How the Caravan taught me the true nature of the transpersonal

Working at the Caravan was what made me decide to become a psychotherapist. Until my placement there, I had some serious reservations.

I cannot underestimate its value, or the value to me personally working there. I was so proud to be part of the team. I love its ethos. Many of my original clients worked with me after I left there, and one still does.

I loved the Caravan’s openness, the way anyone might turn up. That was what made it so alive: it epitomises transpersonal. Supervision was the very best. Many sessions remain vivid in my mind. And the Christmas lunches… they were such fun!

Some other memories, less good, also stick in my mind:

My very first session remains vivid. I was terrified. The client, assuming I must know what I was doing, came in and started unloading. From that second it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be there, with another human struggling to find his way through life.

There was another lovely, stuck, depressed client, very lonely, who came regularly to moan, and one day I challenged him, saying: “I wonder if this is a fear, Keith, about what would happen if you allowed things to change.” He looked at me in affront and said: “I’m not Keith, I’m Brian.” Talk about transpersonal: what was it about him I was not seeing!

The Caravan was my first experience of negative transference. It was shocking to be told: “You are the worst therapist. All the other Caravan therapists are much better than you.” It followed a challenge I’d made, of course. Before she stormed out, 20 minutes before the end – leaving me pretty shaken and ashamed I’d got it so wrong – I’d just managed to say it would be good to talk this through and she was always welcome to come back. She left.  Then within five minutes she was back, saying could she come again same time next week… (Following this, Zak generously gave the most wonderful and essential emergency telephone supervision. This client continued for many years.)

There were people who came just once and wanted to hug me, saying it made all the difference; people who verbally abused me for not giving them coffee and tea on call; people who said they were therapists and wanted to understand how this place worked, as it seemed so cool; and people who came and stayed.

I dont know what impact it or I had on their lives. I remember every client (and usually their names!) and wish them well.

It’s an inspirational idea, a magical place = I love you Caravan!!!

Mary Mulholland