Confer - continuing professional development, seminars and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists
Having a resilient, relational, healthy and sustainable practice
This link takes you to a secure, partner website where your booking will be processed.
The 5 days - which can be taken in whole or parts - will cover the following themes:

How the practitioner's and patient's bodies are relationally responsive to each other
A number of speakers will be examining mirror neurons, the empathic nervous system, right-brain-to-right-brain interaction, and the impact of relationship on the systems of the body via the concept of interactive physiology or psyche-soma.

Protection in relation to difficult patients/clients
Implicit in the therapist's full engagement with their patients, is the potential jeopardy of psychological burn-out, especially in relation to borderline or more deeply disturbed clients/patients. This is an understated risk factor in the profession, and we will consider how therapists can protect themselves, while offering sufficient openness to the patient.

Self-regulation and well-being
The week will also include sessions that develop the therapist's self-regulating and self-protecting stances, offering a range of approaches from breath training to reviewing personal boundaries and deepening one's sense of having a definitive body in the session. Both micro-tracking of one's responses in the session and more diffuse reactions to the work will be considered.

Developing a sense of identity as a practitioner
One of the most challenging aspects of the work is finding a balance between an empathic connection with one's clients or patients and a sense of inner certainty. Often one's beliefs or values can be derailed in ways that subtly undermine one's philosophical confidence. We will explore how we pay attention to such moments and manage a shifting inner landscape.

Group Processing
The Summer School also includes the opportunity to participate in a group analysis session, which will take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 17.30-19.00hrs - a place to consider one's work or one's experience of the day in a facilitated group.
MORNING - 11.00 -14.00
Michael Soth
Allowing oneself to be 'used' by the client's process and the potential for vicarious traumatisation
Vicarious traumatisation has become a well-recognised problem in psychotherapeutic work. But this phenomenon - the therapists' unconscious resonance with their clients' traumatised states - is only one instance of a much wider problem: the therapist's bodymind stress when being subjected to transference and projective identification. Precisely because these are unconscious processes, they fly under the therapist's conscious radar and can wreak havoc with the therapist's psychosomatic well-being. What exacerbates this problem is the recognition that 'allowing oneself to be constructed as an object by the client's unconscious' is a precious key principle of any therapy that is oriented towards psychodynamic depth. How can we on the one hand invite these unconscious processes for the benefit of the deepening therapeutic process, and on the other hand maintain our own bodymind equilibrium and self-regulation? In this workshop, Michael will first help us recognise the non-verbal and subliminal bodymind impact of the transference, and explore ways in which we can do justice to the central and complex dilemma, and the various ways in which the therapist needs to be 'used as an object' (to adopt Winnicott's concept).
AFTERNOON - 15.00 - 18.00
Maura Sills
The Inner Practices of the Practitioner
The intention of this session is to help participants feel more resourced, whole and protected, both within themselves and when with others. As such, time and space is given for cultivating personal wellbeing and resiliency through reflective exercises, mindfulness practices and enquiry into what supports and hinders wellbeing. Participants may find that the seminar helps them to deepen into a state of presence and learn to bring this stage of awareness into relationship. You will be introduced to key concepts and practices including:
  • Finding a place of rest, resource and wellbeing from which to be in relationship
  • The value of mindfulness and how it can help create a safe therapeutic relationship and facilitate recovery from relational wounds
  • The Core Process theoretical model of Self, Being and Source and the cultivation of a being-to-being holding field
  • The power of present moment enquiry in relational work
  • Practices for tuning into more subtle and non-verbal aspects of communication
MORNING - 10.00-13.00
Isabel Clarke
The Challenge of Being Porous
Starting from a view of the human being as a balancing act between individual and relationship, this workshop addresses the challenge (and opportunity) this presents for the therapist. Therapy is enabled by the flow between therapist and client, but this flow also leaves the therapist vulnerable. At the same time the therapist's own self - self relationship is affected. This is particularly the case when working with a more disturbed client group. Organisational structures add to the complexity from the outside. The challenge of maintaining well being in the midst of this tangle will be addressed.
AFTERNOON - 14.00 - 17.00
Edward Fellows
Maintaining Embodied Support in the Healing Relationship
Developing awareness of our own relational body processes as therapists allows us to increase the effectiveness of our support for our clients. Understanding our own embodied experience in difficult situations provides the therapeutic ground for understanding the client's experience and to differentiate our own from theirs, thus helping us to maintain a sense of self. In this workshop we will look at how overwhelm affects the therapist's body and his/her relationship with others. We will learn how moment by moment tracking of the therapist's phenomenological data such as ways of breathing, muscle qualities and movements of the spine, enable us to find vital clues to learned relational patterns, and address embodied needs. The seminar will offer time for experiential work exploring how to manage difficult experiences whilst being available for a healing relationship.
EARLY EVENING - 17.30 - 19.00
Processing Group 1
Led by Robert Cutler
This first of 3 processing groups is a space to reflect on what has come up or been important in the work during the day. By sharing contributions from different perspectives members will have an opportunity to deepen and extend our understandings of some of the thoughts evoked by the presentations and workshops. Although 'open', a consistent membership is best.
MORNING - 10.00-13.00
Charlie Blowers
Presentation- Body Based Approaches to Managing Vicarious Trauma
The focus of this presentation will be to address the frequent problem of vicarious trauma experienced by mental health practitioners. I will combine theoretical insights emerging from neuroscience with experiential exploration of body-based strategies to support regulation of the autonomic nervous system, which is often disregulated by vicarious trauma and other mental health problems. These basic skills can be utilised to track both countertransference experience with clients, as well as to support general regulation and well being.
AFTERNOON - 14.00 - 17.00
Lynette Harborne
Our personal spiritual story and response to client material
This presentation will identify some of the spiritual issues that may be brought to therapy and the effects, both conscious and unconscious, positive and negative, that these may have on us as therapists. We will reflect on our personal spiritual story and explore possible links between this and our response to client material. In the light of this recognition, we will also consider what may help us to put appropriate self-care in place.
EARLY EVENING - 17.30 - 19.00
Processing Group 2
Led by Robert Cutler
MORNING - 10.00-13.00
Maggie Turp
The capacity for self-care
The gradual evolution of a capacity for self-care depends on a process of internalisation of the care the infant receives from his primary attachment figures. Drawing on infant observation material, we will look at the detail of this process and identify some key elements of parental care as they become apparent in an ordinary 'good enough' situation. As adults, we all struggle at times to take proper care of ourselves - for example not to overwork, not to eat too much junk food or drink too much alcohol, to make sure we organise doctor and dentist appointments (and keep them!) as and when necessary. As counsellors and psychotherapists, these self-care tasks may feel particularly difficult when our workload is taxing, either in terms of its volume or its emotional demands. The workshop offers an opportunity for each individual to explore his or her self-caring and self-neglectful tendencies and to identify situations and triggers that precipitate periods of compromised self-care.
AFTERNOON - 14.00 - 17.00
Franklyn Sills
Presence, Self-Regulation and the Therapeutic Relationship
This summer school presentation is a journey into the nature of therapeutic presence, mindfulness practice and therapeutic self-regulation. In this context, self-regulation denotes the therapist's ability to monitor their arising states and to differentiate these from the client's emergent process. In this context, we will explore the nature of presence as a natural state of being, which allows therapists to differentiate their arising inner states and defensive self-forms from the client's arising process, with the potential for appropriate reflection and inquiry. We will orient to the Buddha's ancient teaching on mindfulness as a practice that helps one to clearly comprehend the nature of arising process, both inwardly and relationally, and to clearly discern and differentiate these inner conditions from those of the client. We will also explore the basic neurology of mindfulness practice, interpersonal resonance and attunement as it emerges and affects clinical process. All of this has vast therapeutic consequence, allowing for clarity, differentiation and the ability to self-regulate one's inner states in the interpersonal milieu of therapeutic process.
EARLY EVENING - 17.30 - 19.00
Processing Group 3
Led by Robert Cutler
MORNING - 10.00-13.00
Roger Higgins
Developing a Self-Care Strategy
The first half of this workshop will be an exploration of the different ways in which you as therapists can be affected by your work with clients: physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually - regardless of your experience or qualifications. We will then explore effective coping and self-care strategies, which will be presented in a framework which emphasizes the importance of achieving a balance between five key areas: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and professional. Participants will also complete a personalised Assessment of Self-Care Worksheet, which has been developed as a preventative measure.
AFTERNOON - 14.00 - 17.00
Margaret Landale
Mindfulness: a way of re-sourcing the therapist
This workshop will explore mindfulness as resource for the therapist by introducing basic practices and concepts to aid emotional self-regulation and promote calmness and clarity. We will explore how to engage in affective mindful communication by attuning mindfully to the client's sub-conscious communication and observe our reaction at a somatic-emotional level. We will pay particular attention to cultivating empathic presence, acceptance and equilibrium when working with negative transference dynamics.
This link takes you to a secure, partner website where your booking will be processed.