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“Being in action” the British Psychodrama Conference in Dublin

June 26, 2013

I returned from the conference on Sunday evening exhausted but stimulated and motivated. It has been a challenging year since May last year when I began my return to the psychotherapy world in the UK. I had been working at our retreat in the small white village in southern Spain. It was my dream, my aspiration, to live and work in the beautiful mountains. It was not to be. And for some time I found it very difficult to accept, that we would be better placed living in Manchester, England. This last year has confirmed that it was the best decision. Over the last year I have been able to use my skills in both a voluntary and paid capacity.  Working with children at “The Place 2Be” in my local primary school has been both a pleasure and a steep learning curve. Friends and colleagues have been so supportive offering a counselling room and dog sitting when I have been away all day. And reconnecting with the North West Psychodrama Group brought me back in to the fold.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I read the title of the 2013 BPA conference “Being in action” as this had been my business name since living in Spain. It was a good omen. When I arrived I felt so welcomed and over the three days connected with old friends from many years ago and met new friends who I look forward to sharing more time with.

The workshops were thought provoking and diverse; Calatonia, Emotional Freedom Technique, Action assessment, Voice in the action, all bring the body mind and spirit together through Psychodrama and action. Early morning saw me in walking meditation and Tai Chi as great ways to prepare for the day. The dinner and dancing on Saturday evening was also a most enjoyable break in the itinerary with excellent music.

So now back to work. I have a few loose ends to tie uo then I will be focusing all me energies on my therapeutic work. The conference has given me much to think about and I intend to be sharing my thoughts here as well as with you, my readers. For the moment I will take a few more days to reflect on the conference and on the last year. Please watch this space and pass on the link to any who you think may be interested.


Creativity and Spontaneity

June 9, 2013

My understanding of creativity is “the ability to bring into being through action.” This would be something new (certainly to the creator) and may be physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological. 

There are some very interesting thoughts by Adam and Allee Blatner “A Psychology and Philosophy of Play” Brunner/Mazel inc. 1997. Creativity runs hand in hand with spontaneity.  “Spontaneity involves a quality of mind, the active opening up which accompanies the thinking of a new idea or trying something a new way. It involves thinking afresh balancing impulse and restraint, and integrating imagination, reason and intuition.

Over the last twenty years I have been exploring, and practicing spontaneity and creativity through theatre, circus, clowning, play and the inner child, dance and music. These are all aspects of play and when brought into therapeutic action through psychodrama, for example, we are able to play as adults in the here and now and discover more positive ways to relate to each other and in the way we relate to the world around us. 

Blatner and Blatner especially refer to the  writings of Alfred North Whithead, Charles Hartshorne, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, and Ken Wibler among others when they say, “What these thinkers share is a view of the universe as an essentially creative process. Our human role in this process is something similar to the cells in the brain of an evolving, cosmic embryo.
As humans learn to relate to each other more harmoniously, it is as if we are all participating in a great process of awakening.”


A friend in need is a friend in deed

January 3, 2009

“A friend in need is a friend in deed”

There are times in our lives when we struggle to make sense of our experiences: times when we are sick and in emotional or physical pain; times when our loved ones are sick, but we feel powerless to help them; times when we believe that our world as we know it is collapsing around us. In times of stress and trauma we are vulnerable and often find ourselves lacking in confidence, and low in self esteem. What we need is to be able to access our some inner strength.

At such times as these it is important to have a “mirror” one that can truly see and hear us. When others around us who we trust, acknowledge how we feel unconditionally, then we become empowered. Often by simply voicing our feelings and having them heard and accepted we are able to move through negative emotions to a more positive and empowered place; a place where we can accept the status quo without having feelings of guilt or inadequacy, without the inner voices of self blame. At times like this true friends are worth their weight in gold but, as the following stories show, friends cannot always be there for us and we need to understand why in order for us not to be plunged into feelings of isolation and unworthiness. These are true stories but I have changed the names and places to protect those involved.

Eileen was a foreigner living in a very small village in a quiet valley in Italy where everyone gets to know everything. For over a year she was laid up with an injured back and then with flu and a bad cough. Throughout her incapacity there was a noticeable lack of communication from the majority of those who she considered to be friends. These were people who she had helped in the past and made an effort to keep in touch with. She knew the word had got round about her injury amongst the small community but almost no one came to visit or phone.

For some time she felt angry and saddened that no one wanted to contact her or call round to see how she was. She felt isolated and ignored. These negative feelings were not beneficial to her recovery. Such feelings lower our energy levels. It was sometime before she began to realise that she was not suddenly “out of favour” but that there was a different issue here and the issue was more about what ever was going on for her friends at that time and what they could or couldn’t cope with. Her lesson here was to recognise who were true friends. In this case those who thought were friends actually had a different perspective; they considered it as more a relationship of convenience on their part. Her negative issue was her feeling of rejection and her belief that she was not considered worthy of a visit. What she needed to appreciate was what may have been going on for the other people in their lives.

Another case in point was a middle aged woman who we will call Ann. She was living with a disabling disease that put her in great pain for much of the time and she lived with her mother who helped and supported her. In the midst of these difficult times her mother was diagnosed with a form of lymphatic cancer and began to undergo treatment. Ann was receiving regular massage sessions from me at the time and during one of these I enquired as to her support network of friends. Did she have friends to whom she could express how she felt about her situation? It was clear that there were obviously issues that would be difficult to talk about within the family so I felt it was important for her to have other support. She told me that none of her friends could cope with hearing about her situation so she has no choice but to appear cheerful and not talk about it to anyone. It was obvious that she was in a very lonely and vulnerable place at a time when she really needed the support of friends.

Then by pure accident I came across a blog on the internet where a man had suffered an arm injury and suddenly where were his friends when he needed them? People he had helped in the past were now nowhere to be seen.

Real friendships, that may include family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, are very important to us. We all need to have our feelings acknowledged, however irrational they may be at the time. We all need unconditional positive regard. We need to be validated. Part of our early childhood development depended on “mirroring”. On adults reflecting back to us how they saw us. This helped us to develop, to understand ourselves.

I feel there are two lessons here. One is that when people who we believe to be friends seem to move away from us when we are in need, then rather than being angry with them, which will have a negative effect on ourselves,we can consider their situation and consider how that may influence their ability to be with us in the way we need. The other lesson is that it is also acceptable to be angry about that situation and to have that recognised, and to have your feelings acknowledged, whatever they may be, not to be judged or to feel guilty or lacking in any way.

So if the need arises then ask for help, seek a friend who can listen without judging or wanting to “sort you out.” However when friends, and I include relatives who can listen unconditionally here, are not available, then it maybe time to seek help from a counsellor or therapist. There are times when we all need a little help to find our own route through the negative moments. There are many styles of professional help available so look for what feels right for you. If the first person you go to doesn’t feel right for you, then try someone else. Go with your gut reactions, and don’t feel guilty about asking for help. The most important moment in making positive change is the moment when you make the decision to ask for help.

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