Online Writing Workshop: ‘Taking the Road Less Travelled: Embracing Your Childfree Life’ (Sat 26 June 2021)

I am delighted to announce that myself and fellow therapist/lecturer Margaret O’Connor of the Are Kids For Me? counselling service and podcast will be co-facilitating a new one-day writing workshop, ‘Taking the Road Less Travelled: Embracing Your Childfree Life’ on Saturday 26 June through Zoom.

You can listen to us talk a bit about the day on her podcast here: https://www.arekidsforme.ie/post/simon-forsyth-childfree-writing-workshop

Combining reflective writing, personal development and shared discussion, the workshop is for anyone that has made the choice to be childfree and would like to deepen their awareness of what this means for them.

It aims to provide you with:

  • A space to connect with others that have also chosen the childfree road in life
  • A space to reflect on your experiences and feelings in a supportive environment
  • A space to embrace your identity, values and opportunities related to being childfree
  • No previous experience of creative or reflective writing is needed
  • Sharing of words written will be encouraged but always optional
  • Emphasis is on process and exploration, not the production of polished work

Time: 10:00 – 16:00 IST

Cost: €90

Booking: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taking-the-road-less-travelled-embracing-your-childfree-life-tickets-154438492689?aff=ebdssbeac&keep_tld=1

Download flyer here:

Margaret and I are both passionate about the normalisation of the childfree choice in society and I’m hopeful that our workshop will in some small way contribute to this. Feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested!

Simon

Scream Therapy podcast appearance + ‘Write Your Revolution!: A Punk Rock Self-Esteem Workbook’

In July 2018 I wrote a blog post here about my perception of a link between therapy and punk rock, particularly from a self-esteem point of view. Happy with my effort, the post joined its comrades and, as far as I was concerned, was lying dormant until, last November, I had an out-of-the-blue email from a Canadian fellow called Jason Schreurs telling me he was writing a book and doing a podcast about punk rock and mental health, and would I have time for an interview to talk about my ideas?

As surprised as I was, Jason’s timing was prescient in that I had just the day before been talking to my writing mentor, Meg-John Barker, about potentially taking the DNA of that punky blog post and forging it into some kind of therapeutic writing resource built around a three-pronged attack of resistance, rebellion and reclamation.

Speaking to Jason on Zoom later that week, I was excited and humbled to have been given the opportunity to talk to a likeminded individual (and perceptive interviewer) about my affiliation with punk and its impact on my life. Surveying the wealth of interviews already populating his Scream Therapy podcast site, I was also enthused to see just how many other people Jason had tracked down who shared our take on a connection between punk and mental health, featuring both on-the-ground punk band members and mental health professionals with a punk background of some kind. This was most definitely a project that I was proud to be a part of, and it spurred me on to complete my own, which by now had a definite name – Write Your Revolution.

And so it has come to pass this week, that both the podcast interview and my writing resource have taken their place in two corners of the internet, ready for any interested party who might stumble upon them. As a friend commented after I shared the interview with him, ‘It’s gas how content you create can travel so far and resonate with people so long as it’s real and true.’ As hackneyed as it might sound, if either make an impact of any kind on even one person, then that’s something I’ll happily take with me on the rest of my journey.

Simon

Creative & Reflective Writing Group for Therapists – starting Sat 30 Jan 2021 on Zoom

pen-and-journal

Back in October I launched the pilot of this writing group for therapists and I’m both delighted and humbled to say that it was everything I hoped it would be. Myself and that particular group are going to continue meeting on a monthly basis in the new year, and in the meantime I will be starting a new intake from the end of January. Again, the principle aim is to provide a creative peer outlet in which to explore both the personal and professional sides of being a therapist – a mix of individual creativity, self-care and reflective practice, run over six fortnightly sessions.

Each session is 2.5 hours and they generally revolve around two structured writing exercises, with time after each for sharing/listening/discussion. There is a short break halfway through. One exercise will be more towards the personal creativity end of the spectrum, with a greater focus on the participants’ sense of themselves and life in general, without an explicit link to their therapy work (though of course there may organically be some crossover). The other exercise is generally more directly related to the work of being a therapist, say by asking participants to reflect on a specific professional aspect/experience and then using this as a springboard for a particular type of writing. 

After each session, I usually provide some kind of handout/reading to participants if there is an area they would like to continue to develop outside of the meetings. Participation at all six sessions is not essential but there is a deliberate flow over the course of the days, so for group cohesion and to get the full breadth of the experience full attendance is preferable whenever possible.

There is a flyer with more detail below – click the orange text to download as pdf. If you are interested, please get in touch and/or share! First session will be Sat 30 January and all sessions will be delivered through Zoom.

Simon

Writing.ie Article – ‘Writing Therapy and The Power of the Pen’

This is a bit of a mouthful, but I recently had the opportunity to write about writing therapy for writing.ie – and now that the writing is done, it is available to read at the above link. Many thanks to Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin for the invitation – I feel this is a good synthesis of my feelings towards the medium and it features sound punctuation to boot (according to my retired journalist father!). If you would like to explore the idea of writing in therapy, do get in touch.

Simon

“Relentless restlessness…”

I recently read this fab article by Holly Williams: ‘How Björk has helped me heal from heartbreak’ – concerning the author’s relationship with Björk’s 1997 album ‘Homogenic’ and its ‘remarkable remedial power.’ To me, there’s always been something beautiful around the idea of an artist’s creative output exerting an empathic healing quality far outside its own parameters, and this article prompted me to reflect on my own journey with Björk over the years. In the past few weeks, I have been particularly drawn to the 2007 track ‘Wanderlust’:

Björk – Wanderlust (Vulnicura Live)

The lyrics marry well with the landscape I find myself in now – embarking on a journey into full-time therapy provision, to also incorporate therapeutic writing group work. Drawing on David Byrne, I might ask myself ‘How did I get here?’ – and surprisingly, there is a fairly simple answer. Like Björk, I have in my adult life always been drawn to a need for movement and space, where new ideas, ways of being, experiences and so on can take seed and grow – pretty in keeping with the dictionary definition of ‘Wanderlust’ as ‘A strong desire to travel.’ 

The phrase she uses, ‘relentless restlessness,’ perhaps contains something of a double-edged quality – on paper at least, the idea of being ‘relentlessly restless’ might not sound too comfortable, but it is the core ethos behind this that speaks to me – not so much a sense of nomadic rootlessness but a liberating state of always being open to the next step of the journey and the challenges it may bring. When she says ‘I feel at home whenever the unknown surrounds me,’ there is a sense of unbridled possibility and courageousness – to stare a path shrouded in fog in the face and not only keep walking, but to do so with joy, anticipation, even a sense of belonging.

I am reminded here of the innumerable journeys I have been on with my clients over these past several years, and how their willingness to take those steps into the unknown (often so terrifying to start off with) are the foundations of every single thing they will subsequently build in their inner and outer landscapes. At some point or other, the fear may indeed morph into something closer to what Björk describes – comfort in the movement, even a sense of adventure as the path continues to evolve and new features pop up along the way. I suppose this is my hope for myself now, too – but of course only time will tell what the landscape will look like in the years to come. Whatever it may be, I am heartened that its origin lay in a spirit of creativity and movement… or, simply put, wanderlust.

Simon

Creative & Reflective Writing Group for Therapists – starting September 20

pen-and-journal

A new venture! On the back of my studies in creative writing for therapeutic purposes, I am hoping over the next few months to trial a 6-session writing group designed specifically for counsellors/psychotherapists. The principle aim would be to provide a creative peer outlet in which to explore both the personal and professional sides of being a therapist – a mix of individual creativity, self-care and reflective practice.

After core training there isn’t always a huge amount of courses, workshops, etc. available that focus on personal development for therapists so this group would hopefully bridge that gap a little, while giving space to reflect on professional development also.

There is a flyer with more detail below – click the orange text to download as pdf. If you are interested, please get in touch! First session will (hopefully) be Sunday 20 September at Insight Matters, 106 Capel St, Dublin 1.

Creative + reflective writing group flyer

Simon

A Pride Poem

gay-pride-balloon

It’s been a long time since I published much on this blog, which is interesting considering that I have been writing for enjoyment and nourishment in my spare time probably more than ever. A lot of this is down to the creative/reflective/therapeutic writing studies I have been pursuing. The course I am currently doing, a Practitioner Certificate in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (or CWTP, for those who like acronyms), has brought in on a few occasions an old Japanese friend of mine, the haiku. I always had a fondness for these little fragmentary moments, as well as their slightly longer sibling, the tanka.

The haiku traditionally comprises 3 lines and 17 syllables, in a 5-7-5 pattern (i.e. 5 syllables for line #1, 7 for line #2, and 5 again for line #3). The tanka builds on this foundation and adds another 2 lines, each containing 7 syllables (a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern), bringing it up to 31 syllables in total.

What I always loved about these poems was their fierce individuality in capturing a feeling or mood or moment in time – the language I might gravitate towards to try and pinpoint the essence of one of these will be so unique to me that no one else, no matter how similar in character or personal history we might otherwise be, will be able to transmit that sense in quite the same way, simply because they are not me, and vice versa. These tiny poems’ particular ability to highlight the beauty of diversity in our human experience is, to me, very special.

In a nod to Pride, I am dedicating this knowingly rebellious 32-syllable (!) tanka to the celebration of diversity and wonderful, unapologetic uniqueness:

 

I don’t care to be

textbook. Don’t care if I am

lumpy and bumpy.

Appreciate the info,

but I’ll form myself this way,

thanks.

 

Be proud of yourself.

Simon

Workshop! Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Wellbeing (Sat 21 March 2020)

Big-Smoke-Logo-Vector-2

I am delighted to announce that myself and author Claire Hennessy will be holding another collaborative workshop on ‘Creative Writing for Self-expression and Wellbeing,’ on Saturday 21 March. I can’t believe this is our fifth one already!

Location: Big Smoke Writing Factory, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Time: 11:00 – 16:30 (including lunch break)

Fee: €80

No previous experience of writing is required and while sharing of work is welcomed, it is not expected.

Students on PCI College’s BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy can count attendance as 4.5 CPD hours, which can be put towards their mandated workshop hours in the personal development category.

For further info or to  book a place, please visit Big Smoke’s website by clicking the text below:

Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Wellbeing

Incidentally, earlier this week I completed a short Children’s and Y.A. fiction course at Big Smoke (as a participant this time). Based on the group’s interests there ended up being quite a focus on picture books, which was a wonderful way to connect with that ‘inner child’ power of imagination – and even better to be able to do so in collaboration with like-minded adults. The magical creativity of visuals such as the below, from Tao Nyeu’s ‘Wonder Bear,’ should never be just for kids!

 

Simon

Workshop! Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Wellbeing (Sat 21 September 2019)

Big-Smoke-Logo-Vector-2

I am delighted to announce that myself and author Claire Hennessy will be holding our fourth collaborative workshop, the slightly re-worded ‘Creative Writing for Self-expression and Wellbeing,’ on Saturday 21 September.

Aside from being less wordy, the shift in the title from ‘Mental wellness’ to plain old ‘Wellbeing’ also reflects some research findings that indicate a link between expressive writing, emotional regulation and the body’s immune system (this BBC article offers a handy summary: The puzzling way that writing heals the body).

Over the course of our first three workshops, the message from myself and Claire has been the same – expressing oneself through the written word is an easily accessible, uniquely satisfying and emotionally rewarding pursuit that demands nothing more than pen, paper and an open mind. We use a blend of writing forms to encourage participants to explore and expand their emotional vocabulary, offering a supportive environment for creative experimentation and sharing.

Participants training or working in the counselling field may find exercises potentially useful in their practice, particularly around the use of imagery as a tool to further understand the client’s unique frame of reference. The writing forms outlined may also be incorporated into the practitioner’s own self-care and reflection routines – a happy crossroads where professional imperative and personal enjoyment can meet and mingle.

Location: Big Smoke Writing Factory, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Time: 11:00 – 16:30 (including lunch break)

No previous experience of writing is required and while sharing of work is welcomed, it is not expected.

Students on PCI College’s BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy can count attendance as 4 CPD hours, which can be put towards their mandated workshop hours.

For further info or to  book a place, please visit Big Smoke’s website by clicking the text below:

Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Wellbeing

 

To conclude, a little haiku I just wrote about therapy:

What seemed so heavy

It might bury me alive

Is now my armour.

 

Simon

Workshop! Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Mental Wellness (Sat 23 March 2019)

Big-Smoke-Logo-Vector-2

I am delighted to announce that myself and author Claire Hennessy will be holding our third ‘Creative Writing for Self-expression and Mental Wellness’ workshop on Saturday 23 March.

As before, it will take place at Big Smoke Writing Factory (Harcourt St, Dublin 2), and aims to marry myself and Claire’s dual passions for creativity and good mental health. Various writing forms are used to explore and expand one’s emotional vocabulary, offering a supportive environment for creative experimentation and sharing.

Participants training or working in the counselling field may find exercises potentially useful in their practice, particularly around the use of imagery as a tool to further understand the client’s unique frame of reference. The writing forms outlined may also be incorporated into the practitioner’s own self-care and reflection routines.

The workshop will run from 11am to 4:30pm, with a lunch break. No previous experience of writing is required.

Students on PCI College’s BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy can count attendance as 4 CPD hours – if this applies to you, just flag with me on the day and I will organise an attendance certificate.

For further info or to  book a place, please visit Big Smoke’s website by clicking the text below:

Creative Writing for Self-Expression and Mental Wellness

Please feel free to share with anyone who may be interested!

Simon