Training Feedback

Sarah Lucas, Rachel Pollard and Anna Jellema, 2004. Training Feedback. Reformulation, Autumn, p.27.


'Dialogue and Difference: working with social reciprocal roles'

This was the title of a seminar organised by Cat North CPD Network which we would like to recommend to others as a CPD event or a relevant part of trainings in CAT. The day was one of a series of CPD events on an evolving theme that we organised during 2003-2004. The idea was to focus on dialogic and relational aspects of CAT from several angles through three linked seminars.

The first of these, presented by Mikael Leiman, centred on Dialogical Sequence Analysis and the flow of changing reciprocal role positions within the dialogue in therapy. In the second seminar Peter Good's presentation entitled 'Beyond Dialogism' explored Bakhtinian ideas in relation to the practice of psychiatry, highlighting the reciprocal roles that may be played out in mental health services and experienced by 'patients'. For the third seminar we had wanted to extend the opportunity to think about the wider social contexts infl uencing the meeting between ourselves as therapists and the range of people who come for therapy.

We were aware that Janet Toye and Yvonne Harris both had active interest in these issues and broached the idea of a jointly run session with them. There was a shared wish between all of us for this to be an experiential session in which everyone attending would be an active participant in reflection and joint dialogue. This was seen as a more relevant and meaningful way of engaging with these issues than one where 'experts' would present a theoretical picture to 'recipients'. Janet and Yvonne then developed their ideas for the facilitated workshop through a series of email, phone and face-to-face contacts.

People participating in the seminar came from a range of clinical settings including forensic services, private practice, counselling services in higher education and NHS psychotherapy departments. Janet and Yvonne's introduction raised issues such as identity and how society influences it in terms of perceived similarities and differences. This led into consideration of reciprocal roles arising from the experience of perceiving self or other to be 'different'. We were invited to explore the power relationship between client and therapist, the impact of attitudes, assumptions and values held by both parties, and the influence of the wider social factors on the reciprocal roles which may be played out' often without awareness' within the therapeutic meeting.

Through a series of experiential exercises conducted as individual reflection, discussion in pairs, small groups and whole group discussion we considered how these issues affect our own practice and the perspective of clients coming for therapy. From the comments of those of us taking part there was a sense of this activity being challenging and thoughtprovoking rather than threatening. The exercises were also an enjoyable way to explore important issues together.

As CAT is a relational therapy in which the dialogue is central to the development of new reciprocal roles through the mediation of jointly created signs, it was particularly relevant to think about factors that could be obstacles to these ends. A relevant quotation was: 'Dialogue is a conversation in which people think together in relationship. Thinking together implies that you no longer take your position as final.' (Isaacs,W(1999) Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together. New York: Doubleday)

One of the exercises on 'ways in which I'm different' gave rise to a suggestion that this could be adapted as a tool for use with clients and a way into exploring reciprocal roles that may not otherwise be openly addressed in therapy. After further dialogue between Janet, Yvonne and ourselves this has been drafted into the 'Psycho-Social Checklist' which other CAT therapists are invited to try out with clients. Feedback would be welcomed - perhaps 'Reformulation' and/or the ACAT website would be ways to keep the dialogue going?

Sarah Lucas and Rachel Pollard

July 2004 First CAT Practitioner Training Course in the North-East

By the time you read this, the CAT Practitioner Course in the North-East of England will be up and running! Our fi rst training day is due to be held on 15th September. We would like to thank everybody who has supported us in this venture, in ACAT and elsewhere, over the years that it has taken to prepare the ground for such an exciting development.

The course will be run from Sunderland, and is hosted by the South of Tyne and Wearside Mental Health NHS Trust which has given us excellent managerial and organisational support, plus financial backing. Most of our trainees come from the three Localities of our Trust, but we have also recruited staff from other local Trusts and from Scotland. The ten members of our first intake have trained in clinical psychology, nursing and psychological therapy, and work in a variety of NHS/ social services settings, including adult mental health, forensic psychology and physical health.

Sally-Anne Ennis and I will be running most of the training days but we are also inviting external speakers, particularly in the second year. Maggie Gray is supervising the Scottish trainees, and we hope to develop closer links with CAT in Scotland. Some of our local Practitioners who trained with ACAT North are hoping to train as accredited supervisors, so we hope they may be able to join us in helping run the next course, which we expect to start in September 2006.

Full Reference

Sarah Lucas, Rachel Pollard and Anna Jellema, 2004. Training Feedback. Reformulation, Autumn, p.27.

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