New Year – Passivity or Potential?

As we embark on a New Year and decade, Fiona Cook, PTSTA one of the Directors of Physis Scotland reflects on passivity and potential…

Longer days? A new start? New Year resolutions? Review of the past year and hopes for this one? Nature regenerating? Prospect of snow and ice?

We never know what a new year brings, do we? Or what we are thinking about as we embark on a new year. Like every day of our lives we live with a degree of uncertainty but that should not stop us planning or making re-decisions about how we choose to live our lives from now onwards. In one sense we can do this at any time, but a new year can provide us with an opportunity to do this more consciously.

I’ve never been one for consciously making short term, medium and longer term goals in my life if I’m being honest, more taking each day as it comes and see what happens. However, a colleague quoted to Fi and I recently ‘a vision without a plan is a hallucination’. I think it was a classic quote from Henry Ford and it did get me thinking. If I don’t plan for things in my life then, I could potentially sink into some kind of passivity and complacency. Is this what I want?

So, I have been thinking about what matters to me and what is important to me; who matters to me and who is important to me to help guide my thinking, feelings and behaviour as I move forward with my life. I know that I cannot change other people, I can only change myself if I want to, so that is a useful principle to consider as I embark on a new year. I do also have to consider the impact of any new decisions for others in my family, work and social communities, because the minute I choose to do something differently, I know something different will happen. Some of the unknown scares me if I’m being honest. It is easier to stay in a place that I know well, even when I am not entirely comfortable with it, than step into something new where there are things I do not know.

I have long loved the Johari’s window model of self awareness.
It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955, hence Johari’s window. The part of me that was always fascinated by it was the reference to the unknown self and how we get to know this part of ourselves better. Those of us in therapy have probably done this kind of work with our therapists, but it still does not have to stop us living out the principles of the window in opening up our open part of self by becoming more vulnerable and telling people about the parts of us we might keep hidden and also inviting feedback from others about our potential blind spots. When we do this, our unknown self becomes smaller and I am not so scared of the unknowns in my life.

Now don’t get me wrong, it can be scary becoming more vulnerable with others and inviting feedback from others can also be nerve wracking. But I know I always feel more connected to myself and others when I do it.

So, what about 2020 for me? Well, what I think I will do is begin to answer my own questions and see where they take me. If I am nervous about my potential responses, can I speak about them with others so that they can be normalised and integrated into my life. Sharing my hopes and fears with others can be liberating and life changing and who knows I might find the support and challenge to take stock and maybe even do something differently. Possibly unleashing potential I did not even know I have in the process.

What about you? Good luck for 2020 and hope all your dreams for this new year come true because you have made them happen!

Christmas Choices

This month, Fiona Cook PTSTA, one of the Directors of Physis Scotland reflects on Christmas, and how it can often be a time of mixed emotions for so many of us. 

Christmas. I wonder really what your thoughts feelings and behaviours are around this time of the year as I imagine there might be many and mixed feelings about the extravagance of the season. There can be misery and sadness as well as how culturally we outwardly celebrate this time with happiness and joy. Twinkly lights, brightlights, Christmas songs resounding in every store we enter and sometimes it can be too much. I know in my script I have my father and grandfather introjected into my Parent ego state and they loathed Christmas. So, sometimes so do I. Thankfully I also have my mother and her mother, who despite their low income, always loved this season because it was about being together and cherishing the sense of belonging. So often I also enjoy it. In my Adult ego state, I know the only person I can change is myself and I can choose how I think, feel and behave at Christmas. I can be silly or serious and I can respond in the moment to what I am experiencing authentically.

I wonder how we can all look at Christmas through a different lens and a different frame of reference? It can be an enchanting time and an exhausting time. In some respects, the actual day itself is just another day which the world dresses up as a special time whether we have a faith or not. In my long and distant past when I was a nurse working in clinical areas, I often had to work on Christmas Day caring for patients who were too ill to be at home. So there are many juxtapositions experienced around this time of year, about how it ‘should’ be and sometimes how it really is for us all.

Here are some of my Christmas thoughts if you fancy reading on…..

C Christmas can be a time of contact and connection with friends and family where we make an effort to be together. I wonder who you will spend Christmas with? People you want to be with or people you think you ‘should’ be with. It’s a thought isn’t it? One way of connecting historically has been to send Christmas cards. Since my husband died 10 years ago, I have not sent cards and have given to a charity of his choice which I love doing every year.

H It is a time of holidays where we can take time off work and spend our time differently. Hopefully it is not a time of humbug liked Scrooge or indeed my Dad who resented the sentiment of the season and the extravagance it involved.

R It can be a time of remembering, reflection and review when we look back to Christmases we have spent before and how each one has a different memory, positive or negative, despite the similarity of our cultural and family traditions.

I invitations abound! Neighours being neighourly. Friends being friendly, Colleagues being collegial, family being familial. It can be exhausting and expensive and we don’t have to accept them all. Who might we invite to be with us? What can we offer?

S Sentiments abound. There can be sadness and sorrow as we remember times with family and friends who are no longer here, and there can be joy and happiness as we account for and welcome new members of family and friends to celebrate with us. It is good to allow ourselves to feel all of these authentic emotions. They are real and not to be discounted.

T Traditions of this season involve trees and tinsel, decorations everywhere. Twinkly lights. They can help the dingiest place look enchanting, can’t they? There is something about the traditions of this season that feels comfortable and magical. I always love putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with new and familiar baubles. My favourites are still the ones my children made all these years ago and I still keep and cherish them to bring out each year. The food we eat traditionally each year at this time is also a big part of the celebrations – often too much and yet we allow ourselves to be more extravagant, because it’s Christmas?

M Magical moments are there if we look for them. Savouring the free joy and happiness of young children as they experience this magical time. It is absolutely beautiful to share their belief that magic can really happen, Santa is real and they enjoy their excitement and imagination. How can we recapture some of these feelings and enjoy our Free Child more?

A Anticipating this season can be a mixture of all sorts of emotions. There are things to do, shopping for self and others, attending carol concerts, nativity plays, going to the Pantomime or the latest movie. Trying to see everybody and do everything right. It can feel overwhelming and then sometimes we don’t enjoy ourselves in the moment. What would it take for us to savour each thing we choose to do and just allow us to enjoy one thing at a time? Or just stay at home and watch Netflix?

S Whatever we think about Christmas it can be a special season. A time where we can perhaps for a short time leave the hurly burly of our lives and enjoy the magic, the fairy tale coming true, and the hope of whatever we hope for actually coming true.

So, Christmas. It is a season and it comes and goes every year. It is a time of giving and receiving and we can give of ourselves to others and also allow us to receive from others. It is a time of holidays and reflection. It is a time where we can choose to be how we want to be and how we want to experience the season. We can choose to do things differently or not, feel what we want to feel and think what we would like to think. So, however you decide to be this Christmas, enjoy the season and make it work for you!

Autumn at Physis Scotland

This month, Fiona Cook PTSTA, one of the Directors of Physis Scotland reflects on the beauty of Autumn, with a focus on change and new beginnings.

I looked up the meaning of Autumn when I was thinking about writing this blog hoping for a bit of inspiration if I am being honest, as I am not overly fond of this season. The definition Google provided for me was ‘the season after summer and before winter’! Well I could have just about defined it myself! That’s a no brainer and perhaps not really a definition? Just a fact! Reality! An inevitability.

Pondering over what I am not fond of at this time of year, I know it is the beginning of the longer and darker evenings which I hate, having to put more clothes on and start wearing socks and tights as it is becoming colder! And those are just for starters! However, I do have to concede that the colours of autumn are absolutely stunning and I am blown away every day as I see incredible tones and hues of red, yellow, orange and brown on trees and bushes as they prepare to ‘die’ for a season before the wonder of nature brings them to life again. Apparently in literature autumn can refer to ripeness, change, maturity, beauty, sadness, or preparing for an end or decline. Such a range of meaning and interpretation. And thinking about ripening, maturity or ending, how amazing that the final burst of life, or the beginning of nature’s death results in such exquisite beauty and where trees can show us how lovely it can be to let things go.

The season following summer is also a time when there is change and new beginnings, all of which we are experiencing at Physis Scotland. We continue to be thankful for our beautiful, well equipped and warm home where students can learn and thrive – it is nearly a year since we signed the lease for Drumsheugh and we continue to love working there! We have a new Foundation Year group of 18 students who have already started with us and a Senior Training Group (STG) of 16 students whose first weekend of the new academic year was held recently too. We welcome Susie Hewitt to the Physis Scotland team who is the new trainer for the STG and it is wonderful to have Susie on board with us. We also welcome Carol Remfrey-Foote who is our new Academic Student Support Advisor as she begins to work alongside us this new academic year. We are about to start a Diploma in Counselling Supervision which our friends and colleagues Bev Gibbons and Ronen Stilman will be teaching on our behalf. The final piece of good news is the return of Deirdre Gillespie! Deirdre was a wonder in her previous role with Physis Training Ltd as many of us can remember. There was not much she did not know about all the systems and processes and we are thrilled that she has agreed to join the team again in a very part time capacity starting soon!

We feel surrounded by friends and colleagues as we build a team of experienced and knowledgeable professionals in a wonderful way. It feels safe and strong. We feel we are building on a solid foundation. In our rooms are many pieces of art work which not only have been chosen because of their beauty and significance to us, but they also represent us being surrounded by people we value who are in the room with us and who we have perhaps introjected into Physis Scotland. So, for example, we have a few paintings on our walls which the lovely Alison Ayres has painted! They are beautiful and inspiring and remind us of the many years of her life she has given, and continues to give, to the TA community in Scotland and beyond. There is also a beautiful print of a wild woman standing bare back on a galloping horse which Barbara Clarkson gave us when she stepped down from Physis Training. Their presence is in the room with us. Not in a ghoulish way at all, we feel our predecessors with us and this stirs us with courage and determination as we grow Physis Scotland and hold our breath and our nerve at times!

So. Autumn. A time for change. A time of beauty. A time of decline? Yes to the first two – a time of change and beauty, but certainly not of decline in Physis Scotland. We are on the up and thriving! And long may that continue……



Becoming a Counselling Supervisor

This month we are delighted to include a blog post from our colleague Bev Gibbons, PTSTA who will  be co-facilitating Physis Scotland’s Diploma in Counselling Supervision course starting this November. Bev shares with us what you can expect from this interactive, dynamic, exciting and robust training programme.

5 Reasons to Train with us at Physis Scotland

1. Open and reflective training approach: Supervision is an essential part of the learning and development of practitioners. It provides a bespoke training space where the supervisee is facilitated to explore and reflect on experience, make meaning from that, put theory to practice, expand their knowledge. These ideas form the basis of our approach in training counselling supervisors.

2. A collaborative, unfolding training process that makes use of the experience of the encounter with another, what is evoked and co-created. Our training embraces the ongoing process of growth, self-discovery and learning from experiences of self with other, and self with self – essential skills in supervision.

3. Space to experience, develop and grow as counselling supervisors. Thinking is stimulated, as is the capacity for questioning, reflection, reflexivity and creativity all of which create and develops layers of the professional self and clear sense identity as a counselling supervisor.

4. A learning environment where participants feel encouraged to express themselves through discussion, creative projects, and choice of study areas. You are warmly invited to develop ways to find, express and use imagination and creativity in the learning process.

5. Creativity, curiosity and fun! Also essential within counselling supervision. These elements are key in providing positive learning experiences for our participants.

Physis Scotland Diploma in Counselling Supervision

The Physis Scotland Diploma in Counselling Supervision has Advanced Specialist training recognition with the National Counselling Society (NCS).

For more information please email or telephone 07927 557217.