Sue Gardner: Dark places

I can’t believe I accepted this assignment. Surely any admission undermines my credibility as a psychologist? Or does failure to reveal something denote arrogance, lack of insight or self consciousness with the same implications for reputation and self esteem?

I’m cautious about excessive introspection without some trusted person to offer perspective and balance. I have a dark place inside which at various stages of my life has been occupied by ghosts, daleks and negative emotions.
Somehow I need this place though, to connect me to others especially those who want support with change and containment. In working with people who have mental health needs and substance misuse I use their desire to escape their own dark place to form a connection which, together with the research evidence, best practice guidelines and clinical tools, can accelerate their journey to recovery. Perhaps if I understood myself fully my own journey would be over.

Sue Gardner is a Chartered clinical psychologist and President of the British Psychological Society.

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4 thoughts on “Sue Gardner: Dark places”

  1. Hey now, all you children

    Leave your lights on, you better leave your lights on

    Cause there's a monster living under my bed

    Whispering in my ear

    There's an angel, with a hand on my head

    She say I've got nothing to fear

    There's a darkness living deep in my soul

    I still got a purpose to serve

    So let your light shine, deep into my home

    Santana's Put Your Lights On


  2. The fear that “any admission undermines my credibility as a psychologist?” , mentioned at the outset I believe is widely held in the profession (as with teachers, doctors and other helping professionals). It is incomprehensible to me that Psychologists can work with clients without having explored their own “dark places”. We all have these places to one degree or another and awareness of our personal weaknesses and foibles surely makes us more adequate human beings. So please – more honesty, more authenticity and let's acknowledge our human frailty for the sake of better mental health for all


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