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It is no exaggeration to say that existentialism underlies most problems that therapists will encounter in their careers. While often considered an outlying therapeutic modality, the irony is that the central concerns of existential psychotherapy are literally a matter of life and death. They are the ‘stuff’ that most people end up in therapy to discuss. We all have much to learn from existential psychotherapy!

Existential therapy focuses on the human condition as a whole, viewing psychological difficulties as inner conflicts caused by an individual’s confrontation with the ‘givens’ of existence (see later on in this article for an explanation of ‘givens’).

Existential therapists look to help individuals live more authentically and to be less concerned with superficiality. Clients are encouraged to live fully in the present and to take ownership of their lives.

The difficulties and issues that therapist and client work on together in therapy are understood by the existential therapist to be an expression of the same four existential concerns. These are:

  • Death
  • Meaninglessness
  • Isolation
  • Freedom

It is a way of working that is well suited to those facing issues of existence, for example, those with a terminal illness, those who are contemplating suicide, or those going through a transition in their life.

What is Existential Psychotherapy?

Existential therapy takes its name and its principals directly from existential philosophy, particularly existential philosophers of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries such as Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jean-Paul Sartre, who all battled with questions about the complexity of human existence, the nature of uncertainty, and a view of life based on an acknowledgement of personal accountability and responsibility.

Existential therapy draws from existentialism in philosophy, examining the human condition, and exploring meaning (or sometimes the lack of it) in life.

Personal dilemmas such as searching for or discovering the meaning and purpose of life can be seen as the source of many issues that lie at the heart of most therapeutic enquiry, namely doubt, dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety.

In this way the existential approach is uniquely placed to help the increasing number of our clients who bring the world and its troubles into the consulting room, with concerns such as climate change, famine, hate crime, poverty, terrorism, religious intolerance or racial prejudice.

Existential therapy and authenticity

The primary aim of existential therapy is to enable people to be more honest and authentic with themselves, to broaden their perspective on themselves and the world around them, to make peace with their difficult pasts, and to live as fully as possible in the here and now. In essence, to be authentic and to feel a sense of freedom in the way that life is lived.

As an article by Psychology Today points out, existential therapy is a very practical, concrete, positive and flexible approach, tackling profound existential concerns such as death, freedom, finitude, suffering, loneliness, and loss.

The Givens of Existential Psychotherapy

It was Irvin Yalom that described the idea that an individual’s inner conflict stems from an individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence. These givens include:

  • Freedom and responsibility
  • Existential isolation
  • Meaninglessness
  • Death

These four givens are key to existential psychotherapy. Existential psychotherapy enables people to meet these givens of human existence and to embrace and meet them rather than turn away from them. In this way therapists who may not describe themselves as existential may have much to take away from this perceptive way of working.

Irvin Yalom highlighted the important ‘givens’ of existence – the struggles one has with freedom and responsibility, existential isolation, meaninglessness, and death.

The roots of existential psychotherapy

As mentioned, the roots of existential psychotherapy can be found in the work of philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre whose work dealt with the complexities of the human existence. It is Kierkegaard who provides existential therapy with some of its most quotable quotes, among them:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced”.

Without the benefits we have gleaned from a study of the human condition via 20th century psychotherapy, Kierkegaard in the mid 1800s theorised that human discontent could only be overcome via internal wisdom. Similarly, Sartre noted that as humans we are “condemned to be free.” Unlike other animals, humans are conscious and aware of their own mortality, but that means we have the possibility, and responsibility, of deciding in each moment what to do and how to be.

The existential vacuum

This existential thinking evolved into a methodology alongside the increasing popularity of psychoanalysis in the early and mid 20th century.

Following his release from a concentration camp, Viktor Frankl wrote the memorable Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946, and coined logotherapy as a method of creating meaning.

In this landmark publication Frankl describes a vast existential hunger within society. He called it the “existential vacuum”. He wrote about “a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century,” which resulted from the technological developments of modern society. The majority of Frankl’s writings were published in the 1940s and 50s, long before smartphones and iPads and other technologies were invented and in common use!

Frankl provides us with another quote that describes the essence of existential psychotherapy:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.

It is a curious thing that despite technological advances, greater standards of living, a decrease in general levels of poverty, etc that the UK is suffering a crisis of loneliness and greater suicide rates now than half a century ago.

The existential vacuum that Frankl described has not been eroded by a generally better standard of life. In fact, the opposite seems to be true: we are more likely to feel lonely and isolated and anxious than we did 50 or a 100 years ago, in spite of the more creative ways we have found to communicate and keep in touch with one another.

Many of us have read some of the wonderful books written by Irvin Yalom, in particular Love’s Executioner, and experienced the wealth of wisdom in his books so great that the desire to buy copies for everyone we know is quite considerable!

It was Yalom who defined the four “givens” of the human condition—death, meaning, isolation, and freedom, that have formed the cornerstone of modern-day existential therapy, and a method of psychotherapy that enables clients to face these givens head-on and so move towards living a more “authentic” and free existence.

It is also Yalom who has provided us with some profound memoirs and experiences on the subject of death and his own dying, helping us to understand the existential therapeutic approach in simple terms. That if we cease our struggle to overcome our fear of death, we can learn to coexist with the idea of our own death and actually begin to cherish the life we have by living it to the fullest. This is, quite simply, very profound stuff.

Exploring existential therapy further

We will be exploring the topic of existentialism in therapy and counselling further with Professor Emmy van Deurzen on Saturday 22nd June in the aptly titled workshop, Existential Therapy and the Art of Living. With existentialism being an integral part of many of the issues we see in the therapy room, this is a highly recommend workshop for all counsellors and therapists. We hope to see you there!

The post Existential Psychotherapy – Counselling and the Human Condition appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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We recently hosted a workshop with trainer, Michael Soth, looking at what therapists should do when counselling isn’t working. Whether it’s a feeling of being ‘stuck‘ or just not getting to where you aimed to with a client, this article distills some of the key learning points from the day that you can put into practice with your clients.

Michael has been studying the significance of enactments and their therapeutic uses since the mid-1990s, and has developed a unique relational body-mind approach that builds on an integration of humanistic and psychoanalytic perspectives. In this Brighton Therapy Partnership workshop on understanding and perceiving enactments, he explained the importance of acknowledging both the enactment, and the therapist’s role in how it is played out.

When counsellors are asked what they feel ‘isn’t working’ about therapy, the most typical response is a sense of ‘stuckness’ where we feel that therapy isn’t helping a client to move forward. Counsellors are trained into thinking that there isn’t an agenda, but in reality there is, albeit an implicit assumption that we are aiming to help clients move forward, to feel better, to change. So why don’t they ‘get there’? Perhaps it is the fear of pain, of change, the unknown, or of past trauma – ‘wounds’, as they are sometimes known. Here, we will explore what an enactment is, and how, as therapists, we can learn to work with them instead of fearing them as a rupture in the therapeutic alliance.

What is an Enactment?

An enactment is when a past wound is replayed within the therapeutic relationship, repeating patterns of relating that are usually outside of the client’s awareness.

An enactment demonstrates how a client views relationships. When they occur within a therapeutic relationship, it repeats a pattern of relating that the client is used to, and they’re typically outside of the client’s awareness too.

According to Freud, these patterns are carried in the unconscious and would be discovered in therapy through the transference and countertransference, which we now understand to be important sources of information in discovering clients’ relational patterns. However, whilst Freud believe in a mind/body split, we can also approach therapy with the view of a mind-body allegiance; that a holistic and broadly integrative way of being, along with a non-dualistic and two-person therapy approach, are the tools that are needed in order to ‘survive’ enactments.

The Working Alliance

It’s important to bear in mind that power is significant to how humans relate – how is this playing out in the therapy room? We tend to notice the working alliance more when it is rocky, or feels threatened – why is this? What is really going on when the working relationship is ‘good’ – is it still really working? A ‘bad’ working alliance can make a therapist feel like a failure – is this a justified response?

Creating a working alliance is a negotiation between two people; if you feel solely responsible for it, this is faulty thinking. Only when we can let go and acknowledge that the working alliance is co-created by the therapist and the client, then we can begin to look at it with curiosity and without judgement.

The client’s ‘wounding’ as an enactment

When the wounding enters the therapeutic relationship in moments of dissonance and conflict you may feel like a failure, like it’s your fault, but actually there is learning in this. Typically, that wounding contains large chunks of information that are ‘unknown’ or the ‘unthought known’ that cannot be formulated or spoken about, but is an implicit memory. This rupture in the working alliance contains information about a client’s inner world, and communicates itself to you, the therapist, in the enactment.

Within the enactment, feelings can be passed from one to another through projective identification and you may feel it in the body so it is not so clear where they belong – whose are they, yours or the clients? This can be an exhausting experience, and it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the body, as a client’s wounding can enter you through the embodied experience.

In intense conflict the wounding is out in the open, it is not mediated by defences, and feelings are present. Past relationships are being carried around by the client and during an enactment, these relationships show themselves in the present; people are a collection of internal objects, and the therapy room can get very crowded with each person and their ‘collections’, so it is important to pay attention to the enactments, as they may reveal a previously hidden aspect of the client’s inner world and experience.

An Experiential Example of Enactment

In our workshop, Michael used an example from the group in order to look in detail at a ‘difficult moment’ with a client, so that we could really get a sense of what was going on within the working alliance. He asked the participant to describe the client in as much detail as possible so that we could get a sense of how they presented in body and feelings, and then asked him to take the position of the client, leaving two chairs empty to represent the actual therapist and a projected version of the therapist.

It was fascinating to explore the recreation of the client’s disconnect between their awareness of self and the awareness of the wounding. Michael described this as the unconscious re-translating of what the therapist is saying, in order to fit their experience of the past relationship that is being re-enacted.

The therapist must undertake the difficult task of exploring with the client what is going on in this moment of conflict. How do we make them aware if we don’t want to be ‘in’ the enactment? How do we avoid becoming the ‘critical parent’ for example? But this is the therapist’s conflict, not the client’s. The conflict within the therapeutic alliance is already being played out in the enactment, and this is where deep therapy occurs, so don’t avoid it – you want to find out how this conflict is reflecting the client’s behaviour in order to gain a deeper understanding of your client.

Facing enactment can be like facing a storm. In many ways, the best thing to do is hunker down and surrender to it. Nothing you can say or do will be ‘right’ in the eyes of a client, but it is the key to furthering therapeutic relationships.

In some senses, an enactment is like a vortex; there is no way out other than to surrender to it and get spat out at the bottom! Reassuringly, it’s important to remember that there is no ‘right’ thing to do or say – whatever you say while an enactment is happening will be ‘wrong’ in the eyes of the client; either you play the role of the fairy godmother/father and appeal to the client’s Habitual Mode, maintaining the status quo, in which case the ‘wound’ is denied, or you lean into the Emergency, perhaps becoming the critical parent and destroying the status quo, surrendering to the ‘wound’ and creating more conflict within the therapeutic alliance.

Most therapists rely on the assumption that you can talk to the adult in the therapy room, but the adult is not normally present during an enactment so you are wasting energy trying to talk to them, and you can’t appeal to both the Habitual Mode and the Emergency at the same time, so if you can, stay in the moment of conflict and embrace the enactment.

The post What to do When Counselling Isn’t Working appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 2M ago
“Working with Risk and Suicidal Ideation” with Kirsten Amis on Saturday 6th July

The day will begin with an exploration of the personal and professional experiences of suicide within the room before focusing on the assessment of risk and suicide in relation to our clients and our self.

This will be achieved by highlighting possible dilemmas and the potential impact that these may have on our practice. We will consider questions around defining and assessing risk, how risk might impact on privacy and confidentiality, and the many ways in which risk might impact on the relationship between client and therapist.

In the second half of the day we will use recorded case studies to consider the impact of suicide and risk on our relationship and contracting with clients before we update our own practice with regard to language, law, ethics and confidentiality. We end the day reflecting on how our own risk assessment process could be developed to build confidence in this area.

This workshop is suitable for both new and seasoned counsellors and psychotherapists. Participants are encouraged to bring relevant client material for discussion on the day.

Kirsten Amis completed her training as a mental health nurse in 1987 and core counselling training in 1993. She has worked continuously since then as a counsellor, lecturer in counselling, and clinical supervisor with posts within the NHS, colleges, private practice and charitable organisations.

She is a BACP accredited counsellor and trainer for both BACP and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. She has been a full time lecturer in counselling since 1999 in addition to managing a busy counselling service in an inner city college. She also maintains a small private practice in Argyll, Scotland.

Kirsten has authored national counselling qualifications and text books including Becoming a Counsellor: A Student Companion (2011, Sage), Challenges in Counselling: Student Counselling (2013, Hodder) and Boundaries, Power and Ethical Responsibility in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2017, Sage). She is also one of the contributors to Key Issues in Counselling in Action (2008, Sage).

 

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

The post Suicide and Risk appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 2M ago
“Sexual Addiction: Myth or Reality?” with Dr Thaddeus Birchard on Saturday 13th July

This is a Masterclass with Dr Thaddeus Birchard. Dr Birchard is the founder of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ASTAC), a founding member of the Recovery Programme in the UK, and founder and Clinical Director of the Marylebone Centre for Psychological Therapies. The Marylebone Centre was founded in 2001, and is the first of its kind in the UK to offer treatment, support, and professional therapeutic training in sex addiction, and to offer personalised therapy around relationships, sexuality and mood disorders. This one-day event will include a critique of the conception of sexual addiction, as well as arguments for an understanding of sexually compulsive behaviour.

In this one-day event Dr Birchard will discuss the many clinical presentations, descriptions and definitions of sexual addiction. He will look at an historical survey of the addiction approach, the causes of addiction (aetiology), the impact of neuroscience, typical treatment interventions, and co-morbidity issues.

Dr Birchard will provide clear information on helpful interventions for compulsive sexual behaviour that can be used in individual therapy as well as with groups. The main focus of the day will be to provide therapists with tools they can use in helping their clients. These will include formulation, schema questionnaire, values clarification, sex plan, harmful consequences, trauma egg, the cycle of addiction, cognitive distortions, creation of a narrative of the sexual and relationship history and relapse management.

The training day will be delivered via PowerPoint presentation, illustrative video material, and experiential work.

Dr Thaddeus Birchard (DPsych in Psychotherapy, MSc Psychosexual Therapy) is a psychosexual psychotherapist, author, trainer and international speaker. He was originally a Parish Minister for 30 years (1971-2001), has been working as a therapist since 1988 and is registered/accredited with the UKCP, BABCP and COSRT.

Dr Birchard is founder of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity(ASTAC), a founding member of the Recovery Programme in the UK, and founder and Clinical Director of the Marylebone Centre for Psychological Therapies. The Marylebone Centre was founded in 2001, and is the first of its kind in the UK to offer treatment, support, and professional therapeutic training in sex addiction, and to offer personalised therapy around relationships, sexuality and mood disorders.

He created the first UK based therapeutic sexual addiction training programme for counsellors and psychotherapists and has trained many of his contemporaries working in the field. Dr Birchard was previously an Honorary CBT Therapist at the Maudsley and South London NHS Trust.

He is author of numerous articles and books including CBT for Compulsive Sexual Behaviour(Routledge, 2015), Overcoming Sexual Addiction – A Self-Help Guide (Routledge, 2017), and Co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Sexual Addiction (2017). He speaks frequently around the country and in the United States on sexual addiction and compulsivity.

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

The post Sex Addiction: Myth or Reality? appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 2M ago

The polyvagal theory is named for ‘polus’ meaning many, and ‘vagus’ the nerve which runs throughout the human body. It is a tool for working with trauma and social connection based on how our nervous system reacts to external stimuli varying from safety to danger. Tony Buckley, an expert on the topic, spoke to us about Polyvagal Theory and how it can be used in counselling and psychotherapy.

Safety and social connectedness

The polyvagal theory is all about safety (and how the vagus nerve reacts to it). It is therefore all about connectedness, as when we feel safe we feel attached to others. The theory therefore linked the idea of social connectedness as a response to an form of recovery from trauma.

Neuroception is a term coined by Stephen Porges, the creator of The Polyvagal Theory, and it refers to the detection of safety or danger we all do constantly without being consciously aware of it. It is that sense of intuition which warns us that someone around us is readying themselves to cause trouble or to hurt us. It is, however, possible for people to have a faulty sense of neuroception where you detect danger where there is none. This is often a response to trauma which sets all of our senses on high alert.

Our neuroception provides an intuitive sense of when we might be in danger. However, for some people their neuroception misfires and detects danger when there isn’t any.

Calming the nervous system

But if your alert systems are set to high, how do we reset them? As it’s a bodily system, we cannot use our mind to switch it off (this is why logic doesn’t work whilst we are panicking). So instead we need to use our bodies.

The body is controlled by two systems – the cranial nerve (controlling our 5 senses) and the vagus nerve which controls the heart, lungs and digestive tract. Therefore in order to control our physical reactions, we need to understand how to affect our vagus nerve. We therefore need to calm our bodies. We can do this through grounding exercises, breathing, listening to music we find soothing, shaking off the stress etc. We are all different and so will need to experiment with what specifically works for us.

The Window of Affective Tolerance

The window of tolerance is a brilliant way of understanding hyper and hypo arousal as experienced in times of distress.

Whilst we remain in ‘optimum arousal’ we can function normally, but if we become ‘hyper-aroused’ which is designed to make us mobilised for action, we might instead experience panic. This state is associated with fight and flight responses to trauma. At the opposite end of the spectrum we might find ourselves in ‘hypo-arousal’ which can numb us to external experiences but also can cause us to completely shut down as per the flop and freeze responses to trauma.

Vagus Nerve Systems

The vagus nerve covers three systems within the body which are associated with, and respond to different levels of threat.

Safety – social engagement system
This picks up signals from others from body language, facial expression and tone of voice and (if those signals are friendly) calms us. This system can override stress hormones that other people trigger in us.

Danger – sympathetic nervous system
Activating the fight or flight response by increasing muscle blood flow and tension, dilating pupils, accelerating heart rate and respiration, and increasing perspiration and arterial blood pressure

The sympathetic nervous system, which is covered by the vagus nerve, is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response we give to stress and anxiety, and many unconscious bodily changes take place as a result of apparent danger, including dilating pupils.

Life Threat – parasympathetic nervous system
Also known as the rest and digest system, as in times of life threat it will conserve energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This is best seen in the opossum which plays dead so convincingly that its prey will walk away, leaving it to escape when the coast is clear.

The vagal paradox is that some systems which can be shut down for survival can also kill us if pushed too far!

Immobilisation can be healthy (rest and repair), or for survival (feigned death). Mobilisation similarly has the same two sides of adrenalised fun (such as rollercoasters), or action against danger. However our body responds to trauma, the fact that it is doing anything at all is positive – the body is doing its best to keep us safe at all times.

Understanding the polyvagal system in therapy

In therapy, we can use this knowledge of the polyvagal system by utilising the social engagement system. As therapy is based on a therapeutic relationship, we can use this to help the client to recover from trauma by providing a safe ‘other’ which the clients social engagement system can sense and react to. Once the client feels safe with us we can then help them to work through the trauma, as well as to find other ‘safe’ people in their lives to spread the calm outside of the therapy room.

Booklist

You can download our booklist on the Polyvagal Theory via the link below

Polyvagal Booklist – Brighton Therapy Partnership

The Triune Autonomic Nervous System Poster

by John Chitty, Colorado School of Energy Studies

Triune poster

A thorough visual summary of the anatomy, function and phylogeny of the Autonomic Nervous System, according to the breakthrough research of Stephen Porges, PhD. 

This poster which visually explains Polyvagal Theory was developed and produced by John Chitty (RIP 2019). It is available through the Colorado School of Energy Studies in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Limited supplies are available through Brighton Therapy Partnership for £26.25 including postage (2nd class signed for delivery only). Please contact Laura on the BTP email address info@brightontherapypartnership.org.uk to place your order.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 2M ago

The polyvagal theory is named for ‘polus’ meaning many, and ‘vagus’ the nerve which runs throughout the human body. It is a tool for working with trauma and social connection based on how our nervous system reacts to external stimuli varying from safety to danger. Tony Buckley, an expert on the topic, spoke to us about Polyvagal Theory and how it can be used in counselling and psychotherapy.

Safety and social connectedness

The polyvagal theory is all about safety (and how the vagus nerve reacts to it). It is therefore all about connectedness, as when we feel safe we feel attached to others. The theory therefore linked the idea of social connectedness as a response to an form of recovery from trauma.

Neuroception is a term coined by Stephen Porges, the creator of The Polyvagal Theory, and it refers to the detection of safety or danger we all do constantly without being consciously aware of it. It is that sense of intuition which warns us that someone around us is readying themselves to cause trouble or to hurt us. It is, however, possible for people to have a faulty sense of neuroception where you detect danger where there is none. This is often a response to trauma which sets all of our senses on high alert.

Our neuroception provides an intuitive sense of when we might be in danger. However, for some people their neuroception misfires and detects danger when there isn’t any.

Calming the nervous system

But if your alert systems are set to high, how do we reset them? As it’s a bodily system, we cannot use our mind to switch it off (this is why logic doesn’t work whilst we are panicking). So instead we need to use our bodies.

The body is controlled by two systems – the cranial nerve (controlling our 5 senses) and the vagus nerve which controls the heart, lungs and digestive tract. Therefore in order to control our physical reactions, we need to understand how to affect our vagus nerve. We therefore need to calm our bodies. We can do this through grounding exercises, breathing, listening to music we find soothing, shaking off the stress etc. We are all different and so will need to experiment with what specifically works for us.

The Window of Affective Tolerance

The window of tolerance is a brilliant way of understanding hyper and hypo arousal as experienced in times of distress.

Whilst we remain in ‘optimum arousal’ we can function normally, but if we become ‘hyper-aroused’ which is designed to make us mobilised for action, we might instead experience panic. This state is associated with fight and flight responses to trauma. At the opposite end of the spectrum we might find ourselves in ‘hypo-arousal’ which can numb us to external experiences but also can cause us to completely shut down as per the flop and freeze responses to trauma.

Vagus Nerve Systems

The vagus nerve covers three systems within the body which are associated with, and respond to different levels of threat.

Safety – social engagement system
This picks up signals from others from body language, facial expression and tone of voice and (if those signals are friendly) calms us. This system can override stress hormones that other people trigger in us.

Danger – sympathetic nervous system
Activating the fight or flight response by increasing muscle blood flow and tension, dilating pupils, accelerating heart rate and respiration, and increasing perspiration and arterial blood pressure

The sympathetic nervous system, which is covered by the vagus nerve, is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response we give to stress and anxiety, and many unconscious bodily changes take place as a result of apparent danger, including dilating pupils.

Life Threat – parasympathetic nervous system
Also known as the rest and digest system, as in times of life threat it will conserve energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. This is best seen in the opossum which plays dead so convincingly that its prey will walk away, leaving it to escape when the coast is clear.

The vagal paradox is that some systems which can be shut down for survival can also kill us if pushed too far!

Immobilisation can be healthy (rest and repair), or for survival (feigned death). Mobilisation similarly has the same two sides of adrenalised fun (such as rollercoasters), or action against danger. However our body responds to trauma, the fact that it is doing anything at all is positive – the body is doing its best to keep us safe at all times.

Understanding the polyvagal system in therapy

In therapy, we can use this knowledge of the polyvagal system by utilising the social engagement system. As therapy is based on a therapeutic relationship, we can use this to help the client to recover from trauma by providing a safe ‘other’ which the clients social engagement system can sense and react to. Once the client feels safe with us we can then help them to work through the trauma, as well as to find other ‘safe’ people in their lives to spread the calm outside of the therapy room.

The post An introduction to Polyvagal Theory appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 4M ago
“The Counsellors Toolbox when Working with Shame: Exercises to Break the Silence of Shame and Build Shame Resilience” with Christiane Sanderson on Saturday 27th April

This training day will provide professionals working with shame an opportunity to develop and enhance their existing skills by adding new techniques to their therapeutic repertoire.

As toxic shame is primarily stored in the right brain, practitioners need to be able to facilitate right brain engagement through a range of creative techniques and exercises to expand their toolbox. In adopting a workshop style approach, counsellors and practitioners will have an opportunity to actively engage with a range of tried and tested exercises to use with clients who experience shame.

The aim is to enable practitioners to explore more creative ways of working with shame to help clients break the silence and secrecy of shame and build shame resilience through authentic pride. Through a series of experiential exercises including creating a web of shame, developing a Circle of Shame, the use of masks to cover up shame, making shame genograms to identify the intergenerational transmission of shame, the embodiment of shame and working with nesting dolls, practitioners will be able to uncover hidden shame and explore the range of shame defences.

The focus will be on uncovering not only client’s shame but also practitioner’s shame in order to facilitate working with clients who are drenched in shame. In emphasising that the best antidote to shame is to talk about it, practitioners will be able to help clients build shame resilience and restore authentic pride through developing a Tree of Growth.

Additional Information:
Other than a brief recap of some key points at the beginning of the workshop there will be no overlap in content with Chrissie’s previous workshop on ‘Shame in the Therapy Hour’. This is a ‘standalone’ experiential workshop. Attendance at Chrissie’s previous workshop on ‘Shame in the Therapy Hour’ is NOT required.

Christiane Sanderson (BSc, MSc) is an experienced counselling psychologist, lecturer and trainer in psychology and counselling, with a particular interest in child protection, interpersonal abuse and trauma. She is Lecturer in Psychology at Roehampton University and London University, Birkbeck College, and consultant and trainer to both statutory and voluntary agencies, as well as a practitioner with 25 years’ experience of working with survivors of CSA.

Christiane is author of many publications on safeguarding, child protection and abuse including Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd Edition (2006), The Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse (2004), Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse (2008), Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma (2010) all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse and Violence and The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook on Religious Sexual Abuse across all faiths, both published by One in Four. Her newest book, published in 2013, is Counselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse.

Christiane’s new book called Counselling Skills for Working with Shame was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in Summer 2015.

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Shelley Holland - 4M ago
“Broken Threads: The impact of trauma on the patient and the practitioner” with Dr Maggie Turp and Dr Phil Leask on Saturday 8th June 2019

During the first part of the day we will consider some of the different kinds of trauma that may affect people who come to us for help, whether some kinds of trauma are more difficult to move on from than others and, if so, why. We will focus particularly on the effect of trauma on a person’s overall self-perception and self-narrative. We will outline the main features of ‘narrative repair’ as a treatment option that can help patients develop and integrate altered self-narratives in the aftermath of trauma. We will also discuss PTSD, post-traumatic growth, and the concept of psychic skin boundaries and psychic skin defences.

In the afternoon, we will widen the discussion to address the phenomenon of secondary trauma, where a practitioner or researcher hearing or reading an account of trauma can himself or herself become drawn in and suffer alongside the traumatised person. How helpful is this level of empathy, and how can we best recognise and process our secondary trauma? And how do we manage a countertransference where empathy is lacking, perhaps because the traumatised person holds views that are diametrically opposed to our own?

Throughout the day, we will be drawing on video material, clinical examples and examples from the history archives. Participants are also invited to bring along clinical or personal examples for discussion.

Dr Maggie Turp is a psychodynamic psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice and a chartered psychologist. Her academic career has included lectureships at the University of Reading and at Birkbeck College, London. Since retiring from mainstream academic life, she has been a visiting lecturer at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

Maggie is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Psychodynamic Practice and Infant Observation. Her publications include several journal papers and two books: Psychosomatic Health: the body and the word (2001 Palgrave) and Hidden Self-Harm: narratives from psychotherapy (2003 Jessica Kingsley).

Dr Phil Leask is a writer and researcher, based at University College London. He writes on German history and literature, as well as on the meaning and significance of humiliation. He is the author of several published novels and short stories.

His publications include ‘Losing trust in the world: Humiliation and its consequences’ in Psychodynamic Practice, Volume 19, Issue 2, 2013; ‘The Writer in the Archives’ in The Psychodynamics of Writing (ed. Martin Weegmann; Routledge, forthcoming); and book chapters on humiliation and power. He is currently writing a book for Berghahn Publishing on the everyday lives of a group of German women, derived from fifty years of letters. He welcomes correspondence on p.leask@ucl.ac.uk

 

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

The post Broken Threads… appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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“Existential Therapy and the Art of Living” with Emmy van Duerzen – Saturday 22nd June 2019

Professor Emmy van Deurzen is a philosopher and existential psychotherapist. Her application of philosophical ideas to psychology, psychotherapy, counselling and coaching has been instrumental in establishing the existential paradigm firmly in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and around the world. She founded the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent’s University, the Society for Existential Analysis and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at the Existential Academy in London, of which she continues to be Principal.

In this Masterclass with Professor Emmy van Deurzen we will learn the basis of Existential Psychotherapy. Existential therapy is a philosophical method of psychotherapy that focuses on life’s daily challenges as well as on the extraordinary troubles and traumas that change our lives. This includes working with the political, social and cultural pressures that people are under in an increasingly fast moving and global world. In the 21st century psychotherapy needs to adjust to the trials and tribulations of a new age where we are all bound together and are flooded with constant demands and duties as well as with vast amounts of new information all the time.

Existential therapy has an important role to play in widening and broadening our horizons, providing a platform for integration of different methods in a disciplined and rigorous fashion. It draws on phenomenology and in this way allows for an in depth re-examination of people’s worldviews, assumptions, values and beliefs, working with people’s sensations, emotions, thoughts and intuitions.

Professor Emmy van Duerzen

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

The post Existential Therapy appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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Brighton Therapy Partnership by Brighton Therapy Partnership - 4M ago

We would like to wish all our subscribers, delegates, colleagues and friends a very Happy New Year.

We have an amazing programme of workshops and conferences for your during 2019, and hope to see you at a BTP gig very soon!

To check out what’s on offer please go to the Events page!

With all good wishes from Shelley, Rob, Chloe, and Laura

 

Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

The post Happy New Year! appeared first on Brighton Therapy Partnership.

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