David Brooks is the inspiration for this week’s creativity exploration. Albert Durer (1471 – 1528) had never seen a Rhinoceros and drew this sketch in 1515 based on a written description by someone who had seen the animal in person. David Brooks then used this idea to create scupltures of critically endangered animals which we may never see, particularly if they are to become extinct.
In this exercise Brooks challenges us to apply this thinking to something we know exists but have never seen, and, probably never will.
I know this exists but have never seen…
Finding something to base my creation on was surprisingly challenging. I wanted to take Brooks literally and create based on something I have never seen, not just in person, but also in images or pictures in books, posters, TV or the web.
This may have been a mistake. It ruled out a lot of the natural world-related things I could think of.
There are many science-related things I haven’t seen either (like a black hole) or skin cells through a microscope. However, these didn’t seem to be hitting quite the right note.
This sent me off in a more abstract direction. Feelings. Ideas. Things I see the aspects of in myself or others but find it difficult to describe or portray. A response, I’m sure, actors will be very aware of.
Does curiosity kill the cat?
Helping my children with their school work, I find it frustrating that they are not interested by questions that come up. Not enough to explore them anyway. The subject doesn’t really matter – the industrial revolution to electronics to chemistry to music. With so many resources at our fingertips I’m fascinated by it all and want to know more.
Maybe its because they are teenagers and doing schoolwork (I’m sure this has a lot to do with it). I’m also now wondering if this is because I grew up in an age where we had few resources to use – the school and public libraries and my parents ancient Children’s Britannica. No internet.
Which brings me back, in a roundabout way, to the abstract concept I want to portray – curiosity. I know it exists but what exactly is it? My creation is a montage of pictures and words to hopefully explain it a little:
For me, curiosity is being open and observant, asking questions and being interested in the answers. Not being afraid to make mistakes or say ‘I don’t know…’. Being interested in people and their stories. Wanting to know more.
I’ve used images of looking and listening, wide open mountainscapes, opening up pathways, questions for people and things, the joy of exploring through experience (the puddle bit) and a lot of books.
I have used pictures and text but the creation could be a drawing, a sound composition, a video, written account or sculpture – the creator chooses.
A client may be having difficulty expressing themselves or exploring an emotion. Encourage them to create something about it first and then use this as the means to talk about it.
To explore more of your own creativity – for yourself and with clients – check out our online Creativity Summer School taking place in August.
Proposals as invitations
Welcome to the second piece on my journey to explore creativity. This week’s exercise is based on Peter Liversidge‘s work (p101 in Sarah Urist Green’s ‘You Are An Artist’). Peter types proposals for what he might like to do. These are invitations rather than orders and can be ignored, brought into fruition or simply considered. The thing I love about this idea is that the proposals need an audience, an interaction – someone else to think about the invitation and carry it out. We, as the interactor, become part of the creative process.
The exercise has a set of 3 of Peter Liversidge’s proposals to choose from.
Bearing in mind it is very wet outside today (and that we are in covid-19 lockdown) and that I don’t really want to dress like my parents, I chose the proposal that fired my imagination:
“I propose that the person reading this proposal should imagine that their feet are in a mountain stream”.
Normally, at this time of year, we have a family holiday to the Highlands. With Lockdown, it hasn’t been possible. I find my heart yearning for the hills and mountains, streams and lochs, and the abundance of outdoors and head space. This proposal probably resonated more because of a feeling of loss and a chance to imagine and revisit.
I’ve had my feet in mountain streams a few times in my life. Not always intentionally and, sometimes, with boots on. Although I don’t think this is what is intended for the exercise.
So, I’ve concentrated on the sitting by a stream and dipping my feet in idea. Closing my eyes certainly helped with the imagining. I slowed my breathing and took my mind back to the Highlands. The smell of damp greenness and the slipperiness of the stones and rocks. The cool breeze and the sharp coldness of the stream at first – followed by the slight numbness. Both very welcome after a long walk in hiking boots.
I imagined the bubbling and rush of the stream, over rocks and in the hollows, carrying leaves, twigs and bubbles further on its journey. I remembered the light and shadows, the every changing reflections. And tried to record my thoughts in simple words and impressions:
It was good to purposely take time to focus on the imagining (rather than as a by product of doing the washing up). It felt a bit like putting aside time for a home yoga class initially.
I don’t know if it is the Scottish national identity or the landscape but the Highlands are one of the places I feel instantly grounded and solid. It feels ancient and expansive and so much closer to the ‘earth’ that my surroundings in my day to day life. All this helps take me back fairly quickly in my mind. The stream with my feet in, fed by melted ice and snow, rushing hundreds of miles downhill until it meets the sea, certainly puts my life’s struggles in proportion. And gives a sense of release and freedom and calm.
I wonder if Peter Liversidge had envisioned this response when he wrote the proposal.
This has been an interesting and challenging exercise in imagining and mindfulness. Its amazing that one short sentence can provoke so much.
Why not come up with your own proposals for clients/supervisees or, alternatively, get them to write their own. There are some examples to download here that you might want to use.
We have an online workshop Vitality in a Virtual World looking at creativity coming up on 3 July 3 – 5pm.
Exploring creativity – both for work with clients and for ourselves – is important to our team. I’m sure you will have noticed the emphasis on creativity in our workshop programme.
Not to be outdone by the trainers at TA Training Organisation, I have also started a journey to explore creativity – using a new book, ‘You are an Artist’ by Sarah Urist Green as a resource.
Sarah has put together a whole range of easy to assignments to help access new ways of expression and creativity. It is about exploration rather than skills development – refreshing when many other resources are about developing a hobby.
In this series of weekly Creativity posts, I’ll share how I got on with my explorative journey and, hopefully, you will find elements to encourage you and ideas to use in client or supervision work.
I was very excited when the book arrived (but then I always get excited by new books). I had a quick skim through the contents and quickly saw that it was going to be fun. And challenging. And much, much, more.
Where to start – First steps
The book has sat on my desk for the last 5 days while I decided where to start. At the beginning perhaps? Well, no, I decided to start with one of the more (apparently) simpler exercises – adding elements to this visual image:
The assignment suggested annotating the picture with my own words, quotes from songs, movies or books, sketches or anything really as long as it gave meaning for me.
I struggled at first. The boots in the image feel very old to me. Maybe belonging to someone from WW1. Not something I have much experience of other than a shared cultural history.
I then moved on to thinking about the boots’ origins. Who owned them? What did they do? Why leave their boots? I began thinking about my ancestors in Ireland working in the fields or factories. Does this picture speak to where I came from? My past being part of me now and my future?
In My Boots
This started me thinking about the phrase ‘being in my boots’ and what it means. To me, it means being firmly grounded and secure and truly me. Boots feel stable to me, not higher heels that can wobble as I walk but solid and supportive. Reliable and resilient.
I was tempted by the Lord of the Rings quote above but then this led me to something Terry Pratchett wrote about Tiffany Aching in The Shepherd’s Crown. Whilst its about boots, obviously – I also feel it has a lot to say about resilience and the ability to manage life and its challenges.
Resilience is very important if I’m not going to be flattened by experience. This is true for me generally but particularly in the current Covid-19 times we are living in. But I don’t feel resilience is like a bomb-blast wall – a hardness developed as a response to negative things. There is something joyful about being secure in knowing I can march through anything or, with Peppa Pig, jump in muddy puddles.
It felt a relief but also very satisfying to pin down the picture to something that does represent how I feel. With the first assignment complete, I’m now a little less daunted and looking forward to the rest of the journey.
And finally, I’ve put together some images as A4 pdf templates that you might want to use with clients. Click on the buttons below to download. Or create your own.
In these changing and challenging times, we’ve put together a range of resources about working online for our colleagues to share and use. Click on the links below to go to useful web resources or on the Download buttons to download documents.
If you have other resources you have found useful, we’d love it if you could share them with us so we can add to the resources here.
Guidelines for online working
Tools and Resources
We’ve had some great feedback from our Online First Steps to Successful Private Practice training last weekend. Andy Williams was the trainer for this event. Feedback included a lovely comment from KB:
“Really enjoyed it, and found it really really useful. Andy did a great job sharing all his wisdom and keeping the energy going.” KB
We’ve been keeping the format of face to face training as much as we can including small group discussions, full group discussions, teaching from the ‘front’, stories, illustrations and videos. Discovering new ways of sharing knowledge and resources through technology.
Being at home because of social distancing and or self-isolation doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on training and CPD. Its a ideal opportunity to catch up on developing knowledge and skills.
In addition, we have:
Online Introduction to Transactional Analysis TA101 on 27 & 28 June.
Evening Seminar with Andy Williams on Saturday 13 June on Relational Risk Assessment
Vitality in a Virtual World – working creatively online on Saturday 3 July
Check out our Online Courses page for more online courses and workshop. You can also sign up to our mailing list so that you get news of all up and coming courses and workshops. The Events Diary on the website includes links to course pages.
TA Training Organisation and The Horsforth Centre
In light of the COVID-19 situation we are issuing the following information:
Please note: For information on how to protect yourself from the Coronavirus you should always follow the government advice: www.gov.uk
Ethics, Protection and Continuity of Service
We recognise that there is a potential tension between wanting to offer our trainees, clients and supervisees continuity of service as well as appropriate protection.
As such we are considering the five ethical principles of EATA and UKATA (Transactional Analysis Organisations)
- Commitment in Relationship
Above all we want to protect our broad base of clients, supervisees and trainees, but also to offer commitment in relationship and not sever these relationships carelessly or unnecessarily. Thus we are holding the tension between maintaining appropriate service levels but being responsible and protective – within government guidelines.
As of 19th March the Horsforth Centre for Psychotherapy is open however all training will be taking place via online training software.
Supervision sessions are being offered online or by telephone until further notice.
Practitioners and Trainers are committed to following appropriate government advice should they themselves become unwell.
You are at the point where you are thinking about the possibility of your own private practice. It can be both exciting and very daunting. You may be recently qualified or with years of experience as a therapist. Either way, all kinds questions come up about how to begin. I’ve included some headings below that you can use as a starting point.
How much time do I have?
Setting up in private practice can mean anything from seeing a few clients at home to launching yourself as a full-time therapist. Its important to think about how much time you want to spend in your practice. The answer to this will affect how much time and financial investment you put into the process.
What am I offering?
Think about what you are offering as a therapist – what client issues you would like to work with, whether you would be working with individuals, couples or groups – whether sessions would be in person, by phone or online. Answers to these questions can be used in your marketing later.
Where should I work?
Are you intending to work from home? It may seem like a simple solution but there are ethical, professional boundary and space issues to be considered if you go down this route.
If you are wanting to work from somewhere else you could rent your own space (such as a small office). You could hire a room in a therapy centre. Do some research about how much this would cost you per month or week. Find out what would work best financially. There may be additional costs that you need to factor in (like service charge or liability insurance in a shared office space).
Another thing to consider is whether you want to work from one place or share your time between two or more locations. You may have distinct client groups and different locations work better for them.
How will I get clients?
Where will your clients come from? You should think about the different sources; health insurance referral, EAP company referral, self-referred etc. How many client hours do you need to fill? Do you need to advertise your services? How much money do you have to put into this each month? Answers to all these questions will affect how you approach the issue of marketing your practice. It is important to be realistic about how much investment is needed in the early stages.
What about money?
As I mentioned at the start, the size of your practice will affect your financial status. You will need to keep adequate financial records. Do some research about self-employment and the legal and financial requirements before you begin. Gov.uk website is a good starting point.
Where do I go from here?
These are some areas to consider but where do you go from here? An excellent source of information is to tap into the wisdom of others who have already run their own practice. Talk to colleagues who have made the step. Find out what they learned and how they would do it a second time around. Most therapists I have met are delighted to help someone starting out.
We offer the First Steps to Successful Private Practice course – a one day course with the aim of helping you develop an action plan for setting up your practice. The next one takes place on Saturday 21 March 2020. Andy Williams is the trainer. He runs his own very successful private practice in counselling, psychotherapy and supervision and has supported many supervisees in launching their practices.
Kat shares with us her thoughts on the training weekend on Redecisions on this video.
The weekend covered Re-decisions and Impasses and included the different types including early decisions. Kat found it really helpful when she was able to relate it to client work about injunctions, counter-injunctions.
The weekend included relating the topic to fairy tales at first. This helped with understanding. They also looked at how the Gouldings and how they developed their ideas.
Kat found the skills practice really helpful and particularly around contracting with having an observer.
Although it sounds like the weekend covered a lot of TA theory linking together. Kat feels like she now has a deeper understanding of the different types of work she’s doing with clients.
Another successful training weekend then! Our thanks to Bev Gibbons for teaching on Redecisions this weekend.
Redecisions is one of the weekend theory topics from our Clinical Training Programme. We explore the model and its application in the therapy room.
We have put together a brief summary of Re-decisions. click on the button below to download a copy.
What our trainees are saying….
Andy Williams ran an Introduction to Transactional Analysis TA101 course last weekend. It was a great weekend’s training and we’ve had some lovely comments back from the trainees. These are some of the things they had to say:
An excellent introduction to TA. Andy is informed, enthusiastic and a skilled trainer. He has left me wanting to learn more. Thank you. Andy has brought the TA textbook to life!Peri O’Connor
A really good trainer with excellent knowledge. I would thoroughly recommend the course to anyoneS Worsnop
Enjoyed the course. Definitely recommend.Neil Martin
There is nothing about this course that is dry or overly clinical. The two days flew by and I will put what I have learned to use with my clients.Kim M
I’d thoroughly recommend this course. I learnt a lot and had fun in a very nurturing environment with an excellent trainer.P Moulding
If you are a counsellor or psychotherapist from a particular modality, then I’d recommend coming on this course to open your eyes again. It refreshed some of my thinking.TA