The talk subject: `The Long Goodbye: A psycho-social investigation of endings in life and therapy`
Widely anticipated as an especially valuable and useful presentation for TAP members and guests, a large audience gathered on 18 October to hear Dr Jane Woodend present her talk.
The Talk was built around Jane’s research, findings and learning for her PhD (and included theory from Freud) together with the some of the life stories she heard from interviewees. Jane’s early career included working as an Occupational Therapist and NHS Manager and following her training as a psychodynamic counsellor she then completed a post-graduate training and is now with Five Valleys Counselling in Gloucestershire where she works with individuals and couples with a wide variety of issues. Jane also has a MSc in applied Psychology.
With the aid of slides, Jane offered the observation that endings were an inevitable part of life and can be experienced in personal relationships, family life, work and social life and of course in counselling and psychotherapy. The impact of these endings on our lives and how that plays into our endings in therapy was examined and looked at from the perspectives of both the client and the therapist. The rationale behind Jane’s work was revealed and may have surprised the audience who might have expected Jane to have experienced a raft of dreadful endings: the reality was very different. Jane explained that within her childhood there had been no divorces, house moves or deaths and her education was comparatively local. Her upbringing had been happy and consistent and this very state of affairs had spurred her into her research.
The title of Jane’s Talk comes directly from her investigation for her PhD where the 1953 book The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler was studied. The book concerns the nature of attachments and the illusion of endings, cleverly presented within the genre of detective fiction. A literature review early on in her research took Jane to Freud and she spoke about what he had to say about endings including the quote “We must first of all decide what is meant by the ambiguous phrase ‘the end of an analysis’…”. The audience heard how Freud addressed issues of loss in his 1917 paper ‘Mourning and Melancholia’, where he defines `mourning` as the reaction to the loss of a loved one or one’s country, liberty or an ideal. So we see that Freud is writing about mourning and loss and not exactly endings. Jane suggested that Freud inadvertently set the theory and practice for ending psychotherapeutic relationships where we see the connection between endings and death running through the psychodynamic model.
All too soon this beautifully sculptured and presented Talk came to a close and ended with a number of thought provoking questions, observations and a warm round of applause.
Talk write-up provided by TAP Council Member - David Trott
The next TAP Talk takes place on 15 November 2019 when BERKELEY WILDE presents 'Diversity in Practice', which addresses how professionals can improve the engagement, services and support offered to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. All are welcome.
If you would like to attend the next talk, please register your interest on the form below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The talk subject: "Perspectives on Fibromyalgia" On 20 September, the Taunton Association for Psychotherapy opened it’s doors after the summer break and welcomed members and guests to another of it’s legendary Talks. In a change of speakers due to ill health, TAP Council member Caroline Barrett introduced Beth Livingston and Maddy Newson who presented Perspectives on Fibromyalgia : a fascinating and informative talk on a debilitating and often misunderstood condition. Both speakers revealed their own struggle with Fibromyalgia while living busy and demanding lives: Beth is a psychotherapy trainee, currently in her fifth year of a six year training at the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling, while Maddy runs a private practice in Wiltshire and is in her fifth year of training also at the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling.
The Guest Speakers: Beth Livingston (Left) & Maddy Newson (Right)
Beth and Maddy freely admitted that they don’t have the answers to this mysterious condition; instead they work with their own experience. Labelling themselves as `Research Queens`, they spoke of amassing a huge amount of knowledge and information in the journey to teach themselves about Fibromyalgia. It was explained that Fibromyalgia is a long-term, chronic, widespread pain condition which causes no tissue damage, can’t be seen, cannot be tested for and is not fatal, which makes diagnosis very difficult. Sufferers sometimes find medical professionals quite dismissive of their condition, which adds to an often lengthy period of diagnosis, which can run into years. It was recommended that sufferers should keep returning to their GP and restate the fact that they didn’t feel like this before. If a Fibromyalgia sufferer is referred, the first port of call will be Rheumatology and then after that Neurology. If these avenues fail then the patient’s mental health can be looked into.
The link between trauma and Fibromyalgia was examined and the audience heard that people who are depressed or have suffered physical, verbal or sexual abuse are very much more likely to develop the condition than others of the population. The range of symptoms of Fibromyalgia are enormous and include insomnia, nausea, joint and muscle pain, numbness, pins and needles, muscle knots and spasms, restless legs, sensitivity to light and noise, confusion, anxiety and depression among countless others. These symptoms vary from day to day and from person to person. Medication used to help with these symptoms include: painkillers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and antipsychotics. Other approaches include diet control, exercise, acupuncture, massage, CBT, Psychotherapy, relaxation techniques, CPD oil and supplements.
The NHS estimates that 2-4.5% of the UK’s population, which equates to almost 3 million people; suffer from Fibromyalgia, of which 75%-90% are women. The speakers suggested that with this significant figure it is highly likely that therapists will encounter a client with the condition at some point and so it’s useful to have a basic knowledge of it. This would enable the therapist to make the necessary adjustments to the therapy room, such as lighting, chairs etc. Finishing on an alternative view of the causes of Fibromyalgia, Beth and Maddy explored the possibility that sufferers might find that the symptoms actually serve them in some way. Do they protect them? Do they form a barrier? Has the body found a way of putting something in place to help them keep a distance from people and help them hide? Not wanting to imply that it’s something that the sufferer has made up, it was offered that counselling might uncover some unconscious aspect to the condition.
At the meeting TAP Council member Robin Pfaff gave the vote of thanks and discussion around this intriguing and enlightening presentation continued over hot beverages and the now celebrated biscuits.
The next TAP Talk takes place on 18th October 2019 when Dr Jane Woodend presents The Long Goodbye (A psycho-social investigation of endings in life and therapy).