Some notes following the 2nd Limbus Critical Psychotherapy Conference at Dartington at the weekend.
A really rewarding day. Time for reflection. To listen to interesting ideas. To have familiar perspectives affirmed and new ones introduced. I appreciated the format, of after each speaker, having the chance for round table discussions about what we’d heard and to share our thoughts.
Those presenting at the conference offered perspectives on our neurological systems, particularly our understanding of the left and right sides of the brain, and how the different natures of these relate to each other, and affect us. This scientific material was explored in the context of psychological therapies, particularly the more soulful, spiritual aspects of working with mental health. As a somatic movement therapist and body worker, a core part of my approach is to be with the soulful and emotional experience of people. Working with the felt experience, with what we notice in our belly’s, with our breath, with where we hold and tense, and all the images and meanings that might arise. This is core to my work.
There was lots of discussion about the value of ‘being with’ a person, rather than ‘doing to’. A familiar experience to me, and yet always a practice to bring to the foregorund, with the draw, and sometimes expectation, to prematurely ‘fix’ someone’s suffering.
There was also the discussion around language, and what the impact is of us naming, giving a word and description to our experience. And, how in doing this, we can be taken away from our direct experience. This reminded me of the work of Daniel Stern, and his description of the potential for psychological interruption happening when a child moves from the non-verbal to verbal and narrative realms. This is the time when we shift from ‘being in’ our felt sense of early life, to having our experience reflected back and named.
One of the presenters, Farhad Dalal, spoke of this being where our experience can get ‘lost in translation’. And, also for me why movement therapy and body work enables us to work at a ‘being level’, as we’re working with and beyond words. We can then support change due to early disruption in our lives, or to benefit from the profound shifts that can happen when a client feels met and accepted. The action of naming experience is part of the process, but I see this in the context of an approach that includes moving and embodying our experience. And in doing so, allowing the unconscious and that which is yet to be named, to come to the surface, with any images and associations that might arise. Somatic movement therapy is rooted in this heartful, body-ful work.
Many thanks to the organisers and presenters of the conference, and the beautiful gardens and venue.