Events for ALL Counsellors & Psychotherapists

Events for ALL Counsellors & Psychotherapists 2014-08-28T16:24:06+00:00

Jun
19
Tue
2018
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Jun 19 @ 13:30 – 15:30

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis at Fulcrum House in Bristol. There are three groups with 4 participants each during each Tuesday (11.20-13.20; 13.30-15.30; 15.45-17.45). From January 2018 there are 3 places available in the second group - please contact Michael for details. The cost is £55 for each 2-hour group.

download the leaflet

Dates for 2018:

16/1/18; 20/2/18; 20/3/18; 24/4/18; 15/5/18; 19/6/18; 17/7/18

These groups have been running for the last few years, and there is a consistent core of participants, but some re-arrangements have meant that 3 places are now becoming available (in Group 2).

The monthly frequency of these groups means they are not really a replacement for ongoing regular supervision, but are being used by participants as part of their continuing professional development, to deepen and enhance their practice. The diversity of modalities, orientations and styles provides a rich learning environment.

Michael's supervision style is integrative, so therapists from all modalities and orientations are welcome, and will find plenty of opportunities to learn from the diversity within the group.
Michael pays attention to parallel process on all levels (see his presentation on 'Fractal Self' at CONFER for how he has extended the notion of 'parallel process', for the purposes of supervision, as well as an organising principle for therapy generally), including how the client-therapist dynamic is picked up by the group and reflected within it. He is welcoming of experiential exploration of 'charged moments', via roleplay, within participants' need and willingness for exposure in the group.

He will focus on speaking in the language of each supervisee's approach, but an exploration of transference-countertransference dynamics is likely to be included, unless a supervisee explicitly declines this. In his approach to supervision, Michael pays attention to the embodied, non-verbal communications and unconscious processes, how they oscillate between working alliance and enactment, and how the therapist's habitual stance/position becomes involved in these conflicts and tensions. Whilst the exploration of the therapist's relational entanglement is an important aspect of the supervision, the focus is on the deepening of the client's process, and the therapist's continuing learning process. Michael believes that by embracing whole-heartedly the difficulties, paradoxes, shadow aspects and complexities of the therapeutic process, therapists stand the best chance of doing justice to their clients, as well as their own authority, effectiveness and satisfaction as a practitioner.

Jun
23
Sat
2018
Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group with Michael Soth @ The Wheelhouse
Jun 23 @ 10:00 – Jun 24 @ 17:00
See the dedicated page >>

Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018 (Weekend 2 of 4 with Michael)

These workshops, designed for counsellors and psychotherapists from across the approaches, are an opportunity to work with and learn from two of the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy.Rather than grafting the body onto established practice as one more eclectic technique, Nick and Michael have been working towards a non-dualistic embodied way of being and relating in the therapeutic relationship. This series of CPD training events provides an ideal container for your continuing professional development, rooted in your own embodied process. For full details  regarding this unique venture in Britain's Southwest, click the button to see the dedicated page. It is likely that the group will continue in 2019 with another series of four weekends.

See the dedicated page >>

Relational modalities in the context of attachment & character structure theory

An experiential-theoretical CPD Weekend with Michael Soth
Grounding different therapeutic approaches to habitual patterns of relating in bodymind process

There are significant philosophical and theoretical differences between the various traditional models which we use as therapists to name, describe and conceptualise the intersubjective field in the therapeutic relationship, and the client's early developmental blueprint for the relational patterns we co-create with them.

The diverse traditions (psychoanalytic developmental theory, attachment theory, character structure theory,  intersubjectivity,  relationality) each have their assumptions, conceptual frame, jargon terms, and particular gifts and shadow aspects in disclosing or occluding certain areas of the complex field.

How these aspects of the field do or do not enter the therapist's stream of consciousness depends to some extent on the theoretical lenses we use.

To widen our awareness and make it as unbiased and inclusive as possible, we can ground our observations of the relational dynamic in the detail of bodymind process, much of it non-verbal, some of it subliminal.

This weekend is dedicated to clarifying both theoretically and practically the differences, contradictions  and overlaps between the various traditional languages and models, by attending to their fundamental ideas (e.g. attachment styles, working models, co-creation, character styles, mutual recognition, habitual patterns, etc) as bodymind processes.

This may allow us to build an integration that creates a productive synergy between these  different traditions and diverse theoretical frames. Although theoretical principles will be involved, we will stick to the basic ideas rather than go into abstract or historical detail - the overall aim of the weekend is to keep it practical and applicable.

Learning Objectives

We will compare & contrast:

  • attachment theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Holmes)
  • character structure theory (Reich, Lowen, Kurtz & Johnson)
  • intersubjectivity (Atwood & Stolorow, Orange)
  • psychoanalytic developmental theory (including Kleinian and object relations)
We will attempt to ground the key notions of these theories in embodied, experience-near terms. And we will explore how these different ideas both help and hinder us in apprehending the fullness and systemic wholeness of the relational dynamic between client and therapist.

BOOK SOON:

The weekend coming up on June 23/24th is a unique introduction to the overlaps and differences (and possible synergies) between three different models which therapists commonly use to make sense of their experience in the therapeutic relationship: attachment theory, character structure theory and relational modalities.
All three theories aim to help us in making sense of the client's relational pattern and behaviour in the therapeutic relationship.
All of them have two-person psychology elements and can be used in that way; but all can also be used in a more one-person psychology diagnostic fashion, by focusing mainly on the client's pattern of attachment and relating.

In this CPD weekend we will enhance the usefulness of all three models by thinking of about the inherent bodymind processes which we have observed as therapists before we can even apply any of the models - we will try to ground our use of the models in our phenomenological bodymind observations, of the client and of ourselves (and as these are traditional models, that includes the fact that they were used in connection with observations of transference and countertransference).

We will explore how these models complement each other and become more powerful in combination. And we will also look at the limitations and shadow aspects of each, and how as therapists we might end up using them in a way that blinds us to enactments, complications in the working alliance and impasses in the therapeutic process.

Oxford: Trauma-focussed Supervision Group @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Jun 23 @ 10:00 – 16:00

Small Supervision Group with Morit Heitzler

Date: Sat. 23 June 2018 - Times: 10.00 – 16.00

Venue: OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre: 1st Floor, 142-144 Oxford Road, Temple Cowley, Oxford OX4 2EA

Cost per session: £85.00

This 1-day Saturday supervision group is an opportunity for you to specifically bring trauma clients for supervision - the day will be a mixture of clinical supervision of actual cases presented by participants and CPD learning (including some role play of case vignettes). Alongside learning from your own and other participants' experience, Morit will also give trauma-related teaching input, relevant to the themes and issues emerging from the clinical/client work.

Possible ongoing group emerging from this supervision day

There is a core group of several therapists who want this day to develop into an ongoing, regular group. The sessions will take place every 2 - 3 months from 10 - 4pm in Oxford, to be arranged in advance according to everybody's availability. The cost per session will be £85.00. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Morit.

Jun
30
Sat
2018
Oxford: Integrative Trauma Therapy – 3 CPD Days with Morit Heitzler 2018 – Workshop 1 @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Jun 30 @ 10:00 – 17:00
See the dedicated page

For all the background information and a workshop description of all three CPD days

See the dedicated page

Download the leaflet

Download the booking form to email back

Download the booking form to print and post

Jul
17
Tue
2018
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Jul 17 @ 13:30 – 15:30

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis at Fulcrum House in Bristol. There are three groups with 4 participants each during each Tuesday (11.20-13.20; 13.30-15.30; 15.45-17.45). From January 2018 there are 3 places available in the second group - please contact Michael for details. The cost is £55 for each 2-hour group.

download the leaflet

Dates for 2018:

16/1/18; 20/2/18; 20/3/18; 24/4/18; 15/5/18; 19/6/18; 17/7/18

These groups have been running for the last few years, and there is a consistent core of participants, but some re-arrangements have meant that 3 places are now becoming available (in Group 2).

The monthly frequency of these groups means they are not really a replacement for ongoing regular supervision, but are being used by participants as part of their continuing professional development, to deepen and enhance their practice. The diversity of modalities, orientations and styles provides a rich learning environment.

Michael's supervision style is integrative, so therapists from all modalities and orientations are welcome, and will find plenty of opportunities to learn from the diversity within the group.
Michael pays attention to parallel process on all levels (see his presentation on 'Fractal Self' at CONFER for how he has extended the notion of 'parallel process', for the purposes of supervision, as well as an organising principle for therapy generally), including how the client-therapist dynamic is picked up by the group and reflected within it. He is welcoming of experiential exploration of 'charged moments', via roleplay, within participants' need and willingness for exposure in the group.

He will focus on speaking in the language of each supervisee's approach, but an exploration of transference-countertransference dynamics is likely to be included, unless a supervisee explicitly declines this. In his approach to supervision, Michael pays attention to the embodied, non-verbal communications and unconscious processes, how they oscillate between working alliance and enactment, and how the therapist's habitual stance/position becomes involved in these conflicts and tensions. Whilst the exploration of the therapist's relational entanglement is an important aspect of the supervision, the focus is on the deepening of the client's process, and the therapist's continuing learning process. Michael believes that by embracing whole-heartedly the difficulties, paradoxes, shadow aspects and complexities of the therapeutic process, therapists stand the best chance of doing justice to their clients, as well as their own authority, effectiveness and satisfaction as a practitioner.

Sep
8
Sat
2018
Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group with Nick Totton
Sep 8 @ 10:00 – Sep 9 @ 17:00

Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018 (Weekend 4 of 5 with Nick)

These workshops, designed for counsellors and psychotherapists from across the approaches, are an opportunity to work with and learn from two of the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy.
Rather than grafting the body onto established practice as one more eclectic technique, Nick and Michael have been working towards a non-dualistic embodied way of being and relating in the therapeutic relationship.
This series of CPD training events provides an ideal container for your continuing professional development, rooted in your own embodied process.

For full details  regarding this unique venture in Britain's Southwest, see the dedicated page: Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018.

It is likely that the group will continue in 2019 with another series of four weekends.

Sep
22
Sat
2018
Oxford: Integrative Trauma Therapy – 3 CPD Days with Morit Heitzler 2018 – Workshop 2 @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Sep 22 @ 10:00 – 17:00

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Download the leaflet

Download the booking form to email back

Download the booking form to print and post

Sep
23
Sun
2018
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed)
Sep 23 @ 10:00 – 17:00

An ongoing, broad-spectrum integrative group

This semi-closed group has been running for several years now, with new participants joining the 'pool' of members as places become available. Led by one of the most experienced integrative trainers in the UK, this group will provide an ideal relational container for your ongoing development as a therapist. By immersing yourself in a diverse group of colleagues from different schools and orientations, you will widen your perspective, deepen your practice, draw both inspiration and challenge from the co-created wide-ranging experiential work and have a reference point as well as resources and teaching to support your further development.

You can find a detailed description of the format and objectives of this group on the dedicated page.

Nov
17
Sat
2018
Athens: Working with Illness in Psychotherapy
Nov 17 @ 10:00 – Nov 18 @ 18:00

The bodymind connection in working with psychosomatic and physical symptoms

A weekend workshop in Athens with Michael Soth (17 & 18 November 2018)

Even though counsellors and psychotherapists are traditionally expected to focus on emotional, mental and verbal communications, many clients invariably do bring their physical and psychosomatic symptoms into the session.

Through including body-oriented ways of working into the talking therapies, we can learn to work with many of these symptoms more directly, more deeply and more effectively (and recognise other situations where the hope of curing illness through psychology is an unreasonable idealisation).

This CPD workshop is designed to expand your understanding of the bodymind connection as well as offering a wide range of creative and body-oriented techniques to include in your practice.

With some illnesses - like hypertension, chest and heart problems, digestive illnesses, symptoms of the immune system - it is scientifically established that emotional stress contributes to their origin. With many other psychosomatic problems, like all kinds of pain, tinnitus, insomnia, chronic fatigue and many other unexplained symptoms, it is known that the intensity of the suffering can be ameliorated through psychological therapy that addresses the regulation and expression of emotion and de-stresses the mind.

Stress is the catchall phrase that supposedly explains the influence of our psychological body-emotion-mind state on illness. However, what is less well understood, is how our bodymind does not just respond to stresses in our current situation and lifestyle, but carries accumulated stress from the past, reaching all the way back to childhood. A holistic and bio-social-psychological understanding of stress needs to include lifelong patterns of the bodymind including developmental injury and trauma (what Wilhelm Reich originally called character structures).

Sometimes clients bring psychosomatic illness as a presenting issue to the therapy, sometimes these symptoms actually evolve in direct response to the unfolding therapeutic process, and the therapist gets implicated in them, e.g. “After last session I had a headache for three days!”

Direct links to body sensations and symptoms as well as body image come up as part of our work in sessions every day, in so many ways: tangible pains, tensions, trembling and shaking, breathing difficulties (hyperventilation, asthma), the physical side of unbearable feelings like panic, rage, dread or terror. There are obvious somatic aspects to presenting issues such as eating disorders or addictions. And then there are the psychological implications of actual, sometimes terminal, illnesses and psychosomatic symptoms and dis-ease.

 

How do we work with these issues and symptoms in psychotherapy? What ways are available to us for including the client’s ‘felt sense’, their embodied self states, their body awareness and sensations, their physiological experience in the interaction ?

This workshop will give you a framework for thinking about the role of the body as it is relevant in your own style of therapeutic work, based upon the different ways in which clients as well as therapists relate to ‘the symptom’. Throughout the workshop, we will use roleplay of actual issues and dilemmas brought up by your clients. We will also identify and practice ways in which you can explore the emotional function and 'meaning' of your client's physical symptom or illness.

Drawing on a wide range of humanistic and psychoanalytic approaches (including Body Psychotherapy, Process-oriented Psychology, various schools of psychoanalysis and Jungian perspectives) as well as the holistic paradigm underpinning most complementary therapies, we will weave together an interdisciplinary bodymind approach which is applicable within the therapeutic relationship as we know it in counselling and psychotherapy.

 

Michael has been working with the psychological and bodymind connection of illness and psychosomatic symptoms for many years. In the 1990s he initiated a project called 'Soul in Illness', offering an integrative psychotherapeutic perspective, drawing on the wisdom which the different therapeutic approaches have accumulated regarding illness, both in terms of theoretical understanding and practical ways of working. He has run CPD workshops for therapists on ‘Working with Illness’ many times, and has developed a relational and embodied way of engaging with the client’s bodymind. In 2005 he presented for the first time his model of ‘8 ways of relating to the symptom’, which addresses the client’s own relationship to their symptom, as well as giving an overview of the different stances taken by the therapist in the various therapeutic approaches that correspond to each of the ways of relating to the symptom. These eight ways of relating to the symptom, including the corresponding theoretical understandings as well as methods and techniques for intervention, will form the underlying framework for this workshop.

 

Nov
25
Sun
2018
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed)
Nov 25 @ 10:00 – 17:00

An ongoing, broad-spectrum integrative group

This semi-closed group has been running for several years now, with new participants joining the 'pool' of members as places become available. Led by one of the most experienced integrative trainers in the UK, this group will provide an ideal relational container for your ongoing development as a therapist. By immersing yourself in a diverse group of colleagues from different schools and orientations, you will widen your perspective, deepen your practice, draw both inspiration and challenge from the co-created wide-ranging experiential work and have a reference point as well as resources and teaching to support your further development.

You can find a detailed description of the format and objectives of this group on the dedicated page.

Dec
1
Sat
2018
Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group with Michael Soth
Dec 1 @ 10:00 – Dec 2 @ 17:00

Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018 (Weekend 5 of 5 with Michael)

These workshops, designed for counsellors and psychotherapists from across the approaches, are an opportunity to work with and learn from two of the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy.
Rather than grafting the body onto established practice as one more eclectic technique, Nick and Michael have been working towards a non-dualistic embodied way of being and relating in the therapeutic relationship.
This series of CPD training events provides an ideal container for your continuing professional development, rooted in your own embodied process.

For full details  regarding this unique venture in Britain's Southwest, see the dedicated page: Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018.

It is likely that the group will continue in 2019 with another series of four weekends.

Oxford: Integrative Trauma Therapy – 3 CPD Days with Morit Heitzler 2018 – Workshop 3 @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Dec 1 @ 10:00 – 17:00

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Download the leaflet

Download the booking form to email back

Download the booking form to print and post

Feb
2
Sat
2019
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed)
Feb 2 @ 10:00 – Feb 3 @ 17:00

An ongoing, broad-spectrum integrative group

This semi-closed group has been running for several years now, with new participants joining the 'pool' of members as places become available. Led by one of the most experienced integrative trainers in the UK, this group will provide an ideal relational container for your ongoing development as a therapist. By immersing yourself in a diverse group of colleagues from different schools and orientations, you will widen your perspective, deepen your practice, draw both inspiration and challenge from the co-created wide-ranging experiential work and have a reference point as well as resources and teaching to support your further development.

You can find a detailed description of the format and objectives of this group on the dedicated page.

Dec
7
Sat
2019
London (Wimbledon): Sustainable practice in the ‘impossible profession’ @ Drake House
Dec 7 @ 10:00 – 17:00

It almost looks like analysis [therapy] were the third of those impossible professions in which one can be quite sure of unsatisfying results. The other two, much older established, are the bringing up of children and the governance of nations.” Freud, Sigmund (1937) Analysis Terminable and Interminable. p.248

Should practising as a therapist carry a health warning?

What is the emotional cost of the therapeutic position, and what do we need to make it sustainable?

How do relational dilemmas, as they manifest in the intricacy of each client-therapist relationship, affect the therapist’s well-being and how does this hook into the therapist’s ‘habitual position’, creating emotional exhaustion, burn-out, or vicarious traumatisation?

Is there a way to make a sustainable living as a therapist or is it best practiced part-time?

Is therapy a vocation dedicated to compassion, love and healing?

Or is it a job, revolving around business and money?

In practice, the answer for most of us could be that we operate comfortably in some middle zone of ambiguity, but in fact many counsellors and therapists struggle to do that. We all know that - unless we charge silly rates - we will not get rich in this profession, but we might achieve a comfortable degree of income and security, without selling our soul in the marketplace.

Most workshops for therapists on the topic of  setting up a practice focus on the actual business skills needed, or your own ambivalence about charging money which is seen as connected to your own sense of self-worth. And most workshops regarding vicarious traumatisation and the strains of practice focus on self-care for therapists and restorative  disciplines,

This workshop will focus instead on the vastly underestimated inherent contradictions of therapy as the ‘impossible profession’ and the emotional stress of dealing with these dilemmas on an everyday basis.

Especially for recently qualified therapists who are slowly building up their practice, many find certain thresholds of client numbers which they seem to get stuck at. This is to do with your own self-regulation within the – inherently conflicted - therapeutic position.

Most training does not sufficiently prepare therapists for the day-to-day reality of the vicissitudes, paradoxes and complexities involved, including the psychological ‘load’ that derives from this, and how to process the emotional aftermath of a day’s work.

Over the years, Michael has helped many supervisees increase the client ‘load’ they are able to sustain, and thus make a sustainable living from being a therapist. In this workshop he will help you explore what he has concluded are the main factors and obstacles which hold the key to making the business of therapy viable, comfortable and satisfying.

 

 

Jan
31
Fri
2020
Proposed: Working with the Breath and on the Mattress (dates tbc) @ Fulcrum House
Jan 31 @ 10:00 – 17:00

A comprehensive course for experienced counsellors and psychotherapists
A series of 8 one-day CPD-workshops at Fulcrum House, Bristol, with Michael Soth

The significance of the breath for any kind of psychotherapy which does not exclude the body

WeidnerMelanie_Deep_BreathIn recent attempts to include the body in psychotherapy, the importance of breathing and the breath as one main regulator of the intensity of feeling has been increasingly recognised. If we want to bring the two bodies into the consulting room, we need to not only understand, but learn to actively work with the breath, the client’s and our own, and the connection between them, as part of the emotional, psychological and intersubjective encounter.

In this learning, we can draw from a wide range of different traditions, both Eastern and Western, many explicitly holistic, some psychological and a wide range of complementary therapies and practices, which have been exploring and using the breath, some of them for several decades, some of them for millennia.

Diverse traditions, contradictory principles, a multitude of techniques

One problem with the recent fashion of drawing body-oriented traditions into psychotherapy and appropriating them, is that the differences and contradictions between these traditions get ignored.

We then end up with a smorgasbord of techniques which are all presumed to work towards a common goal, but are actually profoundly contradictory, and end up pulling the process into different directions. The client’s bodymind then feels uncontained, confused, not sure whether it is coming or going.

All the different traditions, of course, each have their wisdoms and gifts, but we cannot arbitrarily mix and match them, even if it is for the valid purpose of including the body.

What are some of the key tensions and contradictions between the different orientations and principles?

Centering versus expression (charge/discharge)

Generally speaking, the Eastern traditions including yoga, meditation and the martial arts focus on belly breathing, and mindful centeredness in the ‘hara’ (the centre of the body, just below the navel) and are therefore oriented towards a calming, steadying effect. They were never designed to deal with the degree of disembodiment, traumatised dissociation, repressed feelings, neurosis or the vicissitudes of the modern psyche.

Lung_BlueNeonIn contrast, the more recent Western traditions of working with the breath, starting with Reich's vegeto-therapy in the 1930’s, were focused precisely on addressing disembodiment, repressive character armour and primarily emphasised catharsis in order to counteract chronic inhibition. There has been a host of humanistic approaches descending from that origin (or at least pulling in the same direction, e.g. primal therapy, rebirthing, Grof’s holotropic breathing and many other cathartic techniques.)

The tensions between these two kinds of traditions continue, although these days of course many hybrid forms have developed. But this dichotomy (charging, ‘mind’-less expressive catharsis versus mindful, calming centering) is not the only contradiction.

Changing the breathing pattern through the mind versus attending to it as it is

When we recognise somebody's restricted, flawed, incomplete, ‘pathological’ way of breathing, different approaches have different aims and corrective techniques, and all of these have their purpose. But in the context of psychotherapy, what are we trying to do? Are we trying to educate the client to change their way of breathing towards a ‘healthier’ breathing pattern? There may be good arguments for that. Or are we trying to understand how this breathing is part of their characterological bodymind condition? In which case there is a rationale for attending mindfully to the ‘unhealthy’ breath pattern without trying to change it.

AborigineArt1One essential feature of the breath is that it is mostly automatic or at most semi-conscious. But if we want to, we can be very deliberate with it and conscious of it. Can we use our minds and mindfulness to change our spontaneous breath pattern? Yes, in the present moment we can, but how does this impact on the breath the rest of the time when we do not make an effort to attend to it?

The psychological limitations of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the breath

Many guidelines and systems advocating supposedly correct breathing, whether it is belly or chest or diaphragm, in- or outbreath, energetic or calming, fail to take into account individual psychology. Frequently, they advocate a ‘one-size-fits-all’ notion of healthy breathing which the client is then expected to consciously, deliberately approximate.

Many clients have at some time in their lives been involved with activities or situations (quite apart from complementary therapies and breathwork techniques e.g. singing lessons, swimming or diving, illness, children holding their breath) where they learnt or were explicitly taught how to breathe. These methods have become automatic or become injunctions or ‘rules’ in people’s minds, affecting the way they organise themselves when they start paying attention to their breath.

In practices such as Tai Chi or Yoga, this may be fine. But in psychotherapy, this often becomes another ‘super ego’ injunction, usually exacerbating the contortions that are already present.

CatHoldingBreathCalm, controlled breathing can be a very good idea when somebody is in an overwhelmed, traumatised state. It can also be a symptom of freezing and dissociation. It may exacerbate a depressed condition. At the other end of the scale, many people are scared of ‘hyperventilation’ which can indeed be a symptom of a habit of hyper-arousal, constantly leading to emotional overwhelm. On the other hand, it can be argued that most of the population systematically and chronically under-breathe – they are hypo-ventilating. So an experiment in deliberately breathing more deeply might be needed in order to balance this, or to just get an experience of the edge of their comfort zone or ‘window of tolerance’.

Sustained mindfulness of breath can constellate fears of regression

Lying on the mattress to breathe conjures up a host of associations. Experimenting with how the breath affects the intensity of one’s felt sense and experience can draw attention to implicit control mechanisms. If these mechanisms are challenged – not necessarily by the therapist, but more often by internal forces – regression can occur. This can have both damaging and transformative elements, and the history of psychotherapy provides ideas and reference points for both.

Fuseli_nightmareIn our culture - dominated as it is by metaphors of development which emphasise progress, growth and ascent – any hint of regression constellates primitive and for many people catastrophic fears. The client’s ego scans vitality affects and the energetic weather in the body for signs that threaten regression, and anticipates, counterbalances and manages – in some sort of approximation of self-regulation – regressive tendencies as they arise. In order to do that, the ego needs to monitor the breath as the main regulator of intensity and charge in the system, usually automatically and outside awareness. Bringing awareness to the breath can reveal the presence of this monitoring and control process in action. It is only when the smooth operation of this pre-conscious mechanism is attended to, that the underlying body-mind split – in whatever idiosyncratic way it manifests in the client’s system – becomes more apparent. This split or battle between mind and body, reflection versus spontaneity tends to be experienced as an either-or, all-or-nothing battle around control. Within the split, surrender to the somatic processes and letting go into the body is equated with loss of control and regression (which mythologically corresponds to a descent into the underworld). Inbreath and outbreath are intimately linked to these movements of consciousness and the habitual conflicts which are structured into the client’s bodymind system.

How to recognise and engage with the complex matrix of the client’s bodymind via attention to the breath and the relational dilemmas which then arise for the therapist, especially when fears of regression are evoked, will constitute key questions throughout the course. For each participant, these fears and reactions need to be attended to and processed in the context of their own history of control versus regression.

Depth of intra-psychic bodymind focus at the expense of interpersonal awareness

Traditionally, the profound potential of breath work in terms of spontaneous and regressive experience was - generally speaking – achieved by focussing on the client’s intra-psychic and bodymind dynamic. This focus on the client’s internal experience – their body awareness including sensations, internal movements and impulses, their emotions and stream-of-consciousness - can move into the foreground at the expense of attention to the relational dynamic between client and therapist. Traditionally, body-oriented therapists working with the breath paid no attention at all to transferential dynamics. This is ironic, as our theory tells us that during states of regression early experience tends to come to the fore and then maybe even outweighs ego consciousness, thus intensifying transferential projections, often reaching back into pre-verbal and primitive states. The consequent conclusion from the theory is that when we invite regressive experience, we should be more alert than ever to unconscious processes.

Therefore, providing a relational container for regressive states, primarily by the therapist recognizing and attending to transferential pressures and countertransferential reactions and responses whilst engaged in the breath work, is one of the key integrations which are generally lacking and which we want to develop.

Traditional concepts and models of transference and countertransference tend to not be very helpful in the immediacy of breath work because of their implicit paradigm bias towards the mind and mental representations, privileging reflection over spontaneity.
ReichHowever, following in Reich’s footsteps, we can consider transference and countertransference not just as having somatic aspects or being reflected in right-brain-to-right-brain interactions, but engage in them as intersubjective bodymind processes. In this perspective, psychology and biology become inseparable polarities - differentiated, but mutually related: body, emotion, psyche and mind as fractal parts of a dynamic, integral whole in relationship.

During the course, we will aim to work in such a way that these abstract notions remain alive and experience-near, through attending to the detail of the charged bodymind dynamics occurring in the therapeutic relationship and how these are reflected holographically between the various sub-systems, levels, parts and the whole via parallel process.

In the highly charged, potentially regressive context of lying down on the mattress, spontaneous and reflective, somatic and mental, habitual and emergent processes become tangibly constellated, and open into a way of working that can range across all the bodymind levels of subjective experience.

This places high demands on the therapist’s own capacity to be present between such intimate and existential extremes as wholeness and fragmentation, integration and conflict, authority and woundedness and a unified sense of self versus multiplicity. This course aims to deepen, widen and enhance therapists’ perception, understanding and creativity in these areas of intersubjective intensity and vicissitudes.

An integrative, broad-spectrum approach to the breath

These are just some brief examples to illustrate that this whole area is a minefield. It is a minefield that we cannot afford to ignore or sidestep, but we want to approach it with an understanding of the contradictions, tensions and the opposing as well as complementary principles, theories and practices.

Content of the Course

This course aims to work towards a comprehensive understanding and practice of breath work, which draws from the diverse traditions , trying to integrate them on the basis of a holistic bodymind psychological understanding. Specifically, it will include mindfulness, meditative and yoga breathing, Grof's holotropic breathing, rebirthing, vegeto therapy, and an integrative relational form of breathwork developed at the Chiron Centre focussing on bodymind and relational ‘charge’.

with and without touch, with and without focus on the breath, with various stances from allowing (biodynamic ‘impinging from within’) to challenge (bioenergetic or vegetotherapy).

Format of the Course

As all of these techniques depend upon the moment to moment engagement with the body’s spontaneous processes, an important part of the learning will be live sessions which participants will have with each other, in pairs or triads, or in the middle of the group.

As a closed group for the duration of the course, we will together build the relational container necessary for such work to become possible in an authentic way. This course will probably be offered only once and is unlikely to be repeated in this form in the future. It provides an unusual context for intensive work over a period of 18 months.

Feb
1
Sat
2020
Proposed CPD workshop: Engaging beyond therapeutic approach
Feb 1 @ 10:00 – 17:00
Proposed CPD workshop: Engaging beyond therapeutic approach @ Bristol | United Kingdom

Finding your own style within the spectrum of 21st-century psychotherapy

 

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.”

Rumi

In this session I will invite you to explore the therapeutic space beyond notions of right or wrong, beyond ideas of best theory, correct technique, practice by the book or manual.

I will invite you to use all your faculties, all your knowledge, all your woundedness and sensitivity to get a flavour of your own therapeutic style, that is free to draw fluidly and integratively from the wealth of therapeutic knowledge and expertise humans have accumulated.

As C.G. Jung said: “There should only be one Jungian therapist – me.”

Everybody else - including you and me - we need to find our own style, rooted in our own relational complexity and embodied in our own history, wounds and limitations as well as gifts and potential. As we can only find this in the moment, rather than through thinking or theory only, this session will weave between experience and reflection, between skills practice and discussion, engaging you with your next step at your growing edge.

 

We may draw from the following themes what seems most relevant and urgent.

Creating an open, inviting therapeutic space

‘Nothing human is foreign to me.’

What gets in the way of full engagement?

What limits the client’s experience of the therapeutic space?

Phenomenological enquiry into the therapist’s internal process: how is the therapist behaving habitually in ways that are, for example, fixed, limited, restrained, unresponsive or overly-giving?

Focussing on the therapist’s ‘construction’ of the therapeutic space.

Creating an effective transformative therapeutic space

‘Allowing the client’s unconscious to construct me as an object.’

What limits a full and deeply transformative process?

Phenomenological enquiry into the therapist’s external effects: how are the therapist’s responses/interventions countertherapeutic?

The doctor-friend polarity

therapy as treatment (‘medical model’) versus therapy as collusive friendship

objectifying/pathologising versus colluding/avoidant

therapy as relationship

objectifying – differentiating – identifying – colluding

The client’s conflict: habitual mode versus emergency

‘something desperately has to happen’ – ‘nothing has to happen/nothing to be imposed’

the client’s character conflicts / the ego-Self axis

A broad-spectrum integration of approaches

The shattered and fragmented postmodern wholeness

Drawing on the gifts and wisdom of the whole field (fragmentation of the field reflects the fragmented modern psyche – the integration of the client’s psyche into wholeness requires the integration of the whole field)

The history of schisms and conflicts in the psychotherapeutic field and how it affects us now

integration and dis-integration

cherry-picking approaches versus full-spectrum integration

therapeutic approach cannot be grasped by theory and technique – underlying implicit relational stance

The therapist’s habitual, wounded, fixed position

Moving beyond a one-dimensional therapeutic position

The wounded healer position

The therapist’s habitual position – inheriting the wounds of our family ancestors, our therapeutic ancestors, or cultural ancestors …

The therapist’s shadow

The dangers of integration

Shifting from therapeutic approaches to relational modalities

Gomez, Stark, Clarkson, Michael’s Diamond model: what kind of therapeutic relatedness?

Gomez: humanistic ‘alongside’ stance versus psychodynamic ‘opposite’ stance

Stark: ‘one-person psychology’, ‘one-and-a-half-person psychology’, ‘two-person psychology’

Clarkson: working alliance – authentic – reparative – transference/countertransference - transpersonal

Michael’s Diamond model: include ‘medical model’

understanding identifications - projective identification – transference and countertransference as systemic bodymind processes

Transcending dualisms and binaries into paradox

the relational paradox: transcending treatment versus relationship dualism = paradox of enactment

I-it and I-I relating

the bodymind paradox: transcending mind-over-body versus body-over-mind dualism = embodiment/disembodiment paradox

the central paradox of therapy: the healing of the client’s wounding is inseparable from the enactment of wounding in and through therapy.

The fractal self: a chain of nested matrices of parallel process

integrative/integral

relational

embodied

systemic

paradoxical

 

Proposed CPD workshop: Narcissism in Therapy
Feb 1 @ 10:00 – 17:00
Proposed CPD workshop: Narcissism in Therapy @ Bristol | United Kingdom

Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
Oh, man is opposed to fair play
He wants it all and he wants it his way.

Bob Dylan: License To Kill

 

Narcissism has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to engage with in therapy, for a variety of good reasons, not least because the very idea of ‘needing’ therapy is a humiliating insult to the grandiose self. As one of the key modern ‘disturbances of the self’, narcissism has replaced Victorian repression as the psychological disease of the age, which means that the original theories of our discipline from 100 years ago no longer quite apply. As a dominant collective issue, as exhibited by the celebrity culture all over the world and all over the media, the term ‘narcissism’ has entered pop psychology and lost all precision and meaning. In order to be clinically useful, we need to have a clear, circumscribed definition of narcissism, and its origins and manifestations.

Beyond commonplace over-simplifications, the various therapeutic traditions have widely divergent ideas and theories about narcissism, leading to quite contradictory recommendations for therapists. More than many other issues, therefore, narcissism requires an integrative stance, that can draw insights and understanding from the various approaches and combine them, to provide a comprehensive understanding and therapeutic response.

Because the narcissist tries to approximate an image of perfection (attempting to manifest a grandiose self), this leads to a chameleon-like disconnection from the body, and an objectifying, ‘perfecting’ treatment of it. For many celebrities, the body becomes an advertisement of the False Self, treated like one more fashion accessory. More than many other issues, therefore, narcissism calls for an embodied therapy, reconnecting the person to pleasurable, ordinary human reality, rather than pursuing the delusions of a disembodied virtual self.

Because the narcissist was emotionally ‘used’ by their parent(s), their individuality was never fully seen and mirrored. Therefore, in the moment where we apply a generic diagnostic label and put the narcissist into the same category with many others, we are re-inflicting a lack of individual mirroring. More than any other issue, narcissism reveals some of the shadow aspects and weaknesses of our discipline. In order to make therapy possible, we cannot afford to rely on a reasonable and supposedly realistic ego-ego alliance: we need a working alliance both with the wounded, insignificant self as well as the inflated grandiose self.

This course will provide condensed understanding extracted from the various therapeutic approaches, specifically drawing from and integrating the various psychoanalytic, the humanistic-embodied and the Jungian traditions. We will combine the theoretical input with practical, experiential work, based upon vignettes and case illustrations volunteered by participants, to explore how these ideas may be applied in practice.

We will be drawing on the following literature:

  • Jacoby, Mario (2013, Reprint edition) Individuation and Narcissism: The Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut. Routledge.
  • Johnson, S. M. (1987) Humanizing the Narcissistic Style. W.W. Norton.
  • Johnson, S. M. (1994) Character Styles. W.W. Norton.
  • Kohut, H. (2009) The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders.
  • Kohut, H. (2009) The Restoration of the Self.
  • Kernberg, O. (1984) Severe Personality Disorders: Psychotherapeutic Strategies. Yale University Press.
  • Kernberg, O. (1996) Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. Jason Aronson.
  • Otto Kernberg, On Narcissism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyP92WLLqIU ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeVMtZns5Pw
  • Lowen, A. (2004) Narcissism: Denial of the True Self. Touchstone.
  • Schwartz-Salant, N. (1982) Narcissism and Character Transformation. Inner City Books.
  • Shaw, D. (2013) Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation. Routledge.
  • Twenge, J.M. & Campbell, W.K. (2010) The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Free Press.