It wasn’t that long ago that an Italian and a Greek met on a psychosexual training course (LDPRT). A couple of years, and a lot of hard work later, they reached the end of that course and scratched their heads wondering “what’s next?”
As with all endings, a space opens up for a new beginning. Following the ending of the course, the space of potentiality seemed too vast. Having spent almost two years on the course effectively in a two-way interview process with each other had shown us that we had a compatible vision of our respective professional identities. This, our timing and our equally compatible fantasies about how to implement our learning in the “outside” world made rather straightforward the decision to collaborate and the thought of creating a joint space an exciting prospect.
The joint space started to take shape with the virtual presence of a website: a symbol of our professional union that hosts our vision and values for the work; serves as a vehicle for sharing information with our visitors; and as a launch pad for our projects.
Websites have a fixed annual cost, so setting one up together was a clear commitment to the project. This more sobering note also nudged us along a path from romanticising the possibilities of the joint venture to considering financial and other practicalities.
There being two of us meant that the search for finding rooms was twice as efficient and afforded us the flexibility to offer our services across more than one location. Having worked in different locations and with different rental arrangements helped us to decide where we wanted to settle and establish our practice – a project currently on hold, in anticipation of a new, post-Covid, equilibrium.
The cost effectiveness of the partnership also extended to other areas of the business, where fixed costs could be shared equally. Having costs halved can make room for more creativity with less pressure, especially where rather different temperaments attempt to coexist in a business relationship. While the pragmatism of one creates a space where the other can safely ‘play’, the creative space needs also to be contained to allow ideas to be communicated and delivered in a more structured manner.
We have indeed at times had to come up with a compromise between the analytical and the creative. Considerations that were managed effectively through open communication have infused the business with our own cultural diversity. Despite the professional nature of the relationship, this has been an exercise in intentional use of self – modelling how our own differences in cultural background and personality can be used to enhance the joint space rather than hinder our communication. This is increasingly being mirrored in our client work.
Other practicalities entailed time, drive and a vision for the practice. Creating a nurturing environment where care, understanding and a space to make mistakes are present came naturally. However, it also needed to be supported by a drive and a belief in the project.
At times the commitment alone could sustain the belief in the project. However, there did come a time when we learnt that belief and drive were not always present. Temporary lack of drive requires some injection of perseverance and this is another instance where the twosome can be of support to one another, taking turns to hold the space of potentiality while the other goes through a busy spell or life change.
Working as a two has also meant the doubling of our network, both in terms of incoming referrals but perhaps more importantly in terms of us being able to refer on to professionals with different and highly pertinent areas of specialisation, notably gynaecologists, pelvic pain experts, physiotherapists, urologists and psychiatrists, and also psychotherapists that work with forensic issues, families, adolescents, EMDR or acute trauma, for example.
While we would not refer to each other by default, only when it seems likely to be a good fit and where there is no conflict of interest, collaborating on couples or part-couples (where one of us sees the couple and the other takes on one of the two individually) is of great benefit to our clients, as we can be effortlessly and openly aligned with each other when it comes to developing treatment plans for them – and we can do that during our regular catching up on the business. This is especially valuable modelling for couples that struggle with communication. We are also looking forward to offering co-therapy to couples and demonstrating our much-practiced communication skills in real-time.
When we ask ourselves or each other “what’s next?” we still may not know, but the vastness has structure and the predominant feeling is a sense of empowerment and trust – surely a good foundation for any sort of dyad, professional or otherwise.
Giuseppe Picuccio and Marietta Vafea – Together Psychotherapy LDPRT Alumni 2018
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts are held by the author(s) and are for general interest in the field. These blog entries do not attempt give advice to the reader, they are for educational and information purposes only.