You might not realise how much therapeutic work has in common with chutney, but I had one of those “light bulb” moments the other day as I was in the kitchen making yet another batch to go with the cheese mountain in my fridge.

I’ve used the same chutney recipe for years, having originally found it online.  Recently a friend asked me for the recipe, so I dug it out and sent it to her together with all my “variations on a theme” that I have perfected over the years.

As with all recipes that I try, when I first started, I stuck absolutely to the recipe – all the ingredients, and step by step.  Soon, I began to experiment and substitute until I now have a core of basic ingredients and others that vary each time I make it.

As I was stirring the most recent batch, I remembered how many years ago in training, each one of us in my training group, was very anxious to “stick to the rules” with the therapeutic approach we were working with.

I remember reflecting in supervision on words and moments in the process that didn’t really fit in with the therapeutic approach that I was meant to be demonstrating in my case study or practice work.

Once qualified, and as my confidence grew in my skills, I began to establish my own individuality within my chosen working approach, responding to the needs of individual clients in different ways.  So I now have a core of basic principles and a range of skills and techniques that I can use and adapt for each situation.

As we gain experience, we learn new techniques, new ways of working, new insights to expand and deepen our work.  We try things that don’t quite work or fit.  We suddenly find a breakthrough in a process or understanding we haven’t seen before.

And my chutney is just like that.

It takes confidence and boldness to experiment and substitute in my chutney recipe.

And it takes confidence and belief to explore processes and concepts within a therapeutic approach.

I hope you will enjoy both the “original recipe” and your own development within therapeutic work – and perhaps some chutney as well!