Friday, September 29, 2006

Scotland Update: What a Week that Was

Entry for 29 September 2006:

Monday was a public holiday, but no one seemed to know what it was for. Some people referred to it as bank holiday, but we were surprised to see that all the banks were open, so apparently that was not it! It seems that different cities in Scotland take turns having Monday holidays in September. This was Glasgow’s turn. Mostly, it was a shopping and hanging out day, like Saturdays tend to be here. Because it seemed mostly like a Saturday, we followed out Saturday script and had an outing to explore another piece of Glasgow. On this day, we decided to visit the Glasgow Modern Art Museum. However, before that we received a visit from Scotland Water, in response to our complaint about sewage coming up outside both our front and back doors on Saturday (before our previous Saturday adventure). It was a plugged drain shared with the house next door but with main access cover strategically placed in our front walk; when stepped on, the access cover yielded a small pool of raw sewage which gathered at the foot of our front doorstep. Apparently, this is another idiosyncrasy of British/Scottish plumbing, like the water tank in the attic. Fortunately, we found the museum of modern art to be much more pleasant. (We are not among those who would be inclined to see an analogy between modern art and raw sewage.) The collection features primarily Glasgow artists. The most entertaining piece as a video installation of a series of small children holding their breath as they sat in the back seat of a car driving through the Clyde Tunnel. After the museum, we joined the rest of the shoppers.

Tuesday, as already related, the movers came, and then I rushed off to meetings with the Dean and Vice-Dean. I had a very intense meeting with Iain, the Dean of the Faculty, plying him with questions, while he patiently answered them, sometimes digressing in order to provide me with backstory that I had been missing. At the end, he encouraged me to come see him every 4 to 6 weeks whether I thought I needed to or not. This pleased and touched me greatly, as I understood this as essentially his way of offering to mentor me in the ways of the University. I have never had this kind of relationship with a Dean before, and I find it very helpful for gaining a better understanding of how the University works. Later, I met with the Vice-Dean for research, and today (Friday) I met with the head of the Department and the head of the continuing education department (“Professional Development Unit”). As a result, I am finding that many things are beginning to make much more sense, and several directions forward are becoming much clearer.

Wednesday was largely taken up with 6-hour retreat, by the senior faculty and staff of the Counselling Unit, to try to determine our mission and priorities. Another intense day, as we hammered out our values, resources, challenges and priorities. We made real progress on several fronts. For example, we agreed to propose to the Diploma staff that the named focus of the Unit and the Diploma course be broadened from Person-Centred to Person-Centre/Experiential. This greatly helps both Mick and I to feel more integrated into the Unit; for me it has helped me reach a felt shift in my sense of my place. The list of strengths amazed us all (I will post it some other time). Even the many challenges named, while clearly difficult and in some cases painful, do not seem insurmountable, and even felt more manageable simply by our having named them. We left with 6 priorities, which will form the basis for a mission statement; our next step to develop this. What a wonderful group of colleagues. I came home exhausted by pleased.

Thursday was also very intense. I got up at 5 am in order to catch the 6:58 train from Anniesland station with Mick. We talked for something like 8 hours straight, first about Rasch analysis (somewhat grim in the morning dark), then about Unit things after Lorna joined at Queen Street Station for our train to Dundee. The Scottish countryside rolled by as we chattered on about the winter weather, about my conversation with the Dean etc etc. In Dundee, John McLeod was waiting to drive us up the Dudhope Castle, a genuine Scottish castle that shelled by the English during the 1300's. This is where the Tayside Clinic is located, and we were meeting there to discuss the status of the research collaboration among the U of Strathclyde, the U of Abertay, Glasgow Caledonian U, and possibly Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities. The approaching initiation of the Strathclyde Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Centre has required a maor restructuring of the collaboration, the result of which was an agreement to create the Scottish Network (Group/Consortium) for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, with me as Chair, at least for the first year, first meeting to take place in early December. I came home from exhilarated but exhausted and felt asleep instead of working on the grant prospectus that was due on Friday.

Friday, I got up at 6am to finish the grant prospectus that I had been working on all week around all the other things that I’ve been listing. This is a long shot at big money, only one bid allowed per university. I put in a preliminary tender for it, only because Lorna, Mick and Mike each independently decided I should go for it. The grant development officer was sceptical but invited me anyway to do a prospectus in order to help her work more effectively with me and the rest of the Unit. I’ve used this to revive my HSCED line of research in the context of the Practice-Based Research Protocol and the Social Anxiety treatment development study we are planning. It was great to get back to this stuff, and I was able to progress some of the ideas in HSCED significantly (but hat’s yet another Blog). After this, we had the meeting with the continuing education/PDU people, where it became clear how to proceed on the Level 2 PE/EFT training workshop, much to my relief; so that got unstuck also.

By tonight, unsurprisingly, the week has taken its toll and I can hardly function, but I am still going at 12:30am, on some kind of nervous energy. Clearly, this week has made clear that it has not been a mistake to take the job here: I have wonderful, highly competent, caring colleagues; my creative processes have been re-stimulated so I have begun to generate new ideas and write again, and we have settled into our house to a much greater extent. How wonderful! How exhausting! What's next?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Importance of Passion in Research and Training

Entry for 27 September 2006:

Since I began meeting with the MSc and PhD students last week, I have been very impressed by their passion for the research, driven by their commitment to the Person-Centered approach. The students here come at their own expense, unlike UK students in Clinical Psychology, who have their way paid for, or at least heavily subsidized by the government. And, although tuition here is much less than at the professional psychology schools in the US, many of the students travel a long way (some from London or other countries) to study here. So, the students who end up here tend to be quite dedicated, especially at the masters or doctoral levels. Part of what drives them is the strong sense of being discriminated against by the National Health Service and CBT-oriented academics, and their desire to defend and support the person-centered approach, which they believe in because it is consistent with their values and life experiences. Many are here on a mission!

I find that this connects with me at a deep level, with my own sense of mission. I have always felt privileged to be able to teach at a university, and have felt a strong sense of responsibility to make the most of the opportunity to help others learn and to discover new and useful things. The result is that I love this passion in others, and am pleased and surprised to find it here. I shouldn’t be surprised, but there you have it, there are many things that I didn’t get around to anticipating, even though they are logical in retrospect! The result is that I am really looking forward to working with these passionately committed students.

Interestingly, at our strategic mission meeting today, when we reviewed the many strengths or resources of the Counselling Unit, the senior staff didn’t cite this passion as a strength, although they immediately agreed with it. Apparently it is something they take for granted, as so obvious as to be overlooked. Sometimes it’s nice to be an outsider, because you can see things that insiders don’t.

The lesson I think is that passion and commitment are an important but perhaps overlooked contributor to quality of the learning process. It would be good to develop a valid way of assessing this in prospective person-centered or process-experiential therapists.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Moving (in) Narritive

Entry for 26 September 2006:

The movers arrived about 10:30 this morning, in a big lorry (truck). We had them pull the thing around to the back of our house, where it almost blocked the street. There were two guys, Paul and Ben, and they immediately set to work unloading things into our house. We are always interested in the folks that do these sorts of jobs. Paul, the driver, was probably in his 30’s, balding, and much more experienced. Ben looked to be about 20. Both were very polite, calling me “sir”; friendly and helpful. Ben startled me at one point by asking if he “could borrow your toilet,” an expression that I have never heard before, but one which generated a mental image I did not care for, especially coming from the mouth of a mover.

They finished unloading into the house in about 45 minutes, took a smoke break, then we climbed into the lorry with them and I navigated Paul to the University. This was the part I have been preparing for and rehearsing in my mind for months, as I sorted the things first in my lab and office and then at home, trying to figure out what I would need here in Scotland, what could stay in Toledo, and what would be thrown away. I don’t know yet how successful my triage will prove to be, but I will soon begin to find out. I have also tried to imagine the best way for them to get my 27 boxes to the 3rd floor of a 100-year-old building with one rickety elevator that is not in the right part of the building and only goes to the 2nd floor. In the end, I did the counter-intuitive and had them park their lorry in front of the Henry Wood Building (where the rest of the Counseling Unit is located, except for me), take the tunnel across to my stairwell, which is on the first floor (outside of America, the first floor is one flight of stairs up from the ground floor), and up two flights of stairs to my office. This was a clever plan and saved them both stairs and distance – except for one thing: We arrived just as classes were changing, and the halls and stairwells were absolutely flooded with young female students (the Jordanhill campus is primarly a teacher training college). Diane guarded the pile of boxes at the foot of the stairs, whilst Ben brought boxes in from the lorry on a dolly and I opened doors for him. Meanwhile Paul labored up the two flights of stairs to my office, getting increasingly red in the face and tired-looking, but managing in the end to carry up all but 4 of the boxes himself.

After another cigarette break, Paul and Ben drove us to the storage site, which is south of the river, in Kinning Park. Getting there was the most challenging part of this part of the delivery, because the lorry was too tall for the Clyde Tunnel, requiring us to go up river toward the city centre, get on the motorway for about half a mile, then tangle about in the area between the river and the motorway (which is like a river in itself, but wider and faster). In spite of having very little experience driving in Glasgow, Paul managed to get there without any wrong turns. Once at the storage facility, they were able to get our 4 pieces of orphan furniture into 50-square foot storage room that we had been concerned would be too small. All in all, we were very impressed these two men, and insisted on taking a photo of them proudly standing in front of their removal lorry. It was about 1:30 when we left the storage facility. The whole process, 3 stops and all, had taken no more than 3 hours. We walked across the motorway on the footbridge we had taken 2 weeks ago when we first visited the place, got on the subway (the man at the ticket office wouldn’t sell us a ticket and just waved us on), and took it to Partick. There was a train at the platform as we came up on the escalator, so we got on it without knowing where it was going. It turned out to be a Dalmuir train, so Diane got off at the next station in order to transfer, while I continued on to Jordanhill. I was at the my building by 2:10, in time for a sandwich before my meeting with the Dean... but that is a blog for another day!

What a relief to have our things! Contrary to my fears, it is very nice to be surrounded by bits of our Toledo life, and handy too. Diane spent a good part of the afternoon and evening in quasi-Christmas mode, discovering new treasures, while I set up the computer. We are quite cozy now, and many more pieces have fallen finally into place here. We feel more truly grounded here now and ready to settle in further and move on to the next phase of our life in New California!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Preparing for the Our Ship(ment) to Arrive

Entry for 25 September 2006:

Last Friday night the movers for the UK end of our move phoned to say that our stuff had cleared customs and would be delivered this coming Tuesday (as I write this, that is tomorrow). We had been trying to track the journey of our container, which had left Detroit on September 5, on board a ship called Ever Diadem. At times, we have felt like members of a cargo cult, waiting for John Frum (derived from “John from America”) to arrive with all kinds of goodies for us. Last week, we noticed that our ship was late, which we attributed to Hurricane Gordon, whose effects we felt here in the form mostly of high winds. So it was good news to learn that our things were not at the bottom of the Atlantic and would soon be here.

Bizarrely, this has only made us more anxious. This has been building all weekend, at first a sense of things being out of balance, but by today it emerged as crankiness and a general funk on both our parts. It turns out that we had just about gotten used to living out of a suitcase in the nearly 4 weeks since we’ve been here. Our life here has been light and relatively uncluttered by the weight of material possessions. True, I keep running out of socks, or underwear, or trousers, depending which load was not done last; also, it’s been almost a month since we were able to cut a carrot without risk to out fingers. But in the warped funhouse mirror of hindsight, such inconveniences now seem a small price to pay for the lack of clutter and crowding.

That all changes tomorrow, and we will have to find places for all these things we’ve chosen to bring along with us, a kind of “greatest hits” of our life in Toledo. Things will need to go in closets, under beds, and in the small attic. My office at work will be filled with 27 boxes of books and data. We will have to make room here for various bookshelves and kitchen items. It will be good to be able to cook using good knives and cookware. However, having more clothes to wear won’t change the fact that our washing machine is too small to wash many of those clothes at the same time anyway, and the house is going to feel much smaller. Also, we will start having to pay to have a bunch of our furniture stored, which I’m sure is going to drive us crazy as a waste of money.

But getting our things will be another step forward in our life here. It will give us more that is familiar with which to surround ourselves, and that should help reduce the sense of dislocation. It will motivate us to begin looking for a more permanent place to live. And maybe that is the hardest part about getting our stuff: That it is a sign of the permanence of our move; it means that we are no longer just visitors living out of our suitcases. Instead, it signifies that we have really arrived and now must make the most of our new life here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Exploring Glasgow by Running

Entry for 24 September 2006:

Yesterday (Saturday), I did another 7.5 mi run, this time up the canal to the River Kelvin, but instead of going upriver I ran downriver along a lovely set of paths that wind along next to the River, ending up at the Botanic Garden on Great Western Road. For the first time, I got a really good sense of the way that the River Kelvin shapes the geography of that part of Glasgow, which is easy to miss because it is so built up with houses, tenements (in Glasgow, tenements are nice older buildings), and high rise towers (not so nice here).

Running in Glasgow can be quite tricky, because of the twists and turns of the road, canals, rivers, everything, so that it is very easy to become disoriented and lost. I suppose it would be safer to run with a map and a mobile phone, but I don’t like carrying the extra weight, especially on long runs. So I make do by carefully studying the relevant parts of the map beforehand, and planning my route. Still, it was very disorienting to come up in a neighborhood behind the Botanic Garden instead at Great Western Road, meaning that I was 180 degrees off. (Like my dream a while back of getting things exactly wrong!) It was only later that I realized that the River Kelvin runs parallel to Great Western Road for a ways before it makes a 90 degree right turn and crosses Great Western. I hadn't managed to internalize that part of the map!

After running around the Garden for a while, I found myself near the glass pavilions that I had seen from the bus and I was able to get back on course, heading up Queen Margaret Drive, as planned. That worked well until I realized that I had run under the canal without finding a way to get up to it and was on the opposite site from the towpath/running trail. This required reversing course and running along Maryhill Road for about half a mile until I reached Ruchill, where I knew from previous experience that there was access to the canal.

As I increase the distance I’m running, I’m learning more about the western part of the city. But what I really want to do is to run all the way to the River Clyde along the canal. It turns out, however, the it takes the canal about 9 miles, pretty much out the western end of Glasgow, for it to finally come down to the river at the town of Bowling (we have Bowling Green in Ohio, but I’ve never heard of a town just named named Bowling). This is way beyond my range, but I could run it one way. I’m thinking about running there, and taking the train back (there are direct trains between Bowling and the two stations near us, Anniesland and Westerton), but I haven’t figured out practical things like getting water, food and clothes to the far end. Hmm, I’ll have to work on Diane, but somehow I don’t think taking a train to an obscure suburb of Glasgow with a bunch of stuff to meet a reeking spouse is her idea of a fun Saturday adventure!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Using Focusing in to Improve Qualitative Interviewing

Entry for 21 September 2006:

For some time now I’ve been thinking about combining Gendlin’s Focusing technique with qualitative interviewing, in order to obtain deeper, more emotionally rich information. I have used bits of Focusing for years in parts of the Brief Structured Recall method, where the client asked to indicate the parts of a complex item that fit their experience best, and in the qualitative version of the client context section of the BSR that I developed in the early ‘90’s, at the end of the Depression project.

But yesterday, while reviewing Jutta Schnellbacher’s recall protocol for studying client’s experiences of relationship development in early sessions, I found a really good application for this approach. Jutta is particularly interested in how clients develop an inner image of the therapist in early sessions. Therefore, I proposed that she start the interview off by asking the client to use Focusing to access their full experience of the therapist as it is beginnning to form. Here is what such a process might look like:

I’d like you to tell me about the impressions of your therapist that you have developed to this point. OK?

If you could, close your eyes or look away for a minute. Sit quietly, look inside, and ask yourself, “What is my overall experience of the therapist to this point?” See what comes to you; let me know when you have gathered your main impressions and are ready to go on.

[Wait for 30-60 sec, then check with the client if they haven’t let you know they are ready.]

If you are ready, please begin to tell about your impressions of the therapist. Take your time.

Here are some examples of follow-up questions which could be used at this point, to help clients elaborate their experiences:

What mental image do you see of the therapist, in your mind’s eye?
What sticks out for you?
How do you feel about them?
Are there any body feelings that go with these feelings?
How would you describe them in words?
How would you describe them in a picture?
What are they like for you?
Is there something you might like to say to them if they were here now, or next time you see them?

These probes will have to be experimented with; and you would never want to use all of them with one person, but I think they will produce information useful for elaborating on emotion scheme components. I would very much like to develop this sort of approach to qualitative interviewing, in part to help produce research that is both more interest and more valid.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Assembling the Pieces of a Life Here in Scotland

Entry for 20 September 2006:

It has been rainy, windy and warm here the past two days, as Hurricane Gordon hovers off shore. Umbrellas get turned inside out, if not steered with great care. Last night it was so warm in the house (we have central heat but no thermostat), that when I came home I changed into shorts and a t-shirt.

This week began inauspiciously, as we were first turned down for a credit card by the UK affiliate of our main care in the US, even though they recommended that we apply in the UK and told us it wouldn’t be a problem. On Monday, our office manager announced that even though the Professional Development Unit manager had recommended that my Advanced EFT course be handled within-house, this could not be done because the office staff were too busy. I spent the better part of a day fuming about this, because PDU has significant higher overhead costs, and it means less money for me and for the
Counselling Unit both.

Then on Tuesday I went down to the city centre to get my photo taken for my university ID card, which I need for things like checking books out of the library. This took a good part of the morning, because it takes about 45 min each way. When I got there, I was told that due to a staffing shortage no pictures were being taken that day and that I should come back next week (they only do it once a week). Needless to say, I was pretty cranky when I got back to Jordanhill, and Mick and Lorna got an earful at lunch, and not just about the wasted morning.

However, this turned out to be a turning point, because Mick and Lorna told me that I wasn’t overreacting (“We’ll tell you if we think you’re whining.”) and that something needed to be done about the work situation. They couldn’t help me with the photo, but they did insist that I make time to work at home instead of dragging myself into work everyday, and they told me to hold off on going to PDU to handle my workshop.

Based on this support, I was then able to further the workshop by sending out a mass email myself (thanks to Diane having already typed all the email addresses into the computer) to everyone who had expressed an interest last June. (By this afternoon, I already had 4 people sign up!)

Then we got the printer working, on top of the broadband that started on Monday. Next, this morning I was able to get some significant creative work done on Jutta’s research project at KU Leuven, helping her put together a new interview procedure that combines qualitative interviewing with Gendlin’s Focusing technique. (I hope to have time to write about this tomorrow.) After this, this afternoon, I finally got our relocation expense estimate off to the Personnel Office here, so that we have begin the process of getting reimbursed for some of the estimated US$20,000 that we are out going to be out for various aspects of our move. Finally, tonight we had our first dinner guest: Beth Freire, my Brazilian colleague, who entertained us with stories of growing up and living in Brazil and what it was like for her to move here.

So: although the UK credit card thing is not looking too hopeful (we haven’t lived here long enough), and it does look like it is going to take Diane quite a while to get recertified as a nurse, more pieces of a life here have been added this week, and we are definitely making progress!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Exploring Glasgow, Part 3

Entry for Monday, 18 September:

Every Saturday we try to explore some interesting bits of Glasgow. This weekend’s exciting installment got substantially co-opted by the need to find a place to store our furniture, which may arrive as soon as this week. This includes two sofas (that we bought a year ago with money that Gladys [Diane’s mom] gave us) and two oak dressers from our bedroom. This is mostly furniture for which we no longer have room in our house in Toledo, but that we thought we could make use of here. However, we were unable to find an unfurnished flat here, so now we have to store this extra stuff until we can find a more permanent living situation.

We checked out two storage places, one just northeast of the City Centre, not far at all the Glasgow Cathedral, site of last weekend’s Saturday adventure; the other was south of the River Clyde, a part of town that we had not been to before. Both places were right next to large motorways, but unlike their American counterparts, both were inside large warehouse-type structures rather than being rows of low outdoor structures. They tend toward a rabbit-warren feel, especially the first, which we found to be mazelike. That and a somewhat lower price led us to choose the second place we looked at, in the Govan section of Glasgow, south of the river.

I am also exploring our section of Glasgow via my runs, especially my Saturday morning long runs. I am trying gradually to extend my range so that I can tackle the 9 mile roundtrip between here and Clydebank, about 4.5 miles from here, where the Firth & Clyde Canal approaches the River Clyde. On Saturday I ran 7.5 miles, up the River Kelvin, past the U of Glasgow Science Campus, up to Bearsden Cross (a large roundabout), back on Switchback Road. This wasn’t far enough, so I did another loop, running along the Temple Walkway from near our house to its end in Netherton, then back along the canal from the west. It’s great exploring the area like this; although the busy roads aren’t nice to run along, the Canal and River Kelvin are great. I’m still looking for the perfect 10k run, though, that avoids roads and sticks to pretty paths along bodies of water. Fortunately, there are still plenty of possibilities to explore for months to come.

We also made good use of Glasgow’s famous mini-subway, affectionately known as the Clockwork Orange, because it goes in a circles (actually two circles, one clockwise – inner circle – and the other anti-clockwise [as they say here] – the outer circle). It is low enough that I have to be careful not to bump my head getting on or off. Diane felt right at home!

Later on Saturday afternoon, we explored the eastern end of Great Western Road (which sounds like a contradiction in terms), like the ethnic shops around St. Mary’s Cathedral, where we have been going to church on Sundays. The most interest place specialized in asian music and exotic-looking ladies shoes.

On Sunday, we went to the Cathedral later in the day for a 5pm tea, where we met a many interest people, including the current main priest, whose name is Kelvin (like the nearby river). He asked me what I thought of the service, and I said it was much more traditional that we were used to; this surprised him, because apparently they are considered pretty nontraditional for here.

Well it’s late here, and I can hear the rain and wind outside; dreich weather has set in, it appears. We got our broadband finally today, so that is another piece. We almost have a life now!

More on Treating Social Anxiety: A Process-Experiential Alternative to Assertiveness Training

Entry for 16 September:

In our email and lunch exchanges on the Social Anxiety Project, Mick Cooper also suggested adding assertiveness training, following the pluralistic approach he and John McLeod have been pursuing. I’m afraid that is a bridge too far for me, however: I believe that adding such as content directive intervention, in which the therapist sets out to “teach” the client new behaviors is neither necessary nor consistent with a person-centered/process-experiential (PCE) approach.

Instead, PCE therapists believe that clients generally have the ability to express their needs in their relationship, but choose not to do so for various reasons. This often involves self-interruptive processes in which an adaptive emotion or associated action tendency is stopped by a critical or censoring aspect of self. The therapist’s job is to help clients to explore and decide whether they want to remove these self-interruptive blocks.

In rare instances, the client may lack the skills in the first place because they never learned them in the first place; here, the therapist’s job is to provide the client with a task environment in which they fee safe enough to develop these skills through active exploration of their emotions, and associated wishes and action tendencies. For example, assertiveness is most effectively learned through helping the client access their adaptive anger, overcome their self-interruption of this anger (through the Two-chair Enactment task), identify the needs that are connected to the anger (e.g., self-protection from physical harm or exploitation by others), and explore different ways of getting those needs met. While the PCE therapist would not advise the client to go out and try to use the strategies generated in this way, they might encourage the client to pay attention to times during the week when they felt the same emotions and note what comes up inside when they try to get their needs met. Also, the therapist would support the client in their attempts to develop ways of getting their needs met.

However, a behavior therapist would say that using chair work in which the client dialogs with their projected critic or significant other is actually assertiveness training. I prefer to say that the client is working with their emotion schemes of the shaming or critical other and trying to access their adaptive/assertive anger or sadness. The difference is that I am not trying to get the client stand up and assert themselves, for various reasons, including the fact that clients often have good reasons for not expressing anger or demands to important others and those are important to understand and respect. My pluralism has limits and applies more outside my therapy room, i.e., it is more about respecting other perspectives than about integrating them into my own.

Developing Process-Experiential and Person-Centred Therapies for Social Anxiety

Entry for 15 September 2006:

One of the several things I am trying to get started here is a research project on developing Process-Experiential and Person-Centered approaches to working with clients with Social Anxiety. Beth Freire, my Brazilian colleague here at Strathclyde, and Mick Cooper, the other professor, have both been pushing me on this. I have been collecting articles on the topic for a couple months. Here are a few of my initial thoughts:

To begin with, as I said in an earlier entry (see entry for 10 September), there seems to be a potentially very nice fit between Person-Centered therapy and social anxiety. Person-centered therapists have been working with clients with social anxiety for decades and I think that a person-centered approach makes a lot of sense with this problem, starting with ideas about social anxiety being a form of incongruence/social disempowerment based on conditions of worth. I think that being deeply listened to and understood has got to be very powerful for socially anxious people. Also, of course, being affirmed by the therapist and the therapist revealing self as fellow human being is potentially healing for clients whose relationship to their social environment is broken by their fear of being judged.

At the same time, I am very interested in developing a process-experiential formulation and therapy for social anxiety. I have some ideas about what this may look like, which I will outline here. These ideas will be developed a bit further for my new professors bid and it now looks like I may try for additional funding for this work.

I think a PE/EFT approach makes a lot of sense also, starting with the same empathic/prizing/genuineness processes as are key in person-centered therapy, but then using various PE tasks, such as:
-Particularly difficult episodes of social anxiety (Narrative Retelling)
-Anxiety splits (Two Chair Dialogues in which critical/shaming others are addressed in the other chair)
-Attachment failures with significant others (Empty Chairwork)
-Pulling for therapist expertise (Relationship Dialogue)
-Poor experiential access (Focusing)
-Hyper-arousal or anxiety episodes or states (Clearing a Space)

From a PE/EFT perspective, we expect a common set of emotion schemes around emotions of shame and fear (also secondary sadness, i.e., depression), defective/weak self, and judgemental/harsh/rejecting others.

But in either case, part of the work on a project like this is a research team investing a number of months reading the literature on the clinical problem, meeting to discuss emerging ideas, beginning to develop formulations, then working with clients in order to learn more. Then we move into an open clinical trial (i.e., one-group pre-post design), perhaps with 2 strands (person-centered and process-experiential), all before we would even consider doing a randomized clinical trial.

Mick suggests that the work he and Dave Mearns have been doing on working at relational depth might be highly relevant to social anxiety. I think it would be very interesting, to develop relational depth as a therapeutic task. Actually, this is close to the interpersonal dialog work that Germain and the KUL group have been working on. Doing this research might be a way forward to developing this task more fully.

In any case, I'd still like to see a rigorously-developed person-centered approach to social anxiety developed, thought; I think it would be very interesting and could illuminate some important points.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Scotland Progress Update

Entry for 14 September 2006:

At work things are lining up these days as largely consisting of a series of small proposals (the grant proposals are called “bids” here) for various things: (a) to start a practice-based research clinic here; (b) for my new professor’s fund, to start a research project developing process-experiential and possibly also person-centered treatments for social anxiety; (c) for an advanced professional training course for Level 2 training in emotion-focused/ process-experiential therapy; (d) for extending the experiential therapy meta-analysis; and (e) possibly for some kind of senior researcher grant that three people have all asked me if I’m going to put my name in for. I’d forgotten how much of starting a new job consists to doing this sort of thing, and how much there is to be learned in the process of doing so.

Meanwhile, I’m also making gradual progress catching up on things that got neglected over the past couple of months. This ends up mostly being a pile of manuscripts to add my bits or comments to or give feedback on, but there are quite a few of them. I simply could not find a way to even look at them while I was packing up my labs and office and clearing my office and parts of our house. But now I’m beginning to dig out. This is hard because there is so much accumulated, but I have started downloading all my email at the end of each day to take home and work on offline.

Another sign of progress: Our bank account is now finally fully usable; the pin number arrived yesterday, and the checkbook finally, two weeks after we opened the account, came in this morning’s mail. The security for the ATM card and online banking is paranoid to the point of being comical, or it would be if it wasn’t so annoying. We have received something like 10 pieces of mail dealing with our bank account, carefully spaced over the past two weeks, some telling us about what is coming next; others requiring that we fill something out and return it to the bank in order to go to the next step. The online banking requires both as “secret number” and a password, both different from the ATM pin number. Then, when you log in, it asks for randomly-selected characters from both security number and password, different each time, a real pain.

Also, I finally got the UK power adaptor for my laptop sorted out, so that is clear progress. The UK version has an identical power converter; the only thing different is that Apple got a third party supplier to substitute a different power cord and plug piece with weird connector hardware. Fortunately, the two pieces of hardware allow me to convert the old adaptor to UK outlets as well. I have to admit that having been traumatized by having European current fry 3 mother boards on my old iBook, I'm still somewhat nervous about plugging directly into the mains (as they refer generically to most things that come in to your house here, whether it is water, natural gas, or electricity).

We learned yesterday that our stuff shipped out of Detroit on 5 Sept rather than out of Boston in 11 Sept, and that it is due to arrive in England on the 17th, so we must now quickly get our storage arrangements sorted out post haste. Our Saturday adventure exploring Glasgow this weekend will be to look at a couple of different storage facilities! Maybe we'll also get to walk across the new Fineston Bridge that officially opens this weekend.

By some synchronistic turn of events, there was a big nursing exhibition down at the Scottish Exhibition Center today, so Diane went to that to get a sense of the lay of the land. She's not totally ready to work on this yet, but today on the front page of the Glasgow Herald there was a story about the Scottish government approving a program of £5000 grants to help what they call Internationally Qualified Nurses (IQNs -- there's even an acronym!) get qualified to work in the National Health Service in underserved rural areas of Scotland. It's not everyday that you read about yourself on the front page of the paper. By comparison, the Queen's visit yesterday to formally re-open the Kelvingrove Gallery only merited a page 5 story! I told Diane that if my mom were here, she'd say that it certainly looks like the universe telling her it is time to start moving on this. And in fact, it did give her a good start on what she needs to do to get credentialed here as a nurse and to find a job in the mental health field.

The weather continued mild today, but rainy with smirr again. I brought layers to wear here, but so far have not needed them. I’m sure that colder weather will arrive soon enough, so I’m determined to enjoy the mild conditions even with the rain.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Getting it Backwards: A Dream with PE-EFT Analysis

Entry for 13-14 September 2006:

This morning I had a disturbing dream shortly before I woke up. In it, I woke up and suddenly realized that I had made a terrible mistake last night when I told Elke to get tickets for us to see a mid-December concert of early and contemporary choral music of the season at Barony Hall, a converted church near to Glasgow Cathedral, which is now owned by U of Strathclyde. The problem is, instead of flying back to Ohio 2 days after the concert, I now realized, we would be flying back from Ohio to Glasgow 2 days after it. In other words, I realized that I had exactly flipped our time away vs. here in my mind, and now she was going to have tickets we couldn’t use. I felt very embarrassed by this. It seems that we are doing many things like this lately, such as mis-scheduling airplane flights, forgetting doctor’s appointments, and so on. I figured I’d better give her a call early enough his morning that she wouldn’t have been able to go out and buy the tickets yet.

Then I woke up, and immediately realized that it was actually the dream that had gotten our schedule exactly backwards, not the plans we had made last night. Of course I felt relieved to discover this, but I recognized the feeling (emotion scheme) of confused/overwhelmed embarassment as a very familiar mode of being for us these days. I myself have days in which I feel so over-stimulated by all the newness that it is difficult to get anything done at work. The feeling over having gotten it exactly backwards comes close to capturing what it often feel like for us here.

Emotion Scheme Analysis of Getting it Backwards Dream:
-Emotion scheme nucleus (felt emotion):
-Dream: confused/overwhelmed embarrassment
-Perceptual-memory elements (intentionality; associations):
-Sensations: disorientation, gestalt flip, dizziness
-Current life situation: dealing with constant strangeness, disorientation in our life here; frequent misunderstandings in communication with other people
-Bodily/expressive elements: [hard to determine:
-likely facial expression: surprise, then pulling back and in, maybe some disgust, self-directed anger
-sinking feeling in my stomach
-Cognitive/symbolic elements (e.g., metaphors, propositions, identities)
-“Oh, not again! What is the matter with you? Is this senility setting in?”
-Image of myself as incompetent, bumbling, never getting it right
-Action tendency/wish (also lessons, directions for action):
-BodilyAction: Stop short and back away from whatever direction I was going
-Wish to repair the situation immediately, fix the error, move past it, leave it behind, get it out of the way
-Wish to master the situation by understanding it, to prevent future misunderstandings

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Experiencing the Intercultural Strangeness

Entry for 12 September 2006:

There is so much that is just a bit different that we are constantly confronted with situations where we find it difficult for others to understand us or for us to understand them. This leads to endless confusion, often impossible to trace to one side or the other, but rather emerging out of a strange interaction between us and the person we are trying to communicate with. Often we don’t even know that we have missed something until the conversation goes off the track entirely because we are talking at cross-purposes. The less we know the person, the more this happens. Tonight, a phone call with Elke helped me enormously to understand and begin to figure out a very frustrating interaction I had today with the fellow in charge of the Professional Development Unit. Talking with Dave and Elke, is like drinking clear, fresh water after this. It is such a relief to present presented with such a clarity and patience!

The interim priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Toledo is Ann Webber; she is a Brit living in the Midwest, so she has been through the situation from the other end. Today she wrote Diane the following message, which I found a particularly apt way of putting it:

“Getting settled in does take some time - especially when you don't quite speak the language! ... One thing I found took a lot longer than understanding American when we moved here was understanding the American nuances of thought - I'm still not a 100% sure I do. I think that is probably the most difficult part of changing cultures - it is as if everything is just slightly off centre- our logic doesn't quite match up - it's an interesting experience!

Here are some couple of pieces of intercultural Scottish/British-American strangeness:

-The most unnerving Scots word we have found so far: An entirely new preposition not found in American (or British) English: outwith, used as an opposite to within or inside, i.e., meaning as far as I can tell, outside of. Example: A sign at our local doctor’s office says something like, “If you need care outwith the surgery’s opening hours, please phone ...” Everytime we see this, we think it is a typo, but it is standard Glaswegian and commonly used.

-An uplift is a cost or living increase.

-A yard consists of dirt or paving; if it has plants growing in the ground in it and/or grass, it is called a garden (this is British English, i.e., pretty much consistent throughout the UK).

-To call means to visit someone; if you telephone someone, it’s called ringing up. Another word for calling is knocking up, which sounds very strange (this is general British English also).

-Contrary to American opinion, there are many different forms of Scottish dialect and local accents. Every part of Scotland has its own dialect and accent. In Dundee, apparently, they use the word ken to mean know, but not in Glasgow. Lorna C. can tell that the Dean of the Education Faculty is from the western island of Lewis from his accent; to me he just sounds Irish. Lorna C. won awards as girl for her readings in what is referred to as “broad Scots”, but she can’t understand people from Aberdeen. Etc. etc. So part of the strangeness is that we are confronted with not just one new culture, but a whole collection of new cultures to deal with.

I will try to collect more of these and post them from time to time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Diane’s Acounts of Living in Scotland

Diane has also been writing accounts of our transition process, which I include here with her permission.
E-mail written 5 September 2006:

At long last I have found a few minutes with a computer to let you all know that we have arrived safely in Scotland and are getting settled into our terrace house in Anniesland (a section of Glasgow). Robert has started working at the University of Strathclyde and we are working hard to understand the local dialect. Glasgow is a very friendly city, especially if you are lost, but is a bit of a pain to get yourself established. We finally have a bank account---but cannot access our funds for another week or two. We have a phone but cannot get broadband set up for another week or so.We are trying to learn a bit about the public transportation systems since we have not even thought about trying to buy a car.

It has been drizzling on and off most during most of the past week but we have found a bit of time to visit with new friends. The weekend we took some time to visit the Kelvingrove Museum--newly reopened and what an adventure that was. It was full of people and kids and the Toledo Art Museum docents would have been crazy with all the running children and with everyone touching the paintings and sculptures. It is truly a people's museum. And all the museums are free. Sunday David Mearns (a journal co-editor for a journal Robert also edits) and his partner Elke took us out for a walk in the Highlands. They nearly killed me with their easy walk and I am still feeling it in my legs. I guess we just don't walk enough in Toledo.

We are having to do everything on foot right now and the groceries are a bit of a nuisance hauling them home. Both of us are quite tired at night and stressed by trying to set up banking things, get oriented to the new surroundings, wash clothes without a dryer when it rains all the time, figure out the heating system in the house, pay the bills in Toledo, find a storage facility for our furniture, and so on. I didn't realize that we will need to have a license to operate a television (costing about $250 per year) and gas for the cars runs about $5 per gallon (95 pence a litre).

Robert is already planning a trip to London in early Oct. and we will be coming to Toledo/Cleveland/Burr Oak for a week to finish cleaning our house (or continue), visit with our kids and attend a conference of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. I have not even tried to start looking at getting work or thinking about getting my nursing credentials here.

I hope you are all well and a bit less stressed than we are at present. When we get proper internet access, I will try to be better about email.

Love to you all from bonny Scotland,

Diane Elliott
E-mail written 8 September 2006:

Dear Family,

It was wonderful to hear from you. I am taking an email day to get caught up with friends. Hopefully, our internet connection at home will get up and running around the 18th. It's pretty hard waiting on these things.

I have managed to make it all the way to the university through a myriad of footpaths and with twists and turns everywhere and have arrived successfully at Robert's office to use the internet. We had another day of setting things up and sorting things out. I visited the bank to set up standing orders for local bill payments (with money that hasn't cleared yet), applied for a Mastercard that works in the UK and is paid in pounds sterling (£ --nice key to have on the computer here)), stopped at the grocery store for a few supplies, visited the newsagent and paid for a week and a half of the newspaper to be delivered, and registered for the national health system (NHS) at the local "surgery" (doctor's office).

Right after I registered for the NHS I turned in my papers and they set up and appointment for me to see "one of the Sisters" in the practice comparable to a nurse practioner, I think, and I was told to return to the surgery at 12:30 the same day with a urine specimen so she could review my history. She was rather curt throughout the interview but softened a bit toward the end, explaining the use of the health system. The shock to me was that she handled the urine with bare hands, read the dipstick and then put her fingertips under some running water and dried them and carried on with the interview. I asked if they used gloves and she said they only used them with patients with known communicable diseases! The NHS is known for its long delays in providing services so I was surprised at the speed of an appointment and they scheduled me to see the doctor on Tuesday. They also do home visits for those who are unable to get to the surgery. The local surgery had a team of 5 doctors, 2 nurses, 5 receptionists, 1 secretary (all part time) and a mental health worker, a home care nurse and several other specialists who rotate through several surgeries. There are no crisis centers and anyone in crisis must go to their local surgery and ask for a referral -- either hospitalization or they can go on a several month long waiting list.

Robert has been in conversation with other staff at the University of Strathclyde about finding clients for research in the mental health field and the staff have been finding that this has been used as a crisis clinic for lack of alternate care. Guess this is enough about health care for now.

On a more mundane note, Robert is meeting today with some administrators in the city centre and announced this morning that he needed a clean shirt, so I threw in a load of wash and ironed a shirt dry for him to wear. Guess you have to understand what a feat this was--- the washer takes an hour to wash on the fastest cycle--the others take up to 2 or 2 1/2 hours just to wash! We have no dryer in the house. So I was impressed with my work.

I really enjoyed hearing from you all--David, Koenraad, and Gloria and hope that the length of my letters will not put you off answering. I think this is a way for me to begin to digest all the new things.

Love and hugs to you all,


Monday, September 11, 2006

Emerging Framework for Strathclyde Therapy Research Center

Entry for 10 September 2006

We (Lorna Carrick, Lorna Patterson and Sheila McKenzie) are developing complementary proposals for a therapy research clinic that would encompass three different components and functions. The first two would link to, carry forward or encompass the Tayside Clinic in Dundee, developed by John McLeod, Dave Mearns, and Mick Cooper, with funding from the Carnegie Endowment and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Social Anxiety Treatment Development Study: This study would develop Person-Centered/Process-Experiential treatments for social anxiety, currently an important area of treatment development for CBT and one which has been virtually ignored by humanistic approaches. However, there is some research evidence that indicates that a pure PCT approach may be less effective with anxiety problems, and thus that PC/E approaches require further development in order to become more effective. On the other hand, problems of social-interpersonal withdrawal and poor self-worth have been part of the focus for PCT since its beginning.

Strathclyde Practice-Based Research Clinic. This component would involve the development and testing of a practice-based research protocol that could be implemented as part of a requirement for all diploma students to see at least one client in a such a protocol, either as part of a placement, or through the new clinic. This would be put forward as a training innovation, meant to provide an example for other postgraduate counselling and psychotherapy training courses.

Strathclyde Psychotherapy Service. The third component would be a fee-for-service clinic for Counselling Unit professional staff to see clients, with an overhead charge going to maintain the whole thing. Clients seen in this component would be offered opportunities, as appropriate, to take part in either of the other two research protocols.

We are working on complementary funding proposals for the first two components, and hope to submit them this week. At least on the work side of the settling-in process is moving forward!

My Dad’s Birthday: Imagined Conversations and Unfinished Business

Entry for 9 September 2006, started while listening on Radio Scotland to the Last Night of the Proms concert broadcast live from Glasgow Green (“ that their fathers loved”):

Today is my dad’s birthday. It is the first one since he died this past March. He would have been 79. He would have noted, with pride, that 79 is a prime number and I would have agreed with him that prime numbers have special significance. We would have talked for a while on the phone, not long probably, because he usually got restless if you talked to him on the phone for more than 10 minutes. I would have reported on my new life here in Scotland. I would have talked about how exciting the new possibilities are here, for me already overshadowing the many inconveniences and minor hardships. If I had thought of it, I might have told him about seeing the statue of William of Orange – one of his heroes -- this afternoon in the Cathedral Garden, where it was been moved to keep it from being abused by the Catholic population around the Glasgow Cross area. He would have been amused by this. We might have reminisced about our travels through Scotland together in 1985. Judging from my state of mind, this probably would have been one of those conversations where I did most of the talking, only afterwards realizing that I had forgotten to ask him much more than how he was doing and how he felt about being 79.

That is often how it went. It was always better to talk to him in face-to-face, and to hang out with him as he did things. But the phone calls were good anyway, if always a bit unsatisfying. I miss him, I miss his solidity, his humor, his politics, his dreams. I miss the sound of his voice, even his cough. I miss the way he collected things, especially music; the image of his working away at the many chores at Murray Creek; and the companionship he provided to my mother. Selfishly, I miss having a father. I find myself wishing I could talk to him in the way that my mom seems to be able to continue to do, but I don’t seem to have that gift, or something, so I just miss him.

If I were my therapist, I would ask me, what I do need from him, right now? It seems a silly question to ask a 56-year-old man, what he needs from his da’, but there you have it. I guess I’d have to say that I’d want him (you) to know that it’s going to work out OK for me here, in Scotland, in my new life, not to worry about me. I know you’ve been worried about me for the past 3 years, and that you’ve helped me by listening, by giving legal advice, by using your shamanic training to find me a power animal (an arctic wolf), and in general by believing in me when I was filled with doubts. Now I am starting over, and although you knew I had the job, you didn’t live long enough to see me safely out of harm’s way and into my new life. I do miss that and I’m really sorry you aren’t here to share the excitement. But what I really need is to tell you that you don’t have to worry about me anymore, that you don’t have to carry that wherever you are, because I’m going to be OK. In fact, I’m going to have the time of my life! So thanks for all you’ve done, and please continue to keep my mom company. And know that I love you.

And my therapist would say, OK, can you imagine a response from him? What would he say back to you? It’s clear to me that he would say that he knows that I am doing fine and what a great opportunity it is, that he wishes he could come visit us here. That he loves me, and, oh yes, he is happy to continue to keep company with my mom. Also that I don’t really need to grieve for him, because he is OK and he is with me always, in my mind, in my heart, and in my life here, in the land of our ancestors. So go in peace and remember him as I go about my life here, because I carry him in me, and all my ancestors.

Day 10: Maintaining Person-Centred/Humanistic Therapy in Primary Care Settings

Entry for 8 September 2006

Continuing the discussion from yesterday, it turns out that there is a strong argument to be made for the Counselling Unit (CU) to deliver services to rural Scotland: To maintain a presence for Person-Centred/humanistic therapy in the health care system. Elsewhere in the UK, Person-Centred therapy is under attack by CBT advocates and official aligned with them, such as Lord Leyard, who has proposed training 10,000 CBT therapists to deliver treatment in community centers as the front-line treatment for anxiety and depression. Thanks in large part to the CU, Person-Centred therapy has a strong presence in Scotland. However, it is really just a matter of time before a collection of academic CBT folks swoop down on Scotland, waving the flag of science and claiming that their approach is the only scientific psychological treatment, trying to drive the Person-Centred approach out of the primary care settings of central Scotland, like St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland.

The University, then, represented by the CU, is in a position to provide a beachhead against such a likely onslaught, by lending credibility to the work at the least, but also by going further to add useful science on top of the delivery of mental health services to an under-served area. In so doing, there is the potential for influencing mental health-care delivery throughout Scotland.

In other words, the CU has a socio-political role to play, in addition to training, treatment development/innovation, and research. (Thanks to Lorna Carrick and Mick Cooper for their contributions to this entry.)

It has been a long, exhausting week of learning what is here and how they work. It’s a relief that it’s Friday and we will have a couple of days off to continue exploring Glasgow.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 9: The Counselling Unit’s Service Contracts

Entry written 7 September 2006:

The Counselling Unit has several mental health service delivery contracts, including ones with the Glasgow city schools (to provide counsellors) and in Doctors’ offices in various parts of central Scotland. Although they are not research grants, these programs appear to be quite successful. I just read a summary of 32 physician feedback forms that Lorna Carrick recently collected; these make it clear that the under-resourced front-line primary-doctors (in a rather impoverished nearby section of rural Scotland) love the counselling service are providing for their patients.

These contracts also provide various advantages, generating income to supplement what the Counselling Unit gets from the University and in particular creating more jobs for program graduates. The problem is, most of these are almost exclusively service contracts. There is very little of academic value going on in most of these programs, such as program innovation, student placements, or research. I think these programs are wonderful, but I find myself wondering if they should be spun off once they are set up and running, essentially privatizing them. That would free the Counselling Unit to develop further programs. Alternatively, I think there should be practice-based research going on as part of them. (However, I haven’t worked out yet how this would be funded; ideally, the research would be integrated into the treatment, so there would be little incremental cost.)

Meanwhile, more possibilities are appearing all the time, which is what leads me to feel at times as if everything is spinning out of control. I really feel the need for us to develop a coherent focus around which to organize what we do. I think this would also help us to communicate what we do to the rest of the Department of Educational and Professional Studies and the Dean.

I certainly feel that I am on a steep learning curve here, but it’s a relief to feel my creative energies finally kick back in after a month and a half of cleaning out my previous life and getting ready for this process. (Getting some writing done would be good, too!)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day 8: Process-Experiential Dream Analysis of Emotion Schemes in a Pair of Loss Dreams

Entry written 6 September 2006.

No smirr today. But I had two sad dreams shortly before I woke up, which I will use to illustrate how the Process-Experiential concept of emotion schemes can be applied to dreams.

In the first dream, I was cleaning out my house in preparation for leaving it, emptying things out, leaving empty rooms. In the process, I realized that our garage was structurally damaged and in danger of falling down. So I decided that I needed to demolish it myself before we left, pulling it down and setting the pieces in a pile to one side. As I did this, I became aware of a feeling of strong, but resigned, sadness.

In the second dream, one of my young nephews had died; although he didn’t look like any particular nephew of mine, I clearly knew he was my nephew. I and one of my siblings had the job of dressing the body, putting a nice dark suit on him, in preparation, presumably for showing and burial. I remember feeding his arms into the suit jacket. Again, I felt not repelled or anxious but instead overwhelmingly sad as I helped do this.

While the main sources of these dreams are pretty obvious in the events of past two weeks of leaving home and taking our youngest son to college, what struck me as important about the dreams was the pervasive sense of intense sadness. It seems that I have some more important grieving to do!

In the process of recording these two dreams, I noticed that they are organized around the same key emotion, which makes them particularly appropriate for analysis of the loss-sadness emotion scheme embedded in them. This, then, is a PE dream analysis:

A. Emotion scheme nucleus (felt emotion):
-strong, intense loss-sadness

B. Perceptual-memory elements (intentionality; associations):
-sorting and packing up many of our belongings before leaving Toledo house
-our previous neighbor, whose garage became so delapidated that he was forced to demolish it
-helping Kenneth get ready for college, then leaving him there

-preparing my father's body after he died last march

C. Bodily/expressive elements:
-a sensation of heaviness and tiredness in my body
-a feeling of being about to cry

D. Cognitive/symbolic elements (e.g., metaphors, propositions, identities)
-leaving home is a like demolishing a building
-having one’s youngest child leave for college is like a death
-“This is hard” (saying or wanting to say to myself)

E. Action tendency/wish (also lessons, directions for action):
-to be helpful, to do something useful
-I need to pay attention to the impact of this loss in my life

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day 7: Person-Centred Rain

Entry for 5 Sept 2006:

It rains nearly every day, a fine misty sort of rain that the natives call "smirr", which eventually can make you "dreich" (wet & miserable). This makes is nearly impossible to dry one’s clothes outside, which would be nice, since most people, including us, don’t have clothes driers. Actually, I like the stuff, it sort of gentle, not like the pounding rain you get in California or Ohio. It feels fresh, even refreshing, especially during the course of a vigorous walk, mostly uphill, to the Jordanhill campus of the University of Strathclyde where I work. It would be even more enjoyable if I hadn’t mislaid my Nike windbreaker and my umbrella somewhere on campus on my first day of work!

So today it rained, a little bit at time, sometimes more, sometimes less, practically all day. As Mick Cooper, my fellow professor, noted, this is the kind of weather that makes you want to work because it’s not nice enough outside to do much. This was OK with us, because Diane and I holed up in my office and did internet-based work most of the day. Mick did come by and drag us over the faculty restaurant to have lunch with him (I suspect he doesn’t like to eat alone...). The nice thing about the faculty restaurant is that other folk from the Counselling Unit tend to come in also, and that provides opportunities to get to know them better and to learn about more what they do.

Yesterday it was Mike H, who has been very nice to us; today Alan, Sheila and Sandra came, who are in the middle of the one-week initial intensive training session with the new Counselling Certificate class. (This is one of the four Person-Centred Counselling courses they run. It is an introductory, “get-your feet wet” course for folks who are considering going further, or who feel that a basic helping skills training could help them be more effective in their current work, e.g., as managers.) This course alone has 28 students in it! Compare the Clinical Program at UT, which takes 5 or 6 students per year, or my Process-Experiential therapy training workshop, which has between 6 and 15 students in it at any one time.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day 6: Running through Molasses

Entry written on 4 Sept 2006

After a really good weekend exploring and meeting up with people, we seem to have stalled out today. True, I did finally get a phone in my office, but I’m still using the janitor’s key, and neither Diane nor I seemed to be able to get any traction on the work we have to do. Everything seems difficult: The lightbulbs are the wrong denomination, the bags don’t fit the kitchen rubbish bin, the phone company insists we can’t even apply for broadband until the end of this week (this begins to sound like the bank all over again!). It’s like one of those nightmares where you are trying to escape from something or save someone but it feels like running through molasses.

It turns out that the thing that is making us most crazy and paralyzed is the lack of internet access at home. True, I have it at work, but Diane has reached the point where she can’t get anything else done without having access to her email and web resources. Tomorrow we’ll both go in to the University and see what we can get accomplished that way. I hope to get some writing done one of these days... but probably not tomorrow!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Days 4 & 5: First weekend in Scotland

This entry was written 3 Sept 2006.

We are learning to use the bus system, at least to get ourselves to and from the West End, the really interesting, fashionable section of Glasgow. Saturday we took it to near the crossing over the River Kelvin, then walked down through the park to the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow's big general-purpose municipal museum that has been closed for the last 3 years. In a striking contrast to the Toledo Museum of Art, it was full of families and children running about enjoying themselves, with no docents to be seen. In addition to Glasgow painters ("The Glasgow Boys" 1880-1895), there is the famous Dali painting Christ on the cross looking down at fishing boats below him. The children seem to like the armor collection, but really gravitate toward the two rooms with stuffed animals, one of them with Scottish animals. One of my favorites is the stuffed haggis invented by the museum staff because so many people think that haggis is actually a small furry animal, instead of a kind of sausage (made of beef/lamb chopped heart, lungs, liver plus suet, oats, onions & spices).

Today was even more ambitious: We went to St. Mary’s Cathedral in the morning, which we liked. It’s not Trinity, but the service was reasonable, the choir terrific, and the people very friendly. The assistant priest, Caroline, is female. We met a woman named Anne Whitaker Halliburton who used to supervise at the Counselling Unit 10 years ago but has since moved on to do psychological astrology, in which she has obtained an advanced degree from an institute in London. We figure we’ll be back to St. Mary's.

Then we rushed home in time to change before Dave and Elke picked us up for an afternoon walk and a meal. They blew us away by presenting us with a bread machine, since they knew I bake bread. Then they took us up to the Trossacks National Park where we did a long walk along Loch Ard, looking at the last of the heather and the new growth of the heritage forest that is in the process of being restored here as well as elsewhere in Scotland. They are cutting down the oppressive pine plantations and letting native birch, rowan, and oak grow in their place.

There was more, but it will have to wait for another time. Tomorrow is another week and my second day of work here. Maybe I’ll even get something done!

Day 3: First day of work at the Counselling Unit

This was written 1 Sept 2006.

Today was my first day at work, but it felt rather disorganized. I did get into my office, but had to use the janitor's master key. My office has a desk, a computer and two chairs in it so far. This is a start, I reckon. I spent most of the trying to get my computer to work the way I want it to. I was told I have to use a new email address here, whose interface I don't like, and which doesn't have automatic forwarding ("you can forward messages individually if you like," the IT person said helpfully...). But I at least figured out how to download them into Netscape Communicator. And I got my iTunes music files (5000+ of them, with playlists intact) imported. This took much of the day, but one has to have priorities! Finally,I got Firefox working, complete with bookmarks. Monday, we'll see about the key and actually getting some work done.
There are a million things going on here at the Counselling Unit, but it feels like they are all zipping past me, while I stand here somewhat dazed and confused. I don't think this is the jet lag. I think there really are a million things going on here. I guess we can call it Counselling Unit lag. I think it will take me somewhat longer to get over the Counselling Unit lag...
Diane has been somewhat more productive, although she would never admit it: She got us a landline. She was finally able to deposit the £5000 check we've been carrying around for more than two months, but it's going to take them 10 days to clear the check because it's drawn on a London bank. This at least is progress, and it means that other things will be able to move forward also. Next week we will be able to order internet service, because apparently we have to wait several days after getting our phone activated (don't ask me why...). This too is progress.
Tonight we're going over to Helen and Mick's for dinner, with some other colleagues. I'm looking forward to this.

Day 1 & 2: Arrival in New California

This post was written 31 Aug:

We have arrived safely in Scotland. As we flew into Glasgow yesterday, we suddenly noticed that there are hills and mountains all around, and of course the river Clyde broadening out toward the sea in the distance. It reminded us strongly of California in the winter, when everything is green. So we have decided that Scotland is our new California! A New California for our new life...
A friendly taxi driver (all the taxi drivers we've encountered so far here have been friendly) drove us in from the airport, stopping in the city center for us to pick up our house keys. There were no disasters waiting for us at the house, although we are still trying to figure out the typically byzantine (a nod to Kenneth... hope you remember to get to your Byzantine history class on time today!) central heating/hot water (yes, they are the same here) system. We even managed a somewhat groggy trip to the local large grocery store and bought food for dinner and breakfast.
We fell into bed early last night, exhausted from the journey but most of all from the stress of the past days of sorting, cleaning and packing. This morning, however, some of us got up much refreshed and went for a run along the Firth-Clyde Canal near our place. Finally, we tackled the dreaded bank situation again (having already been turned down twice by the Bank of Scotland last July as potential money launderers). This time we tried the Royal Bank of Scotland, and were given a long form to fill out and bring back in this afternoon. This we managed to do, and were shocked to learn on our return that we might actually be allowed to open a bank account with them in the very near future, i.e., tomorrow.
Because we have no internet service yet, we have walked over to the University and are using a borrowed computer to write this to you all. That is where we stand at the moment.
Tomorrow I start work. The first order of business will be to get a key to my office. Diane is going to work on the phone and internet service tomorrow. Then we will see what's next. And we will be in more frequent contact, including cheap phone rates to the US. Brendan has been nagging me to start a blog, so I will try to do that also as a way to keep you up to date with our adventures in New California!