This weekend CPD group, organised by experienced TA therapist Judy Shaw in Devon around Exeter (the weekends will take place at Judy's place in Offwell near Honiton), will run throughout 2019 and into 2020, with different weekends led by Michael Soth and other trainers.
3 weekends led by Michael will constitute a mini-series on 'relational stances, spaces & modalities' bringing embodied therapeutic awareness to the foundations of relational psychotherapy. There will be an additional weekend in May 2019, a particular request for a CPD event on working with the breath.
Dates for 2019 - 2020
- 1 & 2 December 2018: Embodied Approaches to Therapeutic Theories of Developmental Wounding and Habitual Patterns: Michael
- 30 & 31 March 2019 - Weekend 1 of 'Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities': Michael
- 25 & 26 May 2019 - Working with the Breath in Psychotherapy - CPD Weekend with Michael
- 14/15 September 2019 - Weekend 2 of 'Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities': Michael
- 8/9 February 2020 - Weekend 3 of 'Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities': Michael
The Embodiment of Relational Stances, Spaces & Modalities
A 3-weekend course with Michael Soth
The notion of 'relational modalities' originated in the early 1990’s with Petruska Clarkson, and was one of the most coherent manifestations of the paradigm shift towards two-person psychology. However, whilst it usefully shifts the ‘talking cure’ towards the ‘relating cure’ (thus organising the therapeutic profession around the principle that “it is the relationship that matters”), what is lacking in this formulation of relationality is the bodymind connection.
That particular lack of embodiment then tends towards lending all the diverse kinds of therapeutic relating - and the search for meaning through them - a decidedly mental-reflective bias across the talking therapies. Without embodied presence, we can reflect on relational dynamics until we are blue in the face, it’s unlikely to engender sustained bodymind process and development, let alone holistic transformation. Embodied trauma and character defences are unlikely to yield towards recovery or wholeness through the dominance of insight. Circular, disconnected thinking, intellectualising, rationalising and plain dissociation are then given too much weight in the therapeutic process, depriving it of spontaneity, authenticity and emergent process, as well as the felt sense of depth and coherence.
An expanded model of relational modalities
Clarkson originally differentiated five modalities: working alliance, person-to-person, reparative, transference-countertransference, transpersonal. We will add to that the ‘medical model’ as a valid way of helpful relating in therapy, and then explore how our habitual assumptions and positions – inherited down the generations of therapeutic subcultures – open up, limit or close down particular relational spaces between client and therapist. Michael has been extending and developing further Clarkson’s model into his ‘diamond model’, which will be the foundation for this course.
The bodies’ spontaneous, pre- and non-verbal perceptions as the ground of relational reflections
Our main avenue into such exploration will be via attention to the bodymind detail of relational stances of client and therapist in relation to each other, leading to reflections on relational dynamics between them. These dynamics manifest and are represented in our mind and communicated between our minds in terms of metaphors and images: largely of figures and characters and their scenarios and stories. However, these images, fantasies and narratives which populate our therapeutic descriptions and reflections are rooted in bodymind gestures, feelings and sensations - the ground and raw material of our imagination lies in spontaneous, pre- and non-verbal perceptions and body awareness.
Learning through our bodies
As is the case with character, it is only when we grasp relational stances and positions in our own bodymind that relational modalities start to become meaningful and useable tools for the therapist. It is only our moment-to-moment bodymind experience which gives us full access to the co-creation and co-construction of the relational space. Therefore this short course will be strongly experiential in its focus, and rooted in attention to bodymind processes.
Rooting and grounding the relational dynamics of the helping relationship in the body
The course is open to any interested practitioners of psychotherapy, counselling and/or other bodymind approaches, indeed anybody who wants to ground their understanding of the relational dynamics of the helping relationship in bodymind process, at every step of the therapist's stream of consciousness: perception, understanding and reflection, as well as therapeutic responses and interventions.
Towards an integrative embodied-relational therapy
For about 100 years after Freud first developed the ‘talking cure’, modern psychology, counselling and psychotherapy has remained focused on verbal communication and the cognitive, reflective mind (insight, understanding, rational choices, mental meaning-making). The talking therapies – for all their profound models and gifts accumulated over the decades – are limited in their perspective and effect, for example, in terms of relation to raw distress and deep feelings, developmental and engrained character patterns, psychosomatic issues and trauma as well as creative personal development.
Beyond the talking therapies
For the last 20 years, however, we are beginning to understand that therapy is not mainly a left- brain activity: right-brain-to-right-brain attunement (A. Schore), ‘implicit relational knowing’, the ‘feeling of what happens’ (D. Stern), mirror neurons and non-verbal communication, and the non-dualistic re-visioning of the body-mind relationship (e.g. A. Damasio, D. Siegel) have put embodiment at the heart of the therapeutic endeavour. As implied in the title of Nick Totton’s new book “Embodied Relating” (October 2015), embodiment is the ground of psychotherapy. The challenge now is how to (re-)integrate embodiment into the ‘talking therapies’, to the benefit of both traditions.
Embodiment - the ground of psychotherapy
Attending to embodiment in the consulting room – the client’s and the therapist’s, and the embodied field created between them – has far-reaching implications for everything we experience, think, feel and do in everyday practice, allowing us to re-conceptualise transference and countertransference as embodied experiences. The whole spectrum of the bodymind (sensation-emotion-imagination-cognition-intuition) becomes available as communication channels, allowing creative and spontaneous ways of working that are experience-near, deeply felt and therefore more engaging and potentially transformative. However, with the body now ‘in fashion’, the undifferentiated inclusion of new ‘body techniques’ can also create new and deeper problems for therapists. Rather than grafting embodiment onto established practice as one more eclectic tool, Michael has been working towards a non-dualistic embodied way of being and relating in the therapeutic relationship for many years.
Experiential process-oriented learning
These workshops are an opportunity to work with one the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy in the UK. The learning process in the groups will be based on the same embodied-relational principles, working experientially with emerging process individually and collectively, modelling the therapeutic approach itself.
This training is being initiated with a view to forming an ongoing group (beyond 2016), thus providing an ideal container for your continuing professional development, rooted in your own embodied process. The residential weekend format allows for a safer, more cohesive group experience than ordinary CPD workshops and is designed to facilitate deeper personal-professional learning.
Soth, M. (2010) The Return of the Repressed Body – Not a Smooth Affair. UKCP Journal 'The Psychotherapist', Autumn 2010
Totton, N. (2014) Embodied Relating. International Body Psychotherapy Journal, 13(2)
Totton, N. (Karnac, October 2015) Embodied Relating: The Ground of Psychotherapy
For full booking information, including venues and costs, download the leaflet (including booking form)
Course content enquiries - Judy Shaw:
e: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 01404 831007
Administration enquiries - Clare Brook: