Professional Development Group – what to expect

Introductions

We will be using my consulting room in Buxton which can comfortably seat six people.  We will begin with a short check in with each other.  Checking in involves each of us taking a few minutes to say a little about ourselves and sharing any relevant material.  Sometimes we have things happening in our work or personal lives that are significant, and we want to share as a cause of celebration with the group, or there may be difficult things going on that we want to name so that we can then focus on the task of the group for the day.

Agenda

Having spent some time getting settled with each other, I will then take the agenda for the day.  This means that I will ask each person what they want to work on in that session. Sometimes this might be to bring a client case for discussion,  a piece of theory for further explanation, an ethical dilemma.  For people engaged in exam preparation it might mean support in essay or dissertation writing, practising playing tapes, or exam coaching.  Not everyone will have an agenda item and sometimes people may have more than one. We will prioritise and aim to cover all topics, recognising that sometimes with a particularly full agenda not all items will be answered.

Once the agenda is established we will then move to the topic for the session. Lin will present an article, piece of research or theoretical idea as an input to the group and for discussion for the first hour.  Then we will move to working through the items on the agenda.

There will be time for a 20 minute break and I will provide hot drinks and biscuits.

The group will end as it began with a short check out as each person may wish to say something about their learning for the day.

Think this might be something you would like to include in your approach to your professional development?  Contact me to book your place or for further information.

Professional Development Days

Come and join the Professional Development Days in Buxton offering a dynamic and stimulating experience of learning and thinking  together as a group. Lin will be facilitating the group through a range of CPD and supervision activities.

Structure of the Day

Lin will begin the day’s session by choosing a topic for discussion or training.  This will provide an initial focus for the group.  Attendees are then invited to offer their own topics.  These topics will form the agenda for the remaining time.  Topics for discussion might be supervision of supervision, supervision of clinical work, ethical dilemmas, application of the taught theory to clients, support with exam work, tape and transcripts of work.

Who is it For? 

This CPD day is for practitioners who are most likely post-diploma level and beyond in experience (by negotiation). The group will work across all modalities for counsellors, psychotherapists and supervisors.  The focus of the day will be Humanistic and Transactional Analysis.

Costs and Booking

The cost is £70 per session. You are welcome to attend one, some or all dates.
To book your place contact Lin using the contact form below.

Dates

Friday 18th May

Friday 29th June

Friday 14th September

Friday 26th October

Friday 7th December

Typical Session : Start at 12.00pm and finish at 4.30pm with a break in the middle
  • Article discussion
  • Theory around a specific subject – e.g. shame, supervision, anger,
  • Application of theory to current client work
  • Clincial supervision pieces, tapes and transcripts
  • Exam and essay help

Finally…..

Come and join a warm and adventurous group that will offer you plenty of mental stimulation and dynamic involvement – adding energy and interest to your practice – and a vehicle for extra supervision.

Contact me

Supervising counsellors and therapists

The second of my short videos where I am speaking about how I think about supervision.  Counsellors and therapists who are not yet qualified are at an interesting stage in their development.  They are building experience and working effectively with clients and developing a sense of themselves as a practitioner. In this Vlog I’m describing how I approach supervision, the importance of learning in supervision and the role I take.

Quote of the Week Eight

Ischia

Ischia

Slightly late for last week, but some interesting thoughts from about how important it is to have sense of the direction.  It reminds me of the tension many transactional analysts experience between developing a clear contract for therapy when  working with clients and allowing the space for other areas of work to emerge that have not yet been considered.

And it seemed appropriate to use Roman font along with a picture from Italy.

Quote of the Week Six

Quote 6

I very much like this quote from EM Forster, it reminds me of some definitions of the concept of script in transactional analysis.  In TA the concept of script is that we make an unconscious life plan and live our lives accordingly.  It seems to me that both and Berne and Forster were encouraging us to free ourselves from any life plan and find autonomy.

What’s a Therapy Group Like?

Never, it’s not for me, I don’t have the confidence for a therapy group.

Probably just a few of the responses you might have to the idea of being in a therapy group with people you have never met before. And sometimes it can be the very fact that you do not know the other members of the therapy group that be so helpful.  These people most likely do not know you. They are not in a previous relationship with you:  a colleague, friend, sibling or parent, a partner.  They can give you feedback in a way that is not influenced by their history with you.   They may choose to share their responses to the issues you may be facing in your life. You will most probably find out that they have faced something similar themselves. You are not alone in your experience.

A therapy group can be an opportunity to gain support, to explore yourself and your relationships, to have a shared experience of connectedness.  There are different types of therapy groups and different configurations. Some meet regularly, often fortnightly or weekly for a couple of hours or so.  Some groups meet a three or four times a year for longer. Others meet as a one off for a weekend or longer.

As a therapist who runs a variety of different groups, I am often struck by the potency of the group experience for people.  Taking the step to join a therapy  group, to share intimate moments from your life can be a big decision for some people, one that I think reaps its rewards. Add to this of course, is the fact that I like running groups. I enjoy the interaction, the sharing and contact I see between people, the willingness to be open and support each other. I like the fact we nearly always find something to laugh about together. We enjoy ourselves and have some fun too.

I read recently that we are born into relationship – it seems to me that engaging in therapy with others is a natural way to learn about ourselves through relationship.

Information on my next therapy group can be found at Group Therapy

Creativity in Supervision

Art and Supervision

I’m really interested in the question of creativity in supervision. As a part time artist, creativity is something I frequently reflect on. In writing this piece I want to draw on my experiences both as artist and a supervisor and therapist to share some of those reflections and thoughts about creativity in supervision and psychotherapy.

How to Define Creativity?

When I was originally asked by Robin Hobbes to write an article for The Transactional Analyst (magazine of UKATA) I thought about how I define creativity, and then I did some reading. I looked at how creativity has been defined historically.  Some of the early ideas of creativity are that it is God given or from something beyond our understanding.  More recently Picciuto and Carruthers (forthcoming) write that “most theorists assume that creativity requires ideas, behaviour or products that are both novel and valuable.”  They also reference Boden (2004) who draws a distinction between “historical creativity” where “the novelty is relative to an entire society or tradition”, so for example, new movements in art and science where ideas are radical and new; and psychological creativity where an idea is new to a person in some way.  For example a new thought, emotion, way of doing, or process. I like how Edwards (1986) neatly summarises the conundrum of creativity, does it require innate talent or can it be learnt, she goes on to reference various thinkers’ ideas on the steps in the creative process.  I’m going to use this model to look at the activity of supervision and how it is a psychologically creative process for the supervisee.

Five Stage Model 

The model identifies five stages in the creative process:

First insight – a term that covers both solving existing problems and problem finding in the form of asking new and searching questions.

Saturation – the research stages

Incubation – period of reflection.

Illumination (The Ah Ha) – the sudden solution as a result of the integration of the previous stages nearly always brief.

Verification – putting the solution into concrete form and checking it for effectiveness.

IMG_20141009_152238

Pencil sketch

In my painting I’m faced with “problems” all the time. How to capture the light in a particular scene, how to use a selection of colours in a pleasing way. Most recently I have been faced with the problem of drawing buildings. I’ve felt dissatisfied with what I have drawn for quite some time, the first insight stage, the problem being how to draw buildings in a loose style and still be accurate. Alongside this I have been engaged in research, the saturation stage, practicing drawing buildings and reflecting on the results for a few months. Most recently, whilst spending time away where I was sketching every day I decided to undertake a more detailed pencil sketch en plein air (outside from life).  In using a pencil I was able to erase my mistakes and keep working on the drawing until I was satisfied I had the perspective correct. The sudden solution. Not that radical and new, but new to me in terms of process and what I had been engaged in recently.  I followed this by undertaking another painting using pen and watercolour, my preferred medium for plein air work.  I’d learnt a lot about how to draw buildings more effectively from my earlier attempts in pencil, about the quality of the lines, planning and composition, how to approach the drawing. The result was much more satisfying.

A more satisfying result

A more satisfying result

So how is this relevant to supervision?

I think that the relevance is in the process, one of problem solving creatively. I see part of my role as supervisor is to facilitate the supervisee accessing their creativity in problem solving with their clients and developing skill in being creative in the field of psychotherapy.

At the stage of first insight I will be contracting with my supervisee as to what “problem” they are seeking to solve. With some supervisees the work at this stage is often supporting them in the area of developing new and searching questions to ask. I have sometimes felt that adopting a contracting approach that seeks to define the problem too early can miss this extremely important part of the creative process, that of developing thinking around new questions to as.  By focussing too soon on what is immediately presented, then evolving questions through exploration may be missed.

Saturation, the research stages.  This takes place on an ongoing basis between client and supervisee and then in the supervision session between myself and supervisee as we discuss the client case presented. Assessment, transactional analysis, script analysis, the moment by moment, session by session experience of being with the client is part of the research process.  In the supervision one of my biggest areas of research is the parallel process.  I find it an invaluable indicator of the relational dynamics in the therapeutic relationship that exists between my supervisee and their client. I also like to be “creative” in how I facilitate supervisees in their research, looking again for new ways to ask questions. So for example using two chair work, or through encouraging movement and role play.

Incubation can take place between supervision sessions and is also part of the activity of supervision where we are reflecting on the experience of my supervisees’ relationships and work with their clients. Sometimes the period of incubation is rapid, where a supervisee may very quickly experience a sudden insight into a client. Other times incubation is much longer and takes place between sessions and the supervisee may be more reliant on the supervisor to provide solutions. Which brings me on to Illumination.  Another part of my focus is that of facilitating growth in the supervisee in confidence in generating their own solutions. That growth might mean encouraging them to undertake more research, or it might be about the first insight stage of asking different questions or more reflection time either with me or on their own.

Verification takes place when supervisees test out solutions through treatment direction and specific interventions with their clients. Reflecting on the impact of those interventions and bringing back for further discussion in supervision.

Ultimately I find thinking about the supervision process as one of creative problem solving very useful,  both in terms of what I am doing in the supervision with my supervisees, how am I being creative and when working with supervisees to facilitate them in developing their own thinking and solutions to client work.

This piece originally appeared as an article in the Transactional Analyst 2014.

Edwards, Betty. Drawing on the artist within. Simon and Schuster, 2008.

Carruthers, Peter & Picciuto, Elizabeth (forthcoming). The Origins of Creativity. In E. Paul & S. Kaufman (eds.), The Philosophy of Creativity. Oxford University Press.

The Drama Triangle

I thought I would write another post about an aspect of TA theory I really like, that I use with my clients and they tell me they find really helpful..

Relationship Patterns

The Drama Triangle, originated by Steve Karpman, is a way of understanding the repeating patterns we can sometimes get into in our relationships, that result in uncomfortable feelings.  How often have you found yourself getting into a familiar discussion with your partner or a family member, where both of you end up feeling a bit rubbish?  Karpman’s idea suggests that this is because we often take up one of three roles in our interactions with people.  The roles are Rescuer, Persecutor and Victim, and the defining characteristic of each of these roles is the view of self in relation to others.  This draws on the idea of life positions, developed by Eric Berne.  He proposed 4 life positions, where people take up one of the four positions listed below and live their lives according to it.

I’m OK You’re Ok –  This is where I see both myself and others as OK with appropriate levels of self esteem, I am able to trust in others and the in world.

I’m OK, You’re not Ok – this is very often the position of the person who bullies, persecutes or rescues. Someone who sees themselves as OK, and others as not OK in some way, they operate from a one up position.

I’m not OK You’re Ok – this can often be the position of the Victim.  The person who has low self esteem and views others as having more power than them and consequently behaves towards them in that fashion, they operate from a one down position.

I’m not OK, You’re not Ok – this is a life position of futility as self and others are viewed as not being ok and able to get on with life.  It may be perceived as futile and full of despair.

Looking again at the roles of the Drama Triangle,  both the Rescuer and the Persecutor operate from a one up position, from the I’m OK You’re not OK life position and the Victim operates from one down.  Here’s an example to illustrate this more fully.

Your colleague is preparing some figures for her boss and she has looked pretty stressed all morning.  She heaves a huge sigh, pushes her chair away from her desk and puts her head in her hands, saying, “I’m never going to get this done in time, I hate excel, I just can’t make sense of this at all.”  Immediately you rush over and take a look at what she is doing.  You think you have spotted the mistake she is making and correct it for her.  Saying “there you are, that’s sorted now”.

She takes a look at what you have done and tells you that it wasn’t the problem at all and now she’s probably going to have to start all over again and she wishes you would mind your own damn business.

You go back to your desk feeling awful saying to yourself  – “But I was only trying to help.”

Uncomfortable Feelings

If we take a look at this little episode again, this time putting in the Drama triangle roles, some commentary and identifying that switch in roles which so often results in uncomfortable feelings.

Your colleague is preparing some figures for her boss and she has looked pretty stressed all morning.  She heaves a huge sigh, pushes her chair away from her desk and puts her head in her hands, saying. I’m never going to get this done in time, I hate excel, I just can’t make sense of this at all.”

Your colleague is probably in Victim, the words she is using and her body language are pretty big clues.  She is could be issuing an invitation to be Rescued or Persecuted.

 Immediately you rush over and take a look at what she is doing.  You think you have spotted the mistake she is making and correct it for her.  Saying “there you are, that’s sorted now”. 

Your response is definitely one of Rescuing. At this point you have not been asked to help and in fact are operating in the dark doing what you think is best, rather than what the other person wants.  Thinking that you know best for someone, whether it is how solve an excel problem or what might make them happy is very much part of the Rescuer role.

She takes a look at what you have done and tells you that it wasn’t the problem at all and now she’s probably going to have to start all over again and she wishes you would mind your own damn business for once.

Your colleague has moved roles into Persecutor.  Part of the way the Drama Triangle plays out is for the participants to switch roles.

You go back to your desk feeling awful saying to yourself – I was only trying to help.

And you have now moved into Victim feeling bad because of getting it wrong.

Any of this familiar?  The good news is that once identify what it is we are doing then we can, if we wish, change. And how do we change this?  Firstly be becoming aware of our own behaviours and the roles we might more often take up. Then by moving from one of the Drama Triangle roles where someone is always in a not OK life position to the I’m OK You’re OK life position.

Here’s an exercise you might find useful to do as a piece of persona reflection.

Can you recall a situation where you were caught in the Drama Triangle?  What role did you take on, what role did the person you were with take on, what occurred in this situation and what was the final outcome?  How might you have got a different result?

Adult Ego State

Ego State Model

Ego State Model

Here’s the final post on explaining ego states;  one of the ideas in TA I use widely with my clients and that I find really helpful in understanding ourselves and why we think,  feel and behave in the ways that we do sometimes.

It was Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis who originally described an ego state as “a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour”.  I have written about the other two egos states, Parent and Child in previous posts. Today I’m going to write about Adult.  Where Parent, Adult or Child is capitalised I am referring to the concept of ego state, where lower case I am referring to real parents, adults or children.

Adult. 

When we are in our Adult ego state we are using thinking, feeling and behaviour in response to the “here and now”.  So being in my  Adult ego state means that I am in the present and will respond to a situation or stimulus using my capacity as an adult for solving problems,   reality testing situations, being honest,  direct and open about what I am thinking and feeling and being spontaneous.

Problem Solving

I’m going to look again the examples I gave you in my posts about Child ego state and Parent ego state to explain this further.  I want to talk about what the Adult response might be in those same scenarios as a way of demonstrating what I mean by a here and now response that uses all our resources for problem solving and reality testing.  In the example of getting an answer wrong in a training course,  I used this to demonstrate being in the Child ego state where the person re-experienced  an uncomfortable feeling from childhood when getting an answer wrong.  The Adult response might be to feel ok about not knowing an answer and then to reflect on what you have not understood and what additional information might needed to give the correct answer.  So I am engaging my problem-solving skills as an adult to solve the “problem” of not knowing an answer.

Anger

Thinking about the Parent example of being cut up by a car driving too fast on the motorway, in this scenario I talked about the person getting  angry and swearing  like their Dad had done.  The key point about this is, once again,  that the response to the stimulus of being cut up by another driver does not look at problem solving.  A response from Adult might be to check my own speed and see if I going too slow, I might move over out of the way of other drivers who want to get past. I might also think about my own driving behaviour and if I am driving safely and appropriately for road conditions.

Being Resourceful

How is this useful to us?  Being in our Adult opens all up all of our resources to be used;   so that we not using out-moded strategies that we have taken in from our parents into our Parent ego state that are not applicable to the lives we are leading.  It also means not re-experiencing a child response to a situation and using old ways to get our needs met.  The examples I have used are about taking action and problem solving.  Other scenarios might involve being how you are in a relationship with your partner, how you parent your children, how you relax and have fun.

Are there certain situations that stimulate a Child or Parent response from you?  What would be an Adult response?  Would this be more useful?

Child Ego State

Here’s the second of my posts on ego states.  A piece of Transactional Analysis theory that I think is a useful way of understanding ourselves and something that many of my clients have found helpful.  First, a quick recap on ego states:

Eric Berne, founder of Transactional Analysis described an ego state as “a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour”.  He identified that we each have three ego states, which he named Parent, Adult and Child.

Childhood

In this post I’m going to write a little about the Child ego state, described as archaic thoughts, feelings and behaviours replayed from childhood.  This is description is one of an internal experience based on early emotional experiences.  So, what do I mean by this?  Here’s a simple example.

You are at school maybe 4 or 5 years old.  The teacher asks a question, you think you know the answer so you put up your hand.  The teacher asks for your response, which, when you give your answer, is wrong.  As you get it wrong someone at the back of the class sniggers, and you feel really embarrassed at not knowing the correct answer.  And think “it’s not a good idea to answer questions in case you get it wrong.”

Thirty years later you are attending a one day training course as part of your job.  The trainer asks a question, you answer and get it wrong and in that moment you revisit the experience you had when you were 4 and answered incorrectly in class,  you feel the same embarrassment and shame and again think,  “it’s not good idea to answer questions. ”

Being a Child

So,  as with  Parent  Ego State when I am in my Child Ego state I am responding to a situation or stimulus using thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the past.  Now some of our experiences that we use from Child can allow us to revisit and enjoy the free and uncensored joy that was part of being a child. For example, when I am out walking with my dogs and it’s wet, muddy and raining there are times when I find myself enjoying splashing through the puddles.  I was walking on Birchen Edge last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the sticky mud sucking on my boots in just the same way I have since I was 8 years old.

Update Strategies

How is it useful to know this about our personalities?  When I am in my Child ego state I am likely to be responding to a situation or stimulus using thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the past and this response just may not be relevant or appropriate to the present.  I may also be using the strategies I developed as a child in response to the past, to a present situation an adult.  It is likely therefore, that those strategies will not be an effective way of problem solving.

I invite you reflect on a time when you think you might have responded to someone from Child ego state and to consider how else might you have responded.

UA-40724359-1