Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events2017-03-31T22:36:16+00:00

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Nov
17
Sat
2018
Athens: Embodied perspectives on couples and couple work @ Vasilisis Sofia 51
Nov 17 @ 10:00 – Nov 18 @ 18:00
Athens: Embodied perspectives on couples and couple work @ Vasilisis Sofia 51 | Athens | Greece

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

on extending your practice from individuals to couples

suitable for all counsellors and therapists from across all therapeutic approaches

Couple work presents many additional challenges beyond individual therapy, but this weekend will condense the essentials into accessible form, focusing especially on the advantages which an embodied and integrative therapeutic perspective can bring to couple work.

An embodied perspective can significantly enhance couple work, in all aspects of the process: in terms of the therapist’s perceptive skills, our understanding of the dynamic as well as powerful opportunities for intervention. The habitual patterns and vicious circles which couples struggle with are mainly triggered, communicated and perpetuated on non-verbal and pre-reflexive levels (as interpersonal neurobiology shows – see references).

For most couples, mutual projective identifications occur subliminally and are difficult to notice and bring into awareness, especially when the couple therapist traditionally relies on ‘talking therapy’ methods and interpretations.

An integrative approach allows the therapist a creative range of interventions – using techniques from Gestalt, constellations, process-oriented psychology to help the couple discover experientially both the roots of their patterns as well as new ways of relating.

Michael will propose a distinction of the field into 8 kinds of couple therapy, drawing on a wide variety of humanistic, interpersonal, neuro-biological, systemic, and psychoanalytic approaches, all of which can be useful and contribute to a more comprehensive integration.

Some of the topics we may address:

  • “Can Love Last?” (after the book by Stephen Mitchell) – the vulnerability of attachment and commitment
  • the promise of falling in love: the other will provide protection against woundedness
  • embodied awareness of each partner’s internal object relations
  • complex vicious cycles of child – idealised parent – bad parent - child
  • mutual projective identifications (how the partners ‘dream each other up’)
  • the systemic fit: who the partners represent in each other’s family system
  • the Jungian and transpersonal perspective: each partner can become the other’s guide towards individuation (which involves as a side-effect of the relationship the destroying of each other’s defences)
  • Esther Perel’s contributions to our understanding of infidelity and erotic desire

Michael Soth has been developing his version of Embodied Integrative Couple Work over the last 12 years, and has worked with a wide variety of couples. He is an integral-relational Body Psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor (UKCP), living in Oxford, UK. Over the last 32 years he has been teaching on a range of counselling and therapy training courses, alongside working as Training Director at the Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy.

Inheriting concepts, values and ways of working from both psychoanalytic and humanistic traditions, he is interested in the therapeutic relationship as a bodymind process between two people who are both wounded and whole.

In his work and teaching, he integrates an unusually wide range of psychotherapeutic approaches, working towards a broad-spectrum integration of all therapeutic modalities and approaches, each with their gifts, wisdoms and expertise as well as their shadow aspects, fallacies and areas of obliviousness.

Extracts from his published writing as well as hand-outs, blogs and summaries of presentations are available through his website for INTEGRA CPD: www.integra-cpd.co.uk.

Interview on couple work

In preparation for the CPD workshop on couple work in Athens, Michael is interviewed by a Greek colleague:

  • Michael, why do we need companionship? Is it an innate need or just something we learned from society and we are trying to reproduce it?
  • Are there some distinct stages that interpersonal relationships go through? If so, can you summarize them?
  • In the description of your seminar I read with surprise that “one of the purposes / side-effects of the relationship is to destroy each other’s defences”. Can you elaborate?
  • Michael, according to your experience, what are the reasons why many people prefer to stay in a existing relationship that doesn’t offer anything any more, rather than set a new course and go for a better relationship?
  • Many times I have wondered in my life: am I falling in love with the person that I see in front of me or the longings and expectations that this person is producing in me? Am I falling in love with the other or an imaginary part of myself? Is there a way to distinguish one case from the other?
  • Is love enough by itself to keep a relationship going?
  • In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that therapists and mental health professionals make when approaching couple therapy?
  • You talk about embodied couple therapy - what is that and how does it work? What does an embodied approach have to offer in addition to the talking therapies for couples?
  • Is learning about couple work useful only to couple therapists?

You can access the PDF with the interview here.

References for Couple Therapy

Stephen Mitchell (Relational Psychoanalysis): Can Love Last?

Esther Perel:

Mating in Captivity

The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

Esther Perel website

Esther Perel TED talk

James Hillman: see chapter ‘Abandonment in Marriage’ in Loose Ends: Primary Papers in Archetypal Psychology

A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy:

Stan Tatkin https://thepactinstitute.com

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy:

Sue Johnson: http://drsuejohnson.com/emotionally-focused-therapy-2/what-is-eft/

https://www.psychotherapy.net/article/couples-therapy-attachment

Imago Therapy:

Harville Hendrix, PhD: Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples

http://imagorelationships.org/pub/

http://imagorelationships.org/pro/

Couples Therapist Hedy Schleifer:

“Couples Therapist Hedy Schleifer, along with her husband Yumi Schleifer, are expert relationship coaches who lead workshops for couples, and trainings for therapists and organizations, transforming relationships worldwide.”

Psychoanalytic (Tavistock) perspectives on relationships

Stanley Ruszczynski

Psychotherapy With Couples: Theory and Practice at the Tavistock Institute of Marital Studies

Jungian perspectives on love

Robert A. Johnson

She: Understanding Feminine Psychology

He: Understanding Masculine Psychology

We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love

The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding The Wounded Feeling Function In Masculine And Feminine Psychology

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman

Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul

Jean Shinoda Bolen

Goddesses in Everywoman: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives

Nathan Schwartz-Salant

Schwartz-Salant, N. (1998) The Mystery of Human Relationship: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self

Family Therapy

Virginia Satir:

(1991) The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond (Science and Behavior Books)

(2008) Your Many Faces: The First Step to Being Loved (Celestial Arts)

Salvador Minuchin:

Mastering Family Therapy: Journeys of Growth and Transformation

The Craft of Family Therapy: Challenging Certainties

Family Constellations

Bert Hellinger:

Love's Hidden Symmetry: What Makes Love Work in Relationships - The Order of Love

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

Exeter: Embodied Approaches to Therapeutic Theories of Developmental Wounding and Habitual Patterns

This workshop, designed for counsellors and psychotherapists from across the approaches, is an opportunity to work with and learn from one of the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy in the UK. Rather than grafting the body onto established practice as one more eclectic technique, Michael has 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 2019. It is likely that the group will continue in 2020 with another series of weekends.

The presenting past

The majority of humanistic and integrative approaches these days relies on developmental theory in the way that psychoanalytic traditions have always done. We see the client's current problems in their adult life as intricately linked to life-long habitual patterns that originated in childhood. We see the client's capacity for engaging in their adult life as a result and as a function of their developmental wounding and importantly as a function of their defences against that wounding. We assume these defensive habits were established early on and continue to influence or dominate the person's present reality; in the words of a famous psychodynamic textbook, we could summarise this widely established focus on developmental injury across the various therapeutic approaches as the 'presenting past'.

Different therapeutic approaches have developed different jargons and languages to describe these patterns from the past: working models, RIG's, schemas, scripts, ego states, contact disturbances, complexes, attachment styles, character structures and many more.

Differences & contradictions between the models

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

The diverse traditions (psychoanalytic developmental theory, attachment theory, character structure theory, TA, intersubjectivity, relationality) each have their assumptions, conceptual frames, jargon terms, and their particular gifts and shadow aspects in disclosing or occluding certain areas of the field of relating between client and therapist. How the myriad complex 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 conceptually 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.

Grounding different therapeutic approaches to habitual patterns of relating in bodymind process

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, self-states and mutual recognition, habitual patterns, etc) as bodymind processes.

This may allow us to build an experience-near 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

This could include a process of comparing & contrasting:

  • attachment theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth, Holmes)
  • character structure theory (Reich, Lowen, Kurtz & Johnson)
  • Transactional Analysis developmental theory (ego-states and scripts)
  • psychoanalytic developmental theory (including Kleinian and object relations)
  • intersubjectivity (Atwood & Stolorow, Orange) & relational psychoanalysis (Mitchell, Aron, Bromberg, and others)

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.

The weekend is a unique introduction to the overlaps and differences (and possible synergies) between the different models which therapists commonly use to make sense of their experience in the therapeutic relationship. This includes especially attachment theory, character structure theory, TA and relational modalities. All these 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 these 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.

For detailed information, download the leaflet.

 

Mar
30
Sat
2019
Exeter: The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities – Weekend 1 @ The Wheelhouse
Mar 30 @ 10:00 – Mar 31 @ 16:00
Apr
6
Sat
2019
Athens: Integrative Embodied-Relational Trauma Work with Morit Heitzler (tbc) @ Athens (tbc)
Apr 6 @ 10:00 – Apr 7 @ 17:00
Sep
14
Sat
2019
Exeter: The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities – Weekend 2
Sep 14 @ 10:00 – Sep 15 @ 16:00

Exeter: The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities (Weekend 2 of 3)

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 2019.

It is likely that the group will continue in 2020 with another series of four weekends.

Sep
29
Sun
2019
OTS Oxford: Embodiment & Touch @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Sep 29 @ 10:00 – 17:00

OTS_header

A 1-day CPD workshop exploring differentiated bodymind awareness of client, therapist and relationship

Details to follow soon ....

Format of the day:

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

Feb
8
Sat
2020
Exeter: The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities – Weekend 3
Feb 8 @ 10:00 – Feb 9 @ 16:00

Exeter: The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities (Weekend 2 of 3)

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 2019.

It is likely that the group will continue in 2020 with another series of four weekends.

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.