Being a reflective practitioner

Each year, a psychotherapist on the UKCP register needs to submit an account of their training updates and detail the continued professional development activity. Given I am a self-confessed “CPD junkie”, it takes some time to go back over my activity in the past 12 months – the reading, the workshops, the courses, the podcasts, the videos. Beyond that basic log, there is also a requirement to write a 500 word reflection on the past year: an invitation to reflect on our process in response to CPD, Self-Care and Supervision; and then in light of this reflection, how it is felt I and my practice have developed.

Given I am also a reflection junkie, this is not a hardship either!!

I find this prompt an interesting process to do each year, an opportunity to review where I have ventured, but also reflect on “what next”. What strikes me as I sit to write is one headline I have explored in these past 12 months…

What IS healing, and therefore, what is my way of practice?

Writing a book on bringing Buddhist teachings and practices into psychotherapy, my teaching of counsellors and psychotherapists, and my own Buddhist path (and how it helps me explore Self and the phenomenal world) are three aspects that have fed into my ideas and conclusions. I would also say that I have a growing ‘itch’ to get back to face-to-face working (having remained exclusively online during the pandemic so far). And so, I feel more than ever an emphasis on the ‘phenomenological method’ in my work with clients – and I think this comes across in my choice of CPD.

As part of my teaching role at the University of Brighton, I have been involved in the re-vamping of module material; and also consideration of how our PGDip counselling programmes feed into our Masters in psychotherapy. Witnessing an arc of development of a practitioner, I am deeply committed to helping trainees ‘unlock’ the wisdom of the body: in themselves, then using that process in service of the client, and finally helping the client bring their own experiencing into awareness. I would go as far as to say that I have been questioning the label of the ‘Humanistic’ tradition and feel more resonate with the description ‘experiential’.

And with this in mind, I am excited at the prospect of getting back into the room with clients: to be able to use more of a ‘vertical’ phenomenology (my own interior) to help me read the ‘horizontal’ phenomenology (in the relational space). Trainings with Judith Blackstone and Marion Gilbert epitomise my interests and future direction. I am planning to do more training with them in the next 12 months. This is with a view to deepening my therapeutic use of embodiment, but furthermore to add new elements to my professional work having incorporated them into my personal path of practice for some time; namely the Eastern understandings of mind and ‘fundamental consciousness’, and the spiritual map offered by the Enneagram. I do not leave my original training behind however, and I have enjoyed my reading of Gestalt theory and the Humanistic / experiential literature. On the courses I teach on, we underline the importance of critical thinking and a cross-modality model to help trainees critique and deepen their own modality. I am going through this myself, setting up in my CPD a dialectic between East and West, spiritual and psychological; each taking my understanding and experiencing deeper.

I mention above that I am keen to move back to face-to-face working. Prior to the pandemic, I saw clients at my home, here in Eastbourne where I live. Unlike many of my practitioner peers, working online during the pandemic afforded a clearer demarcation of work / home as I no longer had people coming to my house. I am realising I wish to retain that boundary, energetically more than anything. And so, in an exciting development, I am intending to start private practice work out of The Wilbury Clinic in Hove from this coming October.

The Wilbury Clinic is a beautiful venue, and I invite you to take a look at their space.

On a personal level, this addition to my practice (I will maintain a hybrid of working online and face-to-face) represents part of my re-emergence into the world, one that I have been taking at my own pace. On a professional level the move back face-to-face is not only helping me re-commit to where I truly see healing playing out (in the relational ‘between’); it is also opening other opportunities, including a long-term project of mine that has been on a back burner for some 6 years now, that of Gestalt group therapy work. In my early conversations with the Wilbury Clinic they are very supportive of this offering. I am passionate about the group model of healing, and it allows me to indulge in the group processes I so love in my teaching work. 

So, watch this space for more updates on my psychotherapy private practice work out of the Wilbury Clinic; and if you live or work in the Brighton and Hove area and are interested in psychotherapy please do contact me.

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