Here is the last of the series of contemplation and relaxation exercises! Now available on youtube:
Here in the U.K. it has been a relief to do some face to face work again. This was quite a small window, but valuable to use before we all moved online again, which happened yesterday, though not as law. I held a few climbing therapy sessions in London gyms, which went well and mean all of my insurances and memberships are up to date; I'm keen to hold more in the new year. I also held EMDR intensive sessions in the studio - three hours of attachment focused EMDR processing. In some cases - with certain clients - you can cover a lot of material this way, whilst still having time to share resources at the beginning and putting them into action at the end of sessions, to make sure clients feel O.K. when going out of the door. I wouldn't use this length of time online, it would be so intense! But in person though it can be difficult it is not such hard work as there is a sense of flow. In the past I have sometimes worked in this way, knowing the person is motivated and has the capacity to push through their trauma and get to the other side in a particular timeframe. Quite different to the usual weekly hour.
A lot of people are poorly at the moment with covid, everyone seems to know several people who are, so we are quite suddenly limiting our contact again, just when hope was in the air and people are tired; barely out of bubbles and now being told to retreat again. I feel for my clients who were making so much progress and trust they will use their resilience and resources to stay on track through to spring. I'm also thinking about learned helplessness, with the stop - start of covid restrictions over the last two years.
Personally I started a big painting using bilateral brushstrokes, that will be a freestanding structure, starting with a snow and ice vibe. Art therapists are required to have their own art practices (HCPC, BAAT), so there we are. Literally a license to paint! Nobody needs permission from anyone other than themselves to make a painting and if they do, unless a child in a math class perhaps, then maybe things could do with a bit of a shift. With so many closures of art and music venues, though I am fascinated by EMDR therapy, I am keeping the art aspect of my work very much alive.
Next spring I'll be running one of my EMDR & Art Therapy trainings for the British Association of Dramatherapists, which is a new partnership and links well with the mind-body aspect in EMDR trauma recovery. It will be online, which I am getting used to now. I haven't enjoyed the process as much as in person trainings, but it is helpful for reaching people and sharing information, ideas and techniques more widely than would otherwise be possible. Perhaps next time I will find a co-presenter - for my British Association of Art Therapists trainings.
The last few years I've been running EMDR and Art Therapies supervision groups; now a trainee EMDR Consultant I hope to soon take supervisees through the EMDR accreditation process, encouraging and supporting more Art Therapy and EMDR services to develop.
The last year has clearly been unusual for many people around the world. Here at SA&T things shifted to working online from a van in 2020, which evolved from a short term solution to a new project 'Van on Hill'. This has been partly on pause whilst developing behind the scenes, since I also worked as 'Whole School Counsellor', at two schools in Albania. I occasionally work in employment as well as freelance, usually on short term contracts of up to three years.
This now gives me a fairly thorough overview of therapy in schools, having worked in primary, secondary, rehabilitation and pupil referral in the U.K. and now also international primary and secondary schools (refugee camp based and IB / private). I will give some time for feedback from the school I worked at most recently, as I am not sure what is happening there - it seems in Albania people are often left without any information from authorities / management, you have to guess! I'll reflect on what I have learned before developing this part of my practice further and am looking forward to opening up more space for trauma therapy and supervision at EMDR.London, although that will largely be online in the near future. My base continues to be London, though in the coming months I will also be working in the Balkans, offering trainings in person and online on a case by case basis.
Coming up are another wellbeing workshop for Phd students at Kings and Imperial colleges in London in September and I am developing the EMDR and Art therapy training for BAAT to include more examples of working with children, the next course is in October. Next week I am also holding a session using the flash technique (for trauma processing), for therapists based in Croatia, so they can experience it and then perhaps use it with their own patients who have also been impacted by recent earthquakes and tremors.
SA&T now has a therapy dog! A young stray, whom is friendly to all and at eight months has stopped chewing and quietened down a lot. He already joined some online sessions, with an amusingly positive impact. I am curious to see how this goes with in person work in the future and if he can join in with eco / adventure as part of therapy when circumstances allow me to move on with that again. I had been considering Albania as a potential base for such work but am now looking more at Croatia and Slovenia, which I feel have less edge and more balm in the air. That was quite a long term plan, I had been thinking of something like five years time for therapy intensives. As chance has it, I could possibly trial that in the coming year.
Bees, Vans, Lakes and the Vagus Nerve
Above is the final article of my three part series for The Professional Mountaineer, during this unusual time 2020-2021
The previous two can be found in earlier posts on this blog.
vlog May 2021
SA&T's Social Art & Therapy initiatives have existed since 2012 via Lee Simmons.