Category Archives: Seminars for therapists

Working in Therapy with Adolescents and Young People: What is different? Key points of understanding.

On 25th April, a group of 16 therapists of varying disciplines and experience attended a seminar presented by Professor Stephen Briggs (whose books include: Working with Adolescents and Young Adults: A contemporary psychodynamic approach (2008).

We had had the opportunity to download 26 of his slides which offered a framework for the discussions.

In the process of working with this age group, we understand that we have to do things differently from our work with child and adult populations, outlined as follows:

THERAPEUTIC STANCE:

  • Providing a combined containing and exploring space..(containing anxieties and exploring meaning).   This combines taking in the feelings, making sense and feeding back whilst ‘holding’ urgency and anxiety.  Also, enabling the young person to tolerate the ups and downs, extremes of excitement and depression;  facilitating feelings of overwhelm and omnipotence, and taking these things seriously.
  • Being ‘adolescent-centred’..trying to understand the adolescent ‘world view’, without making assumptions about the adolescent’s knowledge or experience of the therapy process.  This includes noticing how quickly adolescents can change and how stuck they can be in the developmental process. The therapist is required to take on the ‘in-between-ness’ of the client, moving responsively between more adult/more childlike states as they occur.  Working with the ‘yes’ adolescent and the ‘no’ adolescent.

WORKING WITH DEPENDENCY:

  • Stephen Briggs explored the delicate issues around the adolescent’s potentially fragile sense of independence where the offer is to share with the therapist what is his, what can he share? What does the therapist need to know; what can be private and acknowledged as private?
  • The therapist needs to work out what the adolescent can and can’t bear, adapting to the fragile sense of separateness from parental figures, his aloneness in the world and the responsibility of his own thoughts and actions.

BECOMING A SUBJECT IN ADOLESCENCE:

  • ‘Being subject to’:  things happening, re-enactments and repeated patterns through change…(puberty, relationships, peer groups).
  • ‘Being subject of’: something that’s going on emotionally and rationally – relating to experience, learning from experience.
  • ‘Becoming a subject’ – the process of gaining ownership..new adult, sexual body, ownership of one’s own thoughts. Ownership of drives, sensations, impulses, feeling and powers. With ownership of bodily changes comes both power and the power to enact. Power relationships evoke different capacity to enact thoughts and feelings.
  • Increased separateness from parental figures at the above levels.
  • From neuroscience, we’re told that with brain development, the slowest capacity to develop is the capacity to reflect.
  • For Separation and Individuation at one end of the axis and Regression on the other, there are transverse opposites:

Self -esteem and competence.   Vs.  Fear of failure
States of mind (subject to).          Vs. Subject of
Power.                                              Vs. Dependence
Life.                                                   Vs. Death

So the binaries in the adolescent process are:
– Excitement v Loss
– Love v Hate
– Life v Death
– Online v Offline
– Powerful v Dependent
– Competence v Fear of Failure

The retreat from death can lead to omnipotence and/or the need not to fit in with convention.  Online/offline ambivalence engenders both omnipotence (with the provision of answers to problems) and the defeat of omnipotence (when the adolescent can’t solve the problem).

An example:
Exploring on line = securely attached
Looking for ‘belonging’ online = less securely attached.

These are part of the dichotomies to be held in mind through the therapeutic intervention in adolescent work.

We had a further three case studies to consider, discuss and apply the learning from the presentation as well as from our own experiences.

WORKING WITH TRANSFERENCE AND COUNTER-TRANSFERENCE:

In the transference:

  • drawing attention to connections between the social world and the therapeutic relationship.
  • making formulations about relatedness, maternal and paternal transference.

In the counter-transferential space:

  • what are we picking up as therapists of the adolescent feelings? What feelings are we evoking?
  • what about me is getting in the way of this work?

So what is both going on in the therapist and what from the adolescent is stirring up feelings in the therapist?  Much of the rich discussion from the case studies surfaced transference and counter-transference explorations.

Appropriately we talked of endings, particularly from the last case study where breaks in the therapy and missed sessions brought important material for therapeutic thought.

Stephen said ‘there is always something about separation with adolescents…in the therapeutic relationship, we replay through separation from the therapist, those other issues of separation’. ‘We are introducing the adolescent to him or herself’.

By: Angy Man, March 2017

A different and effective method of helping clients with trauma: Energy Psychotherapy

IMG_0918.JPGAt the Transforming Trauma: Energy Psychotherapy workshop on 25th February we were introduced to a way of bringing together traditional talking therapy and some of the techniques of energy psychology to alleviate distress and suffering.

Trauma was defined as any event which continues to evoke difficult feelings and/or physical symptoms. The emphasis was on there being no divide between mind and body, and that the body’s energy system can ‘know’ more accurately than the conscious mind what is at the root of an individual’s disturbance.

The seminar leaders, Sandra Figgess and Heather Redington presented case material to illustrate how energy techniques could be used in a psychotherapeutic process. We had the opportunity to try out some of these for ourselves, including muscle testing (kinesiology), a method for making enquiries of the energy system. As well as being fun to try, this also produced some interesting results: when responding to a particular enquiry, my conscious mind and my body response seemed to be at odds. As a psychodynamic therapist I am aware of the conflict between conscious and unconscious intention, so it was intriguing to see it demonstrated by the body. In energy psychotherapy this can be used to provide a working hypothesis on how to proceed.

Another point of cross over between psychoanalytic ideas and energy psychology was looked at in ‘reversals’, the issues that prevent a person achieving the desired change/healing. In energy psychology these are named and worked on using Emotional Freedom Technique. In psychoanalytic therapy they are referred to as resistances, and the work of therapy is often about bringing them into consciousness, where they are less likely to drive behaviour and prevent change.

It was a very thought-provoking workshop that has stimulated my interest in this area.

By Hannah Cowan, March 2017

For anyone wishing to pursue this method further, there will be a five day foundation course in Oxford in June and July 2017.  Please contact therapy@greenfig.org.uk or phone 01865 515156.  Or visit http://www.energypsychotherapyworks.co.uk

Energy Psychotherapy – article in BACP (children and young people) March 2017

Comments from participants: 

“Most interesting and thought-provoking”

“v nice venue, v professional, safe and respectful. V much valued the experiential elements”

“the trainers are excellent, clarifying as and when needed. I loved the experience of energy psychotherapy. Thank you”

“a very engaging day – contemplating an expansion of my practice and the possibility of integrating it”

“very supportive and valuable”

“extremely thought- and feeling-provoking”

“well presented – simplistic enough to stay conscious, complicated enough to know one couldn’t practise it without lots more training”

11 feedback forms gave the following average results:

1) overall assessment of event: 4.5 out of 5

2) speakers : 4.55 out of 5

3) value for money : 4.45 out of 5

By Wendy Bramham, March 2017

Benefits of the “Inner Smile” and other techniques we learned at our CPD event on meditation with Dr William Bloom

w-bloom-2016-seminar-edited

Seminar: “Meditation as a Therapeutic Strategy” with Dr William Bloom, organised by Wendy Bramham Therapy

The research into the beneficial effects of meditation on personal wellbeing and especially for depression and anxiety is compelling. Meditation as a concept is moving from the fringes into the boardroom, the classroom and the counselling room.

On the 11th November we had a workshop run by William Bloom, a leader in the field and author of books such as The Endorphin Effect, Meditation in a Changing World, and The Power of Modern Spirituality. Its aim was to support people from the helping professions in using meditation as a therapeutic strategy.

What struck me first was William’s passion for demystification. He wants people to understand how accessible it is: we can meditate anywhere. We don’t have to sit cross-legged. We can do it in the garden with a glass of wine (“but probably not three”), we can do it while we are dancing, or running or after yoga. We can make it fit us. We don’t have to bend ourselves out of shape.

The day was a mix of guided meditations, group exercises and theoretical underpinning. William introduced one beautiful exercise he called the ‘inner smile’ which harnessed our ability to feel compassion for a hurt child or a wounded bird and then turthe-inner-smilen the same ‘kind mind’ on our own failings and vulnerabilities. At another point he used participants to create a constellation of the competing aspects of one person’s personality, all calling out for attention, repeating core beliefs and yelling.  As an embodiment it was a powerful way of understanding the noise in our own heads that can make meditation, and sustaining that place of ‘quiet mind’, so challenging.  For me this was a key moment. As a psychotherapist I have many clients who find it almost impossible to be still and to be in contact with themselves. For them it can be an uncomfortable, even terrifying, experience. And yet we know that for people with a fragile self-process, meditation can help develop an ability to self-regulate and put the world into context. I found myself craving more at this point in terms of understanding how to create that safe bridge and safe container for my clients.

William Bloom brings a breadth and depth of understanding and a passionate commitment to his subject. This was not a workshop necessarily geared towards those who are already integrating a meditative practice. As an introduction to the field it was sustaining and enlivening.

By: Helen Franklin, MSc(psych) UKCP reg, Gestalt Psychotherapist
16th November 2016

Thank you to everyone for their feedback.  From 23 forms the average scores were excellent, as follows:

  • Speaker (William Bloom): 4.74 out of 5
  • Overall assessment of event: 4.61 out of 5
  • Value for money: 4.52 out of 5

Delegates written comments:

  • “The seminar achieved my expectations of the meditative state; ‘soaking in the hot tub of the goddess'”
  • “Thank you, very insightful”
  • “Engaging speaker.  I now understand that I need to be relaxed in body but aware in mind during meditation.  Great sandwiches!”
  • “Great presence.  Informative, experiential, transformative, focussed.  So much more to know.  Great sandwiches and brownies!”
  • “As usual, a WONDERFUL and hugely enlightening day”
  • “All excellent”
  • “Great space, excellent food and speaker”
  • “Great organisation”

Wendy Bramham MBACP (Snr Accred), Psychotherapist
16th November 2016

“Opening the Hidden Door; Working with Dreams in Therapy” – Matthew Harwood, 24 September 2016

dreams-seminar-2016

Matthew Harwood at Wendy Bramham Therapy seminar

I attended this seminar because of my training and experience in Deep Memory Process with Roger Woolger, and also because throughout my life I have had dreams that I remember vividly and have tried to make sense of.

Having gone through the day’s seminar with Matthew Harwood, a Jungian Analyst, it is a pleasure for me to write a few words about it.

The seminar was perfectly constructed so that on whatever level your training or experience, you could get something out of it.  Matthew performed his role with skill and humour and we all learned a method of how to look at dreams – both for ourselves and for our clients.  I personally think that dreamwork is an extremely important way of understanding where you are and what could be the next steps forward. And what a relief not to have to take notes, as Matthew had plenty of handouts!

I wish the best to Matthew Harwood and his important work.

By: Elly Nickson, Chartered Physiotherapist

Participant Feedback:
Quality of Speaker: 5 out of 5 unanimously from all 17 delegates! This is exceptional and never achieved before.
Overall assessment of event: 4.94 out of 5

Delegate comments:
“I have been to other dream workshops but I am going away feeling I have learnt more than I have done before!!”
“As usual, event top notch”
“Excellent attention to detail. Good sense of cohesion around group and speaaker”
“The events are always good and well organised”
“Nice setting with plenty of space. Matthew is an excellent speaker. Overall excellent”
“Full and informative day”
“Well done as usual”

 

Seminar on Sex Addiction with Karen Lloyd, 18 June 2016

Karen Lloyd, an accredited psychosexual psychotherapist and certified sexual addiction therapist, gave us a full day of insight and knowledge on the quite misunderstood and challenging subject of sex addiction.

Karen Lloyd with Wendy Bramham

Karen Lloyd with Wendy Bramham

We learnt that people with sexual addiction do not have fun, that it is not related to a sexual orientation, neither is it connected to sexual fetishes or paraphilias. Sexual addiction is not the same as sexual offending.

We thought about the many words we might use to describe a person with sexual addiction problems and that they are mostly negative. Shame is the most acutely felt emotion and trained therapists work mainly with supporting and helping their clients to manage their feelings of shame.

Karen helped us to understand how she and her fellow trained therapists work with clients and gave us lots of detail on the complexities of working in this specialist field. It is a “process addiction” and the primary driver for sexual addicts is for mood altering purposes. We thought about some similarities in how alcohol addiction is now managed, for example providing support groups as a powerful and effective technique.

Karen spent the 2nd half of the day focusing on how she and her colleagues help the partner of a sexual addict and how isolating and shameful the discovery of a partner’s sexual addiction can be.Seminar sex addiction 2016

The seminar was interactive and well paced, packed with information and insight and very much a taster of how to work with this very challenging subject.

By : Jo Turner, June 2016

We are pleased with the delegates’ average feedback scores as follows:
Overall assessment of event: 4.89 out of 5
Speaker: 4.5 out of 5
Value for money: 4.89 out of 5

Comments from delegates:
“Fantastic delivery of the course by Karen, very insightful and interesting”
“Excellent value”
“Karen’s experience, warmth and knowledge made it easy to engage and enjoy the seminar”
“Very relaxed, intimate and cosy to share”

Seminar: Neuroscience and psychotherapy with Margaret Wilkinson, Sat 23rd April

Psychotherapy can help change the brain – this was the compelling take-away thought from Margaret Wilkinson’s excellent seminar on Saturday. Margaret reminded us how early childhood experiences shape not only our emotions and thoughts but our actual neuro-biology. However, these learned patterns and response do not need to be set in neural stone. Margaret outlined how recent insights from neuroscience indicate that the brain is plastic, creating new neurons and new connections throughout life. This means that whilst old patterns of thinking and feeling may be deep-seated and habitual, they can be changed. The empathic and boundaried psychotherapeutic relationship is a place which promotes this change, literally helping the brain think and feel in a new way.

Margaret helped us reflect on this through insights from her own clinical work, questions from the group and an interesting interactive exercise in which we practiced wordless empathy – simply receiving and responding to our partner’s body language and unspoken energy.

This was a good day’s learning, with plenty of food for thought and scope for exploring in our own work.

Briony Martin

(Counsellor and Psychotherapist in private practice and in an agency setting with clients presenting with addiction issues)

We are delighted with the scores from 19 delegate feedback forms:

Overall assessment of event: 4.63 out of 5

Speaker (Margaret Wilkinson): 4.58 out of 5

Value for money: 4.58 out of 5

written comments from delegates:

great organisation, lovely venue”; “excellent, clear, knowledge and experience shines through”; “speaker engaging, very knowledgeable and able to share this in a easy way”

Thank you to everyone who gives us feedback, which we take seriously and use to improve what we do.

Wendy Bramham 

Seminar on Working with Personality Disorder, with Pete Holloway

In March 2016 Pete Holloway, an experienced psychological practitioner within the NHS, treated us to an in-depth insight into working with patients on the Personality Disorder spectrum. Pete shared his vast knowledge and provided examples of clinical work to explain the different types of Personality Disorder.
We learned about how the enduring types of behavioural patterns are classified by the ICD 10 (W.H.O.) and DSM V (American Psychiatric Association) organisations.

Pete helped us to understand the dilemmas and contradictions likely to be experienced by the therapist working with patients and how important it is for the therapist to maintain therapeutic optimism in the therapeutic relationship to help both the patient and therapist.

The seminar was delivered by Pete with humour, drama and impact, making the subject matter come to life and be felt.

Jo Turner
PG Dip. Mar. Th. MBACP
March 2016

We are delighted with our delegate feedback scores from this seminar as follows:

Speaker (Pete Holloway): 4.82 out of 5
Value for money: 4.73 out of 5
Overall assessment: 4.65 out of 5

Delegate comments:
engaging, clear and concise
v good diagnostic terminology
really excellent (i don’t often say that!)
great speaker, engaging and informative
great venue
Pete delivered a very challenging therapeutic process and experience very well with humour and insight.