Sunday, April 25, 2010

EFT Convergence and Thoughts about Future Training

Entry for 25 April 2010:

This week almost all the different bits of the Emotion-focused Therapy training that I run here at Strathclyde converged, like the planets all lining up:

1. Tuesday evening: EFT-Network meeting: This consists of a small group of folks who have completed all three levels of EFT here and want be part of a free, continuing conversation about EFT. Anyone who has done EFT-1 is welcome to come along, but in practice it turns out to be the post EFT-3 folks. We’ve mostly been looking at videos of EFT and related practice this year. This week we finally reached the penultimate session of Les Greenberg’s wonderful EFT Over Time box set of 6 sessions plus audio commentary. The previous 4 sessions were very interesting, impressive and useful, but this one was the most moving, exciting session yet, featuring an excellent piece of Empty Chair Work. Over the previous months, in addition to Les we’ve also looked at sessions of Diana Fosha (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) and Leigh McCullough (Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy), all published by APA. We were very impressed by both of these and found them to be quite close to EFT practice. Next month, for our final meeting of the year, we’ll watch the final episode of Les’ 6-session series.

2. Wednesday afternoon: Fulltime Postgraduate Diploma Counselling Course: I do a series of 5 90-minute sessions on research for our diploma course. The fourth session, which I did this week, is about systematic case study research, but I illustrate it with the case of George, my client with bridge phobia, who is the subject of my 2009 Adjudicated HSCED paper in Psychotherapy Research. The presentation is a stealth EFT input because it features two video clips of me working with the client, including a very powerful break-through segment from session 4. As has happened in the past, the students were very happy to see an example of one of their tutors doing therapy.

3. Wednesday evening: EFT Level 3: This year, EFT Level 3 has been a blend of supervision and presentations and skills practice on specialized topics, such as dreamwork, self-soothing, eating disorders, and, this week, working with Fragile (or “borderline”) process, including self-destructiveness. This included and updated material in the Learning EFT book. I’m gradually transitioning to talking about “fragile” rather than “borderline” processes, following Margaret Warner’s usage, because it seems more descriptive and less stigmatizing to me. A central conundrum for me continues to be whether all inner Critics, no matter how nasty they are, are trying to help (the position of Ann Weiser Cornell and others); or whether some Critics are simply destructive and seek only the destruction of the person and thus need to be externalized (“That’s not you; that’s your mother/father/etc.”). The latter fits my clinical expression, but as I said again this week, I’m not sure if maybe I just lack the insight or wisdom to see beyond the destructiveness in these relatively rare instances.

4. Thursday morning: Full-time: Postgraduate Diploma Counselling Course: The next morning I was once more in front of our postgraduate diploma course students for my annual workshop on Working with Depression, which features a bit on the nature and diagnosis of depression but is mostly about EFT Two Chair Work for Self-Criticism Splits. This makes a nice EFT “taster” experience that is easy for everyone to identify with, since everyone is very familiar with their Inner Critic. As usual, I played a section of the video Les made in 1989 for the Shostroms (the same folks who brought us the Gloria videos). This session also seemed to go well. (It probably helped that they’d seen a video of me doing enactment work with “George” the previous day.)

5. Friday morning: Counselling Psychology First Years: Back in February, I did two days of intensive EFT training with the first year students on the Counselling Psychology Doctorate course. On Friday this week, I returned for the first of two follow-up sessions with them, this one a practice session on Systematic Evocative Unfolding. Between a theory input I did last Fall, the 2 intensive days in February and the two follow-up sessions, it appears that we have covered the same amount of material as the 4-day EFT Level 1 intensive course does. I’m not sure why this is; it may be that there is less burn-out in this format than there is on the 4th day of EFT-1. At any rate, we had a useful session an initial question and answer period, plus plenty of practice. Next week, I’ll finish up with them, offering a session on Open Marker Work (also known as “find the task”).

6. Saturday: EFT Level 2: I was getting a bit run-down by the time Saturday morning rolled around, but as usual I found the day-long Saturday format invigorating. This was the sixth of the seven monthly workshops, and it seems to me that the change in format has been very successful: People are fresher on Saturday morning, and we build up momentum over the course of the day, by putting an empathy-based task in the morning and a Chair Task in the afternoon. Saturday’s session, on Meaning Creation and Empty Chair Work, worked quite well, especially as these two tasks complement each other.

Six EFT-related presentations in five days is a lot, so I was very glad when we finished late Saturday afternoon. I had fun, and so did my various groups of students.

The Future. The EFT-2 group wants to know about EFT-3 for next year, but I’m not sure what to tell them. I can’t run both EFT-3 and EFT-2 on Saturdays; it’s just too many Saturdays. If I run EFT-3 on Wednesday evenings, I’m going to lose several people, and the course may not be viable. One solution would be to run EFT-2 & EFT-3 on alternate years. Another possible would be to run day-long EFT-3 sessions on a weekday. Fridays, anyone?

Another issue is training to competence. At some point, in order to designate a therapist as competent in EFT, they are going to have to be supervised in the process of seeing two clients for at least 15 sessions each. I’m going to need to set this up in the next 6 months, for the research. A useful format would probably be small supervision groups of 3-4 supervisees, each seeing 2 clients, and meeting every two or three weeks for two hours.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Danger of Spring in Glasgow

The first bright, warm weekend in Glasgow brings traffic snarls and makes driving a nightmare: The beautiful weather appears to dazzle and distract drivers used to rain and fog, while the sidewalks are flooded with pedestrians escaping their gloomy houses, similarly blinded by the light, stunned by the heat (all of 60F/15C), and wandering heedlessly into the streets. After a harrowing journey to the grocery store after church, we are relieved when we arrive safe and sound at home.

Early April Saturday Adventures

Entry for 10 April 2010:

1. Castle Gloume. For our Easter Saturday Adventure, we drove northeast into Fife, through the town of Dollar, and up the Dollar Glen on a steep and winding single lane road. There’d been a blizzard in most of Scotland, including Fife, a few days before, but now the snow was quickly melting in milder temperatures that had arrived in the meantime.

The ruins of Castle Gloume, better know for the past 500 years as Castle Campbell, sit on a ridge between the Burn of Care and the Burn of Sorrow, now in full spate from snow melt. Unlike many of our castle visits, there were actually quite a few people wandering around the place. Although the temperatures were milder, it was not particularly warm either, and there were strong winds up on the ridge. For this reason, we were pleased to be able to sit down to a lunch of sandwiches and warm soup. After this, we wandered over the ruin, up and down the stairs connecting the four levels and roof of the castle keep, where we admired the spectacular view far to the south, across the Firth of Forth. Over the millennia, the water rushing off the Ochil Hills has cut deep through the rock, affording dramatic views down narrow crevasses.

After a satisfying castle ramble, I left Diane to take the easy path back to the car, while I walked and ran along the path down into one of the two narrow glens surrounding the castle. The path wound along the rushing burn, sometimes next to the watercourse, sometimes on bridges suspended above the water. It was green, noisy, magical… and worth the steep climb back up the hill to where we’d parked the car.

2. Holmwood House and Greenbank Garden. Then, today, we picked up two more local National Trust properties. First, we visited Holmwood House, in Cathcart, on the south side of Glasgow. Actually, we’d been past it a couple of weeks earlier on our visit to Linn Park, along the White Cart Water. I’d noticed an impressive building in the distance, up the hill from the path we’d been walking, which turned out to be Holmwood House, built in the 1850’s by Alexander “Greek” Thompson, the other famous Glaswegian architect (besides Charles Rennie MacIntosh). Thompson’s buildings, in a high Greek Revival style, can be found around Glasgow, including Great Western Terrace, which is 5 minutes walk from our flat in Hyndland.

The restoration of Holmwood House from its former neglect is very much a work in progress: The outside has been restored to its original condition, partly to prevent further damage to the interior, but also to provide an impressive approach. However, the restoration on the inside not particularly far along. There is an amazing dining room on the ground floor, featuring doors and fireplace with ornate classical Greek decoration, and illustrations from the Iliad running along both sides of the room, flanking a partially restored illustration of Homer and his muse, with the Olympian gods looking down from above. The most amazing thing is that this has somehow survived 150 years of neglect and abuse, including having been wall papered over to make the room into a chapel in the 1950’s. There is also an elaborately decorated drawing room upstairs, with bas relief stars on the ceiling.

I found that I really like the geometrical starkness of the Greek designs, including meander patterns and spiky thistle/floral themes in the runners, fireplaces, doors, exterior stonework and elsewhere. Viewed from the front, the house is designed to remind you of the Acropolis, with temple-like architectural features piled one on top of the other. At the top of the staircase, there is a circular lantern/cupola decorated on the inside with carved statues of Greek mythological creatures known as chimeras (also referred to locally as the “Holmwood Cats”).

As usual, the high point was a mini-tour by a voluble veteran docent, an old fellow who gleefully entertained us with stories and details about the place.

3. Greenbank Garden. After Holmwood, the day was still so lovely that we felt that we needed to spend more of it outside, so we drove down to another National Trust property, a few miles south. Greenbank Garden was much more crowded than Holmwood, but made a pleasant contrast. After a quick snack in the Tea Room, we wandered the walled, formal garden, which is divided into many varied smaller gardens on different themes. It’s very early in the season, so not much beyond crocuses (crocusoi?) and daffodils was in flower, but the space is charming, with its numerous hidden nooks and benches, fountains, hourglasses, topiary, and so on. People were sitting in the sun enjoying the day. After the long winter, it was a real pleasure to wander around and enjoy the sunshine and mild temperatures. Spring in Glasgow!