Working with Imagery workshop - 31st May 2019

The next Schema Therapy Skills workshop will take place at my office in East Finchley on 31st May 2019. My Working with Imagery: Powerful, Transformative Techniques to Enhance Your Clinical Practice workshop costs £180 for refreshments, all training materials and a certificate of attendance.

This one-day workshop will teach you:

  • An introduction to the theory and practice of schema therapy, as well as schemas and modes

  • How imagery techniques can help rescript even the most traumatic experiences from your client’s childhood, such as incidences of trauma, abuse or neglect. This provides healing to clients on the deepest (schema) level, which is often extremely moving and transformative for them

  • Using imagery such as the Safe Place and Safety Bubble to create feelings of trust and safety with you for even the most avoidant, anxious or mistrustful clients

  • Using imagery for ‘limited reparenting’ – one of schema therapy’s most important concepts and key to building a strong therapeutic relationship with your clients

  • How to use imagery to help your clients with present-day and future challenges

Through a combination of didactic teaching, small group work, discussion, video/live demonstrations and skills practice, you will gain confidence in using these powerful techniques to help your own clients, whichever setting or modality you work in. All of my Schema Therapy Skills workshops are taught to small groups (maximum six participants), which allows for plenty of time and space for questions, discussion or help with your most challenging problems and cases.

Cost: £180 including refreshments, training materials and certificate of attendance

Next date: 31st May 2019

Book now

Warm wishes,

Dan

Why do your clients dissociate – and how can you help them?

Dissociation is an unconscious coping mechanism that happens when we feel overwhelmed, highly anxious or panicky, or under threat, so our brain decides that it’s too much to handle. The brain then shuts some of its systems down to help us cope, until the threat or overwhelm has passed. Clinically, we see dissociation showing up in problems like panic disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, simple and complex PTSD and other trauma-related presentations, as well as a whole range of dissociative disorders.

In my practice, I have often seen dissociation as a key part of bingeing behaviour, where clients go into trance-like states or ‘zone out’ while they are bingeing, distracting themselves with TV, gaming or watching YouTube videos while they overeat. And of course we see dissociation as a central component of dissociative disorders including those with unexplained somatic or medical symptoms, and when clients have dissociated memories, trauma, or whole parts of their personality, as in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

CONFUSING FOR OUR CLIENTS – AND FOR US

When I started working as a cognitive therapist I initially found dissociation confusing and hard to treat. It is confusing, certainly for our clients, who find it frightening and bewildering, but can be hard to conceptualise and work with for therapists too. That was one of the reasons I trained in schema therapy, because I needed a way to understand and formulate complex presentations like those involving dissociation, and a framework with which to treat them – ST was created for just that reason, so is brilliant at providing clarity and structure when it all seems confusing and overwhelming.

I’m also lucky enough to have two brilliant supervisors, who are both experts in treating trauma, complex cases and dissociative disorders – Robin Spiro, in New Jersey (the spiritual and geographical home of schema therapy) and Dr Fiona Kennedy, in the UK. Dr Kennedy co-edited the excellent Cognitive Behavioural Approaches to the Understanding & Treatment of Dissociation – highly recommended as a resource if you would like to know more about this fascinating area – and devised the Wessex Dissociation Scale, which will help assess the type and severity of dissociation your clients are experiencing. You may also find the Dissociative Experiences Scale helpful.

SIMPLE GROUNDING TECHNIQUE

When my clients start dissociating in-session, I always take time to help them ground or ‘associate’, coming back into the room, into the here and now, being present in their body and mind with me. If not, it’s hard to do any kind of clinical work, as they will not be ‘encoding’ the information I’m offering them; they may be spacey or numb, so not able to process anything emotionally; and are probably feeling highly anxious or unsafe for some reason, which I really want to address to help them feel calmer and reassured.

Here’s a great mindfulness technique to help your clients ground themselves in the present moment. I usually get them to start with some deep breathing (I use a technique called Compassionate Breathing, four seconds in and out, breathing abdominally, which really helps people feel calmer), then ask them to describe three objects in my office in great detail. So if they are describing a painting, that might be ‘I see a painting, which is a large rectangle, with lots of oranges and browns, I think is an abstract painting of a town, maybe? Or a face?’ Or whatever they see in it…

It’s import to elicit as much detail as possible, not just ‘I see a painting/plant/coffee mug’, as this both brings them into a mindful, moment-to-moment experience of their immediate surroundings, but also distracts from whatever thoughts/feelings made them feel so fearful they started dissociating. This works really well, even with my most anxious, dissociation-prone clients.

If you would like to know more about dissociation and how to understand/treat it, you might be interested in my Schema Therapy Skills workshop on 13th December 2019, Working with Trauma & Complex Cases: A Schema Therapy-Informed Approach to Formulation & Treatment. I hope to see you there!

Warm wishes,

Dan

Why use imagery techniques with your clients?

In schema therapy, there is a strong focus on using ‘experiential’ techniques like imagery and chair work, rather than just talking about a client’s problems. That’s not to say that giving someone time and space to tell the story of their life or week is not important; just that talking alone is often not enough to provide healing at the deep, schema level at which ST aims to help people.

In my opinion, imagery techniques offer powerful and effective ways to help your clients with an almost limitless range of problems. For example, early on in the therapy process you can use imagery diagnostically, to ask your client to close their eyes and imagine themselves with a particular family member, in an upsetting situation from childhood, or just having dinner with the whole family.

Guiding them through this process and asking for details about who was there, what they said, how they reacted when your client (as a child) was upset can give you vital information about what went wrong for them as a child, their attachment history and style, relationships with their parents and other family members, and so much more.

TRANSFORMING EMOTIONAL MEMORIES

Imagery rescripting is one of the signature ST techniques, which (like all imagery techniques) can be learned and used in your practice, whichever modality you work in. Rescripting involves a client re-experiencing an upsetting memory from childhood, visualising it as if they are there right now. At some point you, as therapist, can enter the image and intervene, protecting your client (as a child) from whatever is happening, confronting abusive or critical parents, comforting the child and helping them feel safe and cared for.

This is a hugely powerful and healing experience for clients – and it transforms the emotional content of that memory, ‘de-traumatising' it and slowly but surely helping them heal. Although these techniques are supported by an ever-expanding evidence base, in some ways there is something magical and mysterious about them. It can be a profound and moving experience for client and therapist alike…

If you would like to learn how to incorporate these hugely powerful techniques into your practice, come along to my Working with Imagery: Powerful, Transformative Techniques to Enhance Your Clinical Practice workshop. I hope to see you there!

Warm wishes,

Dan

Schema Therapy Skills workshops in North London

I am pleased to announce that I have launched a new venture, Schema Therapy Skills, and from May 2019 I will be teaching monthly one- and two-day therapy-skills workshops from my office in East Finchley. My skills workshops will cover a range of subjects that will be interesting to and highly useful for fellow professionals – including trainee and experienced counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers and doctors – working in a wide range of settings and from many different modalities. I am keen to limit group sizes to a maximum of six, to offer an intimate, friendly environment in which there is ample space for questions, discussion, skills practice and input on therapeutic challenges or difficult cases.

The first one-day workshop, Working with Imagery: Powerful, Transformative Techniques to Enhance Your Clinical Practice, will be held on 31st May 2019 and cost £180 including refreshments, training materials and certificate of attendance. On this workshop you will learn how to use techniques such as imagery rescripting to transform the meaning and emotional content of upsetting memories from your client’s past. I will also explain the many ways in which imagery can be used diagnostically and to help people with present-day and future challenges.

Future workshops include:

Working with Modes: Embracing Complexity & Achieving Integration, 21st June 2019 (£180)

Introduction to Schema Therapy, 1st & 2nd July 2019; 12th & 13th September 2019; 14th & 15th November 2019; 13th & 14th January 2020 (£340)

Attachment & Limited Reparenting: the Healing Power of a Warm, Authentic Relationship, 27th September 2019 (£180)

Chair Work Techniques: Enhancing the Creativity & Emotional Impact of Your Practice, 25th October 2019 (£180)

Transforming the Critic: Working with Self-Dislike, Punitiveness & Perfectionism, 29th November 2019 (£180)

Working with Trauma & Complex Cases: A Schema Therapy-Informed Approach to Formulation & Treatment, 13th December 2019 (£180)

Warm wishes,

Dan