Some thoughts and ideas.........
It’s July 2020 and the UK is slowly starting to emerge from the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which has changed the way we all live our lives and which has brought suffering and misery to thousands. With the virus still out there in the community, people still becoming ill and many continuing to die every day from it, the powers that be deem it all right for certain businesses and services in England to open up and resume trading albeit in a careful and restricted way.
Among those itching to restart will be Face to Face Counsellors, Psychotherapists and many other types of practitioners who have been unable to work over the last few months. Those of us who already delivered therapy through other mediums like Skype, Zoom or even the humble telephone, were able to continue with client sessions while the remainder had the choice to move across into the new electronic world or just not practice at all.
So what are the implications of returning to face to face client sessions and what thoughts and feelings are going to be thrown up?
Firstly let’s look at the practicalities of resuming sessions and the measures that we can put in place to help client and therapist stay safe. To kick off here’s a few ideas I’ve had for my own counselling room:
So the practical side of resuming face to face work is relatively straight forward to put together and maintain, but what of the psychological aspect of it?
As we all know in counselling a key skill is active listening and this means really hearing what the client is saying, not just the words but the tone, inflections, the silences, the little nuances and of course body language. It’s hard work and to keep focused during the whole of the counselling hour can sometimes be a challenge. Most of us in our training will have worked with `blocks to communication` and high on the list of these is `distraction`. This can be the man outside with the pneumatic drill, the circling helicopter, the need to go to the loo, or illness among countless others. But we have a duty of care to our clients and the BACP code of ethics requires it’s members to put the wellbeing of their clients first by:‘making clients our primary concern while we are working with them.` The code also requires that members look after themselves and ensure `that our wellbeing is sufficient to sustain the quality of the work`. So there can be a balancing act going on between the client and therapist.
But we are all in unchartered territory with this pandemic which has killed thousands in the UK alone and it would be unusual not to have concerns about it. As therapists we usually strive for transparency and genuineness in our work with clients but how will this authenticity be affected or compromised if we have worries and concerns about the health of our clients? Furthermore will our underlying anxiety collide head on with any unease that our clients have for being there with us? Honesty and self disclosure will play a big part here. If we discover our client has fears and worries about coming back to face to face therapy and we have similar thoughts then share those concerns, after all you are both on this journey together.
No one has the definitive answer to how best to go back to face to face therapy – it’s just theories and guesswork with rules and advice changing almost daily. It’s likely that this will be one of those occasions when we must go with our instincts and examine the evidence. How well do we know our client? Is it likely they are being completely honest with us over their health? Are we confident that the measures that we have put in place to reduce the risk are adequate? We then need to balance all this with the evidence: How does the South West compare to other areas of the UK regarding the number of cases of Covid-19. What is the current `R` number for the region? Is this number rising or falling? While juggling all these ideas, facts and figures we still have to consider asymptomatic transmission where an infected person, who has not yet developed symptoms, is still able to transmit the virus. So in essence we have to make a judgement based on a whole raft of variables, many of which are out of our control. However, despite the bizarre old saying `ignorance is bliss` gen up on the virus and how it’s spread by visiting a reliable website like https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and use facts and evidence in making your decision.
David Trott © 2020 Council Member of Taunton Association for Psychotherapy (TAP)
A full audience of TAP members and guests attended to Paul Sunderland’s most engaging presentation ‘Introduction to modern addictions’; held in the contemplative setting of the Friends Meeting House in Taunton.
With 30 years’ experience of working, researching and managing in the field of addictions, Paul provided many thought provoking insights into addiction; possible origins, treatment process and the place of the therapist.
He provided an introduction to conditions of substance misuse, finance, couple relationships, romance, love and sex addiction. It was fascinating to learn of the basic criteria that define and describe addiction as a disease and how these symptoms are shared with a wide range of compulsion processes.
There is a preoccupation, a loss of control; abstinence, tolerance, withdrawal and impact of functioning, possibly leading to symptoms of depression and anxiety, relational and legal issues – all amounting to a ‘full time job’.
Addition can be described as a ‘migrating disease’, often showing up as a dis-ease in other areas of life.
Treatment approaches begin with addictions of ingestion, abstinence, the disease process and the underlying trauma, or dis-ease. Group therapy as well as individual has been found to be effective in treatment and we heard how ‘people get well in counter-transference’.
Therapists may remind themselves that in order to be effective and compassionate require three basic elements: learning. Supervision and work on themselves.
Paul referred to addictive experience as ‘a thing’. Individuals are not bad, or weak, but primarily unwell. Behind it all tend to lay negative cognitions and un-thought knowns. The limbic brain stores trauma. There is a suggestion that we have many brains and that in the case of addictive conditions, the limbic brain acts before the frontal cortex has a chance.
‘You can’t change what you don’t know’.
Psychotherapy and counselling aid and support the knowing.
A vote of thanks on behalf of the TAP Council, members and guests was followed by copious applause and no doubt, plenty to think about.
Feedback showed that over 90% of attendees thought both the workshop and Paul Sunderland as speaker were 'Excellent'.
TAP Talk 16/8/17 - A new approach to healing the past. An introduction to Pesso Boyden psychotherapy by Matthew Harwood
TAP members and guests gathered at the Friends Meeting House in Taunton on Friday 16th June 2017 to hear a thoroughly engaging presentation: ‘A new approach to healing the past. An introduction to Pesso Boyden psychotherapy.’
The presenter was Matthew Harwood, a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Bath and Bristol. He enviably trained at the CG Jung Institute in Zurich. More recently he has undertaken training on Pesso Boyden Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS).
Matthew described having a healing experience during a CPD Pesso Boyden workshop and was inspired to develop his knowledge and application.
Pesso Boyden therapy began life thanks to Albert Pesso and Diane Boyden, a married couple from the USA, now sadly deceased. Interestingly they were originally both dancers and then dance teachers. It became apparent to them that some dancers appeared blocked from performing a full range of movements, hampered by past trauma.
The approach is not well known in the UK, but the couple developed and evolved the approach over 50 years, together and then just Albert after his wife died.
So, what is the aim of Pesso Boyden Psychotherapy? In keeping with other approaches; ‘to help us become who we really are.’
Mainly a group work approach differing significantly from other therapy group processes, it concentrates on an individual in the group, with other members role playing and bearing witness to the evolution of healing the individual’s past.
The approach can be used in a one to one setting too, although slightly less common, with the facilitator assuming the witness roles.
The audience was fascinated by a series of chronological video clips charting the process in action.
It is generally accepted that the roots of trauma lie in early life and we are born with a genetic expectation that our basic needs will be met by loving care givers. The Peso Boyden approach works towards supplementing memory experiences, not cancellations. It is the protagonist that does the work.
The speaker emphasised to the audience that the best way to understand Pesso Boyden, is to have the experience.
An engaged and enthusiastic audience was represented by a vote of thanks on behalf of the TAP Committee.
The next TAP Talk takes place after our summer break, on 15th September 2017, when psychotherapist Cathy Towers will speak on the subject 'Filthy Lucre - Therapists' Relationship with Money'.
TAP Council member
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.
by Ian Stevenson
This year's TAP Conference, which takes place on 18th March, is headlined Cutting Edge Connections between Spirituality and Psychotherapy and features top speakers Melody Cranborne Rosser and Larry Culliford. (Find out more and book HERE) But what do we mean by 'cutting edge'? Here long-time TAP Council member Ian Stevenson puts forward his thoughts....
What is 'cutting edge spirituality'? It’s a good question. Just before the last OFSTED inspection I had to endure, the Head shared a worry. “In the last inspection, the lay assessor said he saw little spirituality in the school. What did he mean and how can we improve on it?’
There were various answers: ‘a sense of awe’ said the Head of Science, who was a churchgoer; a sense of community; having prayers in Assembly (we didn’t do that very often) and encouraging moral behaviour. Personally, I think we have other words for these things. To me, spirituality implies something meta-physical, something beyond the material world. (As it turned out, it was not commented on in the inspection.)
Is Spirituality just a nice idea or do we have reasons for thinking it is more than that?
In my youth, 1960s, spirituality more or less equaled religion. When, as a new teacher, we took information on pupils for registers there was a box marked religion. Many children said, ‘I’ll have to ask.’ I was told, if uncertain, ‘Church of England’ would do!
Religion was something you believed in or not. There were a few who looked for a more empirical approach. The Society for Psychic Research, which goes back to 1882, investigated supernatural, or in more modern terms, para-normal phenomena. Despite a vast amount of data, few educated people gave it much credence. The end of the sixties did see what was dubbed “the New Age’, which was a bottom up exploration of new ideas in psychology and science blended with old teachings from around the world such as Buddhism. It ranged from the ridiculous to high philosophy. Carl Jung, who died in 1961, was the most quoted psychologist but there were others such as Maslow or Grof. However, the ‘New Age’ thinking was largely ignored by the educational and religious establishments even though ‘New Age’ books sold well. It was also ignored by the scientific world although meditation and yoga became popular albeit usually justified by its therapeutic properties.
New ideas often infiltrate themselves into public acceptance as the older generation passes on and a new generation looks for different answers to perennial questions. There were more university educated people looking for meaning and now they could glean information from a wide range of available resources thanks to modern communications. New leaders began to emerge.
For the last thirty years the Dalai Lama (who has endorsed one of our speakers’ -Larry Culliford-books) has held a conference at Dharamsala or elsewhere with Western scientists and they discuss their understandings of such subjects as meditation and neuroscience; the role of emotions, and the interface between modern physics and ancient wisdom. When they started, the Dalai Lama said if they showed something that Buddhism believed to be scientifically wrong, then Buddhism wold have to change. In fact they didn’t find anything.
In 1973 Dr Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut, founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences. On the way back from the Moon, he had an experience of being part of ‘Universe of Consciousness’. Noetic means using intuitive knowledge. Together with the scientific (left brain?) approach, the Institute addresses the questions raised by the experience. He felt it could bring about a deeper understanding of who we really are and would help to bring people together.
In that same year, 1973, In Britain, George Blaker and several others founded the Scientific and Medical Network. They thought that neither orthodox religion nor conventional science could give adequate answers to ‘the mysteries of he Cosmos’. The materialist explanation of the brain didn’t seem to explain a lot of things. The SMN has numbered such people as -Dr. Mary Midgeley , Sir John Polkinghorn, Sir Crispin Tickell, Sir Roger Penrose and …me (to dilute it a bit )!
In 1999 Dr.Antony Powell at the Royal College of Psychiatrists formed a special interest group on Spirituality. Other groups include working with the elderly or in criminality. Today it is the largest special interest group and one can read their newsletter on the web. Our speaker, Larry Culliford was part of this.
I would also include Dr.Gary Schwatrz’s research in the US. We have probably seen on TV , Darren Browne who describes himself as a ‘mentalist’. He says he can replicate the results achieved by mediums and clairvoyants by using techniques such as cold reading. Schwartz put the mediums and the ‘sitters’ in different rooms where they could see or hear each other, and the mediums continued to get results. I have given a talk on this in Bristol. The work is criticised by some but I thought the criticisms were generalities and did not address the points raised.
So what has emerged to engage these very distinguished people? I could suggest several things but there are two main ones: the ability to investigate the brain in greater depth e.g. with fMRI, and the implications of that such as the near death experiences ; 2) the greater understanding of quantum physics and how that relates to consciousness.
Some quantum physicists see consciousness as a fundamental property of the universe and not something produced by the brain, but rather mediated by it as a radio is not the origin of a program but the medium by which we hear it. This would imply we do indeed swim like fish in an ocean of consciousness.
These are raise exciting and fundamental questions as to who we really are but one may ask; what has this to do with counselling and psychotherapy? We do things like finding out what is of meaning to our clients and helping them to have a better relationship with themselves and live more resourcefully. But what could a study of spirituality add?
This was a question when we first had brain scanning equipment. How would knowing which parts of the brain ‘light up’ when we experience certain emotions, actually influence therapy. But I think many would answer it has been , for many, a useful contribution. We gain a better understanding of who we are.
I suggest there are several areas it could influence.
We can look at evidence for a metaphysical ( beyond or above ) dimension and not just take it on faith. Of course, there are persuasive people who argue the opposite, like Daniel Dennett, but we have evidence we can assess, rather than believe it or not.
Our sense of connection with the wider universe. This is the traditional area of religion and philosophy, where the field of universal consciousness, or whatever you wish to call it, might influence us giving meaning and purpose to our lives. The study could enable one to see the different religions as tributaries flowing into a common stream. Surely of use in the modern world?
Spirituality suggests we are not separate collections of neutrons but individuals as having a part in the universe, and relationships with others and the natural world.
To end on a personal note, when I look at the neurological information and the ethics of spirituality in their several forms, I am reminded of Paul Gilbert’s Compassion Focused Therapy which we heard so ably presented by Dr. Christopher Irons in the 2013 conference . Those concepts have enhanced my practice.
One doesn’t need to accept all the concepts I’ve outlined here in order to derive some benefit from the study. My hope is that the conference won’t just be the delivery of information on the day but an encouragement to find out more.
We would love to know what you think - please do post comment below.
'The Phone Call From Hell` - the therapist’s reaction to when a sex offender calls - A TAP Talk by Juliet Grayson
Report by David Trott Tap Council Member.
On 14 October, TAP members and guests had another opportunity to expand their own Continuing Professional Development when Juliet Grayson presented her talk entitled `The Phone Call From Hell` - the title reflecting a Therapist’s possible reaction to when a sex offender calls.
Juliet is co-founder and chair of StopSo (Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending) which is a not for profit organisation that is working to stop sexual offending through therapy. StopSo has formed a nationwide network of therapists who are trained to work with anyone who is concerned about their sexual behaviour and feels that they may be at risk of committing a sexual offence, or re-offending.
Although hugely busy with StopSo, Juliet explained that her main work as a psychotherapist lies with couples who are experiencing sexual problems in their relationship. She is also an accomplished author and one of the most experienced practitioners of Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy in the UK.
The evening commenced with some audience participation in the form of a quiz entitled `Sex, Statistics and the Law`. This gave participants the opportunity to test themselves in current law with regard to sexual offending in the UK. The cleverly compiled twenty questions produced some head scratching and a few surprises when the correct answers were revealed. This resulted in the mild suspicion that there were possibly some gaps in the audience’s knowledge.
Later a video of Dr James Cantor, who is a Canadian clinical psychologist and sexologist was shown. In this, he discusses the work which has been done to understand the minds of paedophiles as well as some common physical characteristics, such as lower IQ, left handedness and below average height.
Juliet revealed that there are only around 86,000 places in UK prisons and so it’s not possible to incarcerate every offender. This simple fact highlighted the value of the work of StopSo and other similar organisations in this field.
The slides from Juliet's presentation are available to download HERE.
Tea and coffee were served afterwards which gave everyone the chance to discuss and reflect on yet another superb presentation. The next TAP Talk is on18 November when Dr Sue Whitcombe presents Smoke Without Fire: The challenges of identifying and working with Parental Alienation. All are very welcome.
Extra chairs were needed on 16 September to accommodate a pleasing number of TAP members and guests to a presentation entitled `Understanding and Recognising Sex Addiction` by Nick Turner. Nick is a Sexual & Relationship Psychotherapist and Sex Addiction Therapist and explained that his work encompasses clients of all social differences, ages and genders.
The audience heard how sex addiction is defined as any sexual activity that is used to modulate emotion and which `feels` out of control with an inability to stop or stay stopped, despite significant harmful consequences. It’s also seen as an unhealthy relationship with a mood-altering experience, however it was stressed that it is not the activity that defines addiction but the dependency upon it.
Nick explained how our brains become addicted by the creation of Neural Pathways that `wire` the brain from sexual activity such as porn, which then becomes an optimum source of dopamine to the dependent person. This can lead to increased shame that increases the desire to escape painful feelings with more of the chosen activity.
The impact on partners was discussed and this included the damage to intimacy and the sexual relationship, the reigniting of old wounds, the compromising of parenting and the triggering of unwanted behaviours or other addictions within the partner. Unsurprisingly common reactions include shock, betrayal, disgust, isolation, despair and hopelessness, many of which closely resemble bereavement.
Thankfully, there are many treatment options for those considered to have a sex addiction and these include individual Counselling/Psychotherapy, Group Therapy, Group Support – 12 step or similar and Couples Counselling.
In his vote of thanks, TAP council member Ian Stevenson said that this is what TAP is all about i.e. the provision of quality speakers, who in turn provide useful and long lasting information for people to take away with them and use in their work. A very sociable tea and coffee time concluded the evening.
Nick Turner's presentation is available to download HERE
The next TAP Talk takes place on October 14th 2016 when JULIET GRAYSON presents `The phone call from hell: What do we do as a therapist when a sex offender calls? ` All are welcome. David Trott TAP Council Member
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 the 15th April, TAP Co-Chair Andrew Wilcox greeted members and guests at TAP’s new venue of the Friends Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton. After Andrew’s welcoming words it was sad to hear that TAP’s 2016 Spring Conference has had to be cancelled owing to slow ticket sales and the financial climate. However it was stressed that TAP would be back in the future with a new conference.
The evening’s guest speaker was Terry Davey, who is an experienced Integrative Body Psychotherapist in private practice in Bristol and co-founder of the Fulcrum House Therapy Centre. His presentation, entitled `Transformational Change Through Memory Reconsolidation` centred around `Coherence Therapy` which helps the client to get in touch with hidden, core areas of meaning and feeling that are generating the presenting symptom or problem.
The difference between `Counteractive Change` where the client has simply learnt to live with the problem but is in danger of relapse in times of stress and `Transformational Change’ where change is deep and permanent was explained to the audience.
Originally called Depth Oriented Brief Therapy, Coherence Therapy was developed by Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley in the 1990s who questioned why Transformational Change happened after years instead of months or weeks.
The audience heard about the principles of Neuroplasticity and Memory Reconsolidation and with the aid of case studies, Terry demonstrated how a clients `old learning` of deep seated beliefs about himself perpetuated present psychological issues. When this disconfirming knowledge was identified, `new learning` dissolved the old neural circuits and created new pathways.
The meeting was told how therapists need extensive training to be able work with Coherence Therapy, but once trained they can work effectively within a limited timeframe. Terry’s enthusiasm for Coherence Therapy was evident and he concluded his presentation with the observation `It’s the best`.
The next TAP talk will be on 17th June at the Friends Meeting House in Bath Place, Taunton. See our Talks page for more detail
It is that time of year again (where does the time go?) when we ask members of TAP to pay their renewal fee. Over the years we have got to know hundreds of members from different fields coming from across the South West; most, but certainly not all, being therapists across all different modalities. We have also welcomed many who were simply interested in the mind and in the nature of being human. TAP has much to offer anybody with an enquiring mind.
The membership year runs from 1st April to 31st March, so this is a great time of year to get the full benefit of those opportunities TAP offers. As a member you get free entry into all our monthly TAP Talks for example, a discount on the cost of our annual conference (this year taking place on 21st May, see our Annual Conference page) and a place in our membership directory. Members can circulate details of their own courses and workshops to the TAP contact list, and get a 10% discount in Brendon Books in Bath Place, Taunton. A new benefit for 2016/17 will be launched in the next few weeks - a 'Members Only' area on this website, where exclusive content (featuring recordings of TAP Talks and presentations) will be available. We also have a Facebook and twitter feed (@TAP_ings) where you can keep abreast of developments and news and post about your own work.
So why not join? At £28 it is a bargain (if you were to attend all the Talks for example, and the Conference, you could save over £60) and you would also have the opportunity to network with peers, hear from speakers at the top of their field and gain CPD at the same time.
You can download the membership form HERE, and find out more on our 'Join TAP' page.
We look forward to meeting you!