Saturday, May 16, 2009

PE-EFT Presentations and Workshop in the Netherlands

Entry for 12 May 2009:

Diane left for America ahead of me so that she could help Kenneth with his next step towards independence: moving out of the dorm and into an apartment. For my part, I flew to the Netherlands for a couple of days of conference presentations and a one-day PE-EFT “taster” workshop near Utrecht.

Conference presentations. The two presentations to the Dutch Client-centred Psychotherapy Association (the VCgP) both went very well: I’ve now given the PCE meta-analysis overview about 10 times to different audiences, and have it pretty well honed. This time I ended with an impromptu call to political action for PCE therapists to insist to health authorities and the government that they pay attention to the scientific evidence. I also did an updated version of the presentation on PE-EFT with social anxiety, featuring the case study of my first client in the protocol. This client’s near-miraculous recovery from quite severe social anxiety has now been confirmed by her 6-month follow-up data, but I had to reassure several people after the presentation that not all my clients showed as much improvement!

One-day PE-EFT taster course. This was hosted and organized by Combert Schöffer and Weis Verheul (among others) and took place at the group private practice centre in the small town of Bussem, where Combert works. This location turned out to be ideal for a middle-sized EFT training workshop: There was one large room capable of holding 20 people, 5 small therapy rooms for break outs, and a small kitchen, all located on a very pleasant village street, complete with decent restaurant (for lunch) two doors down. It was a bright, mild spring day and the soft sound of accordion music occasionally reached us through the open windows.

Using modified Focusing work for emotion theory exercises. After the successful trial of the emotion theory practice exercises at the Bridge Pastoral Foundation (BPF) conference in April, I decided to try two of the exercises out on this group of therapists. Thus, instead of my usual emotion theory info dump, we interspersed bits of emotion theory with modified Focusing exercises aimed at illuminating different key emotion theory concepts, including the Emotion scheme model and the types of emotion response.

What I hadn’t realized at BPF but saw clearly on Saturday was that this is really a way to introduce Focusing-type work early in the training, accomplishing two things at once. In this scheme, two of the three emotion scheme concepts (emotion schemes and emotion response types) had exercises to go with them to bring the concepts home and to enliven them. (Actually, the emotion scheme exercise would probably have been enough for the one-day overview workshop.) In the four-day EFT-1 training, the logical thing is going to be to use Clearing a Space to illustrate the third set of emotion concepts: emotion regulation.

Missing Marker Work. For the one-day overview, however, we went on after lunch to Systematic Evocative Unfolding, a key task for processing life events. This worked pretty well, except that I forgot to take people through marker work beforehand, which meant that some of the groups didn’t have a good idea of the marker. This is a perennial problem in workshop training organized around specific tasks, with the result that some small groups ended up working on other markers such as conflict splits. And of course marker work is also a modified form of Focusing, in that it involves participants taking a few minutes to look inside to see if they can find an instance of the marker to work on. A few minutes’ discussion of two or three examples of what participants have come up with is useful for clarifying the nature of the marker and suggesting how it might be worked with.

Live demonstration of Two-Chair Work. After this, we were running a bit behind, which meant that there was only an hour left for Two Chair Work, at the end of the day. Wies had been pushing for a live demonstration, so the group ended up voting for this rather than more practice, which I think they’d had enough of already anyway. Live demonstrations are always a bit terrifying to do, because I never know what’s going to come up, and whether the client and I will be able to handle it, but it almost always works out, one way or the other. (Once, at a previous workshop in the Netherlands, a presentation on Clearing a Space went sideways when the person in the client role accessed deep, inconsolable pain requiring me to quickly switch over to Self-soothing work.) This time, the client’s Experiencer collapsed in the face of their Critic. Of course, this wasn’t surprising, in that it’s a common occurrence in depressive splits, but nonetheless was still a bit unnderving because it’s never clear whether the Experiencer will get stuck in the collapsed state or recover. Even so, it made for a nice, realistic demonstration, all the more impressive when the person in the client role did recover from the collapsed position back into a more assertive state that led to a partial resolution.

We ended the day exhausted but pleased with how it had gone and looking forward to the two-day short course in October. Before I left to return to Scotland, I spent part of Sunday morning wandering around the old part of Utrecht, following and crossing the canals that intersect the city. It was another bright, sunny day, and the parks along the canals were filled with families and joggers enjoying the nice weather.

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