Instead of sterile case studies, we follow a college couple who embark on a summer canoe trip in Northern British Columbia – their unspoken quest to see if their relationship has a future. They will spend two months in near isolation, learning about themselves and each other. But the selves they come to know cannot remain the same when they face an enormous tragedy.
The couple, Steve and Karen, must face their grief and struggles with resources that are in no way special. In midst of a world suddenly filled with pain and sorrow, they deal with challenges to their values, goals and relationship. As with all who face tragedy, they must find a thread from their past to their present that will give meaning and value to their lives. If they fail, they will be left with emptiness and despair.
With the story of Karen and Steve forming the backdrop for the psychotherapy process, the reader is immersed into an experience that leads to a deeper comprehension. My approach to being a writer and teacher is that learning should be entertaining and experiential.
In my four decades as a psychotherapist, I have worked with many who have dealt with tragic circumstances. Although the crisis faced by the characters in the story appears to be uniquely catastrophic, their experience is reminiscent of what I have seen many go through following a tragedy. In tone and relationship, if not in actual circumstances, they are based on people I have worked with.
Each chapter is divided into three parts. The first section of each chapter is a case history in the form of the ongoing novel. The second section is a description of a therapy session with Karen, and later with Steve and Karen; it’s formatted as a play, with the addition that there is a window into what the therapist is thinking. The final section is a discussion of the knowledge, theory, and evidence on which the therapist based his therapeutic guidance.
I foresee several audiences for my book: The novice psychotherapist who will use it as a guide; the experienced clinician who wishes to revisit basic assumptions, and will use the book as a catalyst for reflection; and those who have been curious about psychotherapy and will find the book an entertaining and educational means to satisfy that curiosity. I hope it provides useful guidance to your own wondrous journey.