Like all professions we undertake professional development activities and I like to mix technical training with a focus; for example over the last few years we have concentrated on psychiatric medications, psychosexual therapy, safeguarding and suicide to name some of them, as well as more experiential events.
These tend to be about having a time and space to focus on a particular concern with living, for example change and uncertainty.
Whilst we have a wonderful range and breadth of expertise in the UK, I also like to keep an eye on what my colleagues in the USA are doing and in October I was able to visit Tampa.
I had a mixture of meetings and experiential workshops planned but in the end it was an experiential therapeutic workshop that I was really left reflecting on.
Just like the experience of most other professions, the pandemic and the move to working online had a huge impact on my experience working as a psychotherapist.
Although working online was something that I was used to doing when in-person sessions were not feasible, it was rare to start and end therapy solely online.
As with other professions, a significant amount of our time is taken up with activities outside of the therapy room that are essential to how we work. Colleague meetings and our own therapy and training also adapted and moved online.
Again, as with other professions, now is a period of readjustment whereby a hybrid approach combines online and in-person interactions.
Being able to work online is something for which I am grateful. I am able to meet people and engage with their concerns when it would otherwise be impossible logistically; I am able to do more of the things that interest me and undertake training that would otherwise be impossible.
For example training in the specialism of psychosexual therapy would previously have been a logistical nightmare but working online made it possible.
However I have found myself looking for all opportunities to meet others in person and the experience of the workshop was so powerful I’ve wanted to share it.
There were a number of elements. Firstly, the title ‘Transcending your reality’ encouraged me and I saw, the other attendees, to reflect on what in life is experienced as difficult that might helpfully be transcended.
Secondly, we gathered in a lovely light space and were able to sit together in a circle with room between us which felt just the right number, creating for me an ambience that felt friendly and engaging.
Finally, there was the facilitator – Jaz. Originally born in India with a history that included moving to Hawaii and dividing his time running coaching schools both there and in Japan, he was now in Tampa and keen to share.
The event attracted other therapists and also non-therapists who had a specific concern with which they were hoping for help.
I was interested to see what the facilitator had to share and also to experience the environment he created. He welcomed everyone, offered a few words about himself and invited people to share their reasons for being there.
He attended carefully to everyone as they spoke but also the reactions of everyone to each speaker. Ultimately he was looking out for what was paining each member of the group.
Pain could be understood by dilemmas with which the sufferer felt stuck and transcendence was a possibility by finding a way to break the ‘stuckness’.
He was clear that for anyone suffering with trauma or other diagnosed mental health conditions that the group was not going to be an answer but said concerns that caused pain on a day to day basis might benefit from the workshop.
He combined dialogue with people about their concerns, information from psychology / neuroscience and exercises using the breath and meditation techniques.
It seemed to me that he looked to explore a dilemma to a point at which it no longer felt helpful and effectively find a way to move away from it and bring a new focus.
I particularly liked how he spoke about our potential to change our moods within three minutes and demonstrated this through breathing and focusing tools.
I witnessed how with a changed mood he asked people what help they needed now, asked others in the group to share any suggestions and then witnessed people finding new ideas and ways forward.
I sensed that his care and attention was crucial in him being able to respond in the right way. I cannot write about exactly what I witnessed with others as that is for them to share if they wish, but to illustrate my experience, with me he noticed when I pulled a blanket around myself (my temperature had dropped from sitting still so long and it seemed my fellow attendees were more used to the air conditioning than I) and he offered a second blanket.
I was struck by how the second blanket was exactly what was needed and that he had understood that even before I had.
As I shared goodbye hugs with the group I was left reflecting on the nature of the experience and I thought of the spirit or sense of trust and goodwill, camaraderie, that had been built in what seemed such a short period of time.
I think it was our being together in close physical proximity that in this context, as in much of my therapy work, that was crucial to what made it so memorable.
I’m not sure I would have appreciated the workshop as much as I did before the pandemic, I think about how separation often reveals to us the extent of our attachments and what has most meaning for us. It really is great to be back in person with others.
UKCP accredited Psychotherapist
Psychotherapy, counselling, relationship therapy and coaching.
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych
Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.
Author of Better Together
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