Category Archives: Fiona & Fiona

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……

A Sense Of…

Well, what a start to 2019 for us. We signed the lease agreement for our new home in 22 Drumsheugh Gardens, furnished the place from scratch, started seeing our clients there, held
an Open Evening for colleagues, students and friends, and ran our first training weekend for our trainees in Foundation Year and Senior Training Group.

It was quite something to see our place full of people and feeling so at home. Special and emotional. What is it about having a home? Well to use the Senses Framework (Nolan 2009), it has given us a Sense of Security, a Sense of Belonging, a Sense of Continuity, a Sense of Purpose, a Sense of Significance and a Sense of Achievement.

Sense of Security – there is something that feels solid and safe about having our own space and not having to try and find suitable accommodation for training weekends, 101s and CPD events. So as long as we keep paying the rent, we will continue to feel safe!

Sense of Belonging – everybody has commented on the ambience of the space we have created. It feels like home, like somebody’s sitting room and it feels warm and fuzzy. It is ours.

Sense of Continuity – this is very important for us, especially in this time of transition between Physis Training and Physis Scotland. We are so grateful for the legacy that Barbara Clarkson Director of Physis Training has created in her time at Physis and it feels incredibly important to acknowledge this as it has helped set us up for today and the days and years ahead. We have felt supported and encouraged on our journey and will not lose contact with Barbara when she officially steps down from her position as Director and hands the reins over to us.

Sense of Purpose – we have a strong sense of purpose as we move forward to continue the high standard of success and quality of training which Barbara has established. It helps us with energy and excitement and a drive and motivation to be the best we can be.

Sense of Significance – without sounding somewhat narcissistic, there have been a lot of strokes offered to us in terms of what we have achieved in a relatively short time frame. However, we would not be where we are without the support of our many colleagues, trainees and families who have helped us with this sense. It has been hard work and so worthwhile.

Sense of Achievement – when we look back to see where we were 12 months ago, when we were tentatively beginning to market our Foundation year programme, homeless and dependant on a range of spaces to run programmes, we never expected to have achieved so much in such a short space of time. Well, somehow we have and we want to thank all of you who have helped us, encouraged us and stroked us on the way.

Feel free to come and see us if you have not done so already. There is something happening every weekend!

My Therapeutic Journey

This month we are delighted to include a blog from one of our colleagues Paul Redpath, PTSTA about
his therapeutic journey.

Everyone’s therapeutic journey is different. Unique to them. As unique as their face or their fingerprint. There is no right way of doing therapy and there is no one reason for starting therapy.

I grew up in a very unhappy environment. My parents were unusually unhappy together. And so my training as a therapist started in childhood. I learned early on to wonder what the hell was going on. I tried to make sense of a situation which really didn’t make any sense.

And years later I copied the same dysfunctional behaviours in my own intimate relationships with the same level of success that my parents had achieved.

I needed therapy to help me understand what was going on and to start to think about how I could do things differently.

Therapy helped me make sense of why I did certain things and why they didn’t work. It gave me options…I learned that I could choose to do things differently. It helped me relate to my anger differently and express it in a more useful way. And it helped me develop a calm island in the middle of a stormy sea where I can rest and think about how I want to respond to life.

Therapy has helped me deal with anger issues and it has helped me deal with loss and grief. So much of life is about loss and how we deal with it… the loss involved in getting older and knowing there will be an end to this journey.

Therapy has helped me make meaning of the life I lead. It is not for the faint-hearted. It can be fun…after all…it is all about you…but it also can be gruelling…gut wrenching work. It involves taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and not looking away. There is always the possibility of laughter and tears and the delight in being surprised by yourself.

I am trained in a number of therapeutic modalities but in terms of learning to think about yourself and the world I would strongly recommend Transactional Analysis. It is unique in its theoretical framework which provides a way of seeing and understanding the world and it offers an alternative way of relating to yourself and others.

I have been in therapy for a long time but this isn’t necessary for everyone. Some people have short-term therapy and manage to get what they want from that. But if you are considering having therapy…I would say…do it. It is the best thing you can do for yourself. After all, there is no-one more interesting than you…you are the person you are having a life-long relationship with…you deserve to get to know who you are and to be living the life you want to live.


The Journey

This month we are delighted to include a blog from our Director of Training, Barbara Clarkson, TSTA

Everywhere, from Strictly Come Dancing, to the local gym, you can find people talking about their “Journey” these days. The journey to fitness, the journey of learning to dance, the journey of the Bake Off contestants etc. At the start of the new year of training for the Senior Training Group at Physis, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of the “Training Journey” in the world of counselling and psychotherapy, and how we are changed by it – all of us, including the trainers.

At the start of each training year a new group of people comes together to co-create a learning experience. The full year’s syllabus lies in wait, new notebooks and pens have been carefully selected, and the group notices what has changed since the previous year ended. Perhaps there are new group members, as well as familiar faces, and those returning after time away from training, (who are sort of connected but not known as well), and the sense of the empty chairs where people sat last year, who have now left the group, either having completed the training or having taken a break. And the trainer of course, familiar or foreign, known and experienced, or yet to be tried out. The sense of expectation and some hint of trepidation is palpable. We are all waiting to see what will happen this year.

Often, we settle quite rapidly into being “back” – the usual start of year administrative stuff seems to provide reassurance that not too much has changed, and provides the familiar backdrop against which we can tolerate “what’s new this year”. New assignments, new demands as placements and supervision need to be fitted in, and a new sense of where we are on this “Journey” – how far away is the Diploma exam now? What does it mean to be in the final year – are we the “big kids in the school” now? Are we meant to know stuff?

As a trainer, over many years, I have come to love the start of the year and the anticipation of what will unfold. I love Clarkson’s placement of Berne’s theory of groups alongside Tuckman’s model of the stages of development of a group – Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing – and have come to believe, through lived experience, that groups really do have an energy, a unique personality and an identity all their own, with an organic need to grow, to enable the members to challenge and be challenged, to support and be supported, and to discover more of who they are and what they are there for. The new group will “do its thing”, the unconscious processes that each member brings into the space will help co-create the focus and the task of the group organism, which will then permeate the “how” of our learning together. What does this group welcome, what does it avoid, how does it tackle the bumps in the road, and how does it celebrate and support. I am the trainer, both part of and separate from the group at the same time. For me, each group I work with will become part of my “journey” as it enables me to see more of myself reflected in its dynamic, including those parts I am less comfortable with. I think this is what each new group offers to its members, in a unique and fragrant stew of many ingredients.

Of course, this training year too will come to its end. And this group will then have completed its work, both the external individual requirements of the year (essays, case studies, hours of practice etc), and the internal yet mutual process of being and experiencing each other and ourselves in our uniqueness. My hope is that each time the cycle turns, and the journey comes to an end, it simply makes it easier for us to move forward into a new stage, a new group, some new learning and discovery. For us, unlike the Bake Off and Strictly contestants, there is no final and no trophy. The continuing of this lifelong Journey of learning and personal growth is the prize.