Calendar – One-Off CPD Events

Calendar – One-Off CPD Events2014-08-28T16:58:33+00:00

Nov
16
Sat
2019
Athens: Trauma, Gestalt, Psychoanalysis @ Athens (tbc)
Nov 16 @ 10:00 – Nov 17 @ 18:00

Since the origins of the psychotherapeutic field in the late 19th century and Freud’s discoveries, the notion of trauma has gone in and out of fashion repeatedly as a central explanatory mechanisms for the work that therapists do. Over the last 20 years, recovering from trauma has once again gained a dominant position, supported by new neurobiological understandings of the effect of trauma on the brain and the mind.

However, this focus on trauma, as helpful and necessary as it has been and continues to be, also has brought with it a great sense of urgency to ‘fix’ things and an emphasis on therapy as treatment by an expert.

Most recent advances by the modern trauma therapies, including the various somatic trauma therapies, have nudged therapy …

- away from spacious, patient being towards urgent doing,

- from exploration of the unknown towards focused goal-oriented treatment of problems

- from existential questioning towards technical answers

- and from two-person relationship towards one-person psychology treatment and the medical model

These shifts in emphasis have been counteracted, confused and concealed by a simultaneous turn towards the ‘relational’, without an understanding of the fundamental tensions between these contradictory movements.

Gestalt and field theory are capable of providing a framework that can embrace and integrate these contradictory tendencies if we combine them with modern psychoanalytic understandings of unconscious processes and intersubjectivity. However, across the diverse field of psychotherapy, Gestalt and psychoanalysis currently seems as far apart and segregated from each other as ever.

In this workshop, we will work towards an integration that can do justice to one-person psychology trauma treatment, one-and-a-half-person reparative affect regulation and countertransference interpretation as well as two-person dialogical exploration and intersubjectivity - the doing and the being of therapy integrated through a paradoxical understanding of the diverse modalities of therapeutic relating.

Workshop format

Michael has been working on re-integrating the Reichian and psychoanalytic traditions since the 1980’s and is an internationally recognised trainer in this field.

In this workshop, we will use participants’ own personal-professional experience and client material to learn experientially and theoretically, using role-plays to work through supervision vignettes in an embodied and experiential way. Michael will interweave the group process with the learning as well as skills practice, to demonstrate and teach, drawing on our shared experience in the group.

Learning Objectives

to deepen and enhance our ‘implicit relational knowing’

to deepen our awareness of the relational significance of non-verbal communication

to apply the insights of modern neuroscience to our practice

to integrate ‘one-person‘, ‘one-and-a-half-person’ and ‘two-person psychology’

to recognise oscillations in the working alliance in response to unconscious processes

to recognise transference and countertransference as bodymind processes

to understand the principles and application of the countertransference revolution

to recognise the therapeutic potential of impasses and enactments

 

Some further theoretical background:

Whereas recognising and working with the transference has been an essential aspect of the Reichian tradition, working in the transference and with the countertransference has been a neglected part of the therapeutic relationship in body-oriented work. Most humanistic therapists share with Freud the classical assumption that countertransference boils down to the therapist’s own ‘stuff’ or pathology, and is therefore best dealt with by further therapeutic work on one's own process and character as a therapist, towards authenticity or congruence.

As long as we reduce countertransference - in David Boadella’s terms – to an “interference with contact”, our work can not benefit from what the psychoanalytic tradition calls the ‘countertransference revolution’: the recognition that the transference and countertransference “interlock” (in Heinrich Racker’s terms) and that some of our experience in the therapeutic position can give us deep insight into the client’s inner world, including their early relational experiences which contributed to their character formation. This interlocking depends upon ‘somatic resonance’, but goes way beyond its traditional meaning as ‘feeling the client’s feelings’. The ‘countertransference revolution’ helps us recognise how the “client’s conflict becomes the therapist’s conflict” (Soth 1997).

The fact that the body-oriented tradition has overlooked and ignored the ‘countertransference revolution’ is curious, because it is precisely embodied perception which should enable the therapist to be much more acutely aware of the ways in which the client's unconscious experience is communicated nonverbally, subliminally - via empathic attunement, somatic resonance, projective identification - and thus appears in the countertransference.

“Within the Body Psychotherapy tradition … the relational vicissitudes of the therapeutic endeavour are still under-theorised. Thus, a holistic and phenomenological two-person psychology as bodymind process still awaits formulation.”

Nov
24
Sun
2019
OTS: The Client’s Conflict becomes the Therapist’s Conflict @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Nov 24 @ 10:00 – 17:00

OTS_header

The Therapist's Conflict: how to spot it and what to do next - a step-by-step recipe book (for processing the therapist’s dilemmas)

After previous training days ('How To Work When Therapy Isn’t Working?' as well as ‘Relational Dilemmas of First Sessions and Initial Assessments' ) we have had several enquiries and requests to take the topics further and deeper. There was a clear sense that we needed further workshops, and it was understood that Michael’s principle that “the client’s conflict becomes the therapist’s conflict” is just the first step in exploring the connection between the client’s and the therapist’s inner world in the context of the working alliance.

Three things stood out from the work we did in the small groups, as borne out by some of the feedback:

  1. as therapists we don’t always know when we are in conflict;
  2. when we do know, we often hit a blank wall - what to do or how to understand what’s going on;
  3. in order to avoid the discomfort of the conflict, we take refuge in default therapeutic interventions, routine manoeuvres and habitual stances, i.e. mechanisms which dilute the necessary charge and tension in the relationship - in doing so, we unwittingly abort the therapeutic process or precipitate ruptures in the alliance

Some of the feedback was: ‘It is scary to feel like you don’t know what to do as a therapist, so it can be a relief to not know you are in conflict.’ (this is rather reminiscent of Bion’s statement: “In every consulting room there ought to be two rather frightened people.”)

Being aware of and acknowledging our internal (countertransference) conflict as therapists feels like we’re losing our therapeutic position, and a sense that we are failing. In order to avoid the inherent sense of feeling powerless and vulnerable, we resort to our ‘habitual position’ as therapists, trying to shore up our shaky therapeutic position. One of the most common manoeuvres is to ask more questions of the client in the hope of ‘getting somewhere else’, where we can feel on safer ground. However, in doing so we then manage to fall into two further pitfalls:

- by trying to ‘move on’ or ‘hold on’ to our therapeutic position, we give the implicit message to the client that we can’t bear their pain, and can’t sit in it with them;

- because we are doing so defensively, prematurely and without awareness or preparation, our interventions precipitate us further into enactment: we fall down on one or the other side of our conflict, and fail to ‘hold’ the conflict, or to catch the rupture we are entangled in.

This training day will develop your capacity to be aware of your conflict as a therapist and learn to ‘sit in it’ without dissociating or going unconscious through overwhelmed by pressure, fear or shame. It then becomes more possible to extract the precious information which the therapist’s conflict contains about the relational dynamic and the client’s inner world.

What you can expect to learn on the day …

  • register significant and charged moments in the relationship
  • understand these moments in the context of the three kinds of contact
  • attend to your internal process and sense of conflict in moments of intensifying charge
  • collect in these moments bodymind information which would otherwise remain subliminal
  • link these moments to the client’s habitual relational patterns
  • perceive the ways in which the client’s wounding enters the consulting room
  • process the charge and pressure impacting on the therapist
  • begin to consider interventions for relieving or intensifying the enactment pressure

Format of the day:

Lunch: As usual we will arrange a bring and share lunch in the week before the event.

Apr
11
Sat
2020
Proposed CPD workshop: Working with Illness in Psychotherapy
Apr 11 @ 10:00 – Apr 12 @ 18:00

The bodymind connection in working with psychosomatic and physical symptoms

A weekend workshop in Athens with Michael Soth

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.