A capacity audience gathered together at the Friends Meeting House on 17th November to welcome back Paul Sunderland, a very popular speaker for TAP members and guests.
Paul treated us to some thought provoking insights into ‘Boarding School Syndrome and Recovery – When Privilege is Trauma for the Early Boarder.'
Paul originally trained as an addictions counsellor, moving to senior positions in residential treatment settings and then into private practice.
As the evening’s talk progressed it became apparent that there was a theme running that also ran through a Saturday workshop that Paul put on for TAP in October. The theme was one of ‘self-soothing’ behaviours which may bring survivors into therapy.
For the young child the moment of leaving home for boarding school is the beginning of an episode of adaption. There may be tension between the idea of privilege – ‘aren’t you lucky’ and the reality of life in ‘captivity’ with no care giver present and little privacy. Being unhappy and not feeling fortunate are a good mix to promote feelings of shame in the child. Guilt and shame make up some of the foundation for self-soothing (addictive?) behaviours to take hold as the child finds an often arid environment in which to share feelings.
Boarders and adoptees are over-represented in treatment and recovery services. Do we recognise PTSD in early boarders?
Neuroscience tells us that early experiences shape the brain. Experience is the architect of the brain. If the 7 year old learns to keep themselves to themselves, the pattern will stick.
Boarding schools began around 500 years ago preparation for empire. Graduates would be less likely to miss home.
There exists an ambiguity; socially we may consider it a tragedy when a child is taken into care, but not into boarding school.
A grateful vote of thanks and applause brought the talk to a close, but not the evening. The discussion continued over fresh coffee, various teas and some very lovely biscuits.
The next talk will be on 8th December, alongside a Christmas social event to which everyone is invited! £5 on the door, free to TAP members. Hear Suzie Grogan (a sell-out at the recent Taunton Literary Festival) give a 30 minute talk about Death Disease & Dissection – a Horrible History of medicine for grown-ups.
An eager audience of TAP members and colleagues welcomed Mark Conway this month to his talk entitled ‘Fostering resilience: An opportunity for improving outcomes’ Mark is a specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team manager, who is highly qualified and equipped with many years’ experience working with young people.
The audience heard of the importance of building resilience in children and young people to provide the foundation for good mental health. In terms of academic resilience we heard that young people can achieve good educational outcomes, despite adversity and will often perform better than expected.
The CAMHS and schools link project pilot commissioned by the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) yielded some very positive outcomes and a basis for action. The project promoted good mental health and early intervention within schools and including teaching emotional intelligence for teachers.
It was acknowledged that during the school years children really have very little control over their situations, both in compulsory education and domestic home life. Focussing on resilience examines how children learn to cope well and manage within these constraints.
The audience was introduced to a ‘resilience framework’ which provides a guide to the elements to consider in building healthy resilience, likened in some ways to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Conditions need to meet basic and progressive criteria in order for the child to have the opportunity become the best that they can be.
Mark pointed out clearly that adults who experience difficulties with their mental health have the origins rooted in childhood, increasing the necessity for early intervention.
You can download Mark's presentation HERE.
An enthusiastic vote of thanks from the TAP council preceded a sociable time over tea and coffee.
The next TAP Talk takes place on June 16th entitled ‘A new approach to healing the past. An introduction to Pesso Boyden Psychotherapy’. Matthew Harwood will be the guest speaker. He is a Jungian Analyst, trained in Pesso Boyden psychotherapy and internal family systems.
Smoke Without Fire: The Challenges of Identifying and Working With Parental Alienation - a TAP Talk by Dr Sue Witcombe
Braving the first real chilly evening of the season on 18 November, a large number of TAP members and guests attended a presentation by Dr Sue Whitcombe entitled `Smoke Without Fire: The Challenges of Identifying and Working With Parental Alienation`. Sue is a Chartered Psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professions Council and principal psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, which offers specialist services for families and children. Sue also teaches at Teesside University.
Sue was introduced by TAP Council member Andrew Wilcox, who surprised the meeting with the amazing fact that this was the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Talk in the history of TAP, adding the exciting news that TAP’s Conference will be held in the Spring on 18 March 2017.
The meeting heard that Parental Alienation is defined as an unjustified rejection of a parent, where there was previously a normal loving relationship or an intentional or unintentional action by a parent to turn a child against a non-resident parent. It was explained that over time the child becomes hostile and abusive in a campaign of denigration, which can include physically resisting contact and rebuffing phone calls, letters, emails and gifts. These actions are usually accompanied with expressions of hatred which often cumulate in the rejection of the non-resident parent.
Outlining what help is available in cases of Parental Alienation, Sue spoke of the Interventions which can be employed in the form of Therapeutic modalities and strategies. These can include Family systems approach, Structural and strategic family therapy, Brief solution focused therapy, Narrative therapy, CBT, Parent-child interactive therapy and Psychoeducation.
Sue's presentation can be viewed by clicking on the link HERE and further information can be downloaded HERE. A list of useful resources can be downloaded HERE.
Following the vote of thanks, tea and coffee was served, which gave the audience an opportunity to talk over Dr Whitcombe’s excellent presentation and catch up with old friends and colleagues.
The next talk is on January 20th 2017 when Dr Damian McCann presents `Exploring the dilemmas of disclosure in 'coming out' in family and couple relationships and in therapy`. This talk will examine developments in thinking about ‘coming out’ with particular reference to gender and sexual diversities. All are very welcome.
On June 17, an enthusiastic audience welcomed Mark Conway who presented his absorbing and informative talk entitled `An Introduction to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service` (Specialist CAMHS). Mark is a Schools Link Pilot Manager and Specialist CAMHS Clinician and he explained the work of the service, which offers an assessment and treatment service for children and young people experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties.
Interacting with the audience, Mark offered many opportunities for the meeting to speculate at facts and figures relating to mental health in the UK, before surprising many with the actual statistics.
His own speciality lies with Eating Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The service consists of a range of teams and specialist functions and has three main bases – Wells, Yeovil and Taunton and provides many services, including: Assessment and diagnosis, care planning, therapeutic treatments and therapies and medication advice and prescribing.
As a multi-disciplinary service CAMHS draws on a large raft of expertise including: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, support workers, occupational therapists, psychological therapists including family therapists and art therapists, primary mental health link workers, and specialist substance misuse workers.
In a setting where we have seen one in ten children and young people aged five to sixteen suffering from a diagnosable mental health disorder the audience heard how referrals to CAMHS increased by 25% in four years. These referrals may be made by a wide range of professionals including Health Visitors, Midwives, GPs, School Nurses, Counsellors and Therapists including the majority of the audience attending the talk.
Mark punctuated his talk with anonymous anecdotal patient accounts which emphasised the importance of the work of CAMHS. A warm round of applause followed the vote of thanks given by TAP council member Ian Stevenson.
Mark has kindly provided a link to his presentation HERE, to CAMHS eligibility criteria HERE and 'What makes a good CAMHS referral' HERE
The next talk will be on the 16th September at the Friends Meeting House, when Nick Turner talks on Sex Addiction and Porn. All are Welcome.
David Trott Tap Council Member
On 19 Feb a substantial audience braved a cold and damp evening to welcome back Matthew Appleton to TAP for a third time. His talk entitled `The lifelong consequences of obstetric interventions` centred on babies’ awareness both in the womb and after their birth together with the Obstetric Interventions they might experience and the long term effects of these.
Matthew emphasised that he was not anti intervention but suggested that we don’t realise how our lives are shaped by them. Surprising the meeting at the outset with the knowledge that our accepted basic position for childbirth is not the best for baby, Matthew stressed that babies are more aware and sensitive than we believe. The audience was unsettled to hear that until the 1980’s it was common practice for some medical procedures to be done without anaesthetic because it was believed very young babies didn’t feel pain.
A widely held belief that we are unable to remember our own birth is not shared by Matthew, who spoke of implicit memory and the imprint on our nervous system and stress patterns in the soft tissues of our bodies of a traumatic birth.
The effects of drugs on the baby to induce birth were explored and also the use of anaesthetics, forceps, ventouse vacuum assisted delivery and caesarean section which can be extremely traumatic. With the aid of a model pelvis and baby, Mathew demonstrated the effects of birth on a baby, described the pain and trauma it goes through and the uncertainty it feels that it will survive the process.
All this was all in sharp contrast to a film of a pygmy woman who gave birth in a forest, in a more natural position of letting gravity help, which resulted in a smoother, gentler transition.
See Matthew's talk slides HERE
The next talk will be by Terry Davey on 15 April 2016 entitled `Transformational Change Through Memory Reconsolidation` and will be held at the new venue of the Friends Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, Taunton, TA1 4EP.
We were interested to read in the press today that those supposedly 'inspirational' quotes that suggest you should cut people in a negative mood out of your life to support your own well-being are, mercifully, wrong.
Researchers at the universities of Manchester and Warwick studied 2,000 teenagers and found that having happy friends improved the mood of those experiencing a period of depression, but depressed friends did not have an impact on the mood of those they were with,
The researchers used social media trends to monitor mood across social networks over the period of one year.
The Daily Telegraph commented:
"The results show that being friends with someone who is depressed does not put a person at risk of becoming depressed themselves, but it will be beneficial to a glum mate."
The report says:
"Having sufficient friends with healthy mood can halve the probability of developing, or double the probability of recovering from, depression over a 6–12-month period on an adolescent social network."
Dr Thomas House, senior lecturer in applied mathematics from the University of Manchester said:
“We know social factors, for example living alone or having experienced abuse in childhood, influences whether someone becomes depressed.... We also know that social support is important for recovery from depression, for example having people to talk to. Our study is slightly different as it looks at the effect of being friends with people on whether you are likely to develop or recover from being depressed."
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society and the link to the full report can be found HERE.
On 19th June Alison Chown gave TAP members an informative talk about Play Therapy in the Outdoors to accompany her book on the subject. Alison works with children aged 3-16 who have complex behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. She spoke about her path to taking the children outdoors for play therapy, the ethical struggles in the early days and the benefits to the children when they use the outdoor spaces.
Outdoor Play Therapy and the Forest School principals are very closely aligned. Sue Jennings devised the development 'Embodiment - Projection - Role' or EPR Paradigm: Embodiment – which is is the physical sensory aspect for the child, where they develop their 'body-self'; Projection – which is where the child responds to things outside of their body and make them have a personal meaning; and Role play. These are all used in outdoor play therapy where development may have been interrupted or damaged by the child’s early experiences.
Working outdoors draws on the Reggio Emilia Approach when the outdoor space becomes the third teacher, with the adult as mentor/guide and the children using their different languages to make sense of the world. Children have a huge capacity for physicality; to keep them confined within four walls is not always conducive to effective therapy. The therapist needs to hold symbolic walls in the outdoor space. The child needs to learn about risk without anxious adult interference.
Alison left us with a quote:
'There are two gifts we should give our children, one is roots, the other is wings'.
TAP’s next talk is on 18th September when Maria Byrne speaks about The Journey of the Prisoner. The talk will start at 7.45pm at Taunton United Reform Church, Paul Street. All welcome.