Psychotherapy as Repair and Creativity

Think about it. Shorn of pretension, of academic and scholastic theory and technique, the art of psychotherapy is the practice of repair and creation. We live in a throwaway culture in which “planned obsolescence”, originally an economic term for jumpstarting the Great Depression (Heathcoate, 2013), determines our material world. We may yearn for the enduring, but instead locate it falsely, insisting  on the endurance of the short-term —– our dreams.

Sometimes this insistence determines our emotional world too. A few contemporary examples include: the delusional belief that object “x” or “y” will make us happy- whether that new terrace house or that new child or that lovely antique so-and-so seen last night, on ebay, as our partner was watching tv; that “friends” on facebook genuinely care; and that the necessary arrangements that so frustrate us in our lives are, in fact, truly necessary (though perhaps the frustrations they cause are…). Or, more profoundly, that we feel insignificant because we have not gained a promotion, have been made redundant, made a real estate decision that has not worked out well, and have not lived up to the expectations we believed ourselves capable of guaranteeing (and still do).

We throw away our potential learning, as we grow; and mourn forever the passing of obsolescent dreams. Sometimes too, the emotional caring we might have received from other has also gone missing: perhaps in others’ disappointments that we, whether as adults or infants, have not gratified their expectations; or through their own inabilities to love and provide. We have, of course, a choice: to pass along either the emptiness or bitterness to others or to rise above it, through engaging it within ourselves and learning who we are and how we bear our continuous generation of obsolescence, day to day, imposing it upon others. Rising above necessary obsolescence, the continuous changing we experience in our own, human development, as we firm up our enduring sense of self, is what emotional health is all about.

Learning about how we feel and think, which is at the core of psychotherapy is a start: a start of repair, new creation and change.


Heathcoate,  E. (March 30, 2013) “Make and Mend”. Financial Times.