Sunday, October 31, 2021

Stepping Down and Moving Forward

Entry for 31 Oct 2021:


Today my 15-year position as professor of counselling at the University of Strathclyde comes to an end.  I’ve been tailing off for several years now, a slow wind-down.  First I went from 5 days a week, actually more than full time, to 3 days per week, but distributed in a feast or famine kind of way: a month full time while I was in Scotland, alternating with a month in California, notionally working one day per week in Zoom meetings with colleagues and students. That worked well and produced some important writing projects.  However, it fell apart went the pandemic started, stranding us more or less by choice in Scotland full-time.  After that, a year ago, I cut back to two days week, planning to fully retire on this date.


However, I’m not going anywhere right away!  Instead, what happened was the two year EmpoweringEFT@EU project, funded by an EU Erasmus Plus grant. This was developed by Carla Cunha and colleagues at the University of Maia in Portugal, during the early days of the pandemic last year, as an initiative to develop training for EFT supervisors and trainers.  Carla gathered a collection of us, including Laco Timulak (Ireland), Lars Auszra & Imke Hermann (Germany), Rafa Jadar (Spain), and Joao Salgado (Portugal).  Most of us (myself included) were quite surprised when it actually got funded, and I found myself suddenly responsible (with various colleagues) for two of its key pieces, essentially curricula for training (a) EFT supervisors and (b) EFT trainers. The result is that I’ll be continuing to work one day per week for the next year for the University, supported by the Erasmus plus grant in an associate researcher position.


I’m actually very pleased to have this additional transition period.  It’s a fun project, which is producing quite a nice and useful framework for training EFT supervisors and trainers. We were slow starting, because we first had to develop a competence framework for EFT therapists as a basis for the frameworks for EFT supervisors and trainers. The supervisor framework is also almost finished, and we are making good progress on the trainer framework.


So this seems like a good time to do some more blog entries.


Saturday, March 13, 2021

March 2021 Scottish Institute for Emotion-Focused Therapy Network meeting

We are pleased to announce the March 2021 Scottish EFT Network meeting.

Using Zoom technology, we will be continuing with our successful 4-hour format.  If you are interested in attending, please email Robert to request an invitation, which will be sent out in advance and at the time.

Date: Saturday, 20 March 2021

Time: 13.00 – 17.00 (UK time)

Special Features:

**Video: Les Greenberg Balancing Spiritual and Practical Needs in the Decision to Divorce (Session 2 of 6)**

**Emotion-Focused Counselling in Action Book Launch Event**

Place: Zoom: Please email Robert to request an invitation

Timetable/Approximate Timings:
13.00: Brief check-in/update on your practice, plus Scottish EFT Institute update (50 min)

14.00: Video (60 min)

15.00: Book Launch: Emotion-Focused Counselling in Action, plus Social time/networking: Have a cup of tea/coffee and a snack while you talk with others in the community; we will make break-out rooms available for those who prefer smaller conversations  (30 min)

15.30: Skill practice or small group supervision (60 min)

16.30: Processing (30 min)

Upcoming Scottish EFT Institute Network Meetings

22 May 2021

18 Sept 2021

20 Nov 2021

22 Jan 2022

 EFT Network Meetings are sponsored by the Scottish Institute for Emotion-Focused Therapy (SI-EFT).  They are currently free and open to everyone who has completed at least one level of EFT training and is interested in developing their EFT practice.  They meet five times each year. You do not need to be based in Scotland or the UK in order to attend.

-Robert, Lorna, Ligia, Joan & Richard (SI-EFT Board)

Friday, June 05, 2020

To A Sky Searcher: Robert Elliott on his 70th (Poem by Art Bohart)

Note: Art Bohart, a long-time friend and fellow Californian, made my day last Sunday by writing a poem for me on the occasion of my 70th birthday.  He has kindly given permission for me to present it here on my blog. 

To A Sky Searcher: Robert Elliott on his 70th

May there always be chocolate;
May the sky continue to open as you move on
And look;
May there always be stars to find
Words to uncover
Ideas to mine
And treasures to bring back and share with others

May you continue to encourage others
As you encouraged me that long ago time In Leuven
May you, Diane, Karen and I share more times.
Like the times I’ve shared with you
Through Chicago, to eating French fries with peanut sauce in Egmund
To exploring the catacombs of Rome
To sweltering among the ruins near the Colosseum.

May there be more time for meta-analyses
That help keep an important point of view alive
That help keep alive a door into healing for clients
A unique door,
Which you have helped find and create.

And may there always be things
To plant and grow.

Happy birthday on your 70th!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Turning 70: Cum Gratis


Numbers are nice but words are wonderful
Filling us with wonder ‘til we overflow

As kids, my brother Willy and I
Spent many Lodi summer nights
Sleeping outside in our backyard
Among the stars and almond trees. 

Those were the days before light pollution
Washed out the night sky.
Laying there we looked up into the field of stars
So bright and deep, sometimes it felt
As if we were falling into them.

Now as then, my head was filled
With science fiction dreams:
I wanted to go there, out to the stars.

The closest star, I knew, was Proxima Centauri:
Red dwarf star, a bit more than 4 light years away,
About 40 trillion kilometres.

By now I’ve taken seventy trips
On planet Terra around our local star, 
At more than 100,000 kilometres per hour.

If you do the math (which I did)
That’s almost 66 billion kilometres, a lot.
But still only about a 600th of the distance
to Proxima Centauri.
To get there at this rate, I must accept,
Would take 600 of these lifetimes,
more than 40,000 years,
The amount of time since people first painted caves.

And if I got there, what I’d find, I now know,
Would be one possibly habitable planet,
Hugging its star, tidally locked and shocked
By random stellar flares. 
I now wonder:
Why would I want to go there?


I’ve always felt lucky to have been born
in such a round numbered year as 1950.

But even so, when I was a kid,
in the dangerous ‘50’s and ‘60’s
I certainly didn’t think I’d make it to the age of 70:
If nuclear Armageddon didn’t get us first,
then pollution would. 

Of course, each of these might still get us.
But here we are:
We have somehow muddled through.

In my hypervigilance I’ve consistently
Pessimised our future, sold us short;
I’ve underestimated us, me and my fellow humans:
Our folly is not complete
But balanced at times by wisdom;
So far, it’s not been great,
But it has been enough to keep us going.

I see now, after years of studying anxiety
In myself and my clients:
My vision of darkness and doom
has always been a search for light


So help me celebrate 70 years, and
The good we’ve done together,
The people we’ve helped:
The children, students, clients, patients.

The light we’ve shined in the darkness,
Dispelling misery, hatred, despair
(And not just ours).
Our drifting apart, our reconnecting,
The times of crisis, injury and recovery,

The connections made,
The love we’ve found, and made, and gave,
The happiness, the good-natured jokes,
The stories told and heard, and told again.

The passing from one generation to the next:
What our parents, and grandparents, gave us,
What we in turn have given
To our children and grandchildren.

And celebrate the space we’ve been given
to be ourselves.
I know we could do better
But we are striving to give this space
To those who follow us.

So let us celebrate these things and more.
Friends, family, universe: Thank you.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Spring 2020 EFT Glasgow Network meeting, Saturday, 23 May 2020

We are excited to announce the first online Scottish EFT Network meeting!  Using Zoom technology (Skype as back up), we will be trying out a new 3-hour format for the Age of COVID19. 

Date: Saturday, 23 May 2020Time: 13.00 – 16.00 (UK time)

Place: Zoom (Back up: Skype): Please email Robert to request an invitation (please include your Skype address in case of Zoom outage)

Timetable/Approximate Timings:
13.00: Brief check-in/update on your practice, plus Scottish EFT Institute update
13.30: Video: New EFT video from Les Greenberg
14.30: Social time/networking: Have a cup of tea/coffee and a snack while you talk with others in the community; we can open break-out rooms for smaller conversation if it gets too chaotic
15.00: Skill practice or small group supervision (in Break-out rooms) (45 min)
15.45: Processing (15 min)

We've also scheduled the next two EFT Glasgow Quarterly Network Meetings using the same format:
• Late Summer: 5 September 2020
• Autumn: 7 November 2020

Scottish EFT Network Meetings are sponsored by the Scottish Institute for Emotion-Focused Therapy (SI-EFT).  They are currently free and open to everyone who has completed at least one level of EFT training and is interested in developing their EFT practice.  They meet five times each year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Remembering Leonard M. Horowitz, 1937 – 2019, Psychotherapy/Interpersonal Psychology Researcher Extraordinaire

Entry for 22 December 2019:

Len Horowitz, my friend and fellow psychotherapy researcher died on 11 November 2019, at the age of 82, in Portola Valley, California. However, my fellow psychotherapy researchers and I didn’t hear about his death until a few days ago, when George Silberschatz sent out an email on the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) list.

Personal reflections.  I met Len in 1976 when as a very green grad student I attended my very first SPR conference, in San Diego.  I have this vivid memory of hanging around with him talking by some large plants in the entryway of the Hotel del Coronado. The conference was over but I delayed leaving because I fell into long and fascinating conversation with him about how the Spearman-Brown prophecy formula could be used to increase the reliability of therapy process ratings.  It seemed like magic at the time and impressed the heck out of me.  From then on he was, to quote T.S. Eliot il miglior fabbro, “the better maker”: the psychotherapy research methodologist who I, as a psychotherapy research methodologist, looked to for inspiration.  Without him it would have been years before I discovered Spearman-Brown, and it would never have occurred to me to use to cluster analysis/multidimensional scaling for my 1985 significant events taxonomy paper.  Like many of my colleagues in SPR I was an early adopter of his wonderful Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP), the items for which he constructed from transcripts of intake sessions with psychotherapy clients, a lovely example of phenomenological test construction.  His case study research on the emergence of previously warded-off mental contents, with the Mount Zion Group in San Francisco, was a revelation for me when I first read it. And so on.    

Here are a few facts about Len:  Len was born 28 Feb 1937. He received his PhD in Experimental Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1960.  He started out in Experimental Psychology, landed a job at Stanford University right out of grad school at the age of 23 (no mean feat that, even in those days), and then later did clinical training, working with the Mount Zion Group during the 1970’s, as I mentioned above.  He was president of SPR 1992-93 and president of the Society for Interpersonal Theory and Research (which he helped found) 1999-2000. He received SPR’s Distinguished Career Award in 2010.  He wrote at least two books, including an undergrad statistics textbook (Elements of Statistics for Psychology & Education,1974), and Interpersonal Foundations of Psychopathology (2004).  He is also famous for his work with Hans Strupp and Michael Lambert on a 1990’s APA task force on creating a core battery of standardized measures for evaluating the outcome of psychotherapy (published as Measuring Patient Changes in Mood, Anxiety, and Personality Disorders: Toward a Core Battery, 1997) and for editing (with Stephen Strack), the Handbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment, and Therapeutic Interventions (2010).  According the Scopus, his most frequently-cited publication (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) has been cited 3758 times; it is one of the key publications in the modern attachment theory literature.

Since word of his death reached the SPR list, there has been an amazing outpouring from a wide range of well-known psychotherapy researchers honouring his many contributions.  What I have found most striking about these testimonials, however, is the portrait of Len that emerges from them: Over and over again, people have written about how Len made them feel welcome from their first SPR conference, how he was gentle, approachable, humble, enthusiastic, generous, warm, creative, throughtful and thought-provoking, wise, inspiring… and brilliant. He clearly felt a calling to support early career psychotherapy researchers and in this has provided a great service to the field and an important role model for the rest of us. I think Les Greenberg summed Len up about right when he described him as an “all round mensch”.

And here is a collection of some of my favourite Len Horowitz references (others will have other suggestions):
            Horowitz, L.M., Sampson, H., Siegelman, E.Y., Wolfson, A., & Weiss, J. (1975).  On the identification of warded off mental contents.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84, 545-558.
            Horowitz, L.M. (1979).  On the cognitive structure of interpersonal problems treated in psychotherapy.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47, 5-15.
            Horowitz, L.M., Inouye, D., & Siegelman, E.Y. (1979).  On averaging judges' ratings to increase their correlation with an external criterion.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47, 453-458.
            Horowitz, L.M., Rosenberg, S.E., Baer, B.A., Ureño, G., Villaseñor, V.S. (1988). Inventory of interpersonal problems: psychometric properties and clinical applications.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 885-892.
            Horowitz, L.M., Rosenberg, S.E., Ureño, G., Kalehzan, B.M., & O'Halloran, P. (1989).  Psychodynamic formulation, consensual response method, and interpersonal problems.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 599-606.
            Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244.
            Horowitz, L. M., & Malle, B.F. (1993).  Fuzzy concepts in psychotherapy research.  Psychotherapy Research, 3, 131-148.

I think that an excellent way to honor Len's memory would be to go back an look at some of these wonderful papers. Just a couple of weeks ago, as part of reviewing an article submitted for publication, I was pleased to be able to recommend the 1975 study to an author. Len was truly one of a kind and certainly a major inspiration for me over the course my career as a psychotherapy researcher.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Singapore Chinese Orchestra

Entry for 8 Dec 2019:

I’ve been in east Asia for the past two weeks: First, 6 days of EFT training in Shanghai (empathy, Module 4 & an intense day of group supervision). Then, I flew to Singapore for another 5 days of training (empathy & Module 1).  It’s been intense and hard work, and I was getting pretty tired by today, my last day.  This morning as I arrived Eng Chuan, who is in charge of CaperSpring, the local EFT institute, asked me if I wanted to go see the Singapore Chinese Orchestra tonight.  You bet, I said, since I’d always wanted to see a Chinese Orchestra performance. 

So tonight we grabbed a quick dinner and headed off for the Chinese Cultural Centre, where the concert hall is.  I was almost the only westerner at the concert. I had a blast.

The SCO is a large orchestra, consisting of about 50 people, playing mostly traditional Chinese folk instruments, with a sprinkling of cellos, bass fiddles, and on this occasion a western concert harp, all organised into sections very like a western symphony orchestra. For example, instead of violins, there were three classes of 1- and 2-stringed instruments: gaohus, zhonghus and erhus.  There were Chinese flutes and weird wind instruments.  There are large and small lute-like instruments and many others that I couldn’t make out but could only hear from time to time in the music because they were in back rows.

The concert started with a rousing overture, Continuous Prosperity, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This was followed by a more serious piece called The Memory, from a dance score entitled The Desert Smoke.  This was an intense piece about grief, as the composer mourned for his wife, consisting of a sad melody played on various Chinese 1- and 2-string violin-like instruments such as the erhu, punctuated by loud outbursts of emotion pain.  

After this, we were treated to a series of brief orchestral songs of varying moods, mostly based on Mongolian and Uighur folk music and featuring a young Chinese tenor, Wang Zenan.  The finale was a sublimely ridiculous rendition of the orchestral chestnut O Sole Mio; I can only say that you haven’t really lived until you’ve heard a full Chinese orchestra and tenor ham their way through this piece!

After an intermission, we heard an amazing piece of 21st century Chinese music called Dream Interpretation; this was really a 10-movement concerto or suite for Chinese orchestra and erhu. Each section a particular kind of dream.  The soloist, Xu Wenjing, appeared in a striking white dress, and attacked her two stringed instrument which virtuosity through the series of wildly distinct movements. 

The final piece was a colourful celebration of Singapore’s Dragon Dance ceremony and included an extended section in which eight percussionists banged on a large array of different drums, cymbals and so on, in complex polyrhythms and with great gusto. It felt like a rock concert, and was really loud, to the extent that I found myself hoping that the players were using hearing protection.  

In all, I found the whole experience exhilarating, intense and fun.  I often found myself laughing out loud at the sheer outrageous exuberance of it, and hoping that no one around me would think that I was making fun of their culture.  The sight of 20 or 30 members of the orchestra vigorously sawing away at 1 and 2-stringed instruments to produce such a beautifully raucous and joyful racket carried me away into another world of music and experience, a world both familiar (a large symphony orchestra with a conductor and sections of instruments) and strange at the same time, ful of shifting dissonances and sudden contrasts in volume, tempo.

I haven’t enjoyed a concert so much since I saw Osmo Vanska conduct the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in the Sibelius 2nd Symphony at Glasgow City Halls some
years ago. This might seem like a strange comparison, but on both cases the music was authentic, intense, soaring, heartfelt and deeply grounded in folk traditions, played by musicians who truly identify with the music, have great passion for it, and aren;t afraid to show it.  This was the high point for the past two weeks I’ve spent in east Asia, and I’m very grateful to Eng Chuan for treating me to it.