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A Note from the Joint Editors

In This Issue Editorial: A Note from the Joint Editors


A Word from Our Chair


Group News











A creative approach can generate a sense of connection to those around us and to the present moment. It provides the opportunity for expression where words are not enough. When reading about Caroline Frizell’s connection with an autistic child that was made through the power of movement and dance, and quite literally the power of the pen (and other creative materials) in Malcom Learmouth’s piece, Working Creatively, it reminded me that perhaps there is within all of us the artist waiting to be called upon. I was struck by the extension of awareness that creativity brings with its introduction into the counselling space.


Features Gestalt and Creativity


Working Creatively


Dancing Differently


Creative Collaboration in Creative Work


Prescription Poetry


Cathy and Sue’s article on how they approach the Creative Collaboration in Creative Work is an open and insightful exploration of their own process of their work together in their production of their workshop of the same name.

Editorial Team (Until November 2018): Alda Gomez info@aldacounselling.com Kay Vickers

It brings the question of whether the power of creativity is used adequately and with confidence within our practice. Creative works can be personal and are obviously open to interpretation and judgement.



To quote Marianne Williamson: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ [ Williamson M. A return to love: reflections on the principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’. New York: Harper Collins; 1992. ]

WAC Now exists thanks to volunteer counsellors willing to share their knowledge and experience. If you could write an article about your work, review an interesting counselling book or an inspiring workshop, please contact your Editor (Alda & Kay until November 2018). See above.

Perhaps all we need is an open mind and the confidence in our own illumination.

Deadline for the next magazine is 15th February, but articles are welcome at any time.

Kay Vickers—Joint Editor 2


A WORD FROM OUR CHAIR Chair & Web Coordinator – Nicola Griffin Nicola Griffin has been WAC Chair since 2017. Our Chair, together with a team of committed counsellors in the committee, has brought our association to a new level. She was previously Local Group Coordinator for four years, a role that has now been delegated to Lou Allen. This year, she has also taken on the vacant role of Web Coordinator. Her enthusiasm and openness to feedback and new ideas make WAC thrive and evolve into a modernised association.

HELLO ALL YE WAC MEMBERS & FRIENDS ALIKE! Welcome to the Autumn edition of the WAC NOW 2018 magazine. Where on Earth has this year gone?!!! It doesn’t seem so long ago, I was forced to write, oops! (Freudian slip) ASKED to write ‘A word from the Chair’ for the Spring edition. As you can tell, writing is not my preferred pastime, probably as it isn’t something I feel skilled at doing. So I baulk at the mention, avoiding it for months whilst I stress out convinced “I have nothing to say”.

Having said that, what do you think of the New Look WAC Now? – isn’t it FAB! Hats off to the current Editors Alda & Kay for their work in putting the magazine together and forcing us (did I say it again) I mean gently reminding us that we need to send them our contributions. I must give thanks to all our committee members for the hard work, time and effort they put into keeping WAC true to our constitutional aim: To provide good quality, low cost training and education. To provide a support network for those involved in, or with an interest in, counselling. To provide local groups to enable sharing of ideas, promotion of good practice and support. I believe we are fulfilling our role in this, which has been reflected in the feedback we receive. This was particularly true for our newly named ‘Enrichment Day’ – Facilitated this year by Mark Hartshorn, looking at boundaries and self- care from a Gestalt perspective. It was a nicely paced day with plenty of time to be in conversation and relation with many others, including a wonderfully leisurely lunch… so enjoyable.

Although we had some hiccups along the way, both our Events Coordinators, Heather and Sarah, have done brilliantly to secure our speakers for our Main Event, ‘A Brief Introduction to Compassion focused Therapy’ with Dr. Mary Welford at Dame Hannah’s at Seale Hayne and Barbara Mitchells will facilitate the afternoon workshop at this year’s AGM. Sarah & Heather are making headway to secure our speakers for 2019 events already! As you will see in the following pages, at this year’s AGM we will have vacancies for some of our most important officers’ roles within the WAC Committee, as members step down from their current role and continue with their journey. I will be sad to lose people I enjoy spending time with. Roles vacant will be Treasurer, Editor, Events Coordinator and General Members. I look forward to welcoming some fresh new faces with inspiring ideas to fill these roles. We’ve received an influx of new members this year, currently well over 200 members. I wonder if perhaps some new members would like to come along to the AGM and see what it’s all about – I promise we don’t bite! No previous experience is needed and you don’t have to be a qualified counsellor to join the committee. I feel the need to reiterate committee meetings are open to ALL members – please don’t be shy to come along and have a say, have a chat and have some fun! With warmest wishes, Nicola


GROUP NEWS Totnes Group News The new group in Totnes started in January and has seen a rise in membership with variable turn out to the evenings, dependent on the Devon weather! We have had diverse speakers on subjects ranging from children and family bereavement, working outside with clients, the impact of emotion and stress on voice, and yoga psychology. After the summer break we have guest speakers from Plymouth University, Marjon Speech & Language Department and an evening understanding Jung. We’ve even started booking our speakers into 2019. We have 35 people on our mailing list and attendance ranges from 6 to 12 people. At the last meeting before the summer break, it was discussed how to move the group forward in 2019 and it was hoped that some members would take it in turns to run the evening. The hope is to encourage a more collaborative group rather than one led by one person. A big thank you to those who have offered to help with this. Please keep an eye on the Events Page on the WAC website for our group news and planned events and, if you want to be added to our mailing list, please email Debbie on debbiefeldcounselling@gmail.com.

This has proven to be a good decision, with meetings now held in the attic room at Quaker House which holds about 10 people - cozily. However, this has proven quite warm to say the least in the heat wave! At Plymouth, each monthly meeting is facilitated by one of our regular members who are knowledgeable in their particular area of work. Topics this year have been “Psychosynthesis” facilitated by Lorraine Anderson, “Transgender - Living in a cage” facilitated by Diane Faulkner, and Kim Cooper came to talk about ethics to name a few. Topic is still the draw for large numbers attending meetings, with a healthy mix of regular members and interested non-members, mainly trainee counsellors. We have also had some Tavistock group defectors LOL! We are looking into hiring a larger room at Quaker House to accommodate our growing numbers. In September, we plan to hold an extended meeting as Julia has secured a visit from Mankind initiative in Somerset, who talk on Male survivors of domestic abuse. We are asking for a slightly increased contribution of £5 for this meeting to cover Marilyn’s travel expenses – all details can be found on the WAC website and Facebook page. Other topics still to come are inner child work and dissociative identity disorder. If you would like to attend any of our meetings or your email added to the Plymouth WAC mailing list, drop me an email: nicolagriffin@btinternet.com. Keep an eye on the website for further updates. Our meetings take place on the second Thursday of each month @ 7:30 pm. Nicola Griffin Plymouth Organiser

Exeter Group News Debbie Feld

Plymouth Group News

Meeting at our new venue of the Southernhay Methodist Church on the 2nd Monday of each month (apart from August) this last year has continued to be an exciting time for the Exeter Group.

Plymouth WAC has been very well attended this year. Caroline and I made the decision at the end of last year to move premises to Quaker House on Mutley Plain to accommodate our ever increasing number of attendees.

We’ve had an interesting variety of topics presented by guest speakers all year, and since the last newsletter, in April, we had an interesting talk by Caroline Frizell who presented ecopsychotherapy from a dance movement therapy perspective. This

Totnes Organiser


talk was very well attended with many first time visitors to Exeter WAC attending.

In May, Linda Cameron gave a fascinating presentation about the support British Red Cross Volunteers provide for trauma victims in the UK and worldwide. In June, we had a presentation from Jill Dunsford about “Heartmaths”, explaining how this approach can help clients to build emotional resilience. In July, Sara Bennett, the CEO of Balloons Charity, gave a presentation on “Children, Families and Grief”. This was a topic of particular interest to me as I used to be a volunteer with Cruse Bereavement.

In September, Matt Grimsey came to speak to us about his personal experience of living with Autism, in his talk titled, “Greetings From an Alternate Reality”. It was a thought-provoking and interesting evening with a longer than usual questions-andanswers round.

months of age … and attend to creative projects that have been a very long time ‘in mind’. So successful has this period of detachment been, all thoughts of WAC had literally flown. Jolted back to ‘WAC reality’, I can report that, generally, group attendance has improved. I know this, without counting heads, as there’s been a frequent need to squeeze extra chairs in, around the tables. To be honest, we could do without those heavy, fixed tables but they’re part and parcel of Tesco’s rent-free community room, with the bonus of free refreshments, parking and accessibility. ‘ Happy to consider alternative venues, but they would need to be affordable and offer similar accessibility. Failing this, I will approach Tesco re the installation of lighter tables … which can be easily folded away when not required!

Then in October, Allegra Scott, a local Registered Nutritional Therapist will be presenting a topic on the stress response, fatigue and the link between the gut and the brain, giving us lots of practical suggestions for our clients and ourselves!

Prior to the summer break, in the midst of the heatwave, a small group of us were treated to a fantastic day with Sarah Urwin at her farm in mid Devon, learning about equine and other animal assisted therapy and as some interested group members were unable to make that date, she has generously agreed to repeat the experience in 2019.

Another interesting topic will be presented in November by Tina Hill-Art, who will introduce the topic of polyamorous relationships with the title “Introduction to non monogamies, what are they? What are they not?”

We return this month to what I hope will be a sociable sharing and discussion of books, articles, websites and other sources of learning or inspiration that we have personally found valuable to our practice or self-care.


On October 16th, Julia Dando has kindly agreed to repeat her frank and enlightening session on ‘Sexually Diverse Relationships’, previously presented to the Plymouth group, so do join us if you missed it then. In November, we’ll be planning ahead for 2019 … all suggestions or offers of facilitation welcomed.

If any of the Exeter Group are interested in supporting Alda and myself with arranging speakers, or helping on the night, please do let us know so we can keep the Exeter Group thriving next year. Lou Allen Exeter Organiser

I would also like group members to consider if they might, at some stage, like to take this role on from me. Whilst I’m not planning to step down immediately, my husband retires in February 2019 and we may / may not be planning to move from the area.

Tavistock Group News Oops! This report very nearly didn’t materialise … save for a second reminder from our editors. After undertaking further studies earlier this year, I decided, during the summer, to take a complete break from client work in order to ‘recharge my batteries’, enjoy time with my first grandchild, Annika, who seems in a hurry to grow up … up on her feet and confidently cruising around furniture, at seven


Warm wishes, Kathryn H. Tavistock Organiser

REVIEWS Workshop on Business Therapy Exploring the Relationship with my Business I had originally booked to do this workshop in March, but it got snowed off – so initially I was feeling a little resentful at having to work on such a lovely summer weekend! However, on arrival I discovered Manor House to be a lovely old building with an airy feeling of light and space. It is set in leafy tranquil grounds with a stream babbling through, which is only a short walk from the town of Dawlish. I found Cathy and Sue’s approach to be lively, entertaining and full of fun. Their presentation skills were excellent and I was fully engaged throughout the weekend. Rather than focusing on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of running or expanding a business, it was more about how we felt towards our business. One exercise was how we might draw a picture that represented our relationship with our business and I was surprised to discover that I had drawn a rather prickly looking hedgehog with a cute nose! This helped me to discover what I did not like about some aspects of my business and the underlying reasons for these. The other participants present – all quite different forms of therapy and creative businesses, were very generous in what they shared about their particular struggles too and I came away from Day 1 feeling energised and excited. Day 2 began with some tai-chi, kindly lead by 2 of the participants. This was one of many opportunities offered to check in with our bodily selves throughout the weekend, with mindfulness and laughter yoga too. One of the highlights for me was writing my own ‘job description’ and discovering that I really wanted to apply for it! By the end of the workshop, I had been able to establish what I needed to do and how to do it. My end picture had changed dramatically too, demonstrating a much more positive image. I came away feeling refreshed in mind and body although tired but in a good way. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone wanting to gain more clarity and understanding of their relationship with their therapy business. Ellen Hill, UKCP, MBACP, Dip Sup Gestalt Psychotherapist & Supervisor



Gestalt and Creativity Mark Hartshorn

explains how to work creatively with Gestalt interventions. Using examples from his own practice, he shares his use of Gestalt experiments and creative tools to help his clients resolve unfinished business.

Mark Hartshorn is a therapist and supervisor in private practice and Course Director at Devon and Cornwall Counselling Hub. “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world� Brene Brown Having been trained primarily to work with a Gestalt approach to therapy, working with creativity has been embedded in the foundations of my practice. One of the things that I love about using Gestalt in my practice is that it is fluid and can be creatively adapted to


meet the needs of the client, in the moment. I enjoy the opportunities that arise in the here and now of a session with a client when I can offer a creative experiment that may lead to the completion of some long held unfinished business.

form. Or using plasticine or clay to give the anger a shape and texture. The invitation to the client is to connect to the anger before the creative expression begins, so that they can effectively channel the energy of their anger into the art materials and, in doing this, they can release it. The work can be incredibly cathartic.

For me, the therapeutic encounter is very much one where my soul and the soul of the client come together. I believe that in this ‘The invitation to the coming together, our souls can speak to one client is to connect to another on a level the anger before the that is not available to conscious awareness creative expression and makes no sense to logical or rational begins, so that they can analysis, some may c all th is d e e p effectively channel the empathy. It is in this energy of their anger meeting of souls that I into the art materials find myself being inspired with a creative idea that may and in doing this, they serve the client. can release it .’ One of the aims of Gestalt therapy is to help bring into awareness the client’s experience in the here and now. To help the client notice a sensation or feeling which is present, but perhaps out of awareness. In doing this, a creative opportunity emerges to help the client to connect to that feeling or sensation and to allow it to be experienced, fully, in the moment, to completion. I might ask a client to stay with the feeling or sensation, even when their normal way of dealing with it would be to avoid it or deny it. I believe that staying with the feeling is essential as the sensation may contain deeply held unexpressed emotions, words, needs and actions. As the client is encouraged to stay with the emerging sensation, I can often find myself inspired with a creative way to work with the unfinished or unexpressed material that is presenting itself. For example, if working with a client who has unexpressed anger, perhaps connected to an incident from many years ago, I may offer the opportunity to express this in the safety of the session, with my holding. An idea of how we may do this together emerges, perhaps to draw the anger on paper, giving it colour and

Every experiment needs to be proc essed afterwards so that the client can assimilate or make sense of their experience. Questions such as “what are you taking from that piece of work?” or “what is your anger like now?” can help the client to connect again to their feeling and notice any changes that may have taken place or identify further work to do. I think it is important to point out that it may take more than one experiment to help a client to express their unfished business, but I find that releasing emotion in this way means that a client experiences a sense of release and completion that may not be reached by talking about their anger. It is in the feeling it and the expressing of it, that makes the work cathartic. Gestalt ways of working extend beyond using art materials such as drawing and use of clay. One of the most famous of interventions in Gestalt is the empty chair. An intervention that provides a powerful way of working creatively with unfinished business Words that have never been spoken, emotions that have never been expressed, understanding that has not been gained, disowned parts of self that need integrating and answers that need to be asked can all be brought to this way of working. In this work, the client can be invited to imagine the other in the empty chair and to dialogue with it.

Visualisation work can help a client to use their imagination to recreate scenarios from their life and perhaps create a different ending, the one they needed rather than the one they had. Again, this work can be extremely cathartic for clients.


The client whose needs went unmet when a family member died during their childhood may be given the opportunity to revisit a significant memory from that time. With my support, they can be asked what they needed and then, using imagination, the child’s needs can be met in the here and now. During such times of powerful visualisation work, I notice myself present in the memory or scene with the client and can use my imagination and what comes to me to help the client with their unmet needs. I recall a time when I noticed myself wanting to give a client a gift during visualisation work. During the discussion and assimilation work after the experiment the client reported that this was the exact gift that she wanted at the time.

Joseph Zinker proposes that “therapy can be a creative process, in which patient and therapist invent and improvise strategies to change behaviour”. In my experience, this is true. By providing creative ways of working, all founded in the Gestalt idea that unfinished business remains with us, influencing our here and now experience of the world and ourselves, real and lasting change can occur. In my opinion, talking about experiences from our past provides only limited relief from the symptoms of it that remain with us. It is when we connect to that which emerges as we tell our stories and then giving an opportunity for what emerges to be expressed, often creatively, that we may experience completion and relief.


‘It is when we connect to that which emerges as we tell our stories and then giving an opportunity for what emerges to be expressed, often creatively, that we may experience completion and relief.’

I am sure that for many who are reading these words, creativity is likely to be a significant feature of your life. However, my invitation to you as a therapist would be to find a way to express your here-and-now experience, creatively. Perhaps using drawing, painting, singing, dance, writing, sculpting, imagination, dialogue, or whatever your preferred method might be and notice how it feels to creatively express the sensations that emerge, and this may lead to greater confidence and ability to offer it to clients.

Mark Hartshorn

In his article, Malcolm Learmonth explains how life processes take in energy from the environment and transform it for growing, responding, preserving and learning. To 'create' is to 'bring forth'. Exploring how we perhaps could say that to live is to 'work creatively'. Using examples from his own practice, he shares his use of working creatively to help his clients.

Picture 1 "Creativity" is often unhelpfully culturally set aside from so called "real" life. We even refer to a special kind of person believed to be "a creative". The alternative to being "a creative" is being a corpse. Even when creative means "brought forth" from the imagination, it is now clear that the processes of perception, memory, and anticipation that shape our wor lds are th emse lve s imaginatively informed constructions. "Working creatively", then, far from being a bracketed off province of "the creatives", "the artists", is implicit in every life, and every communication,

perhaps especially the intentionally change-provoking communications within counselling and therapy. Science is catching up with the insight of early therapeutic thinkers, like Jung, with his emphasis on the dream. Consider that each of us will typically spend around two hours tonight dreaming. Dreams consist of images, stories, dramas and feelings: the very stuff of "the arts". And they are essential to our ongoing adaptation in life: impaired dreaming demon str ably affec ts cr eativ e thought, memory, learning and


Malcolm Learmonth is codirector with Karen Huckvale of 'Insider Art', art psychotherapy, supervision, mentoring and training organisation based in Exeter, who offer the 'Art in Mental Health Art Therapy Foundation Course'. He served in the NHS and Social Services and the voluntary sector as an Art Psychotherapist for nearly 30 years, worked extensively for the British Association of Art Therapists, and regularly publishes articles and chapters on art psychotherapy, the arts and health, arts-based research, and therapy and culture. malcolm@insiderart.org.uk

Picture 1: If you want to work creatively, get creative. A recent piece of my art-making: 'Deer Park'. It is collaged from close up photographs of ivy and stones in the deer park in the Teign Valley. Part of its significance to me is that the Buddha's first teachings were given in the deer park at Sarnath.

mental health. So working creatively is not, as Krishnamurti said of the arts, "the icing on the cake; it is the yeast in the dough".

They free us from linear, literal and over-cognitive limiting beliefs about how human minds actually work, and open up a more organic, fluid and playful approach. (Play, as any child can show you, may be deadly serious. It does not mean trivial.)

In the 1980s, I was involved in the fairly early days of an NHS "Creative I'd like to offer a couple of dynamic Therapies Unit" in Exeter. We were structures that can be used to never altogether comfortable with envisage how arts/creative language this title because it seemed to claim c an i l lu m in a te p sy c h ol og i c a l creativity as a kind of therapeutic descriptions of difficulties in living. territory. Which is There are w h y w e only two subsequently ‘Working creatively is main rules to renamed it, more accurately, as itself about spontaneity, making art. They are: "The Arts discipline and 1.Start. T h e r a p i e s 2.Carry On. S e r v i c e " . responsiveness, and Un c r e ativ e (For a really arises out of being a therapy would be, practical way almost b y natural human being, in into this that definition, lifeless, works for the service of other even when pitched most people at a "problem who commit human beings.’ solving" level. themselves to it, see the The problems that present morning pages in Julia Cameron's themse lves to psychological 'The Artists Way'). therapists of all persuasions are If these rules are followed, however, frequently insoluble in their own it doesn't usually take long to terms anyway, because what presents discover that they carry an implicit itself as "the problem" is itself a dynamic between discipline and creative solution to a quite different spontaneity. We have to turn up at problem. For example, we frequently the page. (Discipline). That doesn't c ann ot dissolv e a pr oblem make any rules at all about what is charac terised by over -control, going to happen on it. (Spontaneity). (examples might include Art with no discipline doesn't happen, obsessionality or eating disorder), or is a mess if it does. Art with no without identifying and working with spontaneity or expression is lifeless. the areas of someone's experience that have manifested such terror of We can see something of the same the "out-of-control" to have evoked dynamic in many psychological this compensation. (This was exactly approaches. one of the approaches Jung advocated In Personal Construct Psychology, for to the dream: always ask how the instance, George Kelly identified a dream is an attempted rebalancing, a "creativity cycle" in which the human compen sation, of some thing capacity for change is characterised overstated in the conscious attitude). by being able to "loosen" over-rigid understandings in an experimental Frequently the least effective means way, test them, and re-"tighten" new, of "problem-solving" is trying to take more effective, ones. ('Dogs hate me away the problem! and are dangerous' to 'But your dog seems to like me' to 'Dogs that are There's an important clue here to how dangerous will usually let me know genuinely creative processes work in by growling at me', perhaps). counselling or therapy practice.


More recently, Marsha Linehan's effective therapy. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy's central 'dialectic' is between the vital As a visual artist, I can assure you need in therapy to balance a 'change that tightening/loosening and change/ agenda': ('somebody or something acceptance lead a very enlivening must, should, d a n c e ought to be e t w e e n How can this sense be bmaker different'), and and an 'acceptance nurtured in the 'talking made if we agenda': ('the 'show up at biggest change only' context? By tuning the page!' might be to the instruments to hand An art form is accept myself and others as to resonate with right e x t r e m e l y we are'). helpful to kind of frequencies. t h e s e Over-emphasise psychological the c h an g e processes, agenda, and we risk amplifying the because it manifests them in an invalidation that has unbalanced externalised, and relatively safe form. someone in the first place and (Though not one without anxiety: this making things worse; over-emphasise is one reason why arts therapists are acceptance and we undermine expected to have extensive personal a g e n c y , r e s p o n s i b i l i t y a n d experience of the form they work with accountability, and again, make people in: guidance, containment, things worse. empathy based in the golden rule of not asking others to do what you The discipline necessary to change have not done yourself.) habitual destructive patterns dances with acceptance of the spontaneous Though essential to the arts therapies, art forms are not emergence of how things, (we), are in prerequisite to working creatively with people. The old truism that 'it is not that the artist is a special kind of person, but that each person is a special kind of artist' goes beyond paints, or moves, or chords, and into how we approach our lives in ways that reduce conflict, enhance agency, and satisfy our need for meaning making. There is an aesthetic to life, not just to art. (And, I believe to therapy: don't we get that sense when an intervention 'feels right'?).

Picture 2


Picture 2: Drawing by man with a learning disability. Many of his images seemed 'abstract' if you didn't listen carefully to catch what he called them. This one is a map of Scotland. Creativity often reveals surprising islands of ability and disability.

Picture 3: 'Rose'. This woman wept, and wept. For good reason. One week she asked me to keep the sodden tissues safe. When she had wept enough, she made the now dried out tissues into this rose. Creativity redeems.

Questions: bear in mind when 'tightening' and loosening' questions are called for. A per son wh ose mean in g structures are chaotic or in bits doesn't need any more loosen ing. Grounding, tightening questions like 'How would you be able to tell that?' may help more. Conversely, dysfunctionally, rigid or overgeneralised structures may benefit from 'loosening' questions like 'Can you think of occasions when that wasn't the case?'

‘There are only two main rules to making art. They are: - Start - Carry On.’

Art Therapy has been described as having a 'What if?' attitude, which is a good, opening, stance for creative loosening. Generate constructive alternatives and ask 'What if?' These can be s e r i ou s in v i t a t i on s to reconsider an issue, but can be equally useful as playful invitations to come 'unstuck'. (In a good way. I have resorted to 'What ifs' as 'dares' like 'I dare you to wear odd socks next time you come'.) This leads towards metaphor (and ultimately the symbolic). Having alerted listening to Picture 3 people's use of metaphor, and developing your own dexterity with them, can generate some fast and surprising leaps. (Even if they start as cliches: 'thin ice', 'blue skies'. The knack is in letting them develop, and encouraging new ones.) They are some of the most effective meaningshifting ways of exploring that we know. This often leads towards humour. Notice how what makes us laugh often revolves around 'punch lines' that turn meanings inside out, (old favourites like 'Horse walks into a bar. Barman says 'Why the long face?' for instance), or suddenly exposing the absurdity in a situation, ('Skeleton walks into a bar, asks for a pint. Barman says 'Anything else, sir?' 'Yeah, a mop''.)


Like play, humour can be serious, as well as meaning shifting. A young man who attended an art therapy group for a long time, with some, shall we say, 'unconventional and unhelpful cognitions' at times, sat down heavily one morning and announced: 'You know there's nothing worse than finding out that your best friend is the devil, and you have to set him on fire'. He let me mentally run through all my panicky options before bursting out laughing. Another feature of laughter is its closeness to our terrors. He was taming his, at my expense, and I didn't mind. Malcolm Learmonth


Dancing Differently In Caroline Frizell’s words: ‘As a Dance Movement Psychotherapist, the concept of embodiment is a central focus. The body is where we first learn to communicate, to share feelings, to find out about the world and to acquire a sense of agency and identity. From our first heart-beat to our last, our bodies are in a dynamic process of becoming. In my work with clients, that continuous process of becoming is crucial.’

Caroline is a UKCP registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist who works as a therapist and supervisor both inside and out, underpinning her work with the principles of ecopsychology. Caroline currently convenes the Dance Movement Psychotherapy MA at Goldsmiths, University of London, along with teaching and research. She also runs a small private practice in South Devon. Website: https:// www.movingdifference.co. uk/ Contact: caroline@moving difference.co.uk

Through an embodied approach, I seek to understand the subjectivity of clients, including those markers of difference, such as gender, class, culture, race, ethnicity, indigene, (dis)ability, poverty, religion, etc. Normative forces at play impact on an individual’s experience, as socially constructed binary distinctions determine what counts as ‘normal and desirable’ and what counts as ‘abnormal and undesirable’ (De Schauwer et al 2017).

therapy department as integral to the education al curriculum, offering counselling and creative arts therapies. Jacob, the young person about whom I am writing, had joined a newly established unit for autism. This unit had triggered a range of responses in the wider school, including excitement, fear, interest and trepidation. I was asked to work with Jacob to support him in establishing and negotiating relationships and to help him to regulate his complex emotional world.

As a therapist, I consciously try to move away from binaries such as mind & body, ability & disability, human and non-human and frame my work in an My initial impression of Jacob brought approach that is differentiating, rather to my attention his than universalising. The of physical process of differentiation ‘The process of stream energy running welcomes, rather than through his body. He differentiation resists, difference and liked to jump, to spin, diversity. welcomes, rather to rock and to flick his In this article, I will wrist away from his than resists, illustrate a particular body. When still, difference and Jacob’s body folded embodied approach to professional practice protectively around his diversity.’ with differently-abled centre. Weekly sessions with Jacob clients, presenting a vignette from my work with a 10 year- could feel fragmented and slow in terms old boy with autism. This work was part of identifying change, yet over time, I of a research project for which I had came to know and understand Jacob ethical approval. Identifying features and his inner world in depth. have been changed in order to protect Jacob, in turn, came into relationship confidentiality. with me in a way that was profound, as The context for the work was a school liv e conn ection s and relation al for young people with complex needs. exchanges manifest in movement The label ‘complex needs’ embraces a sequences such as the one described range of communication, sensory and here. Jacob experienced coming to life in learning difficulties and differences. the mind of another as I was able to The head teacher supported innovative receive his non-verbal expression and ways of working, hosting an active


remain alert to the times when he was able to come into relationship.

Waiting. This seemed to be my cue. I understood that it was my turn.

Supervision was crucial in helping me to make sense of my work with Jacob, who had no speech and related to the world so differently. I needed to explore my own relationship with otherness and identify those normative forces at play in my less conscious world in order to meet with Jacob and facilitate the therapeutic process.

As he watched, I reflected his story back to him, in an attempt to give shape to his experience. I opened my arms and turned, as he had done. I ran to the wall, placed my hands against the cream paintwork and looked back at Jacob.

This vignette is a small window of connection during one of our sessions.

Maintaining eye contact, I released my hands from the wall, turned my whole body to face him and walked slowly back towards the mattress, cautiously closing the distance between us, monitoring his gaze for signs that he could tolerate my approach. When I sensed that I was close enough, I came to a gradual pause and waited for my next cue.

Jacob was lying on a mattress. Catching his eye, I understood that he had something to say. He jumped up, watching me watching him. He began to turn, smooth and controlled, arms outstretched, eyes tracing a wide circle on the polished, wooden floor, round and round until he stopped, without a trace of the disorientation I might feel, had it been me.

He was looking at me, clearly intrigued.

Jacob was watching me carefully. His chin still cupped in his hands, he began to bounce his feet down on the mattress, making small indentations in the soft blue plastic cover, setting up a rhythmic pulse that I reflected with a subtle sway in my upper body.

He met my gaze, as if seeking reassurance that I was listening, and then ran with free abandon across the length of the hall, picking up speed and He stopped. I said ‘….shall I join you on only stopping at the boundary of the the mattress?’. Jacob responded by wall. BANG. He slapped the palms of jumping up to his feet. He stared at me, his hands against the glint of curiosity the wall, as if in his gaze changing frustrated that he ‘There he lay, looking to expectation. I felt a couldn’t run sense of anticipation at me intensely. forever. rise inside me and I Waiting. This seemed noticed the rich brown Briefly studying velvet of his eyes. His the backs of his to be my cue. body tensed, as if hands, he flicked I understood that it surprised by a gust of his right hand in freezing wind. His towards his chest, was my turn.’ shoulders lifted and turning his head he stood, pigeon toed, to look at me. I pressing the backs of his hands together could see he wasn’t finished and and downwards, clasping his hands remained witnessing. Jacob then ran between his bent knees. I stood facing back across the length of the hall, this him, maintaining an open and available time slowly, with his head turned body shape in contrast to his closed, towards me and with a smile on his contracted position. face. He returned to his original place on the mattress and lay on his stomach, kn ees ben t and feet w av ing nonchalantly towards the ceiling. Cupping his chin in his hands, he took the weight of his head on his elbows. There he lay, looking at me intensely.

‘I wonder if you’re waiting for my suggestion?’ I asked. In response, he jumped, lifting both feet off the ground simultaneously, clenching his fists, drawing his arms up to his chest. He landed, paused for a moment and began bouncing on the spot.


I joined his bouncing in my knees and, in the next moment, we were running slowly side by side the length of the room. We stopped, this time placing our palms gently side by side on the wall. Jacob looked at his hands and then at mine. ‘Perhaps you’re noticing how our hands are different’ I said.

References De Schauwer, E., Van de Putte, I, Van Goidsenhoven, L, Blockmans, I, Vanecasteele, M & Davies, B (2017) ‘Animating Disability Differently: Mobilizing a heterotopian Imagination‘ Qualitative Enquiry. Vol, 23 (4) pp. 276-286

connection. Jacob sank down onto his knees. I took a step back and sat on the floor in the silence, keeping him within the orbit of my vision, but not looking directly at him. We were side by side. It was nearly time to finish the session and Jacob made his way to the mat, to say goodbye in our regular ritual of finishing the session.

Listening to Jacob taught me to trust a My hands were a kind of pinky-white deeper kind of knowing. There were and I was aware times when of the wrinkles Jacob shut me around m y ‘I was left feeling abando- ou t. Th er e knuckles. The were other brown, smooth ned in the space that I was times when skin of his occupying; perhaps in a Jacob and I hands was met on a fully powerful unconscious peppered with embodied level callouses where communication from Ja- and I found a he bangs his window into hands against cob. You seem to need to his world. hard surfaces. be in your own space now.’ During our Jacob vocalized together, I said, with an overwhel- work a soft, fluted Jacob learned sigh and from ming sense of sadness.’ to trust the then on, the space between m o v e m e n t us and to feel conversation seemed to flow. I mirrored more at home with himself. the change in his rhythmic energy, careful to note how his run would turn One week, when I was absent, Jacob into a gallop. Sometimes we moved in insisted that one of the teaching the same direction and sometimes in assistants took him to the therapy opposite directions. Sometimes in room, taking her hand and pulling her un ison, sometimes sequen tially, to the door at the time that our session swaying and jumping, taking turns to was usually held. He entered the room, walked around the periphery, brushing lead and follow. the palm of his hand against the creamWe slowed down to a halt at the side of coloured paintwork before leading his the room. We were less than a meter teaching assistan t back to his away from each other and I sensed that classroom. Jacob had internalized our he had become distant. Jacob began to sessions as an important space in his focus back in on himself in a way that week. made me feel shut out. He tested the That was nearly 20 years ago now and ground with a percussive jump, turning Jacob is still alive in my mind. I away from me and patting the back of sometimes wonder if he still remembers his right hand into the palm of his left. the movement sequences that we I was left feeling abandoned in the created together. Whether he does on a space that I was occupying; perhaps in a conscious level or not, I hope that our powerful unconscious communication sessions together opened a door to from Jacob. ‘You seem to need to be in Jacob’s potential for expression and your own space now.’ I said, with an communication and allowed him to feel witnessed, heard and valued by overwhelming sense of sadness. another. My words seem to disappear into the ether, with nowhere to land. It seemed Caroline Frizell that Jacob had withdrawn from our



Cathy Towers

explains how an extrovert and an introvert decided to face the

challenges of working together and create an interesting workshop.



tells us about their Business Therapy workshop, where they invite attendees to a journey of discovery.


Sue, on the other hand, is a rapidfire extrovert.

Many of you will have seen my writings in WAC Now before, on private practice and also on our relationship with money and charging. Over the last year, I have been working towards a creative collaboration with a colleague. I have been wanting that for a long time, but not able to find the right partner. Then someone who has

As we talked, it became apparent that there was an interesting mix between us. I have decades of therapy experience behind me and a huge fascination with the world of marketing, attracted to work on the thing I least liked about my work, to find out how I could make it ethically possible in the therapist world. Sue has decades of

been under my nose threw me an invite. When Sue Haswell suggested we work together I initially resisted, as we are such different personalities. I may look confident, indeed I am now, after putting myself out of my comfort zone so many times, but I am an introvert personality style. I like plenty of space and thinking time.


marketing and public relations experience and a huge fascination with the world of selfgrowth and therapy. In fact, we are both workshop junkies in each other’s field – and each of us runs workshops on the other's core skills.

A psychotherapist, trainer and public speaker, Cathy has a deep understanding of relationships, psychology, and the ethical standards that can inhibit business-owners in service and creative fields.

Cathy is a regular columnist for Connections magazine, hosts a radio show on Phonic FM and loves dabbling in comedy. She has also screwed up so many times that she has learned a whole lot more than she expected in business. She is a fierce voice for confidence and communication.

agreed on how “trying to do it right” leads to anxiety, imposter syndrome and immobility, so what better place to start on a business workshop than by knowing that we can screw up royally and still make a decent fist of business?

It felt so appealing to ‘In fact, we are both Having started with explore this crossover, creative preparation, we yet the individual workshop junkies in continued by running a person ality styles pilot with people each other’s field – low-cost n eeded addressing. we know, in exchange for Coincidently, I found a and each of us runs loads of feedback. It filled course run by an up so fast that we ran two workshops on the introvert/extrovert duo in the end, and that was who shared the creative other's core skills. great as we were testing ways they use to ensure not just the content, but they each got their how we work together. needs met and included fully all participants. Marketing courses typically speak to the From initial anxieties, we were thrilled that extrovert, and don't take into account the all the personal planning we had done really very private nature of counselling, and many paid dividends. We bounced off each other counsellors. That is the very thing that has comfortably and joyfully. We picked up a made me involve myself in marketing so couple of nicknames: deeply – how could it be re-framed to work for us? Together, Sue and I found ourselves “The Trinny and Susanna of the business fighting corners, taking risks on each other, world” and “French and Saunders in and bathing gloriously in the wonderful business.” synchronicities we discovered. We each find We're still not sure how we feel about those, ourselves with a fresh lease of life and a but we do know that they were given with friend who can challenge and compromise in admiration and affection! equal measure. Hearing the real truth of how our exercises Once we ironed out how we could work landed has been a godsend and helped together, we found the content fell into place develop rigour, thoroughness and a desire to quickly. Because of the cross-over of our make our unique mark on our relationship skills and interests; with so many years with our business. We start with preunder our belts and a similar attitude to workshop questionnaires, and reflection on business (“It's all about relationships”) how how individual personality might influence we operate is harmonious, despite our each person's strategy for (and relationship personality differences. In fact, those with) business. differences have become an example to our group participants. Cathy Towers We decided to take a very open stance, ready to share our mistakes and flaws. We both

Within just a few minutes, a business (which is what private practice is) has the power to nurture, educate, entertain, and abuse us. It’s a complex relationship, but one that we have chosen, and is therefore layered over with any number of cognitive biases, histories and values. And still we can hate it and love it simultaneously. Which is the very essence of an abusive relationship. Sue Haswell


ABOUT THE WORKSHOP by SUE HASWELL Our aim is to encourage people to check in, understand and manage their emotions around their business. A business is not a clear-cut or well-defined being, it is a totally separate entity to ourselves. Yet it can operate separately to us, and we treat it as part of our very being. Who of us has not at times taken it personally when someone criticises the type of work we do? The Business Therapy two-day workshop is actually a condensed version of a 5-day retreat, so as you can imagine, the work needs to be fast, fulfilling and fun without overwhelming. Of course the last thing anyone needs when they are entering a zone of transformation is to bring in unhelpful head “stuff”. We offer a ceremonial binning of such “stuff” – inviting people to write down anything they would rather not have with them on their journey, and then put this into the bin (which by now usually contains a few tea-bags, biscuit wrappers and orange peel).

exercise involves everyone exploring how they can get the best possible experience in the workshop. We start and finish the whole weekend with getting people using their creative right brains – making large bright pictures, a way to communicate everything without words, that are often so inadequate. And in between the start-finish picture making, our delegates are enjoying a personally transformative journey. It’s a journey that involves our four-pillar model of business relationship management: Desire, Flexibility, Self-knowledge and Boundaries – all based on experience and background.

Whether participants enjoy the bursts of laughter as a sunny grape, or whether they immerse themselves in the shadow work, a darkly tempting jungle to unpick past business worries. Or perhaps they value the values exercises: the personal branding and self-knowledge that can drive their behaviours. This is all delightfully captured as we not only workshop each area, but we ask people to complete personal-feedback forms for each exercise. As one participant said: “It was unusual but very useful to do feedback work on a piecemeal basis. This helped me reflect on what was going to be most useful for my business, and by studiously working out when to use it, it meant that I would take this work back with me and apply it.”

Reflection need not be an administrative exercise. The Business Therapy workshops lend themselves to wordless contemplation, like the art-therapy, and also to meditation, guided visualisations and movement moments. Overall, these workshops are, like They are also told they are welcome to pick the nature of therapy, impossible to convey in their “stuff” back out of the bin as they leave words. each day. Unsurprisingly nobody does. One of our participants said: “It was so refreshing to be able to leave my husband’s recent cancer diagnosis at the door – I felt a weight lift off my shoulders immediately.”

Having set the scene, our workshop steps onto a tight-rope. We balance between Sue Haswell getting impact, alongside the reflection people need. We make provision for personality types and indeed our very first

We run our workshops like an intertwined but fruitful grapevine. Rich patterns of discovery, unique applications of knowledge, dark and shadowy areas, and then the sunny surprise of ripe bunches of take-home deliciousness that can nourish, enrich and support you and your business. Sue Haswell


Trainer, PR/ Communications Consultant and Laughter Yoga Teacher. Sue has consulted for many major businesses, including Jane Shilton, Coventry City Council, Cosmopolitan licensed products, Sun Microsystems via Clarity and Central Trains, part of the National Express Group. She’s also done her fair share of screwing up and getting stressed out around her own businesses. She started her PR business near Birmingham in 1997 and grew it to 12 staff before relocating her entire family to the West Country to accessorise her midlife experience with beach walks and cream teas.

ADVERTISING RATES To advertise in this journal WAC Now rates are as follows: Non members Whole Page Half Page Quarter Page

Members £105 £65 £40

Whole Page Half Page Quarter Page

£50 £30 £20

Our next issue will be published in March 2019. Deadline for sending adverts is 28th February 2019.




shares her use of poetry in her personal life and in her practice. She explains how powerful can be for clients to read a poem that really resonates with what they might be feeling. As an adopted child, I found solace in literature generally and in poetry specifically. For example, A Small Dragon by Brian Patten:

I've found a small dragon in the woodshed. Think it must have come from deep inside a forest because it's damp and green and leaves are still reflecting in its eyes.

Ronnie Aaronson is a psychotherapist who works primarily with addictions. She set up the SWAN Project in Bristol, a project that offers low-cost, longterm therapy for anyone with an alcohol addiction. She is the author of Addiction- this being human. https://youtu.be/ cmWI8epz9-Q She is also a poet. Her first collection Nothing about the birds is ordinary this morning is due out this autumn.

I fed it on many things, tried grass, the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion, but it stared up at me as if to say, I need foods you can't provide. It made a nest among the coal, not unlike a bird's but larger, it is out of place here and is quite silent. If you believed in it I would come hurrying to your house to let you share my wonder,

but I want instead to see if you yourself will pass this way.

It enriched my inner world, opened my eyes to the possibility of magic while at the same time I sensed a longing and sadness - feelings familiar to me. The poem let me know that someone else had these same emotions. And because I felt seen by the person who introduced me to the poem, I developed strong affectional bonds with them and the poem became a kind of transitional object. So when I came to work as a psychotherapist, I intuitively started using poetry in some of my sessions and found that it produced similar effects.


I choose poems intuitively. Sometimes I’d read one during the session, other times I’d offer a client one at the end of the session. Thomas Ogden (1997) Reverie and Interpretation: Sensing something human suggests that whatever comes to mind when we’re working with a client, no matter how trivial, is important information to do with the client, and just like other sensations picked up in the countertransference, should not be ignored. I often find lines or titles of poems come to me as a client is talking. For example, Marianne Williamson’s words came to me while working with a client who had anorexia and had trouble being seen: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Poems can offer the twinship that Kohut talks about, can let us know someone else has had similar feelings/ experiences and so can be experienced as an attuned other. Poems are to the point so can change how we feel in a shorter space of time than most prose.

you can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back or you can open your eyes and see all he has

left your heart can be empty because you can't see him or you can be full of the love you shared you can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday you can remember him and only that he's gone or you can cherish his memory and let it live on you can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back or you can do what he'd want; smile, open your eyes, love and go on

As we know to support our mental health we need to engage with our emotions rather than suppress them. Poetry, because of its use of metaphors, can help clients to engage with a feeling more directly. By putting them in the observer position it provides a vital distance between them as experiencer. A poem I have used widely with clients suffering with depression is Sweet Darkness by David Whyte:

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also. When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you.

Poetry can provide a detailed look at something familiar, show us it from a different perspective and changes our relationship with life. Ian McGilchrist in The Master and his Emissary - The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World suggests:

Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

“Attention is not just another function alongside other cognitive functions. Its ontological status is of something prior to functions and even to things. The kind of attention we bring to bear on the world changes the nature of the world we attend to. Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world .”

The dark will be your womb tonight.

Just a change in perspective can work wonders. I offered Remember Me by David Harkins to a mother who had been grieving abnormally for her daughter for over seven years, with amazing results:

you can shed tears that he is gone or you can smile because he has lived

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.

The night will give you a horizon further than you can see. You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in. Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you. 27

This poem normalises depression and describes beautifully the dynamic between the depressed person and their environment. How mood and perception are linked. It says much more than a therapist could ever say.

needed to be her priority.

The time will come when, with elation

Portia Nelson�s Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters offers a metaphor for the Cycle of Change - precontemplation, contemplation, action, maintenance, lapse/ relapse.

you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Chapter I I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. Chapter II I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place. But, it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.

Chapter III I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

It can encourage self-compassion like The Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Chapter IV I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Chapter V I walk down another street.

Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes,

By normalising the difficulty of change, it can alleviate the feelings of shame around lapses. Sometimes poems can help us to respond at depth by amplifying a client’s narrative. Poems have been crafted so how could we do better spontaneously? I offered Love After Love by Derek Walcott to a client who after months of work decided that self-love


over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Or remind ourselves of the restorative power of nature: For example, The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry:

The snail pushes through a green night, for the grass is heavy

with water and meets over the bright path he makes, where rain

When despair for the world grows in me

has darkened the earth's dark. He

and I wake in the night at the least sound

moves in a wood of desire,

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may


pale antlers barely stirring

I go and lie down where the wood drake

as he hunts. I cannot tell

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great

what power is at work, drenched there

heron feeds.

with purpose, knowing nothing.

I come into the peace of wild things

What is a snail's fury? All

who do not tax their lives with forethought

I think is that if later

of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars

I parted the blades above

waiting with their light. For a time

the tunnel and saw the thin

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

trail of broken white across litter, I would never have

I’ve often found that both clients and supervisees I have used poetry with go on to find their own, often adding to my collection of poems. Poetry can be useful for therapists’ mental health too. According to Theodore Usatynski (2009) in Instinctual Intelligence when we narrow our attention, it supports the parasympathetic nervous system - calms stress, counteracts the fight, flight, freeze response. Paul Gilbert (2001) in Evolutionary Approaches to Psychopathology: the role of natural defences identifies ways in which the effects of the sympathetic nervous system impact us: tunnel-vision helps us to stay focused on the threat; becoming critical helps us identify weak spots, we react rather than respond as we may not have time to think, and we lose empathy so we can use aggressive behavior. It’s easy for a therapist to fall into these traps when we are near burnout, or when we find a client threatening. One poem that calms me is Considering the Snail by Thom Gunn:

imagined the slow passion to that deliberate progress.

In summary, I believe by using our intuition informed by the counter-transference, it is possible to offer a poem which might enrich inner worlds, help with the c on tain men t of emotion s, su ppor t the parasympathetic nervous system, provide an attuned other, provide a transitional object, encourage selfcompassion, offer a different perspective, help us not to feel so alone, help us to embrace difficult feelings more fully, normalise feelings, and can voice something that we, as therapists, might not be able to say. If the therapist intuits well, the offering of a poem can strengthen the working alliance. (If any one would like a copy of my most used poems please email me: ronnieaaronson@hotmail.com) Ronnie Aaronson