Olga Runciman: Compassionate Psychotherapy


How is psychotherapy different when the therapist is also a survivor? What vital lessons must therapists learn from people who have experienced psychosis? If therapy is an imbalance of power between therapist and patient, how can therapists avoid the misuse of power and protect clients from harm?


Olga Runciman, voice hearer, psychiatric nurse in locked wards, and survivor of a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, brings her experience with recovery to her work as a psychotherapist in private practice.



Olga Runciman



  1. I loved this podcast, and it made me cry.
    To hear you two advocate just listening and not judging a person, not getting alarmed, giving someone the safe place to talk about stuff that otherwise they are scared to talk about, given the alarmist response most people have…
    And how a person can be betrayed by therapists that act like they are there to help but then again end up making you feel that there’s something wrong with you by dismissing you (or even worse): to hear this quietly talked about helped me let go of a lot. I have a relatively good therapist now, but there were feelings that still had been forced into a corner, feelings where I would judge (shudder at, want to run away from) my own behavior when there was no need for that.

    It’s amazing what kind of a cage, what kind of a maze of phobic game theory compromises “sanity” becomes fussing about modes of behavior that are more non reality based that psychosis itself is. As long as a person is scared, and alarmed, and hostile towards behavior not controlled by a set of rules that really do nothing but try to make themselves valid when a person is scared to not follow them, then that is considered sanity.

    For a person to go beyond such disabling limitations they have to pretty much do something “crazy.”

    I also love the archetypal symbolism in stopping something as big as a bus (because it’s a big problem) , and then seeing that the little person running it can’t help.

    I think that to solve the problem you need to engage with what connects people in society, the machinery that brings them from one place to another (big buses and other vehicles that transport groups of people is very symbolic of this I think); but then when you see how “little” people have made themselves being controlled by such machinery being used to create whole society’s controlled by fear….

    Now, that’s what I get out of it, it doesn’t have to be how you see it yourself; but like art, perhaps it’s something human everyone can have their own interpretation.

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