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.
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
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.