The university of Roehampton has a PhD opportunity. The information is as below:
Here at the Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation we're delighted to be offering a fully funded PhD to help us develop humanistic/person-centred therapy for unwelcome experiences of presence in grief.
“I don’t want to be this way” - a Person-Centred response. By Karen Pollock
LGB - ……; T - trans/transgender
GSRD Gender, sexual and relationship diversity
UPR -Unconditional Positive Regard
CBT Cognitive Behavoral Therapy
cis het - cis (not trans) and heterosexual
SInce January of this year LGB, and finally T, people have been protected from conversion therapy by members of all of the major organisations which regulate counselling in the UK (1). The harms of conversion therapy have been demonstrated, both through the lived experience of clients, and a number of different pieces of research. A consensus has been reached that trying to change someone's gender or sexual identity is contrary to ethical practice (2).
However, this leaves a question, especially for those who have “person-centred hearts” - how do we reconcile the known harms of conversion therapy, and the prohibition on offering to change a client's gender and/or sexual orientation, with a client who enters into therapy in distress about their gender and/or sexual orientation, and wishes to change it?
We can say with some certainty that a person-centred approach can be exceptionally beneficial for gender, sexuality and relationship diverse clients. Coming from a place of accepting the client's reality creates space for a client to bring what they need to a session. A person-centred approach is rooted in leaving the counsellor’s beliefs at the door, and entering into the client’s world without judgement. This can be especially empowering for GSRD clients, who experience a world laden with judgements about their most intimate thoughts, feelings, and ways of being.
As Carl Rogers himself said: “true empathy is always free of any evaluative or diagnostic quality. This comes across to the recipient with some surprise. "If I am not being judged, perhaps I am not so evil or abnormal as I have thought.”
Words like evil and abnormal have dogged the footsteps of GRSD people, and are often internalised. As Dominic Davies discusses here (3), demonstrating the core conditions can of themselves be life changing for GRSD clients. To a client exploring their gender and/or sexuality, to be met with empathy, lack of judgement and UPR, perhaps for the first time, can be a moment of revelation. Perhaps the beliefs they have internalised are wrong. Perhaps the aversion others show is not universal. From the schoolyard insult of “That's so gay” to transphobic jokes on mainstream TV, a client absorbs messages from birth about how certain ways of being are aberrations, lesser, worthy of mockery. Whilst the idea of rehearsing in the therapy room may seem to belong to CBT, the person-centred therapeutic relationship is often a rehearsal for the world outside too. Picture a client who looks “male” but tells their counsellor that they are a woman. In a split second a myriad of possible reactions, each with huge repercussions are opened up. If the therapist responds to the client with acceptance of their gender, with empathy and unconditional regard, then the path marked “this is possible outside the therapy room” will seem a little more achievable.
What about the client who says, I am trans and I do not want to be, or I am gay, and I do not want to be? What about the client who feels bisexuality is shameful, or that their thoughts about their gender need to be “fixed”?
Part of our role as counsellors is to hold negative emotions, not to deny, nor seek to denigrate, downplay or minimise them. If someone is in a place where such a vital part of their identity as gender and/or sexuality is causing them pain, that must be acknowledged. Perhaps part of the problem here is simple narratives, often put forward to reassure cis het people. There is an idea that, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, members of gender and sexual minorities all unfold their wings and fly. In this emergence the only issue faced is acceptance of oneself, which has become framed as being either in or out of the closet. To be in the closet is seen as incongruent and inauthentic, and to “come out” (presented as a one time event of transcendence) is to be one's authentic self. Indeed Darnell L Moore argues that coming out is in fact a heteronormative construct (4). For some GSRD people coming out is indeed a celebratory moment, but not for all, and, in a recursion of pain, and shame, there can even be guilt at their shame of their identity. As Tangney (5) explores, shame and guilt can be anticipatory, and consequential. A client need not have acted on their desires in order to be feeling shame or guilt about the existence of these desires. Nor do they have to have a clear view of what their authentic self is to have absorbed ideas about what an authentic self is, raising within them feelings of shame, and failure.
Within a person-centered therapeutic relationship, the first step is to create a space where these negative emotions can be displayed, received by the therapist, and not judged. It may feel “right” to say “it's ok to be gay”, or that gender is a spectrum, and - indeed - further along the road some clients may want and need to hear that. However, such affirmations contradict the client in the here and now, and may add to the feelings of guilt and shame. Just as we would not (hopefully) tell a mother who disclosed she did not love her children equally that she must change how she feels, so we should not tell a client unhappy with their gender and/or sexual identity that they should feel differently.
Holding the negative feelings, allowing them to exist, going further, and honouring the trust which leads to their expression, allows space to explore where the negative feelings come from. As Julia Serrano discusses detransition is often a result of transphobia (6). Each client will have their own particular reasons for struggling, but some familiar themes may emerge. Cultural and religious backgrounds which see their identity as sinful, aberrant or outwith the culture cannot be ignored. Nor can the very real existence of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in society. In some ways a counsellor can be a permission giver, or denier, to the fears expressed by the client. By openly accepting the negative feelings we say that they have value. It is why it is especially important all therapists, regardless of orientation, be aware of the oppressions a minority client may face. This was reflected in the recent update to the BACP ethical framework (7). Some people face violence, family ostracism, hate speech and rejection by their community. They need to be allowed to express their grief, anger, and uncertainty around this.
For those of us with person-centred hearts it should not be a new step to accept where the client is coming from without interpretation or judgement. As we accept the client’s negative feelings, we must be aware though that we are not colluding with them. We should have examined reflectively how we feel about GRSD people. By collusion, I mean when a client expresses dislike of a part of themselves, it is not our place to agree that being gay, or bi, or lesbian, or trans, or any other identity is worse than belonging to the majority. Acknowledging that society may make it harder, that there may be violent reactions to a client, is not the same as saying society is right. A client may well be right in expressing a belief that life would be easier if they were cis/het, it does not equal cis het being better. In the same way, exploring how a client might accommodate some of their fears, by for example inviting in rather than coming out, should not be about diminishing their identity, but recognising the fears are genuine.
- Stonewall Welcomes Clinical Condemnation of Trans “cures”
- The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Human Rights Campaign
- The six necessary and sufficient conditions applied to working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients Davies (1998)
- Coming out or Inviting in? Moore (2012)
- Moral Emotions and Moral Behaviour Tangney (2006)
- Detransition, desistance and Disinformation Serano (2016)
- Just who is educating who? Pollock (2016)
You can follow Karen on Twitter: @Counsellingkaz
This is to let you know that there are two rooms now available at the St Rita's Centre for this year's La Jolla Program in Honiton, Devon, 29th April to 7th May.
The St. Rita's Centre is situated in the beautiful vale of Honiton, noted for it's market and lace. Honiton is five miles from the coast and fifteen miles from the historic city of Exeter. The Centre was established in 1960 as a junior seminary but has been refurbished and updated and is now a modern retreat centre with all bedrooms ensuite and a lift to each floor. The food is plentiful and excellent. The atmosphere is relaxed and the friendly and helpful attitude of the staff fits well with the person-centred ethos of the workshop.
The La Jolla Program is a project of the Center for Studies of the Person which is based in San Diego, California.It's internal focus is one of supporting its members in their personal and professional lives. It offers workshops or consultations and sponsors events for the general public or specific groups.The staff at the Centre worked intensively with Carl Rogers, who was personally involved in the development and establishment of the La Jolla Program. Thousands of people from around the world have participated in the Program, which provides an opportunity to learn, experiment, study and experience the person-centred approach.
The Person Centred Approach is built on a basic trust in the person. A trust in the constructive directional flow of the individual toward a more complex and complete development. No matter how things may appear there is always an organismic movement within the individual.This movement may be thwarted, but it's seeds are always present.
The Person-Centred Approach is a systemic, holistic approach that focuses on health rather than illness, empowering rather than curing. It promotes the development of individuals,groups and organisations, through the process of freeing people to be responsible for what they do, rather than encouraging passivity and dependency.
This will be the fourteenth year that the Center has brought the La Jolla Program to the UK. We look forward to welcoming new participants as well as more regular attendees, and hope you will be able to join us.
Further details and an application form are available on our website www.lajollaprogram.org
Kay, Will & John
3 Foundation blocks of the person-centred approach
January 2017 Newsletter from La Jolla Program
Welcome to our first Newsletter for 2017.
These extracts are taken from an article by Jerold D. Bozarth.
There are three basic premises of the person-centred approach that identify it as a therapeutic paradigm different from other therapy and growth activating approaches.
These underlying premises are:
1. That the actualising tendency and the formative tendency are the foundation blocks of the person-centred approach and combined is the only motivating force.
2. That the individual is always his own best expert and authority on his life and
3. That the only role of the therapist is that of embodying and communicating certain attitudinal qualities. That is, the intent of the therapist is to be who he is while embodying the attitudinal qualities in order to promote the clients actualising processes.
Rogers was explicit about the foundation of the approach in many of his writings. For example, Rogers(1986) succinctly states:
"The person-centred approach, then, is primarily a way of being which finds its expression in attitudes and behaviour that create a growth promoting climate. It is a basic philosophy rather than a technique or method. When this philosophy is lived, it helps the person to expand the development of his own capacities. When it is lived, it also stimulates others. It empowers the individual, and when this personal power is sensed, experiences show that it tends to be used for personal and social transformation."
The essence of the person-centred philosophy in leadership includes giving autonomy to persons in groups, freeing them to "do their thing" ( i.e, expressing their own ideas and feelings as one aspect of the group data),facilitating learning, stimulating independence in thought and action, accepting the "unacceptable " innovative creations that emerge, offering feedback and accepting it, encouraging and relying on self-evaluation, and finding reward in the development and achievement of others.
In short, trust in the natural growth process of humans is the sine qua non of the approach. The basic premise is an operational premise.
Rogers’ (1978) dedication to the basic premise of the actualising tendency of individuals and formative tendency of the universe is reflected in his comments when he stated, "The one thing that probably remains unchanged for me is trust in the fact that there is a group wisdom. I can really trust the group and trust the process.” He elaborated further upon the importance of the principles of the person-centred approach while working with groups:
"That's one of the duties of learning to be truly empathic. You may not have known that this would occur- or that would crop up- but your whole mind-set is a readiness to understand, to try to grasp what it is that has meaning for the person at this point and that gets across to the group- the desire to understand...The whole aim is to relinquish any attempt to control the outcome, to control the direction, to control the mood."
Rogers' summarisation is also appropriate here. He said:
"I'm asking myself, how can I be ready for the unexpected? Can I really be open? Can I really be open to any clue that might open up doors of new understanding? That's the way to approach a group also."
Bozarth J.D (1988) The Person-Centred Large Community Group.
Rogers C.R (1970) On Encounter Groups.api
Rogers C.R (1986) A client-centred, person-centred approach to therapy. In J.L Kutash &A.Wolf Eds, A Psychotherapist's Casebook.
The first meeting of the Central London Person-Centred Encounter Group will be on Saturday 18th March 2017. It is open to anyone interested in the person-centred approach and aims to offer trainees, counsellors and therapists an opportunity to come together for support and personal and professional development. We now have a venue and a new Facebook group which will help us to communicate with everyone who want to come along. Maybe one day we will have a website – but early days!
The encounter group meetings will not be facilitated, but will be unstructured and will develop each month according to what people bring and want to focus on. We are hoping to have the opportunity for occasional guest speakers and themes if this is something that the group would find helpful. The aim is to offer a confidential space, allowing people the chance to be open and share their experiences, challenges and beliefs in a safe, accepting and warm environment. We look forward to discussing with others their ideas for the group and the direction to take.
Meetings will be for 2.5 hours and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certificates will be available on request.
The group will meet on the third Saturday of every month from 10.30am to 1pm, with the first meeting on Saturday 18th March 2017. The cost for each meeting is £5 and includes refreshments.
To join or find out more please sign up to the Central London BAPCA Facebook group or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coventry's BAPCA local group would like to invite you to a day of encounter, based at the Quaker meeting house on 25th February. 10.30-4.30
The venue is 0.7 miles from the rail station, and several (7!) buses run from the rail station to the bottom of the road the meeting house is on. There is limited parking at the venue, but on-street paid parking and a multi-storey car park near by.
BAPCA will provide a range of teas, coffee and cold drinks (and maybe a biscuit or two), and we ask that you bring your own lunch, either just for you, or as a bring and share. As a bring-and-share, please make sure it's clearly labelled.
This is a self-structured day of encounter, which is facilitated non-directively. This means that we (BAPCA trustees) won't be dictating the structure or the content beyond the start and finish time. This day is open to members and non-members of BAPCA and we actively hope that non-members will come along and be involved.
The kitchen and downstairs food area will be open at all times.
Please feel free to pay online here
The meeting house has a loop and a microphone available for use, and the ground floor has an accessible toilet. There is a small ramp up to the main door and in the building, the coffee area has a small ramp (or one step down) within it, and a stair lift (in the style of a Stannah lift) between the ground floor and the main meeting room.
We recognise that cost is prohibitive to some people and we'd like this to be as little of an issue as we can manage. Therefore, we are making a number of grants available per event. The grants are available for the full cost of the attendance price (£20 for members/£40 for non-members) and 90% of your travel cost, up to a maximum for £100 total. So - if your ticket cost is £40 and your travel is £70 we will cover £100. If your ticket cost is £40 and your travel is £50 we will cover £85 total. Equally, if you would like to pay something, but feel you cannot afford all of it, you can ask for this as well - just drop me an email.
For most people, you might well be able to pay in advance and claim your bursary back on the day/via phone with Di. And that's fine. But you might also need the money in advance. This is also possible - please drop me a line as below.
If you have any questions, please send LJ an email. If you'd like to book, please give Di a call on 01600 891508
The WAPCEPC Scientific Committee invites PCE researchers to join our effort to create and to organize a research database so we are sending a questionnaire in order to gather the information. Those who have never answered the questionnaire, this is a great opportunity to do so; for those who previously answered the questionnaire, this is a time when you can update the information about your ongoing projects and new research interests.
This database will allow us to link and liaise with research initiatives, support PCE conference organizers and identify interest groups, creating a network of information for researchers, research consultants and practitioners. This information will also maintain and keep updated research pages of the WAPCEPC website and explore further editions of PCE works and future publications.
If you want to participate, please fill in and submit the this form to email@example.com by February the 28th, 2017. You can also send the form to other colleagues to be completed as well.
We appreciate your time and effort to contribute to our goals.
It's that time of the year again, when we ask if anyone has anything they want to write or create for us. Last month we had some beautiful art from Lynne Blundell as well as some poetry. Members can catch up with old editions online, or just not recycle their paper versions! We've also had crosswords and there will be a wordsearch in this quarter's edition.
Whatever your fancy - if it's person-centered, and you're feeling creative, please feel free to create something for us. You can send it to Sara and Mort at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sara at email@example.com who would both be glad to receive submissions.
This month of course, will include the six winners (and new members) of our BAPCA competition and I hope you'll agree with me that they make for great reading! There is always room for more however, and you would be welcome to send something for the summer edition if you wish!
- By Lynne Blundell
There are four themes that pervade my life; learning to love myself, personal growth, a yearning for peace and the ubiquitous difficulties that arise between the internal mind and the external world. It is no wonder then, that one of my first paintings that brought together my counselling work and love of art involved the Carl Rogers’ quote; “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change.” (Rogers, 2004, p.17) I still struggle with this paradox and my journey, I suspect like many, is one that involves creating space in life where self-acceptance, personal growth and resting in self-care are all somehow held, perhaps gently juggled or nestled somewhere together, within.
I am a trainee person-centred counsellor, currently in my second year of a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and I am also an artist; painter, mum and writer amongst other things. I have my own art business that I started up 3 years ago and is still in the early stages of growth. I wanted to write this piece to share some of my work in the hope that it comforts and inspires but also to talk about how my art has naturally evolved into a way to connect with people that struggle with mental health. Art is also part of my own personal development and I feel that this journey through art exemplifies self-actualisation in its subtleties.
When I began to create art, something that I would often ask myself was “What does your art do Lynne?” and I floundered trying to find a coherent and useful answer. Art was originally something I used to aid my own counselling that I had some years ago to deal with long term abuse, depression, anxiety and trauma. I began expressing in paintings how I felt and what I wanted my life to look like, trying to create in pictures what I couldn’t see or feel in reality and to express what I could feel. It was entirely self-directed; expressionistic and abstract in quality. I had no official training in painting, I just...began.
I have come to love and prefer this exploratory method as it is congruent with my person-centred value of trusting our own internal voice. There can be a place for learning techniques and skills but I have found that an emphasis on instinct and embracing myself as a feeling being is fundamental in the process of creating. So when I opened my art business I was still in the stage of art being about me and my expression. What my art did was provide me with an outlet for my emotions, visions, thoughts and in all honesty: it was an attempt to make some money for my son and me, whilst I was training as a counsellor and trying to find some ground upon which to build a future. I have had a good deal of successes throughout the past three years; painting commissions, hosting my own exhibition, having my work appear in various galleries and some sales along the way but I am always striving to answer that question: In a world of so many creative and talented people, what can my art and art in general do?
During the last three years I have also worked part-time in a rehabilitation centre for addiction and trauma, which was a wonderful opportunity that came along serendipitously and I learnt a great deal from it. I was able to work with some inspiring people and sit alongside them on their recovery journey. Taking a person-centred approach in group work we would tentatively use art and poetry to explore emotions and hopes for their futures. We know from verbal and written feedback that clients found creating art and exploring art, enabled them to be present, find some peace and express themselves; create an external visual that embodied or bridged the gap between their inner and outer worlds
During that time my own art went through what I would call a fermenting period: I didn’t paint a great deal but I was absorbing and learning from people and practice. I decided to leave my job at the rehabilitation clinic due to a desire and need to manage my own mental and physical health, focusing on my future as a counsellor and artist. Again managing my own life seems an ongoing process; through constant self-reflection, I find I need to consistently monitor my own health in order to be able to care for others.
In the last year and quite organically; through becoming comfortable with acrylic painting, I started using watercolours. I was ready to explore different media and play with something I was unsure about and had always thought was very ‘wishy-washy’. Challenging my own tacit judgements, I discovered that the unpredictable way the colour would seep and merge reminded me of how life events are often interwoven, beautiful and random. There is a reassuring consistency in the way that the paint can be autonomous and sometimes unpredictable. For me this mirrors life and the counselling process; the relationship between myself and the paint, the counsellor and the client; allowing creativity to emerge in the space and being accepting of what is. Through this experimentation and a desire to find words to comfort my soul I began writing words for my paintings. I am also an avid collector of quotes through my love of reading and use these in my paintings. So, I finally started to answer the question “What does my art do?”
There are aspects of myself that still need healing, care, expression and encouragement and these paintings are a personal reminder to me to look after myself. But they are also attempt to make visible, words that might be whispering in others’ hearts, words that might resonate. They are an attempt at expressing and connecting internal experiences. I publish most of my work primarily on Twitter, Facebook, and my website and when requested, I print postcards and archival quality prints of the paintings. I have found that the watercolour paintings with words are some of the most popular and purchased pieces of work. I believe this is because they voice the gentlest and sometimes most painful parts of ourselves; giving our struggles, external expression of honesty and hope through the difficulties we can all face at times.
In my experience, one of the sneakiest aspects of depression and anxiety is how it can shut down a person’s world, at times paralysing energy, crushing hope and leaving them despairing. Particularly in the world of social media, where people are exposed to so many opinions and success stories, it can be difficult to stay attuned to our own internal locus of evaluation. It can appear at times that we are not now communicating and building relationships with people, but simply observers of people’s narratives, commentaries on their own lives. It is a dangerous paradigm where worthiness is measured by numbers of ‘likes’. However, I do also see people reaching out to one another, supporting one another; compassionate people searching for connection. People sometimes share my work through social media and it gives me hope that it will help someone in a small way and maybe even in big unknown ways too! I believe art can ‘assuage the anxiety of separateness’ (Rogers, 2004, p.356).
One of the challenges I face as a counsellor, artist and single parent (or ‘whole parent’ as I like to say) is how to hold my internal passions and compassion for people close to my heart whilst striving for financial stability and meeting the external expectations that the society places on me. A struggle for balance is always present. When I began my journey in counselling and from there my journey as an artist, I didn’t really have a specific plan and any plan that I did have has often been derailed and taken many colourful turns. It is sometimes tempting to start from a position of needing to change and grow as maybe clients do when they enter counselling. They want to move from pain to pleasure, out of sadness to happiness. However, the ‘curious paradox’ is true; by way of being present and accepting of self, there is somehow a subtle shifting and life naturally changes. When I really listen to my voice, sit with where I am, embrace what I love and express that, magic can happen.
For me it has become clear that counselling is one of the most precious ways a person can heal, by being seen and heard, prized and understood. Creating the space that allows someone to look within and the gravity of what occurs in that space can be quite magical and it can change people’s lives as I’m sure many of you know even more than me at this stage in my learning. There are still too many people on waiting lists, people unable to access support, people that struggle alone, unable to reach out for a multitude of reasons. I hope that in some way by sharing my artwork I can connect with people and that they find comfort and inspiration in their painful and lonely moments. In the same way I hope that as a counsellor, committed to continued personal development, understanding people’s needs and through practice of the person-centred approach, I can help people in their struggles. Unconditional positive regard, empathy, connection and congruence are truly the cornerstones of all my work.
My hope is that art becomes more of a way of helping people to express the pain and hope that they cannot put into words. A way for people to find comfort and soothing of their souls in this often bittersweet world. I have recently been able to share my artwork in a local school and work with the children to discover what art means for them and how to express themselves through this medium. In our first session I asked the children who would consider themselves as ‘an artist’; five children (out of twenty-six) raised their hands. I asked them again at the end of our five sessions together, which modelled a person-centred approach and twenty-one of the children raised their hands. Having carried out qualitative and quantitative research I know this result is open to interpretation and scrutiny, but the difference in numbers, their expressed confidence, excitement and self-definition was significant and this brought me joy. Hopefully by encouraging them to listen to their inner voice and expression from an early age, we will make a small drop in a large ocean of humans that desperately need confidence in themselves as the artistic directors of their own lives.
I am looking forward to the rest of my diploma and the years beyond; enjoying my art and becoming a fully trained art therapist one day but I am staying open to discovering what the years ahead hold. Rogers himself wrote ‘My attitude is very well expressed by Max Weber, the artist, when he says “In carrying on my own humble creative effort, I depend greatly upon that which I do not yet know, and upon that which I have not yet done.”’ (Rogers, 2004, p.23) and this I echo looking towards my own future. If you’d like to share your experiences with art and creativity; personally or professionally, please contact me by email or through any of the social media channels below. Finally, if you feel any of my work can be useful for your practice and clients, would like to collaborate or have any thoughts or feelings you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.
Lynne Blundell BA (Hons) Phil & Psych
You can find me on Facebook,TwitterInstagram and my website: http://www.lynneblundellart.com
The University of Nottingham are offering a 4 day training on Emotion-Focused Therapy facilitated by Robert Elliott & Lorna Carrick.
The training runs from Monday 16th - Thursday 19th January 2017 and costs £595 (including Lunch)
To find out more information and to book your place please click here