A full audience of TAP members and guests attended to Paul Sunderland’s most engaging presentation ‘Introduction to modern addictions’; held in the contemplative setting of the Friends Meeting House in Taunton.
With 30 years’ experience of working, researching and managing in the field of addictions, Paul provided many thought provoking insights into addiction; possible origins, treatment process and the place of the therapist.
He provided an introduction to conditions of substance misuse, finance, couple relationships, romance, love and sex addiction. It was fascinating to learn of the basic criteria that define and describe addiction as a disease and how these symptoms are shared with a wide range of compulsion processes.
There is a preoccupation, a loss of control; abstinence, tolerance, withdrawal and impact of functioning, possibly leading to symptoms of depression and anxiety, relational and legal issues – all amounting to a ‘full time job’.
Addition can be described as a ‘migrating disease’, often showing up as a dis-ease in other areas of life.
Treatment approaches begin with addictions of ingestion, abstinence, the disease process and the underlying trauma, or dis-ease. Group therapy as well as individual has been found to be effective in treatment and we heard how ‘people get well in counter-transference’.
Therapists may remind themselves that in order to be effective and compassionate require three basic elements: learning. Supervision and work on themselves.
Paul referred to addictive experience as ‘a thing’. Individuals are not bad, or weak, but primarily unwell. Behind it all tend to lay negative cognitions and un-thought knowns. The limbic brain stores trauma. There is a suggestion that we have many brains and that in the case of addictive conditions, the limbic brain acts before the frontal cortex has a chance.
‘You can’t change what you don’t know’.
Psychotherapy and counselling aid and support the knowing.
A vote of thanks on behalf of the TAP Council, members and guests was followed by copious applause and no doubt, plenty to think about.
Feedback showed that over 90% of attendees thought both the workshop and Paul Sunderland as speaker were 'Excellent'.
Exploring the dilemmas of disclosure in 'coming out' in family, couple relationships and in therapy - a TAP Talk by Dr Damian McCann
On 20 January, TAP Council member Andrew Wilcox welcomed fellow members and guests to the first talk of the New Year with the exciting news that tickets for the TAP Conference on 18 March at Taunton Racecourse were selling fast. Outlining the excellent speakers that are attending and the sumptuous lunch that will be provided, Andrew shared with the audience TAP’s Council’s belief that the conference was on track to be an outstanding occasion.
The evening’s presentation was given by Dr Damian McCann and was entitled `Exploring the dilemmas of disclosure in 'coming out' in family, couple relationships and in therapy` Damian is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist working as Head of Clinical Services at the Tavistock Centre, London and works with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual clients. The audience heard how there is a clear distinction between `coming out` and `being out` but both positions can still carry social stigma which in turn can attract discrimination even from one’s own family.
With the aid of slides, Dr McCann explained that often an individual may have suffered so much anxiety, guilt and shame that they reach a breaking point where they no longer want to hide an essential part of themselves. `Coming out` is said to an evolutionary process and not a single goal oriented event and is considered a psychologically healthy state for individuals as well as an important developmental task for the well-being of the individual’s future relationships and the identity of the self.
Damian’s presentation moved into ethical dilemmas, which gave the audience the chance to think hard about what they would do in these situations and how they might be taken to supervision. This interesting and highly informative evening was rounded off by TAP’s council members serving hot beverages and biscuits.
The next TAP talk will take place on 17 February when Farhad Dalal presents `The relational and the analytic: an inquiry into Practice`. This talk will examine the two paradigms of ‘analytical’ and ‘relational’ and raise questions of `kind` and `degree`. All are very welcome.
David Trott, TAP Council Member
'The Phone Call From Hell` - the therapist’s reaction to when a sex offender calls - A TAP Talk by Juliet Grayson
Report by David Trott Tap Council Member.
On 14 October, TAP members and guests had another opportunity to expand their own Continuing Professional Development when Juliet Grayson presented her talk entitled `The Phone Call From Hell` - the title reflecting a Therapist’s possible reaction to when a sex offender calls.
Juliet is co-founder and chair of StopSo (Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) which is a not for profit organisation that is working to stop sexual offending through therapy. StopSo has formed a nationwide network of therapists who are trained to work with anyone who is concerned about their sexual behaviour and feels that they may be at risk of committing a sexual offence, or re-offending.
Although hugely busy with StopSo, Juliet explained that her main work as a psychotherapist lies with couples who are experiencing sexual problems in their relationship. She is also an accomplished author and one of the most experienced practitioners of Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy in the UK.
The evening commenced with some audience participation in the form of a quiz entitled `Sex, Statistics and the Law`. This gave participants the opportunity to test themselves in current law with regard to sexual offending in the UK. The cleverly compiled twenty questions produced some head scratching and a few surprises when the correct answers were revealed. This resulted in the mild suspicion that there were possibly some gaps in the audience’s knowledge.
Later a video of Dr James Cantor, who is a Canadian clinical psychologist and sexologist was shown. In this, he discusses the work which has been done to understand the minds of paedophiles as well as some common physical characteristics, such as lower IQ, left handedness and below average height.
Juliet revealed that there are only around 86,000 places in UK prisons and so it’s not possible to incarcerate every offender. This simple fact highlighted the value of the work of StopSo and other similar organisations in this field.
The slides from Juliet's presentation are available to download HERE.
Tea and coffee were served afterwards which gave everyone the chance to discuss and reflect on yet another superb presentation. The next TAP Talk is on18 November when Dr Sue Whitcombe presents Smoke Without Fire: The challenges of identifying and working with Parental Alienation. All are very welcome.
Extra chairs were needed on 16 September to accommodate a pleasing number of TAP members and guests to a presentation entitled `Understanding and Recognising Sex Addiction` by Nick Turner. Nick is a Sexual & Relationship Psychotherapist and Sex Addiction Therapist and explained that his work encompasses clients of all social differences, ages and genders.
The audience heard how sex addiction is defined as any sexual activity that is used to modulate emotion and which `feels` out of control with an inability to stop or stay stopped, despite significant harmful consequences. It’s also seen as an unhealthy relationship with a mood-altering experience, however it was stressed that it is not the activity that defines addiction but the dependency upon it.
Nick explained how our brains become addicted by the creation of Neural Pathways that `wire` the brain from sexual activity such as porn, which then becomes an optimum source of dopamine to the dependent person. This can lead to increased shame that increases the desire to escape painful feelings with more of the chosen activity.
The impact on partners was discussed and this included the damage to intimacy and the sexual relationship, the reigniting of old wounds, the compromising of parenting and the triggering of unwanted behaviours or other addictions within the partner. Unsurprisingly common reactions include shock, betrayal, disgust, isolation, despair and hopelessness, many of which closely resemble bereavement.
Thankfully, there are many treatment options for those considered to have a sex addiction and these include individual Counselling/Psychotherapy, Group Therapy, Group Support – 12 step or similar and Couples Counselling.
In his vote of thanks, TAP council member Ian Stevenson said that this is what TAP is all about i.e. the provision of quality speakers, who in turn provide useful and long lasting information for people to take away with them and use in their work. A very sociable tea and coffee time concluded the evening.
Nick Turner's presentation is available to download HERE
The next TAP Talk takes place on October 14th 2016 when JULIET GRAYSON presents `The phone call from hell: What do we do as a therapist when a sex offender calls? ` All are welcome. David Trott TAP Council Member
A Sexual Taboo: working with Sexually Harmful (Perpetrator) behaviour in people who have experienced Sexual Abuse -A TAP Talk by Angela McCormack
On 20th February TAP welcomed Angela McCormack to talk on A Sexual Taboo: working with Sexually Harmful (Perpetrator) behaviour in people who have experienced Sexual Abuse. This difficult topic explored what can happen when a personal experience leads to repetition in some form towards others. Throughout the talk Angela asked us to have a moment of reflection, to pay attention to our bodies and feelings. This is essential when working with this client group who often use disassociation to survive their own experiences.
Angela covered understanding ‘Sexually Harmful Behaviour’, various theoretical frameworks and working with this client group using case studies. Different definitions are available and age appropriate. We must always consider the following: consent including age and level of understanding, equality, power, authority/control, coercion/co-operation, compliance, and criminal offence.
Statistics provided by the NSPCC and Radford et al. dispelled some of the myths in the media. 66% of children who experience sexually harmful behaviour experience at the hands of other children. 80% of 11-17 year olds have not told anyone about their experiences from a peer. Over 86% of children who display sexually harmful behaviour and receive treatment are unlikely to go onto to sexually offend in adult life.
There is a fine line between good and evil as shown in all cultures throughout history and this cuts through us all. We were shown a mandala of angels and demons highlighting that we can see both and were asked what defines our identity.
Working in this area we need to be aware of the legal, ethical and moral frameworks, safeguarding and resourcing, effective supervision, a strong ethical framework, CPD, work life balance, personal and professional support and healthy boundaries. This is a complex subject and Angela is an experienced and enlightening speaker and she has kindly made the slides from her talk available HERE
Our next talk is on April 17th when Matthew Neave will talk about PTSD experiences by ex-servicemen. The talk will start at 7.45pm at Taunton United Reform Church, Paul Street. All welcome
TAP is pleased to announce that after detailed discussions the theme and speakers for the 2015 conference have been finalised.
On Saturday the 16th May 2015, at Taunton Racecourse, we will be welcoming Fay Maxted and Zoe Lodrick to speak on the them 'Healing the trauma of sexual abuse', an issue that is at last being given the wider recognition many therapists have called for for years.
Fay Maxted is Chief Executive of The Survivor's Trust, a national umbrella agency for over 135 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse support organisations throughout the UK and Ireland. It works to provide support and networking for member agencies; deliver accredited training; raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse and its effect on survivors, their supporters and society at large; promote effective responses to rape and sexual abuse on a local, regional and national level. Fay speaks regularly on the subject, and raises awareness of the issue in the media.
Zoe Lodrick has over 19 years experience of working therapeutically with women and men who have experienced sexualised trauma(s). She provides training and consultation to most police forces in England and Wales and to many other professionals including Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs), Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), Counsellors and Crisis Workers. She has been commissioned by a number of police forces and CPS areas to provide expert testimony, explaining victim behaviour in rape, kidnap and domestic abuse cases.
We are looking forward to hearing these two top flight speakers offer the benefit of their experience and offer much to think about and take away from the day.
As soon as the programme is finalised in the new year we will be sure to let you know. In the meantime, do get in touch if you would like to be put on our mailing list for receipt of conference booking details as soon as they are available.
On Friday 17th October, the members of the Taunton Association for Psychotherapy (TAP) welcomed Dr Damian McCann, an analytical Psychotherapist from St Albans, to speak about the complex subject of responding to the needs of lesbians, gay men, bisexual (LGB), trans-sexual, and inter-sex clients in the counselling room.
Dr McCann began with a brief history of how anyone who was not heterosexual was considered in need of a ‘cure’ until relatively recently. Surgery was also used from time to time “to remove the offending part of the brain”. Aversion therapy was thought to be the way forward to “put someone right”. We were shocked to discover that even as recently as 2009 a number of UK therapists would have referred someone for “reparative” therapy.
The talk was a sensitive consideration of how to listen to such a client who might be struggling with their sexual identity. The attitudes, knowledge, and practice of a counsellor or psychotherapist were shown to be more important than their own sexual orientation. Clients from this group may already be coming to us out of a hostile environment. By simply listening, we can provide an environment of safety within which someone might explore whatever issue they have brought. Many LGB clients often don’t talk to a therapist about their sexual orientation because of the fear of misunderstanding. What Dr McCann described as ‘heterosexual privilege’ has limited, shaped, and invalidated the experience of LGB and transgender people.
Gender identity brings with it a set of 3 complicated issues: Chromosomal – where the sex of an individual is been determined by physiology; Gender Identity – relating to how the individual Feels; and Gender Role – determined by how a gender is played out in life. A counsellor must look closely at their own thoughts and questions about the client in the room and determine how much we judge someone according to preconceived stereotypical notions.
Intersex – where an individual is born with a unique set of chromosomes producing a diversity of sexual development- is a condition can challenge all of our assumptions, producing an anatomy that is not standard male or female.
It was clear by the end of the talk that there is an enormous amount to be learned from thinking about this group of individuals when working with them in the counselling room. BACP’s Ethical Framework describes the following: BACP believes that socially inclusive, non-judgemental attitudes to people who identify across the diverse range of human sexualities will have positive consequences for those individuals, as well as for the wider society in which they live. There is no scientific, rational or ethical reason to treat people who identify within a range of human sexualities any differently from those who identify solely as heterosexual. That sounds like a fundamental human right.
The next meeting is on Friday 14th November, when Suzie Grogan will talk about Shell Shocked Britain, the Great War`s legacy for Britain`s mental health. The Talk starts at 7.45 pm in Taunton United Reformed Church, Paul Street. All welcome.