Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sanders & Hill’s Counselling for Depression (2014)

Entry for 28 March 2014:

Today I received my copy of Counselling for Depression: A Person-Centred and Experiential Approach to Practice (Sage, 2014).  As far as I know, this is the first book-length person-centred-experiential therapy treatment manual for a specific client population.  It is an outgrowth of the humanistic therapy competences that I worked on in 2008-2009, integrating person-centred and EFT, and provides important reading material to go along with the CfD training now being carried out in England and Wales. 

I co-wrote chapter 2, with Andy Hill; I also put together one of the Appendices from my meta-analysis data and helped construct the competence rating scale (PCEPS) reproduced in the last chapter.  For background for doing the book, Pete Sanders came up to Glasgow to do EFT Level 1 18 months ago. 

The book is a handy reference for PCE therapists and counselors working with depressed clients, and I think also helps legitimize the use of a humanistic therapy for depression.  There is a lot of EFT in it, but without, as Pete Sanders says, “furniture”. 

This book, and the big PRACTICED trial currently running in Sheffield, have inspired me to return the EFT’s roots in the work we carried out from 1985 to 1992 on developing it as an approach for working with depressed clients.  In the process I’ve developed my own take on CfD and EFT for depression.  Some of my thinking on this can be found under the CfD and EFT Masterclass sections on the following page:

This material includes ideas about depression as “stuckness”, how to help therapists and clients get unstuck, and alternative ways of working with Self-Criticism and Unresolved Relationships that don’t involve chairwork.  There are also useful formulations, such as “Depression is a message that I send myself that something is broken in my life”.

Regardless, Sanders & Hill’s new book is an excellent to start looking at how PCE therapy can be carried out with depressed clients in a more focused and responsive manner.  Hopefully, it will also generate additional interest in EFT as well.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bowling to Dalmuir

Entry for 15 March 2014:

We were supposed to be working on our US taxes today, but Diane’s about to leave for 3 weeks in California and Ohio, so we decided to squeeze in one more adventure before she leaves. 

We took the train to Bowling, at the end of the Forth-Clyde Canal.  We were the only people getting off the train at the little station. It was windy and damp this close to the Firth of Clyde; the station overlooks an abandoned harbor with containing a few picturesquely decayed hulks of old fishing boats.  We followed the signs for the Canal, and after about a third of a mile arrived at a set of harbors, locks, and British Waterways buildings. 

It was about 3 miles to Dalmuir.  Along the way we saw another part of Glasgow:  Wide canal (wider than in the West End), reeds and cattails growing along the edge.  Swans, bicycles, the occasional runner.  Wetlands on our right, between us and the Clyde, including the Saltings, a nature reserve.  We missed it, but in Kilpatrick, by the towering Erskine Bridge, about halfway between Bowling and Dalmuir, there is a section of the canal whose north side (the towpath is on the south side) follows the course of the Antonine Wall, as we have seen elsewhere, as Wall, Canal, and ancient and modern roads (or railroads) parallel each other across the Central Belt. 

In Dalmuir, the Canal makes a sharp left turn and goes under the modern Dumbarton Road, which required the installation of an unusual 3-meter Drop Lock, which enables canal boats to go under the road.  From there it’s just 2 blocks up to Dalmuir Station, major railroad node where the Yoker and Singer branches rejoin.

 It was a lovely afternoon, full of surprises, like the various pieces of public sculpture we saw along the way, and a reminder that even after 7.5 years in Glasgow, there is still much more to see.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Three and a Half Years

Entry for 13 March 2014:

It’s been a bit more than 3½ years since my prostate cancer surgery (a radical prostatectomy).  You’re supposed to have your PSA (prostate serum antigen) checked once a year for at least 5 years post-surgery.  However, the NHS doesn’t remind you; you have to take responsibility for yourself, so it took me a while to organize myself to get it done.  I kept putting it off: there was my passport to get renewed, then I needed to organize myself with a dentist, EFT training in Belgium and the Netherlands, that sort of thing. 

Last week, I finally got around to getting a blood sample drawn for this.  I think it was the hip pain I’d been having.  There is a hypochondriac part of me that worries about worst case medical scenarios:  What if the cancer has come back and gotten in my bones, as it can do?  Ironically, I was busy ignoring the most likely explanation of the hip pain: an incipient running injury from over-exercise (possibly exacerbated by old/flat shoes, hard interval training, and hard running surfaces).  This week the running injury came to a head in the form of a painful episode of what is most likely bursitis, and as a result I’m taking an enforced holiday from running.

Finally, yesterday, I was able to finally get the results from my GP. The first time I phoned, the receptionist told me the results were “satisfactory”.  I phoned back, and eventually the GP told me the PSA level was “less than 0.01” ie, undetectable.  This was the “satisfactory” result I was hoping for:  Any evidence of PSA after a radical prostatectomy means that the cancer has come back.

After getting this news, as I walked back to the train station from my office, I reflected on the 3½ years since my surgery:  Almost half the time we’ve been in Scotland.  Since then, my mom has died at the end of the 2 months I spent in California helping care for her; my old dear friend Margaret has died of cancer; my youngest son Kenneth has moved from Ohio to Iowa; my grandson Yuki has been born; and Diane and I have celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  The Counselling Unit has moved from Jordanhill to the Glasgow city centre; I’ve published two dozen articles or book chapters; and regular EFT training has started in Belgium and the Netherlands.  In the meantime, I’ve tried to lead a less stressful life, continued regular adventures with Diane, and watched my granddaughter Muziki grow.  I feel profoundly grateful for these and many more experiences and gifts.  I feel more deeply connected to others and more genuinely happy than ever in my work as a trainer and therapist.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Westerton Connection

Entry for 10 March 2014:

BACP has been running the Training the Trainers series again, so Sue Wheeler, John McLeod and I have been doing our bits of that again, like an aging rock group trotting out its greatest hits.  Unfortunately, when I went to book the Sunday night Caledonian Sleeper train down to London a couple of weeks ago for my latest gig, I discovered that there were no sleeper berths left, or even regular seats.  This presented a problem because I was scheduled to be at our Tuesday Parttime Diploma course residential weekend in Stirling until 3pm on Sunday afternoon.  What to do?  A bit desperately, I wondered whether there might be seats available on one of the other Scottish sleeper trains. A bit of research revealed that, yes, in fact, the Fort William sleeper train stops in Westerton, only two stops up the line from Hyndland, closer even than Glasgow Central. And sure enough, there were still berths available.

Fast forward to yesterday:  After a few hours at home with Diane recovering from an intense but fulfilling weekend residential weekend of training, I set off at 10:30pm, into the dark and rainy night.  There was no one else at the Hyndland train station but the guy in the ticket office, who knows me as one of the regulars, so I chatted with him for a couple of minutes.  The Milnegavie train arrived, so I got on it and took it two stops, 7 minutes, to Westerton, a commuter station next to the Firth-Clyde Canal.  There the oddness began: The London Euston train, on its way from Helensburgh Central and Dalmuir was listed as departing from Platform 2, even though I had just gotten off the Milnegavie train, heading in the opposite direction, on the same Platform.  But that wasn’t all:  The station board listed the train I was waiting for as heading for “Edinburgh Only”; my Scotrail app said the same thing.  Hmm…

It was still raining, but fortunately there was a covered shelter (although no chairs) on Platform 2, so I settled in the wait the 25 minutes for my train.  Several out-of-service ghost trains raced out of the distance and disappeared into the night without even slowing down.  The 23:10 Helensburgh train came and went.  Several other people appeared.  One had missed the Glasgow Central Sleeper train, which leaves earlier than usual on Sunday nights, making here a fellow refugee.  She was just as puzzled as I was.  The other, a man in his 30’s, reassured us that the Westerton Sleeper train did exist and that he has previously taken it, although he was unable to explain why the station board said “Edinburgh Only”. 

A couple of minutes later, from the same direction in which the Helensburgh Central training had just disappeared, we heard a low rumble: It was one of the ancient ESW engines that all the Caledonian Sleeper trains use.  A short train consisting of only 4 or 5 cars arrived. (Somehow, they had managed not to run into each other…) As we started to board one of the sleeper cars, a woman at the far end of the train leaned out into the rain and called to us.  We trundled down to her, where she addressed us by name, telling the other man to get on and go right, and me to get on and turn left.  We left her to deal with the displaced woman. 

When she came by a couple minutes later to check my tickets, she reassured me that this train was in fact going to London Euston.  I got ready for bed and went to sleep.  About 1am I got up to use the toilet; when I looked out, I discovered that we were sitting in Edinburgh Waverly station, which was brightly lit but completely and eerily empty.  I don’t know how long we waited there, because I went back to sleep. 

After a somewhat irregular night of sleep I woke up about 7am.  We were noodling along through North London.  Pretty soon we stopped, and waited for at least an hour, while sleek yellow-and-red Virgin trains raced past us.  I got dressed, shaved, ate a light breakfast, and drank some tea.  I reviewed my slides for today, did my daily 20 min of writing (working on the references for my almost-completed Personal Questionnaire Cross Analysis paper).  Finally, the train started moving again. 

We arrived at Euston Station.  The train had grown prodigiously in the night, by agglomerating most of Scotland’s Sunday night sleeper trains into the one Sleeper Train to Rule Them All.  I set out for Shelter Training in the London Forum on City Road.  Since I’d been to the training venue before, I’d forgotten to bring my London map, and I soon became lost.  I eventually jerry-rigged an ex tempore sat nav using my phone and my iPad and got back on track, arriving 10 min late and rather out of breath and sweaty… and had a lovely day talking about qualitative change process research tools, case study research, counseling research pedagogy and other matters arising to a little group of counseling trainers and doctoral students. The Westerton Connection had succeeded, although if it’s all the same I think on the way back I’ll just get off at Hyndland.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Emotion-Focused Therapy Masterclass: Emotion Focused Therapy for Depression: An EFT Approach to Counselling for Depression (CfD)

Friday, 28 March 2014 9:30-17.30
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

A small number of openings remain for the next EFT masterclass.

Emotion-Focused Therapy has been shown to be highly effective for helping clients with depression.  In this session I provide an overview of experiential processes in depression and key EFT tasks in depression, including self-criticism splits, self-interruption, and unfinished business. 

From an EFT perspective, depression is all about different kinds of stuckness, and it can be very easy for therapists to become stuck with their stuck clients in their stuck process.  A critical point is for the therapist to see depressive stuckness not as something that just happens to the client but instead as something the client does to themselves.  At the same time, it is important for therapists not to judge depressed clients for being stuck or bringing about their stuckness, but to offer the different parts of the client genuine empathy and compassion.

Individual sessions of the new Emotion-Focused Therapy Masterclass Series are open to counsellors and psychotherapists (Diploma level or above) who have completed Level Two or Level Three training in EFT.  If it’s been a while since you did EFT training, the masterclasses can serve as a refresher course and enable you to catch up on more recent developments in EFT theory, practice and training.

This session will include videos or live demonstration, supervision of client work, and small group skill practice.  Participants are encouraged to bring in material from their depressed clients.

·      Enrolment is set for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15.  The balance between supervision and skill practice will depend of number of participants.
·      Course fee: £120.
·      The course could be taken for continuing professional education credit.

Contact: or 0141-444 8415 for further information on this training, the facilitator, ways of applying for this course or other APT events.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Saturday Adventure in East Lothian: Tantallon Castle & Dunbar

Entry for 1 March 2014:

I've been travelling or working on Saturdays a lot lately, so when a free Saturday finally rolled around this week, we were off east beyond Edinburgh.  Even after 7.5 years in Scotland we haven't lost our love of castles, so we thought we'd try Tantallon (accent on the second syllable) Castle. This is a large, dramatic sea castle, dating back to the 14th century and located on a small promontory that juts out into the outer end of the Firth of Forth, with small bays on either side.  Rather than the usual rectangular castle with towers at each corner or separate inner keep, it's basically very tall, thick curtain wall, punctuated with three sets of towers, with living quarters tucked just behind or even inside the wall. It was stormed several times (usually unsuccessfully), the last time by Cromwell in 1651.  It’s most unusual features are a central tower that features green volcanic rock originally favoured for its shock absorbing ability; and the view of Bass Rock, a mile off shore, a dramatic volcanic plug that is home to thousands of seabirds. Since the weather was surprisingly nice (mixed sun & cloud), there were plenty of visitors, mostly foreign, out to satisfy their hunger for large ancient ruined military-domestic installations.  

After that we headed south for Dunbar, arriving in time for visit to the John Muir Birthplace Museum in Dunbar.  The conservationist John Muir is practically the patron saint of California, the force behind the American National Park system, founder of the Sierra Club, namesake for countless California parks, public schools and trails.  He's not so well known in his native Scotland, but American tourists inspired the citizens of his hometown to refit the house where he was born in 1838.  It’s a lovely little museum dedicated to his life, which is presented in a kind of timeline as you progress through its floor, featuring quirkily-presented quotations from his writings. Among other things we learned that there is a sister site in Martinez, Calfornia, not far from where Diane’s mom lives; we resolved to match today’s adventure with a California Adventure to the John Muir Historic Monument on one of our upcoming visits.