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  • Fe Robinson

Too much intention creates tension

I came across this quote recently, regretfully I can’t recall where. It got me thinking about the apparent tension of offering Outcome Oriented Psychotherapy. Isn’t psychotherapy supposed to be about open exploration, and possibilities? Does having an outcome restrict it?

My experience is that while too much intention creates tension, too little is equally unhelpful. Checking online, I notice the word intention has two meanings. Firstly ‘a thing intended, an aim or plan.’ It seems to me everyone coming into psychotherapy intends something, otherwise they would not be investing in sessions. It’s important to have a shared understanding of what is known about the intention, at the same time recognising it will evolve, develop and potentially change as the work develops.

The second meaning of intention, in medicine, is ‘the healing process of a wound.’ What a perfect description of the psychotherapeutic process that is. Psychotherapy is a lively, dynamic process that itself evolves and changes, it is a relationship created, nurtured and developed to enable healing of psychological wounds.

Stephen Gilligan, a self-relations psychotherapist from whom I have learned much, likes to say ‘not too tight, not too loose.’ This encapsulates a critical element of therapeutic work, as it does life. Knowing what we intend, we can hold this lightly, giving space for it to breath and grow, and we grow with it. Hold too tight and you strangle its potential. Hold too loose, and you become aimless and meandering, and its potential is lost differently.

So, too much intention creates tension. I wonder, what do you intend, and how can you breathe life and love into that which you wish to create?

For online psychotherapy that paces your intent and individual needs, get in touch confidentially on 0191 3720318 or at


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