Therapy used to be the place, outside the confessional, where one could talk about sex, dreams, violence and disturbing fantasies. But can we still appropriately respond to, for example, the man who when dropping his daughter off at university fancies her friend and worries he is a paedophile, or the female patient who can’t give up the narcissist because the sex is better, or the client who fantasies about bottling his opponents, or the ‘abused’ wife who feels helplessly trapped by her minority culture’s traditions, or the young person who is not sure whether to join a gang, etc.? In exploring how to work with sex, violence, and sex and violence, real or imagined, this conference explores some personal, cultural and economic factors that influence our abilities as psychological therapists.
There is a danger that government policies for psychotherapy, such as ‘Safeguarding’ and ‘Prevent’, remove issues of sex and violence from the consulting room with the danger that they are acted out rather than worked through. Furthermore, the increasing use of manualised, often in the name of ‘evidence-based’, trainings, together with therapeutic approaches that attempt to structure out both the client and the therapist having to stay with such issues as sex and violence, may be helpful. However, it is assumed that there is also a need for at least some psychotherapists and counsellors who can enable their clients to work through such experiences, real or imagined. With this in mind, this conference explores four major themes:
• In a neo-liberal world where policies such as austerity, alongside ‘Safeguarding’ and ‘Prevent’ may increase both the ethos, and acts, of violence and where the perpetration, victimhood and consumption of violence is often in normalized forms, what can psychotherapists and counsellors do?
• What are our values as psychological therapists to clients from different cultural, including religious, traditions regarding sex and violence?
• How can we better interrogate our moral blindness to the emotional violence that is caused by economic conditions, and in what ways may the psychological therapies help or hinder this sensitivity?
• As psychological therapists, can we hear issues of sex and violence in our clients, if we haven’t explored these in ourselves?
SAFPAC hold free seminars on the first Thursday of the month in term time at the University of Roehampton. All UPCA members are welcome to attend. Please see here for more details.
What has happened to long-term and open-ended psychotherapy & counselling? It would appear that in the UK, as with most other countries, the provision of long-term and open-ended talking therapies in the public services is disappearing. At this conference we explored whether this demise of public service long-term and open-ended therapies is inevitable. A related question is the effect on the public’s access and attitudes to private psychotherapy and counselling. At this conference we examined users’ perspectives and recent work carried out in the UK on the state of long-term and open-ended talking therapies. We then heard a speakers from Sweden where research evidence has convinced governments to sustain such services.
Through both our presentations of international research and our parallel presentations we considered whether the time is now right to reappraise what is happening in the UK and what research can now be carried out to evaluate the public provision of long-term and open-ended talking therapies.
Has something gone seriously wrong with the psychological therapies? Whilst it has been argued that, thanks to such initiatives as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), far more people are having psychotherapy and counselling than ever before it has also been commented that the psychological therapies are becoming an industrial process requiring technicians (Glenys Parry).
So is our work, and the way we are trained to do it, fundamentally changing with call centres, state regulation and manualisation in addition to the overall ills of neoliberalism? If this is the case how can we be clearer as to what is happening to us? This conference aims to explore what may be going wrong in the psychological therapies with particular reference to the nature of our work, and indeed the way we see our clients’/patients’ employment, through the perspectives of the socialist and textile designer William Morris, the educationalist and social thinker John Ruskin (both of whom were initially involved in the development of where the conference is being held) and Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist and sociologist (who, with his wife, was very much influenced by Ruskin). In different ways all three thinkers saw the move from cottage industry to factory production as leading to deterioration in working peoples’ quality of life. Rather than the intrinsic pleasures of the work itself, instead money compensates for our working time which leads to consumption as the external source of pleasure. Is this also becoming increasingly true of psychotherapist and counsellors, and is this becoming increasingly inevitable for their clients and patients? This conference is designed to open up how we might see ours and others’ work by reconsidering thinkers from the romantic and expressive traditions, as well as those brought to us through our call for papers.
We already have ‘critical psychiatry’ and ‘critical psychology’, is there now a need for ‘critical psychotherapy and counselling’? Some might argue that ‘critical psychiatry and psychology’ have come about because psychiatry and psychology are primarily agents of the state and therefore their courses need add-on ‘critical’ modules in order to give a semblance of thoughtfulness. Should the same be true for psychotherapy and counselling given that they are increasingly being subject to government regulation? Furthermore, is any critical thinking in psychotherapy and counselling made more difficult by the history of the ‘trainings’ and to what extent are those programmes associated with universities even more stymied by government influence combined with an audit culture? This conference will examine this question of ‘Critical psychotherapy and counselling- if not now, when?’ with the help of key speakers: James Davies, Del Loewenthal, Hugh Middleton, Ian Parker, Rosie Rizq and Andrew Samuels. In addition, the UPCA conference committee have invited over thirty authors to present papers that would make a contribution to this debate, including those which raise critical questions about our practices, theories and research. There will be 15 minute presentations and 5 minutes for questions.
Prof Del Loewenthal: UPCA and Conference Chair
In response to a growing interest from psychotherapists and counsellors the UPCA conference held in November 2012 focused on the practice of mindfulness. One claim from those engaged in mindfulness is that it allows people, through meditation, to find ways to be more open, expansive, and able to relate to experience differently. Indeed, a growing number of therapists have embraced mindfulness as a new approach, maintaining that it is enabling them to work differently with anxious and depressed patients/clients in a way where the ‘goal’ is to end the struggle with unwanted thoughts and feelings without attempting to eliminate them.
The conference, held on Saturday, 17th November 2012 at George's University of London Medical School, heard presentations from the following contributors:
Christine Dunkley started the conference with her presentation entitled ""What's In It For Me?" Introducing clients to the concept of mindfulness"
Guy Claxton spoke to the topic "Who's mindful of what? Disentangling the varieties of reflective experience"
Gwen Adshead presented on "The time of our lives: time perception, psychological disorders and their clinical implications".
Steven Stanley gave a talk entitled "Will the ‘Real’ Mindfulness Please Stand Up? Metaphors of Mindfulness in Pali Buddhism, Psychotherapy and Cognitive Science"
Attendance counted as 6hrs C.P.D.
We are very interested in hearing from both our members and members of the public who use the services of our clinical members - if you would be interested in talking to us at any other time please contact us.
We are considering developing a Reflective Practitioners Network and we hope to be able to use the potential of our UPCA network to research areas that may be of particular interest to us. Such areas of interest (one of which could include the beneficial and detrimental effects of current research approaches to our practices), and the development of the network were discussed at the UPCA conference, where it was also suggested that local groups might meet to discuss practice issues. If you would like to get involved in piloting this please contact Cath Hutson at Hutsonc@roehampton.ac.uk
For more information please read our UKCP Report on Practice Research Networks
Our policy is to develop regional centres in order to open up the possibility of CPD opportunities for all our members.
Research Centre for Therapeutic Education
The following events are held at Whitelands College, University of Roehampton and are open, free of charge, to all staff, students, alumnae and UPCA members. However, if you do not have any affiliation to the University of Roehampton and wish to attend an event or seminar you are welcome to apply for a place by contacting email@example.com.
5th February 2015 – (6.00 for 6.30pm to 8pm) Prof Del Loewenthal (RCTE)
‘NICE work if you can get it: Research and the psychological therapies as cultural politically influenced practices?’ (Room G001)
26th February 2015 - (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Gauri Chauhan (RCTE)
Stories of comedy and tragedy in psychotherapy: therapists’ experience of humour in sessions with clients diagnosed with a terminal illness (Room G071)
5th March 2015 – (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Dr John Heaton (PA/RCTE)
What is evidence in psychotherapy and counselling? (Room G001)
12th March 2015 - (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Bahareh Haghighat-Khah (RCTE)
Exploring the experience of psychotherapists working with clients presenting bodily symptoms (Room G071)
7th May 2015 – (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Prof Darian Leader (CFAR/ RCTE)
‘What is bi-polar?’(Room G001)
21st May 2015 - (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Betty Bertrand (RCTE)
Psychotherapy and desistance from crime (Room G071)
4th June 2015 – (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Dr David Jones (UEL)
From moral insanity to antisocial personality disorder: lessons from history for psychological therapists (Room G001)
11th June 2015 - (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Tony McSherry (RCTE)