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.

Susie