HE.S.T.A.F.T.A. - Scientific Society of Mental Health Professionals


I have known Katia Charalabaki for quite a long time, from our first years as trainees in Systemic approach in Psychotherapy. We lost contact for a long period of time but for four years now we are collaborating in several settings in the era of psychotherapy. These four years I think we relate in a more essential way. I started having a deeper understanding of her as a person, and I believe she does the same about me. We opened a dialogue in which we are trying to express the essence of which ourselves are composed. It is an interpersonal and at the same time an open-to-the-public dialogue. Recently, at a class we conducted together for young colleagues of ours,  we expressed our disagreement on some issue. At that moment I thought: "it is such a blessing to disagree and at the same time to feel acceptance from the other". When K.Ch. asked me to read her book in order to write this presentation I felt a little awkward: "What if I don't like it?", "What if I can't judge it objectively?" I thought.

The thing that helped me to move on and accept her offer was my awareness that Katia is a person who expresses her truth even if this will hurt herself or the others. She is that kind of person, and this book is a part of her truth. It is the truth that emerges from a great experience in psychotherapeutic work, from profound theoretical processing, from political action and speculation, from administrative experience in several positions in public sectors of mental health, and generally from a personal concern for mental survival, individually and socially.

The "crisis" and its impact on the mental health of both therapists and therapy claimers was the sparkle that led her in editing this book.

"It is no accident, " as K.CH. writes, " that these papers were written from 2010 until 2016.....a period of unprecedented experiences for all of us..."

These are texts that were written answering to an authentic need for  "...integration...when the dominant characteristic is dissolution...",   "...giving meaning...to the 'meaningless' material invading in our office..." , for therapeutic intellectual reborn through a  "... journey in poetry and ancient myths and a study of texts such as those by the Russian linguist Bakhtin or the American anthropologist Bateson..."  and finally for  "...dialogue, for the emergence of the 'polyphonic' versus the 'monophonic' self, for relating...".

An authentic need  "...to give and take, to preserve and revitalize collectivities with values and intellectual commodities that we had conquered....and now feel to be badly wearing and disintegrating..."

K.CH. writes and works as a systemic therapist, having also developed a psychoanalytic view and language. I believe that this enriches and widens the referring domain of a systemic therapist, while it is exactly this systemic identity that legitimises focusing on such atherapeutic widening of the field. I consider the articles  "The System's Subconscious""Dimitra and Persephone: Mother-Daughter's Family Therapy"  and  "Interactive Envy in Couples lives: From Orestia till now " as expressions of this widening and of integration of these two major perspectives. Besides, as you can read in a Bakhtin text quoted in the book:  "..A language can only overcome its self-complacent and narrow view of the world by mirroring itself in another language."

On the other hand, the constant reference to context comes as no surprise, as this is one of the most important contributions of systemic thinking to psychotherapy and also to the way we perceive our world. K.CH. demonstrates interactions on many levels: Therapist=Patient, Individual=Family, Family=Public Health, Public Health=Society, all in a cyclical interaction which is hard to convey here.

Her view always includes the therapist. The one who  ".. is not the unaffected figure any more..." , the one who is in need of human sharing, of dialogue, of constant wondering but also of new steady spots to lean on.

She seeks and writes down live interactions taking place in the public psychotherapeutic sector— a domain that K.CH. has been serving for many years, striving for its development.

She brings forth issues such as 'leaving home' and the 'name-giving' procedures taking place in families. These are issues directly connected to the recent changes in family structure and function.

I would describe this book as multilevel and up-to-the-minute. It is addressed not only to "specialists" in psychotherapy but also to all the people who are sensitive to social and humanitarian issues, people who focus on human relating in destabilized social systems. While reading it I often felt that sense you have when you see articulated and organized snapshots of your internal dialogues that have never been externalized on an interpersonal or social level. It is a feeling of justification and companionship. This is created not only through content but also from the way the book is written: a flowing rhythm that invites you to continue reading.

Well, it seems that my worries were not justified. About my first worry, what can I say? I really enjoyed Katia's book. As for the second one about "objectivity", I quote an excerpt from the chapter about Bakhtin which I think expresses the book's keynote:  "..Every articulation is a product of interaction between the articulating subjects and a product of the larger context and the hole complex social situation in which this articulation emerges."


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