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James Vicars, PhD, PACJA Editor


This issue of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia marks a transition, a movement from the birth of the Journal six years ago to a new phase of growth. This has arisen from a reaffirmed and long-term commitment to research in the field by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

One feature of this commitment is the appointment of a professional editor. Until now, the stewards of PACJA have been its volunteer editors, well steeped in knowledge of the professions they represent and indispensable in bringing forward a range of theoretical, pure research and practice-based articles, literature reviews and book reviews from researchers, practitioners and students from around Australia and beyond. In doing so they have created opportunities for better understanding the field, sometimes from a very individual perspective but at times from one that has informed practice and therapy universally. In taking my place as the first professional editor, I am very conscious that my role is to support the development of this kind of enquiry and, through it, the strengthening of a varied community of practitioners. I am, as well, genuinely excited to learn much more about fields that, while I am non-expert in them, hugely interest me and that I believe are a vital resource for human health and well-being.

The strength of a journal of research is its dedication to its fields of enquiry; however, it needs to do its job well in particular ways for this dedication to bear fruit. It must seek and encourage research that is conducted with rigour, and within the framework and conventions of its disciplines in order to be understood and accepted with confidence. However, it must also be well-presented and structured so information and arguments can be followed, and in clear and precise language that communicates as effortlessly as possible with readers. These are some of my basic aims as editor, and I warmly welcome any comments or suggestions.

At the same time, the voice of each researcher or group of researchers is their own; thus, distinct styles, as well as approaches and subject matter, are a feature of this issue. Kenneth Cole provides an introduction to Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM), an innovative technique that changes problematic schemas at the heart of personal problems. The author seeks to locate and explain it to those practitioners who may be unfamiliar with it or with its advantages compared to other imagery techniques such as Imagery Rescripting (IR). Beginning with goals of RIM, its mechanisms of change, therapeutic techniques and procedures are discussed, as well as its application in various settings, the client experience and the evidence base.

However, individual therapy alone may be insufficient when considering the intergenerational impact of psychological trauma and the repercussions that it can have upon an entire family system according to John Hurley, Margarete Koenning and Angeline Bray. This literature review paper critically examines the Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) approach as a potential therapy option for responding to intergenerational trauma. After initially discussing the challenges of responding to trauma, the paper describes Family Constellation Therapy within a practice context as well as its underpinning philosophy. A narrative review of the international peer-reviewed literature, followed by a discussion of its application to intergenerational trauma, are employed to examine the potential worth of FCT in this context.

Sandra Stewart and Janette Simmonds turn the focus to the therapist in their examination of supervision across the career, and its actual and potential value. Perceptions and experiences of supervision were investigated across a range of psychotherapists’ careers, from training, through mid-career to senior phases, using a cross-sectional design within an exploratory, qualitative paradigm. With these therapists interviewed about their reasons for becoming and remaining a therapist, as well as their past and current practice, supervision was identified as the most valued developmental influence. This research provides a highly relevant contribution to the thinking and literature about post-training supervision, offering practice implications for both practitioners and supervisors wishing to optimise the supervision experience.

George Wills’ article, by contrast, takes a much more personal perspective in responding to an assumption in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) theory that core beliefs are central to the existence of client distress and to the mitigation of it. His paper contains an analysis of the verbal content of a demonstration of CBT therapy and comes to the view that the methods that privilege the search for, and manipulation of, core beliefs are too parsimonious a way of explaining both the processes and outcomes of otherwise high quality therapy. An alternative view is canvassed to the effect that the aesthetic qualities present in the work of the therapist better account for the successful work. The concept of the aesthetic is then placed within philosophical and humanist-existential frameworks claimed to be used by humanist/existential counselling psychologists. The paper provides a challenge to the scientism that the author contends is embedded in the theory and practice of CBT – as well as that pervading psychology as a discipline more generally.

As a further contrast, the paper by Annemarie Klingenberg, Johannes Luetz and Ann Crawford reaches beyond the traditional perspective that conceives of persons primarily as individuals. Instead, the paper offers insights into impacts on relational and social identities of migrants by specifically focusing on “sense of belonging” as a key area of interest. Extending traditional acculturation models and using grounded theory set in social constructionism, a “sense of belonging” is identified as a key success factor for the nurture of social identity, opening the way to practical strategies for migrants and mental health professionals aiming to improve resilience, and build a sense of agency and hope.

The issue is rounded out by Sally Denning’s book review of a collection of writings from across the globe that each take a different pathway to highlight how rhythm, connection, play and creativity can assist trauma healing in vulnerable children.

The variety and scope of these contributions is pleasing, and we aim to increase this quantity in more frequent issues over the next few years as we develop PACJA as a vital site for research in the fields of psychotherapy and counselling in Australasia and beyond. Articles, literature reviews and book reviews are welcome for the next, or subsequent, issues; expressions of interest and proposals are also welcome at any time and can be emailed to editor@pacja.org.au.

This edition will be complemented by the publication of a student paper in a special section of the PACJA web site following the award of prizes for excellence by the Research Committee in 2017 to Adam Birch from Murdoch University and Tianna-Lee Hosking from the University of Southern Queensland – we congratulate them both on their respective achievements in counselling studies. Finally, I would like to thank the members of the PACFA Research Committee for their expertise and warm support. Their assistance has been vital in the planning, preparation and completion of this issue.