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.

Endings and Beginnings

This month, Fiona Cook PTSTA, one of the Directors of Physis Scotland reflects on endings, with a focus on the ending of our academic year and in particular the stepping down of our esteemed colleague and friend Barbara Clarkson as Director of Physis Training.

I wonder what your thoughts and feelings around endings might be? I imagine they will be linked to the many and varied endings we all experience throughout our lives; and how we feel about endings will be linked to our experience of the experience, if you understand what I mean. Whatever our experience, endings always involve change and something different happening from that time onwards.

So, speaking personally and generally, in the past I have often found endings quite tricky as there have been many endings in my life that I have had no control over. Endings that have not been my choice or decision, when my life and feelings have been affected by the decisions of others or the universe and I have had to regroup and take my life in a different direction.

So, are there ever ‘good’ endings? Or are they all ‘bad’? Does how I categorise or feel about them depend on whether it is my choice to initiate the ending or if they are planned well in advance? Possibly. But maybe not as there are so many variables to consider in each and every ending we experience. So how can I consider each ending in their own way and also consider the beginnings and opportunities every ending brings for me and others, so that I can feel and experience what I am feeling and experiencing without dread or reproach. Definitely a re-decision for me!

This last weekend at Physis Scotland we had many endings. Firstly, it was the final training weekend of the academic year and our Foundation year students completing their first year. For some, the decision to end their journey had been made at the beginning. They only ever wanted to complete Foundation Year as a stand-alone programme and so they have ended. It was sad to say goodbye and we were also able to celebrate with them, so a juxtaposition of emotions – sadness and joy. At the other end of the training taxonomy, our Advanced Year 3 students completed their 4-year journey towards becoming a Certified Transactional Analyst. Another ending, but also one to celebrate with them as they leave this part of the journey. We will miss them and we are proud of them.

Secondly, this past weekend marked the ending of Physis Training Ltd under the directorship of Barbara Clarkson and affirmed the successful transition we have made morphing Physis Training into Physis Scotland over this past couple of years. Despite the fact we knew this ending would come and has been planned for a number of years, it was still tough to say good bye to Barbara who has single-handedly been at the helm of Physis since 2010. Our Celebration Party to mark this event was a lovely evening where past students, colleagues and friends gathered to celebrate the many achievements of students and friends, to say a huge thank you to Barbara for helping to grow the TA community in Scotland this far, and also to say goodbye to this inspirational lady as she stepped down. It was a bitter sweet affair with tears of sadness, joy and celebration for many.

So where am I with endings now? Experiencing them is still tough and emotional, but I have learned they also come with change and opportunities for growth, the chance to review and perhaps do things differently. So they are not all bad, are they?

We hope all of our students positively grab the opportunities their endings will provide; we wish Barbara our gratitude and very best wishes for the next phase of her life and for Physis Scotland? Well, we will continue to maintain, sustain and grow the TA community in Scotland and take every chance this new opportunity brings us.
Endings are beginnings……

Challenges, Inspiration & Focus; How TA Holds My Process

We are absolutely delighted to welcome our colleague Susie Hewitt, PTSTA to the Physis Scotland team. This month we include a blog from Susie, who shares her reflections with us about what ‘challenge, inspiration and focus’ mean to her as a TA psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer.

I’m writing this on the train back to Manchester from Edinburgh and my first trip to the new home of Physis Scotland & meeting the Foundation Year Group during their “Contracting” module. The setting, tutors and students were inspirational and I am so much looking forward to being part of this organisation as a tutor for the Senior Training Group from October this year.

This feeling of being challenged, inspired and focused this weekend with Physis colleagues, reminds me of my process all the way through my TA journey, starting in April 2007 when I did my TA101. I know this TA training journey has enabled transformational change in me, and still continues to do so as I develop as a TA trainer and supervisor.

Last week, I was with our lovely Fiona Cooke at the UKATA Annual Conference in Birmingham. The first 2 days I was involved in the CTA & TSTA exams, and inspired by the competency, unique experience and collegial I+U+ demonstrated by all the candidates. We are a unique, international TA Tribe – and it soothes my ‘Don’t Belong’ injunction to feel so connected and proud to be part of this special modality. The conference theme was Autonomy & Attachment – and the challenge of being both at once.

This theme raised a personal challenge for me as I initiated some discussions with my other TA Training colleagues around the controversial SCoPEd framework (find more information on this initiative on the UKCP website). I wonder how we can be attached to our colleagues in the wider counselling and psychotherapeutic community whilst being autonomous in our TA Psychotherapy modality? I was inspired to write a short piece for submission in the next edition of the Transactional Analyst on the implications of the suggested SCoPEd framework and how TA brings much to the table in terms of training in different fields, yet belonging to the same modality. Our profession is not valued as it should be by our governments and many employers who are used to paying low salaries and offering zero-hour contracts, often forcing qualified counsellors and psychotherapists to continue with voluntary or low-paid positions. It’s a pleasure to be a tutor in a modality where many TA Diploma graduates are able to gain paid employment or be able to start a private practice where their skills and knowledge are valued.

Another challenge we face is that of reducing the stigma of mental illness and explaining to the public what exactly it is we do behind the veil of confidentiality and our therapy room doors. I have been invited to record a Podcast for the UKCP/Psychologies magazine partnership in July – we will be talking about how Mindfulness can help clients on their therapeutic journey. I have been an advocate of MBSR (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s therapeutic mindfulness approach) for over 10 years and urge my clients to daily use mindfulness apps such as Calm.

Whilst on the subject of technology in the therapy room, I have been focused this past month on the question of how we can ethically and safely harness the power of the internet and social media in our practice as psychotherapists, clinical supervisors and TA trainers. It has become more acceptable to receive tutorials and supervision via Skype, and as trainers we can attach to our students remotely to seed or consolidate learning prior to a module using YouTube/Facebook and other social media channels. As therapists (particularly those who work for EAPs) – we are used to giving therapy by phone or through online means. The question of how AI (Artificial Intelligence) maybe utilized in the psychotherapy profession is still to be seen. It has been my long-standing dream for us to receive a brain scan at client intake – although this is many years off (due to cost implications), neuroscience is already offering us new ways of understanding our clients’ psychological make up (we can spot an anxiously wired brain, a brain that has suffered from early attachment trauma, a brain with less connections between the cortex and limbic regions etc).

I have named a few of the challenges we face as individuals and as a profession, yet in these challenges I have found inspiration and an enlivening need to focus my attention on these important issues and how we can make a difference. Transactional Analysis has held me through my transformation into a psychotherapist then into a supervisor and a trainer. I am never through with learning something new – I have not yet read every TAJ article and book, never stopped being inspired by other TA professionals and never ceased to be satisfied by the privilege of witnessing the positive change journeys of my clients.

It’s my pleasure and privilege to journey further with you this next year at Physis and I’m looking forward to the joint challenges, inspiration and focus of our TA personal transformations.