the world. And one of them was what he called mirroring, which is the need for the infant to be seen by the mother and reflected back to them. And we’ll see this with a child, the child goes, ah, and the mother looks at them and mirrors the facial expression and goes, haha. And part of that is also sort of celebrating the child for being who they are and applauding them and appreciating them. And the child develops a sense of their own self through what they see reflected back to them by, I’m saying the mother, but of course it’s the father and the grandmother and the caregivers. So in therapy, particularly once we got to what we call self-psychology in the sixties and seventies began to take the idea of mirroring in therapy very seriously as a way in which we create a sense of empathy with the patient, the, the patient feels empathically attuned to by the therapist, when the therapist is able to mirror them. And it helps patients to feel understood and accepted and for them to perhaps then be able to bring some of the more vulnerable or repressed parts of the self into the room.
Todd Zemek (47:24):
For people who aren’t familiar with that, perhaps some, there’s still face experiment, there’s some videos on YouTube that you can watch. They’re really very powerful to see what happens when the mother is responsive as opposed to the impact when she’s not. So having, yeah, having a consistent curiosity and response to that inner world and the parts that weren’t responded to can be quite empowering as a platform to go a bit deeper. How about the idea of twin?
Dr Jacqui Winship (47:53):
Well, twin also sort of arose out the self-psychology movement, and it was really looking at how, again, as infants and young children, we have a desire to be like others. We want to see that we have something in common with other people, that we have a sense of belonging through it. And so in the therapy there will often be a desire for the patient to see something of themselves in the therapist to see aha, there’s something that we have alike and the therapist can respond to that. Sometimes it can be a shared joke or maybe a little bit of self-disclosure by the therapist. Yeah. I’ve also, I remember what it was like to have sleepless nights with young children or something like that, that validates the patient in feeling that there is the commonality with the therapist.
Todd Zemek (48:53):
What about rapprochement? How would you describe that?
Dr Jacqui Winship (48:57):
Margaret Marla wrote about a process. She was a an ego psychologist and psychoanalyst in the mid 20th century, and she wrote about a process called separation individuation, whereby the child over the first three years goes through a series of stages where they gradually develop a sense of a separate self. The idea that the mother is a separate being and that she continues to exist even when she isn’t in the room with the infant and a sense of their own autonomy in the world and of some of the boundaries of self. Reshma is one phase in that sort of happens in the second year of life. And it’s sometimes a difficult stage for parents because the child is really struggling with the sort of dependence versus independence. They are both wanting to clinging to the parent and also to push them away and find their own autonomy.
And so there can be a lot of that push pull, go away, go away, and then screaming, come back, come back . And I think if we look then through an attachment lens and the sort of attachment theory that came a bit later, it’s around that phase where the child is using the mother as a secure base, but beginning to explore their autonomy and where they’ll move away perhaps a little, do something and then wanna be able to come back and know that the mother is still there and constantly reassure themselves of that. And then gradually over time they can go away for longer and trust that the mother will still be there. So repression is a stage on the way to achieving individuation, which would be that state of, actually I have a better sense of myself as a separate identity still. As I say, we are always a self in the context of others too. But we do need to know some of the boundaries of where I start and stop and where you start and stop. And I think we go through another phase of individuation in adolescence where we again, really forge ahead with an idea of a separate identity. And it’s why adolescents can be so difficult because they found the boundaries of self by pushing away from, like, I know where I begin by telling you what I’m not, that I’m not you, you’re wrong. ,
rebelling against, you know, it helps them find a boundary that helps them to understand themselves as separate. So it sort of happens at, at different stages.
Todd Zemek (51:29):
So a lot of contemptuous eyerolling
Dr Jacqui Winship (51:32):
And that’s right, yes. . And then somehow once they’ve managed to negotiate that and come out the other end of it, there’s often a bit more of a return to a degree of twin ship where we have something in common, we can actually, you’re not that bad .
Todd Zemek (51:49):
So this would play out the, the struggle for independence and the need for closeness. All of these developmental narratives are going to be playing out in this person’s lives. And any of those blind spots are going to render them a little bit powerless or could be responsible for some of the mysteries of why elements of their relationships do start working.
Dr Jacqui Winship (52:12):
I think a lot of our struggles in the world come down to finding ourselves on that spectrum between what I call meanness and meanness, the meanness being in me and taking myself seriously and thinking about my needs and my individual experience, which is about the, the intersubjective nature of our experience. We are also in relationship with others, and I think some people get too caught in meanness, which is, it’s all about me. And they can be blind perhaps to their impact on other people or the needs of other people or other people’s experience. Other people might fall too far on the other end of the spectrum where they lose or don’t develop enough of their own sense of self. And it’s all about how can I please you? How can I prioritize the we, how can I be a chameleon to fit in? You know, and I think people can have difficulties if they fall too far on either end of that spectrum. And we are constantly having to sort of renegotiate where we are with it in different contexts.
Todd Zemek (53:24):
It’s such a unique opportunity for people to be in the presence of someone that understands that way of functioning, experiencing the world because the rest of the world isn’t that patient or, or, or doesn’t provide the scaffolding to be, to be met and grow in particular ways.
Dr Jacqui Winship (53:42):
Yeah, yeah. You know, we opportunity the world to be our therapist. And the unique thing about the therapeutic relationship is that the focus is on you. The therapist is there in your interest, they’re trying to help you. They are, even though they are a participant in the relationship, the relationship is centered around understanding you and helping you to see perhaps how you struggle with those things. And that can involve helping you to recognize how perhaps you project certain ideas into the therapist and imagine that the therapist is thinking them, whereas actually they don’t belong in the therapist, they belong in your head. And you do that with other people all the time. But you don’t have that patient empathic other person who will patiently sit there with you and gently explain that and look for the right times and moments to explain that and to bring it to your attention and to help you to keep repeating different ways or experimenting with different ways of being.
Todd Zemek (54:49):
So what, what inspired this book? The Talking Cure?
Dr Jacqui Winship (54:53):
It it’s co-written with my colleague, Professor Gillian Straker. And the idea started with Gillian. She was teaching a group of clinical psychology master students about relational psychotherapy, and they kept saying to her, you know, this is really fascinating and interesting, but how does it actually work in the room? Like, what is the therapist actually doing?
Does it work in practice? Like, the theory sounds great. And so in her lunch break, Jill started writing a sort of fictional case story as an example for them to try and give them some insight into this is a story of what is happening between the therapists and the patient. What’s going on in the therapist’s head, how she’s bringing that to the patient’s awareness, how the relationship between the two of them provides a sort of forum for the therapy to move forward. And that was really the beginning of the book because once she started writing that and was very well received and really found to be useful, she thought, well, you know, actually this is something that a lot of people could benefit from understanding. And it’s the…
Todd Zemek (56:05):
Strange, sorry to interrupt, but it’s, this is strangest thing as a, as a healing art. Mm-Hmm. , there are so few art forms that just aren’t seen by the people who are, who are training in that very art form or is not seen by the world who require it. So yeah. I think you’ve done a beautiful job too a as people are reading this book and I hope that they do, they’re going to start seeing themselves.
Dr Jacqui Winship (56:31):
Yeah. And in fact, when Jill, cause once Jill started it, she asked me if I would write it with her which I was delighted to do. And we very much wanted to write it for everyone. It’s not a book written for therapists, cause therapists are patients too, you know, just in different contexts. And our working title for the book, although that wasn’t what it eventually landed as was Everyday Madness. We called the book Everyday Madness because it’s a sort of, we all suffer from various forms of and madness. We can be perfectly successful in one area of our lives and yet really be struggling in another mm-hmm. . and it’s to do with our sort of human nature. And rather than going necessarily to a diagnostic framework and pathologizing everything mm-hmm.
Todd Zemek (57:25):
Well, yeah, it’s a real triumph because a lot of the books, the technical books are around this are so long winded and so dry. Maybe that’s just my experience, but for something that is so rich and so warm and beautiful and so important. Yeah. That’s why I, I think I needed and, and enjoyed some of the practical examples. Similarly with the podcast three associating that Jill’s done some great examples of behind the scenes of what therapists are experiencing with their patients.
Dr Jacqui Winship (57:59):
And I mean, just for your listeners, the podcast three associating is Jill providing supervision for therapists who are working in this particular modality, but really highlighting in a very live and accessible way. Mm-Hmm. what it is that happens in the room between therapists and patient. Mm.
Todd Zemek (58:21):
It’s so engaging that it’s so engaging. It’s tremendous theater
Dr Jacqui Winship (58:25):
Todd Zemek (58:26):
For people who ask, how can you be a therapist? It’s to be part of something like this. So I hope you enjoyed both parts of today’s episode. Certainly a very important part of my practice and the way that my, my patients achieve success is through going deeper with something that’s been overlooked in the past. If you know anyone who might benefit from this podcast, make sure you reach out and share it with them. And if today’s episode raised any questions for you, you can let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, good luck with your healing and your growth, and look forward to connecting with you in the next episode.