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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Psychotherapy and the Natural World

Exploring the other-than-human in the process of therapeutic healing and discovery

Friday 31 August - Sunday 2 September 2018 - Ireland

Friday 31 August 2018

18.00   Registration
19.00   Welcome, meal, open fire, local music
Saturday 1 September 2018

09.30   Opening ceremony led by Patricia Fitzgerald

Patricia will guide the group in an opening session meditation, bringing together the energy of the group, leaving behind the stresses and strains of the outside world creating a held space for the weekend.
10.00   Sharon Blackie

Celtic mythology: an ecofeminist approach
The worldview which is prevalent in Celtic mythology is profoundly relevant today, offering a deep ecological alternative to the mechanistic, disconnected worldview which has led to the social and environmental crises we now face. Celtic mythology, particularly that which derives from the Gaelic (Irish and Scottish) traditions, is intensely ecological. It depicts a world in which there is a reciprocal and respectful contract between the people and the land; it is also dominated by powerful divine women who are the creators and shapers of the land, its guardians and protectors, and who represent the moral and spiritual authority of the Otherworld. The native pre-Christian mythology of the Celtic nations is highly goddess-centred. The creative, generative essence of the universe was female; women represented the spiritual and moral axis of the world, and the power of men, in contrast, was predominantly social. Irish mythology in particular is filled with stories of powerful women who were incarnations of the 'Sovereignty' goddess, who represented both the land and the Otherworld which was immanent in it, so representing the spirit of the Earth itself, the anima mundi. In this sense, it lends itself to the agenda of ecofeminism, which calls upon women to create an ecological revolution in which we might come to view the Earth as sacred, to respect the non-human others who share it with us, and to recognise both our dependence upon and participation in the natural world.
11.30   Coffee and registration for your afternoon workshops
(on a first come, first served basis)
12.00   Mary-Jayne Rust

Being in relationship with the earth: A spiritual path?
If climate change is a symptom of our dysfunctional relationship with the earth, a step towards healing includes spending time on the land, listening to, and communing with, the other-than-human world. This opens the door to a different order of reality, an experience of living inside a conscious, sacred matrix; an ancient way of being. Along the way there may be many difficult and painful encounters with the shadow of our dominant culture; when this is honoured our ecological crisis can then become an extraordinary portal of modern times. I will give some examples of how these issues come into sessions with clients and how I might enable clients to make a relationship with Nature. This includes working outdoors.
13.30   Lunch break
15:00   Workshops

(Select one and book during coffee break on a first-come first-served basis)

Workshop 1:
Robbie Breadon
Ecotherapy Walk (runs until 18.00)
Robbie is offering an outdoor experiential workshop and will facilitate an Ecotherapy Walk. This will be a gentle physical experience and hopefully provide some insight into Therapy with Nature in Mind. The 3 hours will include - orientation and intention making, walking out from conference venue, outdoor mindfulness, solo reflective time, group time, return and reflection / discussion. Please be prepared to spend most of the 3 hours outdoors - bring walking shoes, boots or wellies, a coat suitable for wind and rain, something to enable you to sit on possibly damp ground (sit mat or piece of cardboard in a plastic bag, alternatively waterproof over-trousers).

Workshop 2:
Dearbhail Conlon
Going Down Into the Earth
This workshop is comes from my knowledge and experience of environmental arts therapy and in particular time spent with Ian Siddons Hegingworth. His work in this instance is based on the framework of the Ogham Tree Calendar.Looking at the turn of the Celtic wheel place we are in within the cycle of the seasons we shall explore the time of Mean Fomhair. Traditionally it was midpoint between harvest and winter. We carry the abundance of summer and face toward the descending light, winter solstice, and death. We take this time to pause and reflect. What have we gathered from the abundance of summer? How do we deal with transition, slowing down and surrounding to our receptive female nature? We will walk on the land and gather found materials. We shall make ritual dolls which symbolise our sense of who we are and where we come from. We will then create a place on the land to return to the earth and listen to receive the wisdom of what has been lost, what are we searching for? We hope to find a deeper perspective on our relationship with transition, and our relationship with the natural world. We will then return to regroup with the gifts and wisdom of what we have learnt. Outdoor clothing is required for this workshop, a playful curiosity and an open mind.

Workshop 3:
Therese O'Driscoll
Embodied Embedded Emergence in Psychotherapy and Supervision
"Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice." D Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You

We live in an animate world yet we often live in the world as though place is just a backdrop to our human experience. How can we move from an experience of being apart from the natural world to one of being part of the natural world? This workshop, through movement and stillness practices embedded in nature will explore the experience of witnessing the more than human world and being witnessed by that world. This awareness can expand, broaden and provide freshness in the field and act as a container of the therapeutic and supervisory relationship. This workshop will be held largely outdoors if at all possible, with a maximum of 12 participants. You will need good shoes and warm, comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing.

17.30   End of workshops

19.00   Supper, open fire, music

Sunday 2 September 2018

09.30   Registration and coffee
10.00   Matthew Henson

Holding it together (and falling apart, together)
Psychotherapeutic wisdom and ecological awareness

This conference, titled Psychotherapy and the Natural World, invites us to (re)consider the relationship between psychotherapy and all life on this beautiful planet, Earth. In this session we will explore the reciprocal benefits of human-nature connection, with a focus on the benefits of psychotherapy for the natural world. I will invite you to consider that the most useful thing psychotherapists can do in this context, is engage with the therapeutic needs that emerge when we hold the reality of climate change in authentic awareness.

Therapeutically holding ecological awareness is far from easy, especially in those moments when we, ourselves, feel torn apart. But we are not alone, as individual practitioners or as a species, and it is a long established therapeutic wisdom that both holding and falling apart are less difficult when done in connection with other.
11.30   Coffee and registration for your afternoon workshops
(on a first come, first served basis)
12.00   Joanne Hanrahan

Buds to Blossoms: exploring the growing practice of integrating nature with psychotherapy
The innate connection between humans and the natural world has been celebrated throughout the ages. From indigenous peoples and old traditions, through philosophy and theology to poetry mythology and art, nature's healing properties have been embraced. Similarly, at a scientific level, the benefits of close contact with nature has long been established. Given psychotherapy is a human science supporting psychological healing, what of the integration between psychotherapy and nature? This talk will introduce some of the relevant background, literature and international research in this area and will consider various approaches and offer a practical guide to incorporating the natural world into your practice.
13.30   Lunch break
14:30   Workshops

(Select one and book during coffee break on a first-come first-served basis)

Workshop 1:
Andy Hardie and Katarina Horrox
Long journeys and wild places: the practice of wilderness therapy from a European perspective
Throughout the world and recent history there are examples of practitioners distending the boundaries of the traditional psychotherapeutic frame into outdoor spaces, even into wild places. Beyond the four walls and two chairs; beyond manicured gardens and urban green spaces; beyond country parks and woodland walks. What lies beyond is the reverie of expansive mountain ranges, vast valleys, uninhabitable coastline and seemingly interminable wilderness. We take the work to these places because we have experienced the impact and opportunity that the environment can afford a young person when engaging in a therapeutic process.

This workshop will comprise a presentation and critical exploration of the theoretical foundations and clinical practices of the Venture Mòr programme, which works with young people experiencing emotional difficulty. Our practice is rooted in psychoanalytic traditions, mentalisation based therapy, group, systems and organisational thinking, principles of therapeutic communities, the consideration of unconscious processes and the narrative of journey. We will consider primarily how this psychotherapeutic frame can fuse with the paradigm of working in the wildest places and invite you to wonder with us about how these constituent parts contribute to a young person's experience.

Workshop 2:
Patricia Fitzgerald
Mandala: resonating with the self - resonating with the universal
Mandala is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning circle or container of spirit, yet it is far more than just a simple shape. It represents wholeness, the structure of life itself. The art of Mandala is a journey into meeting with full force the reality of our aloneness and offers an inexplicable transition to a sense of utter belonging and connectedness with nature and the universal. In this workshop, Patricia will give a presentation on her own experience with the art of mandala and some of its philosophy and meaning. Often even in our language, we alienate ourselves from nature. 'You should go out into nature' we say, not acknowledging the fact that we are already an integral part of nature. The presentation will look at mandalas through history, mandalas in all of nature from the microcosm to the macrocosm including within ourselves. The group will create a jointly made mandala using materials collected from nature, which can be gathered around Glendalough.

16.30   Plenary, closing ceremony and farewells
17.00   End of conference

Click here to book
You will be taken to a secure web server where your payment will be processed.
Please read our booking conditions before making your booking

Fees include all talks, workshops, refreshments, supper on Friday and Saturday, and evening entertainment. B&B and lunches are not included but can be purchased at the venue

Self-funded: £230
Self-funded x 2: £410
Organisationally-funded: £350
Under 25's: £100
CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 12 hours will be provided at the event

The Glendalough Hotel
Co. Wicklow
Public transport

We are providing a minibus to take participants from Bray dart station to Glendalough Hotel.

Dart trains travel regularly from both Dublin-Connolly and Dublin-Pearse stations.

5 Euros per journey, to be paid to our team at the event.

Friday 31 August: Coach pick-up from Bray dart station at 17.30hrs.
Saturday 1 September: Coach pick-up from Bray dart station at 09.00hrs.

Sunday 2 September: Coach pick-up from Glendalough Hotel at 17.30hrs for transfer to Bray dart station.

18.00 Registration and welcome evening
19:00 Meal, open fire, local music

09.30 Start
17.30 End
19.00 Supper, open fire, music

10.00 Start
17.00 End
Accommodation options

Early booking is advised