Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Very new DVDs of very old tapes!

We've now reached the point where it seems as if nobody is using VHS tapes anymore, so when the library prepared for it's move from the AYY campus it told us that it was going to start disposing (ie putting in the bin) a number of VHS tapes which, though once popular, were no longer being taken out.

 Francesca Inskipp & Brigid Proctor
This seemed to be a bit of a shame, so we've had a number of the tapes transferred to DVD. These are not commercial products but simply records of things that have taken place at Newport over the years. For the most part they're of very poor technical quality but they should still be of interest. The following DVDs will be finding their way back to the library over the next couple of weeks -

Brigid Proctor & Francesca Inskipp filmed in 2006 running a workshop on "making the most of supervision.
Gerard Egan running a workshop in 2001
The Smoking Tapes - the work that formed the basis of our first commercial product "The Client, the Counsellor and the Unsuitable Friend"
Michael Jacobs running a workshop in 2003
Windy Dryden running a workshop in 2002
Pete Sanders running a workshop in 2004

I think it's fair to say that the technical quality improves as time goes by but it's still very much the message that should impress you rather than the medium!

Praying away the Gay

Interestng article in the Guardian recently describing how an undercover journalist visited a therapist with the wish to be "treated" for his homesexuality. This resulted in a BACP hearing which concluded that the therapist had demeonstrated "professional malpractice". I learnt about this via the South Wales Email Network of Therapists bulletin board -  Interesting stuff, and thank you to Alex for bringing it to our attention.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tragic Life Stories

Just looking for something else (always the way) when I came across this, a photo I'd taken in W H Smith's a year or two ago. I found myself being vaguely bewildered. A section for tragic life stories.....interesting stuff.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wonderland: The trouble with Love and Sex

Just watched the programme which I'd recorded earlier in the week and thought it was excellent. Informative, funny and moving. I'd strongly recommend it and you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer here. I'm not sure how long it will be up there but if you're a student at the University of Wales, Newport, then you can also catch up with it on BOB - Box of Broadcasts. If you're not sure what that is you can find further details back on my old blog here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boundaries and Electric Fences

 Our garden sits right next to many acres of farmland, and is divided from that by a fence. Last year we planted a hedge against the fence - hawthorn, blackthorn, holly and so on - to act as a habitat for wildlife. Until recently the other side of the fence has been the home to potatoes, oil seed rape and cereal, but a few weeks ago things changed - we now have thirteen Hereford bullocks as neighbours. They look great, and we enjoy watching them. They, in their turn, enjoy our hedge. It had grown to about three feet high before they arrived but very quickly went down to half that.

I took action. First I shouted at them. They shifted from foot to foot a little and regarded me with keen interest, but nothing much else happened. I went into the field and waved my arms about. They moved, but only towards a different part of the hedge. I tried shouting. Nothing. I think one of them may have huffed a bit. Ultimately we took advice and bought an electric fence.

The Herefords learnt about it incredibly quickly. One by one they approached it, ignored it, went for the hedge, got a shock and quickly jumped back. I don't like causing animals pain of any sort - I've been a vegetarian for the best part of fourty years - but it really does seem that with a minimum amount of discomfort they've learnt that our hedge is off limits. This got me thinking about boundaries and bringing up children.

If we want out children to behave appropriately then we have to help them to do that. The Free Child of TA theory is no respecter of other people's feelings or property, and that child has to learn - has to become "adapted" to some extent - if it's to fit into our society. We help them to make this transition by getting them to understand what's acceptable and what's not. We set boundaries and try to get them to observe them. "If you do that again", we say, "then you won't be going to Zoe's party this afternoon". If the child does that - again - and we don't take them to the party then they learn something about consequences. If we do take them to the party then they learn something quite different - that our threats are hollow, and can be safely ignored. They push the boundaries, we shout and wave our arms about, but no learning takes place. A vicious circle starts to develop whereby child care becomes more and more of a challenge.

I'm not advocating the use of electric fences as a means of child control, but there is a parallel here. With firm boundaries everyone knows where they are. With no boundaries we're all in trouble. Us because our children become more and more demanding, them because they're not learning to fit into society. Our Herefords have settled into an easy relationship with the boundary we've given them. They know where it is and respect it. I've not see one of them stung by the fence since the day we installed it, and they haven't seen me waving my arms about and shouting. Life in our part of rural Herefordshire is calm again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wonderland: The Trouble with Love and Sex

This is a TV programme that looks like it could well be worth watching. It's on BBC2 on Wednesday 11th May at 9pm. To quote the BBC - 

"The first full-length animated documentary made for British television takes us inside the counselling rooms of Relate, as clients wrestle with champagne soaked fantasies and impotence, with dark family secrets and shocking confessions of infidelity.
With their true identities hidden behind the animation, thirty-somethings Ian and Mandy reveal they can barely stand to be in the same room together. Long-term singleton and serial romantic Dave is falling in love with yet another woman he can't bring himself to ask out. And fifty-one year old Iain is struggling to work out why his wife isn't having sex with him. Can Relate counselling help any of them"

I've got a lot of time for Relate. I worked for them as a counsellor, trainer and training development officer in the late eighties and nineties, and was a client with them before that too, so I've pretty much got the full set! There's something very exciting about working with a relationship in the room, and I'm now wondering whether I'd like to go back to that sort of work again. Either way, this is a programme that I'll be watching.

You can find out more about the programme here and here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Students' thoughts wanted

I've been working on a book for counselling trainers for a number of years now and have finally completed it and had it accepted by a publisher - something that I'm pretty pleased about. I say "completed" but one thing I'd really like to add is some comments from people who are going through - or who have gone through - counselling training. My book covers a number of clearly identified topics - everything from Anxiety to Videoing, with Handbooks, Registers, Regulations and a good deal more in between - and I'm looking for people to give me very brief comments on their experiences relating to those topics. If you had a residential weekend what's your strongest memory of it? How do you feel about skills assessments? and so on.

I'm interested in hearing from any students (or ex students, come to that) who would like to take part, so please contact me if you'd like to. Maybe I should stress that this is not a course evaluation. Though your comments might be similar to those you might give in an evaluation the purpose here is very different - it's to help me with my book rather than to give your lecturers an insight into how they could make your course better.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Pretty much every counsellor gets to see the "Gloria Tapes" at some time in their training. One Client and three therapists who were absolute giants of their time - Rogers, Perls and Ellis. I've watched them dozens of times over the years and learn something new every time. I love Perls's reference to "The safe emergency of the consulting room". This is where it's safe to take risks. Here's one clip for you to watch - of Carl Rogers - but a quick search of Youtube will find you segments from the whole programme - including that Perls clip.