Despite being a wet and blustery evening on 20 November, a sizeable audience greeted Anne Stokes for her much anticipated talk about online counselling. Encouraging interaction and questions from the audience as she spoke, Anne explained that only as far back as the year 2000 she considered herself to be a `Luddite` in the world of computing. With online counselling still in its infancy, Anne ventured into this new world as a client, in the real hope that it would fail and prove right her own belief that it was unworkable, however she found it was `brilliant` and so was completely hooked.
It was explained that modern on-line counselling encompasses almost any form of Internet technology, including text, voice and video and a brief history of this was offered to the audience. It could be said that non-face to face counselling started with Sigmund Freud who often counselled by letter, but it was in the 1960’s that real development occurred with Eliza, a computer program which simulated a therapist. The USA, Australia and Israel moved forward with this work and in the early 1990’s some UK Universities produced hit and miss results in this field. In later years the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Universities and the NHS all gave respectability to this area of work.
Practical advantages attached to online counselling include the ability to work with people abroad, those who may have irregular working hours and people with transport problems or caring roles. Pitfalls might be seen as possible breaches in online security, which might compromise confidentiality and the need by the therapist to convey his or her understanding to the client through words alone. Anne stressed that she was not advocating the phasing out of face to face counselling or claiming online counselling is better or in fact worse but just that it is different.
Anne’s interesting and informative talk ended with a lively question and answer session, culminating in a warm round of applause following the vote of thanks given by TAP council member David Trott.
The next meeting of TAP is in the New Year, on Friday January 22nd, when Ian Stevenson will give a Talk entitled “Ticking the boxes – the context of 21st Century Management”. Venue : Taunton United Reformed Church, Paul Street, Taunton TA1 3PF @ 7.45 pm.
On October 16 a substantial audience welcomed Andrew Newton-Cox, who presented an absorbing and informative talk entitled `Tales from a specialist eating disorders unit’ which was based on Andrew’s first hand experiences with patients within his unit. The audience heard how 725,000 people in the UK currently suffer from eating disorders, the most prolific being Anorexia Nervosa which involves deliberate weight loss.
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.
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
TAP is pleased to announce that after detailed discussions the theme and speakers for the 2015 conference have been finalised.
On Saturday the 16th May 2015, at Taunton Racecourse, we will be welcoming Fay Maxted and Zoe Lodrick to speak on the them 'Healing the trauma of sexual abuse', an issue that is at last being given the wider recognition many therapists have called for for years.
Fay Maxted is Chief Executive of The Survivor's Trust, a national umbrella agency for over 135 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse support organisations throughout the UK and Ireland. It works to provide support and networking for member agencies; deliver accredited training; raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse and its effect on survivors, their supporters and society at large; promote effective responses to rape and sexual abuse on a local, regional and national level. Fay speaks regularly on the subject, and raises awareness of the issue in the media.
Zoe Lodrick has over 19 years experience of working therapeutically with women and men who have experienced sexualised trauma(s). She provides training and consultation to most police forces in England and Wales and to many other professionals including Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs), Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), Counsellors and Crisis Workers. She has been commissioned by a number of police forces and CPS areas to provide expert testimony, explaining victim behaviour in rape, kidnap and domestic abuse cases.
We are looking forward to hearing these two top flight speakers offer the benefit of their experience and offer much to think about and take away from the day.
As soon as the programme is finalised in the new year we will be sure to let you know. In the meantime, do get in touch if you would like to be put on our mailing list for receipt of conference booking details as soon as they are available.
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.