Travel and Movement in Clinical Psychology- book review by Michelle Brenner

Miraj Desai is presently the Associate Research Scientist at the Program for Recovery and Community Health of the Yale University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry, his recent book, Travel and Movement in Clinical Psychology has to be seen as one of the most comprehensive yet easy to read books on modern human life. Miraj Desai takes us on a journey, through time and space, guiding our attention to notice nuances that otherwise are often left out of a professional perspective, thus reminding us  ‘ “Intervention” can occur at multiple levels ‘. 


Beautifully written, I wished that I had the book to hold on to in print rather that the technical medium. There was something so authentic about Desai’s choice of words and images that took me to a reality I wanted to grasp and be with. Desai asks questions that open up vistas taking us towards an interdisciplinary and collaborative world view.. Questions such as: “How can we effectively bring the world more into the clinic and, humbly and noninvasively, bring healing more into the world? What would a clinical intervention on the world even look like? How does one inculcate recognition of deep social problems and their effects in a context in which many do not directly experience such problems firsthand and may, therefore, be structurally prone to dismiss such problems as unreal? “


Context here is positioned not just on the outside of us, something we may operate in, but is repositioned to a central role, like the breathe, flowing in and out of us, in possibly polluted as well as possibly clear and healthy ways.


As Desai says: “The present work aims to offer travel and movement as possible ways of better connecting clinical psychology to the world around it, to recover our sense of openness… I suggest the possibility of deepening our engagement with other domains of the world (social, economic, political, etc.), cultural viewpoints, innovative practices, types of action, philosophical perspectives, and scientific approaches. As we do so, we can better participate in the movement and movements of the world.”   


By way of introducing us to words and concepts such as “psychopolitics”   “insularity´ and ”Psychologism” we are led into an opportunity to see a barometer of well-being that questions the validity of  keeping clinical work separate from structural or institutional work.  


“We, as clinical psychologists, cannot escape the thorny intersection of history, culture, politics, economics, ecology, and all other shared and surrounding structures. With regard to applied work, by no longer localizing suffering only within the individual, we increasingly open up our practice lenses to other possible sources of discontent.….. we are interested in learning about the range of possibilities of moving toward a new, better world, and toward personal and collective well-being.”


By taking us through a historical and geographical landscape we see “respect for the practices found throughout the world that already contain within them great wisdom, solace, and power for generations. These included spiritual traditions, community networks, the humanities, the arts, and nature.” 


The message is this book is for everyone, “Our world needs to change, and change in such a way that each of us can feel supported and are able to live a life of dignity, care, and love. How do we move toward a better world? “  Travel and Movement in Clinical Psychology is a book that points us in this direction.

Review written by Michelle Brenner

Michelle Brenner was one of the first to receive post-graduate qualifications in Conflict Resolution from Macquarie University within Australia in 1994. Since then she has been a pioneer in the practice and development of the field. She was a forerunner in mediation in local government, being the first full time mediator for an inner city Sydney council. She has consulted for the NSW Department of Education, the Federal Department of Immigration and the NSW Police Force.. She is one of the founding members of Holistic Practices Beyond Borders Inc. She has published 2 books, “Conscious Connectivity: Creating Dignity in Conversation”, and “Conversations on Compassion” both available at Prior to her career in Conflict Resolution, Michelle was a Natural Health Therapist. She has travelled extensively and lived in Hawaii, Japan, Indonesia, Israel, France New Zealand. Michelle lives in Sydney, Australia and is a qualified Nature Forest Therapy Guide with ANFT.


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