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
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
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.