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.
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.
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.
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.
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: