Catalysing Brain Change: Transforming adversity into learning and growth An evening webinar with Linda Graham Online, 19 September 2019, Thursday 6:30pm - 8:30pm, London, UK time Adversity can be present in our clients’ (and our) lives in many shapes and forms – as everyday disappointments, as after-effects of Trauma and even as extraordinary disasters. At this practical, clinically-oriented webinar, we start with the premise that helping our clients develop flexible and adaptive strategies for coping with adversity is at the heart of the therapeutic process. Linda considers neuroscientific evidence to explain how our clients can actively cultivate their innate capacities for resilience – allowing them to rewire coping strategies which may otherwise be defensive, dysfunctional and / or blocking of growth. The webinar shows how we can use the brain’s neuroplasticity to modify coping behaviours, even when these appear to be seemingly ‘stuck’ or intractable. Linda helps us identify empirically-validated therapeutic techniques that can be applied across modalities. Specifically, we consider how we can: Use body-based tools to help clients reverse the impact of stress and trauma on their nervous system, returning to an inner sense of safety and equilibrium – their natural range of resilience Help clients manage disruptive emotions, deepen self-compassion and empathy, and cultivate the positive emotions that work as an antidote for the brain’s negativity bias – the idea is to shift the brain’s default option from survival to learning and growth Cultivate the self-awareness and self-appreciation that help clients heal from toxic shame; keep their inner critic in check and recover their inner well-being Assist our clients in building their relational skills – reaching out for help, communicating without shame or blame, repairing ruptures and practicing forgiveness Help our clients identify dysfunctional patterns of coping and discern new choices of behaviour Help our clients apply evidence-based tools for the five factors that predict genuine post-traumatic growth: Acceptance of reality (and the consequences of what happened) Resourcing with family, friends, family and community Recognising the positive in the midst of the difficult; finding the gifts in the mistakes Writing a coherent narrative of events within the larger life story Appreciating the new life that emerges because of the difficulties, not just in spite of them
Numbing the Pain: Making the Link between Childhood Trauma and Addictions A one day seminar with Christiane Sanderson London, 20 September 2019, Friday 10:00am - 4:00pm Recent research and clinical evidence show that adverse childhood experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, relational trauma and early childhood stress can significantly increase the risk of developing addictions. To manage the impact of abuse, trauma and emotional dysregulation, many survivors resort to substance misuse, disordered eating, gambling, workaholism, compulsive sex, exercise or unhealthy relationships; so as to self-medicate and to regulate their mood and emotions. However, despite growing evidence of the link between early childhood trauma and addictions; many alcohol, drug and addiction services tend to focus on harm minimisation and often do not have the resources to explore the underlying causes of addiction. At this practical and unique seminar which would be relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists, health practitioners, drug and alcohol workers, we look at early adverse childhood experiences, in particular childhood sexual abuse, complex and relational trauma, and their linkages with addiction. We specifically explore the nature of addictions within the context of attachment deficits and lack of emotional self-regulation. The focus will be on enabling practitioners working with addictions and substance misuse to develop a deeper understanding of the link between addictions and complex trauma, so they can work more effectively with substance-dependent clients. To this end, the seminar will examine the barriers to disclosure such as shame and how practitioners can scaffold their therapeutic engagement with the principles of trauma-informed practice. Emphasis will be placed on psychoeducation and re-regulation of the nervous system through affect regulation and increasing the client’s window of tolerance. The seminar will introduce a range of techniques such as stabilisation, grounding techniques, and mindfulness to restore control over dysregulated emotional states and reduce the need for external sources of regulation and self-medication. In addition, it will explore ways of facilitating disclosure of abuse experiences, how survivors who have a history of addiction can best be supported through the therapeutic relationship, how to liaise with specialist services and the range of referral pathways. Through discussions, experiential exercises and case vignettes, we will consider: The link between adverse childhood experiences and addiction The link between attachment deficits and addiction Emotional Dysregulation and the nervous system Addiction as self-medication to regulate emotions and mood states The essential principles of a trauma informed practice Re-regulation of the nervous system through stabilisation and grounding techniques Developing affect regulation and an increased window of tolerance Overcoming barriers to disclosure Offering a supportive therapeutic relationship to survivors who have a history of addiction
Bipolar Disorder: psychological models and treatment A one day seminar with Professor Matthias Schwannauer London, 21 September 2019, Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm Bipolar Disorder is a severe and enduring mental health problem, often first manifest in adolescence and early adulthood, characterised by episodes of deep depression, hopelessness and mania, while having a profound impact on an individual’s development. Clients with bipolar disorder exhibit dramatic swings in mood and energy levels ranging from very low depressive periods to extremely high manic episodes. Bipolar Disorder, however, suffers from a history of being seen as a biologically driven disorder, with the assumption likewise that the treatment has to be biologically driven; consequently there is a relative lack of research into psychological models or psychotherapeutic interventions for this highly vulnerable client group. As therapists, we may thus feel ill-equipped to manage and address our clients’ ongoing vulnerabilities of mood instability and dysregulation, stress reactivity and interpersonal sensitivity. At this practical workshop, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists, we start with a fundamental premise that Attachment Theory and models of interpersonal functioning offer a promising, psycho-developmentally grounded framework for understanding onset, help seeking, adaptation and resilience in the experience of bipolar disorder. Through discussions and case examples, the seminar helps us understand: The impact of trauma on first presentations of bipolar disorder The role of affect dysregulation and other related psychological processes The developmental processes and psychopathology instrumental in bipolar disorder Life experiences and transitions that might heighten an individual's vulnerability to the development of a bipolar disorder How positive attachment experiences including positive psychotherapeutic engagement can aid the development of reflective function and mentalisation, serving as catalyst for improved self-regulatory processes The processes that are essential to any psychological formulation of a bipolar disorder episode By considering the above, our aim is to present a case-driven psychological intervention targeting emotional recovery and relapse prevention. The seminar outlines an overall psychological framework for developing individually-tailored strategies for case formulation, recovery and staying well, that primarily focus on emotional and interpersonal adaptation to bipolar disorder.
Working with Pluralistic Therapy A one day workshop with Mick Cooper London, 5 October 2019, Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm Many therapists strive to adopt an integrative approach to therapy, but how do we combine theories and methods from across different modalities in a coherent manner, such that our approach is therapeutically effective and not just an assortment of diverse understandings and practices? Pluralistic therapy is an approach that attempts to address these challenges. At the heart of the approach is an attempt to work collaboratively with clients to help identify the methods that work most effectively for that unique individual. At this workshop, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors and counselling psychologists, Mick Cooper draws on his writing, research and clinical experience in this area to explore the practical implications of a ‘pluralistic approach’ that can enable a more effective therapeutic engagement. He explains the essential tenets of pluralistic therapy and how this approach: Is a collaborative, integrative perspective, deeply rooted in humanistic and person-centred values Creates a framework in which practitioners can integrate a wide variety of methods into their practice Enables an appreciation of each client’s unique expectations from the therapeutic process Allows for shared decision making – where the client gains some control on therapeutic goals Requires us to critically evaluate some of the aims, anticipations and formulaic methods that our modality may have trained us for Through small group exercises, pairs-work, discussion and theory inputs, the workshop helps participants develop a deeper understanding of the pluralistic approach, enabling them to be more person-centered in their therapeutic work. Learning Objectives: Describe the basic principles of a pluralistic approach to counselling and psychotherapy Recognise evidence and arguments that support, and challenge, a personalised approach to therapy Explain the ways in which this approach is able to help clients, and the methods used to facilitate this Critically discuss the strengths, and limits of metatherapeutic communication: talking to clients about what they want from therapy Apply basic methods of metatherapeutic communication Critically evaluate the use of process and outcome measures in therapeutic practice
Developing a Trauma Mindset A one day workshop with Miriam Taylor London, 11 October 2019, Friday 10:00am - 4:00pm In order to work successfully with clients who have experienced trauma, we, as therapists, need to develop a mindset that orients us towards a clear understanding of what we are working with. Have we considered the physiological process of trauma? Have our clients experienced victim blaming or come face-to-face with retraumatisation? Have we looked beyond the apparent diagnoses of depression, anxiety, eating and / or personality disorders to segregate the relational manifestations of underlying trauma? The Trauma Mindset can be a useful tool that allows us to objectively make informed and effective interventions, engage in realistic treatment planning and comprehend some of the complex relational issues that traumatised clients can present with. At this practical and clinically oriented workshop which would be relevant for all practitioners working with Trauma (including PTSD, Complex Trauma and Dissociation Disorders), Miriam draws on emerging evidence from neuroscience to explain how we have to take the physiology of trauma into account in order to avoid recreating and rekindling the feeling of trauma. Through illustrative case vignettes and discussions, the workshop looks at several ways of conceptualising trauma through the lens of the clients’ experience: Firstly, we illuminate some of the ways the body is implicated in trauma responses. This points in the direction of more appropriate treatment planning and we consider the role of narrative, story and regulation in this context Then, we will address the issue of often misunderstood symptoms and how to make new sense of these, including some typical relational dynamics. Dissociation merits special attention as an adaptation to extreme or enduring stress or danger, and we will consider ways of understanding this phenomenon Next, we will look at the integrated physiological, emotional and cognitive states of the model known as ‘The Window of Tolerance’ – and consider how this model is universally applicable and yet highly subjective and fluid We evaluate how the subjective experience of extreme distress can be understood and how we can intervene at the somatic level to help cultivate a wider window of tolerance Finally, we will explore together methodologies to help define and regulate confusing symptoms and trauma presentations
The Trauma Counsellor's Toolbox: Exercises to Aid Recovery and Healing from Complex Trauma A one day workshop with Christiane Sanderson London, 2 November 2019, Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm Complex trauma is often the result of persistent, repetitive traumatic experiences which may include multiple violations such as sexual abuse, physical violence, emotional abuse and neglect – in many cases at the hands of someone known to the victim. This cycle, where trust is repeatedly betrayed can manifest in a range of symptoms such as dissociation, alterations to sense-of-self and fear of intimacy in relationships. Working with survivors of such trauma requires a range of therapeutic techniques that involve both top-down and bottom-up processing. This is particularly the case when trauma has been split off and is not easily accessible through verbal recall. Moreover, as complex trauma is primarily stored in the right brain, practitioners need to be able to facilitate right brain engagement through a selection of creative techniques and exercises. This training workshop, which would be especially relevant for counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists, across modalities – provides an opportunity for professionals working with survivors of complex trauma to add practical skills to their therapeutic repertoire. The aim is to enable practitioners to explore more creative ways of working with complex trauma and help them become more embodied, so they can facilitate post-traumatic growth for their clients. The workshop achieves this through a series of experiential exercises including: working with nesting dolls, soft toys and transitional objects, exploring family constellations using peg dolls and animals, modelling the trauma narrative with playdoh, making masks to explore the hidden faces of shame and sand tray work to access the unspeakable aspects of trauma. The workshop combines experiential aspects with grounding skills and relevant theory to specifically consider: Ensuring safety and control: we look at appropriate usages of anchors, oases and safe places; exercises that enable clients to be present, reflect and relax Skills that improve daily routine for clients: improving sleep, making the bedroom safe and regaining contact with the body Grounding skills: identifying triggers, managing hyper and hypo arousal states, sensory connections Skills for managing flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety: handling internal dialogue, gaining control over flashbacks, recording nightmares and the protocol for panic attacks Getting rid of negativity: mental filtering and reappraisal of thoughts Working with memory fragments: reducing over-processing, pacing memory work and recording memories Managing boundaries: understanding collapsed or rigid boundaries and drawing the optimal personal space
Attachment and Relational Neuroscience informed Therapeutic Conversations A 2-day training workshop at London with Professor Jeremy Holmes and Graham Music London, 15 Nov and 16 Nov 2019, Friday and Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm on both days Recent developments in attachment theory and relational neuroscience suggest a move from fixed intrapsychic representations to dynamic interactional models that acknowledge the social aspect of our brains. At this practical, interactive and intellectually stimulating workshop, Professor Jeremy Holmes and Graham Music start with the premise that the essence of therapy is dialogue – evaluating how such attachment-informed, relational models can influence the effectiveness of our therapeutic conversations. Professor Jeremy Holmes first looks at the science, and then the art, of therapeutic conversation. Explaining the concept of duets for one, he specifically considers: The developmental psychology of the care-giver-infant protoconversations Attachment and the Relational Brain – what we know from research on client-therapist interactions Affect regulation, sensitivity and mentalising and their respective roles in psychotherapeutic practice Using attachment ideas to foster resilience and tailor interventions to the degree of client disturbance The emergence of complex and nuanced narratives over the course of therapy Attachment as hidden regulator and Attachment across the life cycle: mature dependency Defensive exclusion and avoidance of negative affect in insecure attachment Neuroplasticity and its relevance to therapy – how therapy may precipitate change Graham starts by looking at the roots of relational attunement and mismatches in early parent-infant interaction, drawing parallels with the therapeutic relationship. Building on this theoretical base, he specifically considers: Key features of good therapeutic relationships, including bodily, brain and psychological synchrony - all vital components of successful psychological development and effective therapeutic outcomes Why psychic states and behaviours which can seem maladaptive have generally taken root for sensible reasons and how we might gently and respectfully help our clients to let go of these The role played by Trauma and neglect, their links with the nervous system and states including dissociation and hyperarousal How contemporary trauma theory has been challenging traditional psycho-dynamically informed practice by demanding an emphasis on body and autonomic states The importance of developing safe inner resources and positive affect states Jeremy and Graham present this workshop while engaging in dialogue – with each other, with the audience, and indirectly with the audience’s clients via live supervision. They both share a passionate interest in attachment theory and the psychosocial dimensions of psychological distress. Over the course of two days, each will present two talks, interspersed with reflective practice. The workshop also includes a ‘live supervision’ section illustrating the practical implications of these theoretical discussions.
Shame, Obsession & Habitual Worrying: A Perspective from Relational and Integrative Psychotherapy A 2-day training workshop at London with Dr Richard G. Erskine London, 29 Nov and 30 Nov 2019, Friday and Saturday 10:00am - 4:00pm on both days Shame and self-righteousness can be viewed as protective dynamics that help avoid vulnerability to humiliation and the loss of contact-in-relationship with others. When our clients have experienced a relationship with another person which is tainted by criticism, ridicule, blaming, ignoring or humiliating behaviours; they face an increased vulnerability in all of their relationships – accompanied by shame, self-righteousness and a loss of self-esteem. Obsession, habitual worrying and repetitive fantasising, either independently manifest or concomitant with shame, absorb much of our clients’ mental activity – interfering with their spontaneity, intimacy and living joyfully in the present. The compounded and continual reinforcement of the belief ‘something is wrong with me’ presents the therapist with complex challenges which are specific and unique to the psychotherapy of shame, obsessions and habitual worrying. Both unresolved archaic shame and introjected shame for example, potentiate the pain of any current criticism, adding a further layer of toxicity to our clients’ reactions. At the same time, the juxtaposition of the therapist’s inquiry, listening and attunement with the client’s memory of a lack of interpersonal contact in previous significant relationships, produces intense, emotional responses from the client. Rather than experience unmet relational needs again, the client may react defensively to the interpersonal contact offered by the therapist with fear, anger, more worrying or increased shame. At this workshop, we use lecture, case-discussions and live demonstrations to first look at the interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics of shame and the psychological defence of self-righteousness. We will examine the relational disruptions in the origin of shame as they occur in family situations, in school, on the playground, in groups and in one’s intimate relationships. Through demonstrations of both individual therapy and the Relational Group Process, we will examine how the healing of shame can occur through respect, contact, authenticity and involvement. Drawing on object relations and integrative approaches, Dr Erskine then presents a six-point therapeutic plan for the psychotherapy of clients who engage in obsession, habitual worrying and repetitive fantasising. We will explore the psychological functions, script beliefs, processes of avoidance, archaic experiences, relational-needs and self-responsibility that form the foundations of repetitive fantasising, habitual worrying and obsessions. Our six-point plan evaluates how obsession is often an attempt to disavow affect and engage in intellectualisation rather than feel emotions. We will discuss how methods of cognitive understanding, behavioural change, affective expression and relational psychotherapy can be applied in therapy planning – with a view to reclaiming of our clients’ sensitivities to others and their personal sense of contentment.

nscience UK is an independent organisation that seeks to explore the interdisciplinary richness of mental health disciplines. Through a series of seminars, workshops and conferences that are conducted throughout the year, we aim to present the latest advances in theory and research to practitioners; with a view to furthering their continuing professional development.

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Continuing professional development through seminars, workshops and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists.