School of Health in Social Science

Gabriel Soler

From my childhood, I have loved to practice different arts.

I am a Chilean-Spanish citizen, living in Edinburgh. From my Masters by Research in Counselling Studies I have been fascinated by the opportunity to develop a creative type of inquiry. My sensibility has been prised as an academic type of research, which is changing the way I imagine academia and my future in it. I am bringing to the inquiry my different art practices, my stories, and my traumas. My PhD feels filled with life and I am enjoying the process of creation/discovery.   

My mother and grandmother were art amateurs and celebrated anything I did (my grandmother still has one painting I made at 8). I started working with drawing, developing the ‘bad habit’ of sketching in all classes at primary school. At high school, with the arrival of a literature teacher who was a writer, I began inquiring in/through poetry and stories. I also learned to play the guitar, guided by my friends who played. Additionally, I have taken different short courses on dance, martial arts and yoga, where I have delved on my embodiment as an expression of myself. My central motor for exploring these arts have been following my creative, spontaneous and curious impulses, in a call to play with the different materials.

Despite that background, I trained in an evidence-based model as a psychotherapist that was rational and calculative. I undertook this training just after a major personal crisis in which I stopped for some years all my art practices. With the crisis, my creativity was gone, and I focused on more practical issues.

With time, therapy, and personal work, I realised that I was not complete without arts, that my true-self was creative, curious, spontaneous. In an intense personal process, my artistic side came back, and it has become the centre of my way of understanding both myself and undertaking psychotherapy. I use bodily sensations and imagination as a means of expressing underlying dynamics; and I consider relationships the primary motor of change. The spontaneous and creative gesture has become a signal that I am on a good path (following the idea of ‘true self’ of Winnicott).

Academically, my first formation was in psychology and then in integrative psychotherapy in Chile. As a psychotherapist, I practised for five years in a surgery and also in private practice. I keep practicing in Scotland in an agency.

I have studied Winnicott in classes and for my own becoming his thinking is my principal inspiration. My research spirals around the concept of ‘transitional objects and phenomena’ of Winnicott, which helps me to make sense of my drive for creativity.


A Transitional Inquiry in Transitionality
My doctoral project is focussed on the idea of transitionality, which draws from the work of Donald Winnicott.


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