Sunday, November 05, 2006

Update from Valhalla, Scotland; week of 31 October – 4 November

Entry for 4 November 2006:

1. As predicted, it has turned out to be another busy, interesting, intense week. We returned from the US on Monday afternoon, with a bad case of jet lag that lingered on a good part of the week. I finally got a real paycheck, but the University decided to treatment my summer workshop fee as UK income and so gave the government 40% of it in taxes, which I may (or may not) see again only after the end of the tax year, which for some strange reason ends here on 5 April (!!).

2. I prepared three classes, including my new Level 2 PE-EFT workshop, which started on Wednesday, did a supervision session, and met with various students. My printer still doesn’t work, and the IT people after spending hours on it are clueless. I wrote a couple of abstracts for conference presentations.

3. Diane’s Chilean exchange student sister Gloria and her daughter were unable to come, so we organized Diane to go to Spain next week to see Gloria (her daughter has gone back to France). This is the kind of thing that living in Europe makes possible, and will provide Diane a needed morale boost to help her get through the long wait until she can take the English language exam she is required to pass before the nursing board will agree to examine her credentials.

4. I am a month late on an article for a special section of the American Journal of Psychotherapy, being editted by Al Mahrer, so I came back to a couple cranky emails from Al. So I have been working on the paper, entitled, “The Essence of Process-Experiential/Emotion-Focused Therapy,” whenever I could find the time. By today, I had almost completed the draft, which draws on materials from the Learning book. I hope to be able to send the draft off to Les Greenberg tomorrow. Now Michael Barkham is breathing down my neck for another invited piece, this one on practice-based research…

5. The other high point this week is the visit here by Dion van Werde, the leading Pre-therapy expert from Belgium. He is here to do a 3-day workshop on his version of Prouty’s person-centred approach to working with clients who are out of contact with reality, because of an active psychotic process, or due to severe mental retardation (euphemistically referred to as “learning disabled” here), or as a result of dementia. (Pre-therapy uses very simple, concrete reflections to help re-establish contact with the client, and to help the client to re-contact their environment and themselves when they are dissociating or otherwise out of contact with reality.)

Diane has been enjoying his workshop, and tonight a group of us went to dinner with him as Roast Bubbly Jock’s (despite the name, quite a nice restaurant, with little fried food on the menu). [Note: Elke tells me that Bubbly Jock is Scots for turkey, so the restaurant's name means "Roasted Turkey", this in spite of the fact that there was no Turkey on the menu...]

Dion does training all over Belgium and also on France and more recently in the UK, as interest in working with psychotic clients heats up. Apparently, the tradition is to take visiting presenters out to very nice restaurants and to have great conversations that advance the Person-Centred/Experiential approach. This sounds a bit cynical, but in fact it’s true: we had a great conversation (in spite of the noisy restaurant): (a) Dion explained how he has extended the range of Pre-therapy vertically and horizontally, that is, upward to less psychotic clients, downward to dementing and dying patients, and sideways to other hospital staff and to family members; (b) Mick Cooper and I talked to Dion about the possibility of starting a formal training here, what the format might look like (6 X 2-day weekend workshops, including some supervision); (c) Dion invited Diane to come visit his inpatient unit in Belgium, which is run on Pre-therapy principles; (d) I pumped Dion for information on Pre-therapy outcome research for the meta-analysis that Mick and I are about to start; (e) Dion agreed to use Mathias Dekeyser’s new Psychological Contact scale with his patients (in fairness, it is likely that Mathias has already hit him up for this, but I figured that an additional nudge wouldn’t hurt); (f) we all agreed that it would be a really good idea to see if Don Kiesler would be willing to let us have access to the famous Wisconsin study of Client-Centered therapy with hospitalized mental patients in the late 1950’s (because the 1966 book on the study fails to present the study in a way that makes it possible to calculate effect sizes); and (g) Helen Carruthers (Mick’s partner) and I discussed the nature of evil on the hour-long walk back home from the restaurant. Not bad for an evening’s discussion in a noisy restaurant!

Interestingly, at the beginning of the evening, Dion described Strathclyde as the Valhalla of the Person-Centred approach, and tonight was certainly an instance of that. Interestingly enough, the exact image has occurred to me many times over the past 6 months as I prepared for the move and as things have begun to unfold here. I will never be able to keep up with all the interesting things going here, all the opportunities, and after awhile I have begun to give up even trying to do so. All I can do, to quote Edward Tolman, a famous psychologist, is “to follow my own bent and gleam” and have fun here. Like the slain heroes of Norse mythology, day after day we have great discussions, sometimes roaring arguments, only to continue again the next day. The best thing about it is that we don’t have to be dead to do it!

1 comment:

Kenneth said...

I had a strange experience when looking at the title of this entry. At the same time I was reading this, I was playing Valkyrie Profile, and telling a guy that he'd done too many bad things to go to Valhalla. I just found it a strange coincidence.