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23 Oct Learning Both Ways – A Dynamic Cycle for Healthy Human Growth

Learning Both Ways!

One of the bulwarks of Clinical Theology as expounded by Frank Lake is the “Dynamic Cycle,” a template for examining the extent of psychic and emotional input in terms of acceptance by others and receiving sustenance, following by an out phase in which we receive a status enabling us to complete the cycle with useful output. This cycle, repeated constantly, enables the growth of healthy, robust, human beings able and willing to contribute to the world around them.

However, I discovered when supervising members of the Clinical Theology Association trained in its various disciplines including the understanding of the Dynamic Cycle that most, regarded their supervision as some sort of personal growth work. It seems to me on reflection that this was the result of a flaw in teaching about the dynamic cycle.

The first phase consists of the two elements of receiving acceptance and giving sustenance. The elements both need someone to provide these. Initially the mother does this, beginning in the womb. My guess is that the association syllabus failed to teach how to provide the four elements: how to accept another person, how to provide suitable sustenance, how to give the appropriate status in life, how to welcome and applaud the resulting output. An appropriate image for the early days of the output phase is that of a parent figure, potty in hand.

Exactly where this deficit in the teaching occurred is not easy to see. However the Clinical Theology Association, now the Bridge Pastoral Foundation, has received plaudits widely, quite rightly for two aspects of its work – the growth work carried out in seminars, at conferences, and in the day-to-day pastoral, counseling and therapeutic work of its members, and secondly the stringent, tough, effective training given to its authorized tutors both before and after authorization.

A sister organisation, the pastoral counseling facility at St. John’s College, Nottingham, had the opposite problem, as I experienced it. The members found growth work rather difficult, particularly when joining Clinical Theology Association events or courses. The rather academic background for this may have been responsible in that it forced participants to an objective and analytic approach to their work.

This year is the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the Clinical Theology Association. It is to be hoped that, renamed the “Bridge Pastoral Foundation” it will be able to provide courses and events in which the subjective experience of the Dynamic Cycle will be balanced by leaders and trainers able to provide its elements, acceptance, sustenance, status and opportunity of output, in an objective, clear and positive manner.



Edward Baty

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