The scheduled speaker for the 18th September was Maria Byrne, however it was with deep regret that her sudden death necessitated a change. She will be sorely missed by the very many she knew and a commendation to her is here on the TAP web site.
As a consequence TAP is very much indebted to Max Dalda Müller who stepped in at very short notice. Max is a counsellor in addictions and a lecturer in counselling at Bridgwater College. His chosen title for the talk was ‘From Addiction to Recovery’ and as part of his presentation he related in a moving way his own often turbulent life story.
Max summed up addiction as having no control and this lack can apply to anything, be it chocolate, drugs, drink etc. Many theories have been postulated as why people become addicted and he mentioned several including a lack of morals, lack of spirituality, a diseased state, social influence, a learnt experience. However Max’s preferred theory is termed biopsychosocial which covers aspects pertaining to biology, society, and psychology. He maintains all three have to be addressed during treatment to enable a successful outcome.
Max born in Germany moved to Spain at the age of two. His father was substantially absent and resulted in an early separation. However after the death of his stepfather there was a repatriation which was never discussed and as a consequence he suffered repressed emotions.
Like many others at that time in Spain he became politically active and was caught up in the drug scene going from cannabis eventually to heroin. Ending up begging in London with a very low self he was rescued by a PCSO who arranged for therapy. For the first time ever in his life he recognised what being happy felt like. As part of his continuing therapy he now shares his experiences for the benefit of fellow addicts.
There was a sizable audience to hear Max with his warmth and clarity of presentation and this was much appreciated.
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 14th November TAP members and a wider audience welcomed their own administrator Suzie Grogan who talked about her new book entitled Shell Shock Britain, The First World War’s legacy for Britain’s mental health. Suzie’s own family history sparked her interest in the subject; during her extensive research she uncovered how shell shock affected those on the front line and at home.
Shell shock was identified 2000 years ago and in every war since. During the industrial revolution accidents were often triggered by people suffering with PTSD, however they were minimised for fear of compensation claims.
Charles Myers published a paper in The Lancet in 1915 highlighting shell shock, and approximately 80,000 men were officially diagnosed with shell shock by the end of the Great War, but the true figure was nearer 400,000 - 500,000 as people broke down in the post war years and others struggled on, unable to cope with normal living and finding it impossible to speak about their experiences..
During the war soldiers were often treated near the front line and sent back to fight. If they broke down again they would probably be sent home, where treatment for shell shock was divided by class with the ranks being more likely to receive horrific ECT. Talking therapies were introduced in some hospitals. Suzie read from letters and newspapers of the time showing how the raids affected the home front. Women and children were deeply traumatised by the war, but this was unacknowledged by the establishment. The Spanish influenza outbreak, towards the end of the war, killed 200,000 people, often leaving depression in those that survived. Suzie brought the subject alive and was well received by a large audience.
Find out more at www.suziegrogan.co.uk. Shell Shocked Britain was published by Pen & Sword Books in October 2014 and is available here.
The next meeting is on 23rd January 2015 when Matthew Appleton will talk about how relationships begin in the womb. 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.
On Friday 19th September we were delighted to welcome Ranju Roy, a local yoga teacher, to talk about Patanjali’s Yoga and how this is relevant to therapy today. Ranju set Yoga in its historical context, he took us back 2500 years to the original form which was a meditative tradition, closely linked to Buddism. The ancients say the body is the mind made concrete. Neither Yoga nor Buddhism being religions or requiring any sort of belief, the invitation is only to practice. At the heart of Yoga are the four noble truths: what is the problem, what is maintaining the problem, what is the realistic resolution, what are the means to get to the solution.
Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, in 195 short statements, these being easier to memorise for the aural tradition. Chapters 1, 3 and 4 are for those in advanced practice of yoga so Ranju concentrated on Chapter 2 for those with distracted minds. He spoke of the problem ( duhkha) as being the bad (negative or painful) space in the mind and the feelings of oppression, suffocation in the heart. The Indian traditions of duhkha cover suffering as: that done by other beings, by the supernatural world and what we do to oneself. He went on to talk about our constructed sense of self and how this can either be a bridge or a barrier in relationships. There are 8 practices (yama) used to show us how to live in relationship with others. This closely links to the therapeutic relationship. Ahimsa – to create a space where another can be without fear, Satya – to step into that space and be authentic, Asteya – to not take advantage, Brahmacarya - to retain our priorities and move in the direction of truth, and Aparigraha – not accumulate or to let go. Yama is the freedom in relationships. Yoga is about being free within the body and not to being an award winning gymnast.
Ranju was warmly thanked and much appreciated by those in the audience.
The next TAP talk is by Dr Damian McCann on ‘Gender and Sexuality Revisited’ held at the United Reformed Church, Taunton starting at 7:45pm on 17th October 2014. All are very welcome.
In February we were lucky enough to hear Kamalamani, a therapist, supervisor, facilitator and writer from Bristol give a presentation for TAP entitled ‘Wild Therapy’.
Kamalamani began by saying that Wild Therapy entails some meditating sessions outdoors so bringing the wild into the therapy room. The Buddha was very much connected to the earth and it is this connectedness that is being recognised and respected here. The going from outside to inside correlates with going from the unknown to the known.
The therapy developed from the work of Nick Cotton, encompasses Embodied-Relational Therapy, Process Oriented Psychology and Eco-psychology very much in the Daoist tradition.
For group work it is usual to choose a remote wild location where there is ample opportunity for reflection and for strengthening the sense of community. Relaxation with no expectation is also an important prerequisite. All this is with the aim of realising our interdependence and to celebrate our embodiment so transforming our fears.
A pause in the presentation gave the audience an opportunity to reflect with their neighbours upon a personal event where this sense of peace, connectedness, new understanding, had been experienced.
What people generally relate after sessions is a loosening of their human identity and making contact with what we are and who we are. The words of C G Jung seem very apposite, ‘Whenever we touch nature, we get clean’.
The talk was well attended by an enthusiastic audience and the vote of thanks by Ian Stevenson concluded with a spontaneous round of applause.