Events for ALL Counsellors & Psychotherapists

Events for ALL Counsellors & Psychotherapists2014-08-28T16:24:06+00:00

Jan
15
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Jan 15 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

Jan
19
Sat
2019
OTS: The Client’s Conflict becomes the Therapist’s Conflict @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Jan 19 @ 10:00 – 17:00

OTS_header

How to spot it and what to do next - a step-by-step recipe book (for processing the therapist’s dilemmas)

Three things stood out from a recent OTS training workshop and the work we did in the small groups (as born 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 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 usually feels like we’re losing our therapeutic position and 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 'eliciting further information' or ‘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 being 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.

Format of the day:

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

Proposed CPD workshop: Mastering the Technique of Two-chair Work @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre (tbc)
Jan 19 @ 10:00 – Jan 20 @ 17:00
Feb
2
Sat
2019
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed) @ The Nebula
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.

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

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Feb
12
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Feb 12 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

Mar
2
Sat
2019
How to Work when Therapy isn’t Working @ Brighton, East Sussex
Mar 2 @ 10:00 – 16:30

HelplessShakespearePerceiving and understanding 'enactment' in the therapeutic relationship

Over recent years the most exciting developments in our field have come via neuroscience, psychotherapy integration (i.e. cross-fertilisation between approaches) and the inclusion of the body. We now understand that whatever psychological wounds the client is bringing to us and into the consulting room, we will in some ways become involved and implicated with them in ways that go far beyond verbal interaction. The term ‘enactment’ is being used to describe the ways in which the therapist is - inevitably and necessarily - drawn into the client’s wounding, leading to impasses and breakdowns in the working alliance.
There is great therapeutic potential in these cycles of rupture and repair that occur in the client-therapist relationship, but much of it occurs subliminally. So if it occurs unconsciously, outside of awareness, how can we perceive and understand enactment and respond creatively from within it? Whilst there are a multitude of ways of ignoring, avoiding and counteracting enactment, there is also increasing understanding that it has deep transformative potential*.

This CPD workshop is dedicated to deepening our engagement with difficult dynamics in the therapeutic relationship, and to finding ways of accessing the therapeutic potential locked within them. It is open to all practising therapists, and suitable for practitioners from all modalities.

What you can expect to learn on the day …

  • perceive the ways in which the client’s wound enters the consulting room
  • register significant and charged moments in the relationship
  • understand these moments in the context of the ‘three kinds of contact'
  • collect in these moments bodymind information which would otherwise remain subliminal
  • collect in these moments images, fantasies, scenarios, narratives which deepen our engagement from within the enactment
  • link these moments to the client’s habitual relational patterns
  • process the charge and pressure impacting on the therapist
  • begin to consider interventions for relieving or intensifying the enactment pressure

* ‘Deep’ psychotherapy, according to Allan Schore, for example (i.e. therapy that addresses early developmental injury and attachment and character patterns) depends on apprehending, engaging in and transforming spontaneous enactments which occur in the interaction between client and therapist inspite of the client’s repressive and dissociative defences

Organisers: Brighton Therapy Partnership

This workshop is expertly organised by Shelley Holland from Brighton Therapy Partnership, who has been running an inspiring and well-attended CPD programme for many years now. You can find some feedback in response to previous workshops on Michael's tutor page there.

 

Mar
5
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Mar 5 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or 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
2
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Apr 2 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

Apr
6
Sat
2019
Athens: Integrative Embodied-Relational Trauma Work with Morit Heitzler (tbc) @ Athens (tbc)
Apr 6 @ 10:00 – Apr 7 @ 17:00
Apr
30
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Apr 30 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

May
28
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
May 28 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

Jun
25
Tue
2019
Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups @ Fulcrum House
Jun 25 @ 13:30 – 15:30

Bristol Monthly Small Supervision Groups

Integrative, experiential supervision groups with Michael Soth

These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis (Tuesdays) 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).

Currently 1 place available (from 4 Dec 2018) in Group 3 - 15.45-17.45 - suits experienced therapist

For further information, see the dedicated page or download the leaflet

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
28
Sat
2019
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed) @ The Nebula,
Sep 28 @ 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.

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 with Michael Soth

exploring differentiated bodymind awareness of client, therapist and the relationship between them

This workshop will be an opportunity to explore how your embodied experience and perception contribute to your way of working as a therapist.

  • How much of your awareness - when you are engaged in the relationship with a client – is attentive to the process between the two bodies (or better: the two bodyminds)?
  • From your moment-to-moment perceptions of the two bodyminds, how do you extract meaningful information relevant to the therapeutic process?
  • How can this information help us to deepen the relationship and the process and make it more effective?
  • How can it give us a context for making therapeutic decisions about whether or not to touch or be touched, and if so, how?

The neglected bodies in the ‘talking therapies’

Over the last 20 years, a variety of influences from infant research, trauma studies and neuroscience have given us hints and ideas that all cognition is embodied and embedded, and relies on non-verbal and implicit processes. This has major implications for the therapeutic relationship and the talking therapies. There has been an increasing recognition in principle that the bias towards the left-brain verbal-reflective mind is to the detriment of the connection and coherence, the depth and effectiveness of whatever therapy we practice.

How to work with the body in practice?

However, it is one thing to appreciate and validate ideas like implicit relational knowing, right-brain-to-right-brain attunement and the embodied dance of primary intersubjectivity between infant and caregiver. It is quite another thing to apply these ideas in the nitty-gritty of everyday practice, with a complex, contradictory, inhibited and inhibiting client sitting right in front of us, who is nothing like a spontaneous, cuddly infant. In the heat of the moment, we are likely to retreat from the confusing and overwhelming mixture of the client’s and the therapist’s multitude of bodymind signals, and resort to the supposed safety of received wisdom: in our profession that predominantly still means a disembodied therapeutic presence and disembodying contact.

Embodied Relating - the ground of psychotherapy

However, whether we are aware of it or not, pre-reflexive and non-verbal bodymind processes shape and structure our consciousness and our presence and behaviour as therapists. For better or worse, it is largely these processes neglected in the ‘talking therapies’ which determine the atmosphere of the relational container we are co-creating a whole lot more than our thoughts and intentions. The therapeutic space we offer is only minimally affected by our models and theories and our left-brain cognitive rationales and reflections. Although in principle embodied relating is now recognised the ground of psychotherapy (see: Nick Totton’s 2018 book “Embodied Relating”), the return of the repressed body is not a smooth affair (see: Soth, M. (2010) The Return of the Repressed Body - Not a Smooth Affair. UKCP Journal 'The Psychotherapist', Autumn 2010).

Our ambivalent relationship to the body

The idea of embodiment is largely misunderstood, and in conscientious therapists’ minds often becomes another ideal or requirement to live up to or another stick to beat oneself with. This professional pressure occurs on top of whatever ambivalent relationship we may personally have with our own body. After all, therapists themselves are not free from the cultural struggles around the ‘hard problem’ of the mind versus the body, each of us identifying with as well as against our bodies in degrees, generating a wide variety of suffering in relation to our body, including fears, compulsions, entitlements, shame and hatred.

It is not the idea or any philosophy of the body, but attention to the complexity and paradoxical nature of actual embodiment and disembodiment as process that can become liberating, expansive and creative for therapists, lending our work depth, impact, joy and authority as well as sustainability. Whilst ideas from neuroscience may awaken and validate our interest in bottom-up embodied process, they do little to help us access our own ‘implicit relational knowing’ or translate such knowledge and insight into everyday practice.

The idealised body - a healthy mind in a healthy body?

The only way of effectively investigating, evolving and stretching our bodymind sensitivities, perceptions and awareness – as people and as therapists - is in the here & now through experiential engagement. This is not an enticing prospect for everybody, although experiential learning is generally accepted as an important principle when it comes to the bodymind.

Historically, body-‘experts’ have a habit of taking their embodiment agenda for granted and as a result often take a somewhat missionary position in dispensing their wisdom. The body-oriented traditions have had a tendency to pursue an idealised image of the body, along the lines of the Roman saying: ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’, which easily becomes a dangerously normative imposition (in fact, the European, and especially German, origins of these therapeutic traditions are uncomfortably mixed up with Fascist ideas of racial supremacy).

However, embodiment does not necessarily imply a perfectly fit or manicured or gym-trained body. We also want to be embodied in our pain and desire, in our limitations and vulnerability – something often neglected in a dominantly narcissistic culture, where the celebrity appearance of the body becomes an objectified fashion accessory or an advertisement for the self. Embodiment in psychotherapy is not meant to be a branding exercise by which the mind in top-down hubris imposes its goals (however noble they may be in the therapeutic realm) onto the body – embodiment is not only about having a body, but being and inhabiting the body we are.

Format of the workshop

So for the purposes of therapists’ CPD learning, to clarify the safety and parameters of the relational space we are entering into for such a workshop becomes as important an issue as for a client entering into therapy.

For this 1-day workshop we will focus on a simple distinction between spontaneous versus reflective processes throughout the bodymind, and how the tension between the two plays out in the relational dynamic between client and therapist moment-to-moment. We will use the diamond model of diverse relational modalities (Michael’s further evolution of Petruska Clarkson’s ideas) to bring a neglected relational perspective to the question of touch between client and therapist, i.e. different kinds of touch corresponding to different relational spaces in therapy.

Practicalities:

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

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.

 

 

Dec
8
Sun
2019
North London – Ongoing Integrative CPD Group (currently closed) @ The Nebula
Dec 8 @ 10:00 – 17:00

An ongoing, broad-spectrum integrative group

This semi-closed group has been running for several years now, since 2015, 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.

Jan
31
Fri
2020
Proposed CPD workshop: 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.
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.