Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Strathclyde Emotion-Focused Therapy Level 1 Training 2009

Entry for 27 July 2009:

Last week was the 4th annual EFT Level 1 short course at Strathclyde.

Jeanne Watson was able to come along once again from Canada, arriving two days after we returned (at long last!) from our extended trip to Chile. On the Saturday before the training, we took her out to Helensburgh to see the Hill House and waterfront; it was a lovely day. Lorna Carrick had agreed to help us with the training and so on Sunday afternoon she came along for a bit so that we could make plans.

This year’s EFT-1 class of 16 was a bit smaller than last year’s; however, they made up for it with their enthusiasm, and included two women from the Netherlands and a fellow from Portugal, as well as several former Jordanhill students.

Each year we continue to fine tune the structure of the 4 days, and this year we made additional changes: First, we restructured the course to integrate the emotion theory more thoroughly with the tasks. Drawing on exercises I’d developed for the Bridge Pastoral Foundation conference in April, I had worked up small group exercises for the four different components of EFT emotion theory: (a) importance of emotion; (b) emotion schemes; (c) emotion response types; and (d) emotion regulation. This got the participants into small group work by mid-morning on Day 1, earlier than ever before. By Monday afternoon, we were using Clearing a Space and Focusing to illustrate moderating and accessing emotion respectively. By Tuesday, we were doing Unfolding and Chair work. It moved so quickly that it practically made our heads swim!

Another innovation (Jeanne’s idea) was covering Empty Chair before rather than after Two Chair work. I’ve been teaching EFT for more than 20 years, and have always assumed that it is best to leave Empty Chair for last, because it can be so intense and thus requires the maximum level of trust and safety. Interestingly, however, it worked just fine to introduce Empty Chair work before Two Chair Work. Why? Jeanne’s point is that Empty Chair Work, in which the client speaks to an important other person, imagined as sitting opposite them in the other chair, is more specific, less abstract, and less strange than speaking to another part of oneself imagined as sitting in the other chair. And that is basically what happened: The participants took to Empty Chair Work quite readily and managed their safety levels appropriately.

We took our group through Two Chair Work on Wednesday morning, and having done that, we had them practice “free form/find the task” for the rest of the time: That is, we had the person in the client role present whatever they wanted to work on, requiring the person in the therapist role to first figure whether it was one of the tasks they’d had, and if so what task it was. After a two half days of this, we thought they’d have had enough of it by Thursday afternoon. In this expectation, however, we were wrong, because most the groups wanted the chance to do one more practice session early Thursday afternoon. Interestingly, another one of my expectations was also confounded by this: in spite of working in relatively small groups of 4 (rather than 5) each, the groups did not run out of issues to work on.

The result was a training series in which we experimented successfully with some of our training practices, breathing new life into the structures we’ve been using for the past couple of years. In addition, the participants appeared to have gotten more time to practice in small groups than in previous years, but as far as we could tell without sacrificing quality or needed conceptual input. I’m not totally sure how we did it, or whether we just had a really great group of participants, but it was clear that the training had worked very well indeed.

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