A Healing Conversation: How Healing Happens by Neville Symington

A Healing Conversation: How Healing Happens by Neville Symington aims to answer the question of why therapy works. What is it about sitting in a room with another person, telling them stuff you already know, that makes you ultimately feel better?

The book takes a fascinating look at therapy from a variety of different perspectives, each chapter building on the last until we come to a tentative conclusion. The chapters are based on lectures given by Symington, which lends an informal style to the writing that I enjoyed.

On the therapeutic relationship: “The space becomes something when it is between two entities, and yet it remains a space.” This reminded me of a book I read once, in which Barbara Hepworth discussed how the emptiness around/within a sculpture is as important as the shape of it.

I am obsessed with silence, and with the things we can’t quite explain: those qualia that hover just outside of our linguistic grasp. Symington understands this beautifully and describes the forming of personhood out of the confusion inside us in a way that moved me deeply.

If you’re interested in therapy at all – either from the perspective of a practitioner or a client – you might enjoy this book, particularly if you wonder at the mystery of how it all works.

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