Sunday, June 01, 2014

Prospects for the Next Year: An I Ching Reading on Turning 64

Entry for 1 June 2014:

My brother Willy reminded me that 64 is the number of hexagrams in the I Ching, the ancient Chinese book of divination. His email gave me the idea of consulting it about the prospects for the next year: Unfortunately, I left my yarrow stalk oracle (actually they are chicken skewers but they work just fine) in Ohio. However, it's all on line now, and I found a yarrow stalk oracle site I kind of liked, although I'm not completely sure of the readings (as usual). 

Any way, I got hexagram 37, Jia Ren/The Family, moving to 33, Dun/Strategic Retreat/Save your bacon. I don't remember ever seeing either of these hexagrams before back in my I Ching consulting days in the late 1960's/early 1970's. 


 

Hexagram 37:  Wind over Fire: The Family: There is a lot here about first protecting one's family, however that may be defined, by perseverance even in hard times.







 

Hexagram 33: Heaven over Mountain: Strategic Retreat: This then moves to making sure to hang onto the valuable essential things that sustain one's life. 







 Together, these seem like really good advice!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dundrennnan Abbey Adventure on my Birthday

Entry for 31 May 2014:

Many, many warm thanks to all my friends and family who have wished me happy birthday in various way. We had lovely Adventure near Kirkcudbright visiting Dundrennnan Abbey, a ruined 12th century Cistercian abbey with wonderful stonework.  As is so often the case for us, the high point was our interaction with the Historic Scotland docent/caretaker.  Glyn, an enthusiastic retired stone mason from Yorkshire, kept dragging us around the site to show one wonderful piece of stone work or architectural feature after another.  
 
 Right before we left, he took us to an iron gate in the south side of the cloister, which he said had been the door to the kitchen at some point:  "Do you seen that bottom stone on the right side of the door frame?, " he asked, pointing to a lovely carving of flower that stands out against the straight vertical groove carved through the stack of stones there.  "That were just some guy who decided one day to cut t' stone that way.  He didn't get paid for it, he just did it to say he were here.  And here he still is, you can read him in t' stone, all these hundreds of years later!"  The big smile on Glyn's face showed his vicarious pride, empathically resonating with his fellow craftsman across more than 800 years.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring 2014 EFT Network Meeting

The Spring 2014 EFT Network meeting will take place
Saturday, 3 May 2014: Video: Rhonda Goldman: EFT Case Formulation
Time: Saturday noon - 5pm


If you are interested in attending please contact me for more details.

Agenda/Approximate Timings:
1. Check-in/update on your practice, including EFT News Update (1 hr)
2. Video (1 hr)
3. Break: Please bring a wee snack to share; we will provide tea/coffee/juice (.5 hr)
4. Skill practice: open marker work; unless otherwise agreed (1 hr)
5. Group supervision (1 hr)
6. Processing (.5 hr)

You don't have to tell me if you're coming; but it would be helpful to know numbers.

We've also scheduled the next two EFT Glasgow Quarterly Network Meetings:

Summer: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014: Video: EFT for Depression, part 1
Autumn: Saturday, 29 Nov 2014: Video: EFT for Depression, part 2

All EFT Network Meetings are free and open to everyone who has completed at least one level of EFT training and is interested in developing their EFT practice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Emotion-Focused Therapy Masterclass: Emotion Focused Therapy for Anxiety


Friday, 2 May 2014 9:30-17.30
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Openings remain for the next EFT masterclass.

In general, the results of using humanistic experiential psychotherapies with anxiety difficulties have been generally disappointing.  However, this is beginning to change, with the emergence of Emotion-Focused Therapy for social anxiety and generalized anxiety. In this session I provide an overview of experiential processes in anxiety and key EFT tasks in anxiety, including a recently developed integrated task model that incorporates problematic reaction points, anxiety splits, self-criticism splits, unfinished business and self-soothing. 

In this session I provide an overview of anxiety difficulties, a review of different person-centred-experiential theories of anxiety difficulties, and the EFT approach to working with anxiety, emphasizing anxiety split work and self-soothing.

Individual sessions of the new Emotion-Focused Therapy Masterclass Series are open to counsellors and psychotherapists (Diploma level or above) who have completed Level Two or Level Three training in EFT.  If it’s been a while since you did EFT training, the masterclasses can serve as a refresher course and enable you to catch up on more recent developments in EFT theory, practice and training.

This session will include videos or live demonstration, supervision of client work, and small group skill practice.  Participants are encouraged to bring in material from their anxious clients.

·      Enrolment is set for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15.  The balance between supervision and skill practice will depend of number of participants.
·      Course fee: £120.
·      The course could be taken for continuing professional education credit.

Contact: jan.bissett@strath.ac.uk or 0141-444 8415 for further information on this training, the facilitator, ways of applying for this course or other APT events.

Al Mahrer, Eccentric Humanistic Psychologist, RIP

--> Entry for 16 April 2014:

Word reached me today that Al Mahrer has died.  I can’t find any record of a birthdate, so I don’t even know how old he was, probably in his late 80’s, given that he got is PhD  1954.  Al was a wild & crazy guy.  Also quite annoying at times.  I suppose lots of people have Al Mahrer stories.  In one of his books, he claimed his therapy could cure cancer.  Some of my Al Mahrer stories I don’t feel are appropriate to record here, so I will just say that I was pretty outraged at the time.   

At the same time, tonight, as I reflect on his passing, I find myself wondering how it was in 1980 that he thought to invite Clara Hill, Bill Stiles and me to be part of an APA symposium on the future of psychotherapy research.  For some reason, he saw us as promising young psychotherapy researchers who might have something useful to say to the rest of the field. I don't think too many other people were paying attention to us then.  I didn't even know that about myself, until he slapped a grandiose title ("Fitting Process Research to Practicing Therapist"!) onto my untitled APA submission, a title that I then felt I had to live up to.

So, in spite of the nonsense, I also think he was brilliant -- and not just for "discovering" Bill, Clara and me.  He certainly changed the way I think about and do therapy and therapy research.  And I'm sure that his method of bodily resonation is one of the main sources of how I think about empathy as an embodied process in which it is possible at certain times to deeply enter the client's experiential process.  That means that every time one of my clients and I are able to do this, there is a wee bit of Al Mahrer there with us, in the room.  He was certainly one of a kind.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Craigmillar Castle: Edinburgh's other castle


Entry for 12 April 2014:

Diane’s back from the US, so yesterday we went off for another Saturday Adventure, this time to Craigmillar Castle, on the east side of Edinburgh.  With the oldest bits built in the 14th century, it’s almost as venerable as Edinburgh Castle to the west.  In fact, from the upper ramparts of Craigmillar Castle, you can see Edinburgh Castle in the distance.  As abandoned Scottish castles go, Craignmillar is a remarkably well-preserved.  It sits at the top of a ridge, with wonderful views in all directions:  Panning clockwise from Edinburgh Castle, you see the old town of Edinburgh, St Giles etc, then just before you get to Holyrood Palace, what you get instead is the back side of Arthur’s Seat, which is highest point in the area.  After that, the Firth of Forth, East Lothian, and finally the Pentland Hills.

The castle is nicely symmetrical, yet complicated and disorienting in its internal structure, where you go back and forth between the large central tower and the two adjacent, flanking ranges of more recent origin without realising you are doing so.  There are stairs everywhere, large and small circular ones, even straight ones.  The most unusual feature of the castle is the remains of a ornamental pool in the shape of a large letter “P” (for “Preston”, one of the families to own the place at one time) in what used to be the garden below the castle.

Although very windy when we visited, it would be a great place to go back to with visitors looking for a satisfying castle experience without the crowds and over the topness of Edinburgh’s other castle.

(Amusingly, we were startled in church this morning when a Craig Miller got up to read the lessons.  We’re reasonably confident that there is no relationship between the person and the castle.)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

“I’d Like to See you Try!”: Primary Adaptive Anger in Glasgow Taxi Drivers

Entry for 3 April 2014:

At 9:30 this morning, the taxi driver arrived to take me to Glasgow Airport for my latest EFT training gig in the Netherlands.  The streets in Hyndland aren’t very wide and the taxi driver didn’t pull very far over to the left (he said later that parking is so bad in Hyndland that he always double parks in order to leave the parking spaces for the residents).  Suddenly, a red sports car appeared out of nowhere behind him and couldn’t easily get around him.  There were two young guys in it, and the driver honked loudly and repeatedly as the taxi man got out of the car to help me with my suitcase.  The taxi driver, 60, spectacled, bald and bulky, told the young guy to calm down.  Red sports car driver then rolled down his window and exploded with a torrent of foul language.  The taxi driver told him to wait, whereupon the young man threatened to get out of his car and punch the older man.  The taxi driver looked the young man over, and said firmly: “I’d like to see you try!”  This produced a further stream of invective, but no action from red sports car driver other than to back up and begin trying to manoeuvring his fancy car around the taxi driver’s vintage red Skoda. “I’m going to take your mirror off,” said the young hothead.  “Go ahead!”, said the taxi driver, knowing that new red sports car had more to lose by the old Skoda.  The young sports car driver managed to squeeze between the taxi and the row of parked cars without mishap, and drove somewhat uncertainly off down the street. (I half expected him to pull over and get out of his care, but that didn't happen.)  The taxi driver helped me put my suitcase in the boot, we got in his car and headed for the airport. 

I was left both bemused and a bit shocked by this surreal event, especially given that it was only 9:30am, too early for serious drinking, even in Glasgow.  For his part, the driver didn’t seem fazed; he told me that in his youth he used to work security for a night club in the Glasgow City Centre, and that he’d also been called every name in the book in his former career managing truck drivers.

It did, however, leave me thinking about different kinds of anger.  Let’s start with the sports car driver:  The primary adaptive response to coming upon someone who’s blocked your way with sloppy double parking is probably annoyance or irritation; afterall, it is Hyndland, with its many one way or narrow streets.  You don’t drive in Hyndland without expecting to get stuck briefly behind someone loading or unloading.  (Some people, like Diane’s former driving instructor, refuse to drive in Hyndland for just this reason.) So irritation is perfectly understandable and appropriate. 

In contrast, the young man’s response was not irritation but road rage, the kind of reaction that leads to escalation and physical violence if answered in kind.  It’s impossible to know exactly what was going on with the young man, but the taxi driver and I both thought that the his reaction was partly due to his having an audience in the car with him, that is, another young guy.  So was this secondary reactive anger, motivated by some other prior emotion? For example, it could have been fear at having almost hit the taxi after trying to race up Novar Drive, or else by shame at loss of face in front of his friend, or even physical distress from being hung over.  We have no way of knowing which if any of this might have been going on. 

But there was also an element of bullying to the young man’s behavior, that is, instrumental anger, which is displayed in order to gain power or control over another person by frightening or shaming them.  Finally, the young man’s over-reaction could have also had an element of primary maladaptive anger to it, so that the taxi driver’s annoying but minor imposition on the young guy’s “driving space” might have felt something like:  “This is the story of my life; this kind of thing always happens to me; older people are always getting in my way and keeping me from living my life, then ignoring me when I complain. I’ve had it; I’m not putting up with this crap anymore!”

If I had to guess, I’d say it was a mixture of all these things.

As for the taxi driver, I have to say that I am quite impressed by his response: He didn’t take it personally, he didn’t over-react, which might well have led to further escalation and possibly to physical violence.  But at the same time, he didn’t give ground either: that is, he met the young man’s attacking language with firm, assertive, protective anger.  Beyond this, his response was mixed with a bit of classically Glaswegian humour.  And a strategic therapist would have been impressed by the taxi driver’s use of paradoxical injunction, a technique that is particularly effective with people high in psychological reactance (a fancy word for hating being told what to do).