Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Emotion-Focused Therapy Intensive Level 1 Training 2007

Entry for 16 July 2007:

Last summer, Les Greenberg, Jeanne Watson and I (with help from Antonio Pascual-Leone) imported Les’ Emotion Institute EFT Level 1 4-day intensive training model to Scotland. This was a new format for Jeanne and I, who were used to doing training in shorter installments over longer periods of time, so we were along to learn and to see what we could add to Les’ successful model. Since then, I have been working with about half of last summer students in EFT Level 2, which met fortnightly over the academic year. And I have been teaching on the Fulltime Diploma course here. As a result, I have learned quite a bit about the kind of students who tend to take these courses, and also the kind of training that most of them have been getting on diploma course like ours at Strathclyde.

This year, Les was unable to make it, so Jeanne and I decided to go it on our own, and the result was last week’s four-day intensive EFT Level 1 course. We both approached the experience with some trepidation: could we do a good job without Les’ charismatic presence? Would Jeanne and I be able to get along without getting in each other’s way or stepping on each other? Should we even try to talk about EFT brain theory? Would the students rebel if we didn’t do quite so much on chairwork? Or would the classically-oriented person-centred folks rebel if we did too much chairwork? How would the three helpers we recruited from the EFT-2 course pan out? And, in general, could we make the course our own and still have it work out OK?

In the end, it turned out that our experience and worrying paid off. Of course, Jeanne and I spent hours each night preparing for the next day and were exhausted by the end. But the course worked wonderfully.

What worked? It seems to me that all the following made a contribution:

1. We emphasized empathy-based tasks more (empathic exploration, evocative unfolding), highlighting the continuity with Person-Centred therapy and the participants’ existing skills. This made the approach less threatening and provided an easier transition.

2. We emphasized therapist experiential response modes, making the training more concrete and specific. (We even had the observers in the skills practice keep track of the response modes.)

3. We did emotion theory in bits over three days, and in general didn’t talk that much at a time, regularly breaking things up with videos, a live demonstration or skills practice.

4. We spend a whole day doing lots of two-chair work, making sure everyone had a chance to be in both client and therapist roles. This seemed to satisfy folks without burning them out, and it even felt OK to back-off a bit on the skills practice on the final day.

5. Without having to compete for airtime with Les, Jeanne and I developed a very nice rhythm with each other, picking up from each other, taking turns making presentations, giving case examples, and answering questions from the participants. We genuinely enjoyed hearing what the other had to say (partly because we have slightly different takes on the therapy).

6. We used three local helpers (Helen, Mary & Grahame), who took the course last year. In addition to being enthusiastic and enjoying themselves, they provided a psychological bridge for the participants, someone similar with whom they could identify. (I would like to take this opportunity to thank them publicly for their help and energy!)

7. I felt much more comfortable with myself in this place than I did last year, clearer about how to proceed and what I can and cannot do, also much more tuned into the students’ needs, from having worked with both diploma students and folks who had gone through last year’s course. In fact, having done the EFT-2 course, I was much clearer about what they have picked up and missed last year, as well as being clearer about how to do EFT-2 for next year. In other words, I felt much more located and grounded than last year, when everything was still new and confusing. This comfort enabled me to enjoy myself, have fun and engage with the participants and the process.

There was such good spirit at the end that people wanted their pictures taken, and asked if I was going to put a picture up on my blog. Therefore, by popular demand…

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