Certificate in Other-Centred Environmentally Based Therapies
- - three seven day training blocks run at our centre in rural France
- - five practice-based Distance Learning units
- - An optional second year involving a mentored practicum and one further training block
Study can be undertaken in one year but may be extended over up to two years
Dates in 2011/12: October 23-29 2011; April 5-11 2012; August 12-18 2012; October 21-27 2012 Applications for April 2012 now being accepted
Cost and applications: Click here
Learning on this programme takes the form of a ten point wheel. In the work we will visit and revisit the ten dimensions of the therapeutic process. Each dimension consists of an aspect of the environmentally based work, and is itself grounded in other-centred concepts, which have both theoretical and methodological implications.
Rupa, Perception & Object Relation
Myth & Ritual
Life -story, Journey & Association
Encounter & Enquiry
Creativity and Imagination
Embodied Contact: The foundation of environmentally based therapeutic work is our ability to inhabit the natural world in an embodied way. Each session begins with grounding exercises which develop participants’ sensory awareness. In particular we work with contact with the ground whilst standing and sitting, focused walking and body scanning. We explore the impact of different environmental conditions on the sensing body. This dimension focuses both on the student’s own development of personal awareness, focus and presence through body focused work, and the development of skill in facilitating grounding and body awareness exercises.
Sacred Space: Therapeutic work involves the use of boundaried spaces to contain and intensify interactions. Environmental therapies work in situations where the therapeutic boundary is different from that of the conventional therapy room, but nevertheless essential, maintained by a combination of physical features which create limits or spaces and behavioural factors offered by the therapist’s presence. In other-centred work, an appreciation of the fundamental sacredness of the environment, and objects within it, is seen as central to the healing process. This dimension focuses on developing the student’s sensitivity to the sacredness of working spaces through a variety of imaginative and meditative exercises. It addresses the issue of containment in outdoor working spaces, and students will learn to observe the impact of different environmental conditions on the client and build on the spontaneous opportunities which arise from changes in these. This dimension also includes review of boundary issues and other therapeutic considerations.
The therapeutic triangle: In other-centred work, the therapeutic relationship is commonly represented as triangular, consisting of therapist, client and the object of their attention, which is generally some aspect of the client’s story. In environmental work this triangular relationship is particularly evident, the third element in the therapeutic triangle often being the environment itself, or objects within it. Based on fellow-feeling, the alliance between therapist and client(s) is one of accompaniment, in which the therapist is witness and guide. Although at times in outdoor work the therapist will be physically absent, holding this process from a distance, these functions remain core. This dimension will explore modes of facilitation, styles of relating and the inter-personal implications of environmentally based therapeutic work. It will incorporate review of inter-personal boundary issues and ethical practice.
Encounter and enquiry: In other-centred work, relatedness and encounter are primary facets of the therapeutic process. Through encountering others, we are changed. Opening to ‘others’, people are enabled to receive and learn from the vast resources which life has to offer. Psychological problems result from the process of retreating from encounter. According to the Buddhist psychology theory base, the state of avidya, not seeing, is the foundation of the self-world. Avidya is a retreat from reality which dulls perception and locks the person into a habituated world-view. Outdoor work offers particular openings for encounter through the immediacy of experiences with nature. Raw experience often shakes us out of our self-preoccupation. Beauty, decay, growth and the unexpected all provide opportunities to encounter the world in fresh ways. Nature can be particularly healing for people in severe distress or chaotic mental process because it is both compelling and gentle. This dimension involves the facilitation of encounter through sharp observation, and detailed enquiry into particular objects in the environment, but also more generally in facilitating immersion experiences. An enquiry into the truth of things, this dimension encourages the experience of surprise, awe and delight in the particulars of life.
Vibrancy: Working in the environment, people are exposed to experiences which involve them in physical activity. Exposure to different kinds of terrain and different types of weather, for example, impacts at a bodily level. The work may stretch the participant, demanding physical effort. It may be strenuous or involve minor discomfort, pushing people to the edges of what they are used to. Getting out of breath or raising the heart rate may cause exhilaration or anxiety, depending on the person’s general level of fitness and how accustomed they are to exercise. It may help a person to both contact their strength and power and to realise their limits and frailty. In addition, using the body in physical ways may include dance and other forms of expressive movement which interact creatively with the therapeutic space. This dimension of the programme involves exploring embodied experience particularly in relation to the physical impact of activity and our reactions to it. It will involve exploring naturally arising experiences as well as ways of working creatively to engage with the life force in the body. This dimension will include examination of issues of safety and good practice.
Rupa, perception and object relatedness: Buddhist psychology suggests that perception is generally coloured by conditioned processes. Objects hold the power to attract or repel us, drawing us into habitual reactions. Mental states are conditioned by the objects to which a person gives attention. The environment is thus perceived through various personal filters, in ways which reinforce and elaborate personal stories. This dimension explores the ways in which people react according to conditioned view, and how these reactions lead to patterns of thought and behaviour which in turn give rise to the continuation of the self-story. It provides opportunities for developing micro-skills in facilitating object-related work in the outdoors, a core method in this approach.
Myth and ritual: The natural world often provides a rich backdrop to the world of myth. Places and natural objects, growing things and environmental phenomena, commonly form the basis for story or are used in symbols and metaphors. Encounter with and immersion in an environment also forms the basis for such traditional practices as vision quests and rites of passage. Thus humans have often felt the presence of greater forces, imaginative or spiritual, becoming dwarfed by natural phenomena and eternal processes. This dimension of the work involves the exploration of the power of myth as a source of transformation. It will include the use of story, poetic language, drama, ritual and play as resources for therapeutic work and will explore the creation of ritual and the use of immersion experiences in therapeutic work and will include reflection on the considerations which might be involved.
Life-story, journey and association: Whilst much of the work done in environmental contexts involves an immediate encounter with the spaces in which the work takes place and with the animal, plant and mineral life found there, the work can also be used as the basis for exploring life issues. Although such issues are often not overtly discussed in outdoor therapy sessions, sometimes it is appropriate to bring the focus more directly onto exploration of the life journey through the medium of environmental metaphor. Even where parallels are not discussed, the therapist may sense ways in which the life story is being manifested in the work. This dimension explores the relationship between environmental work and life issues, in particular focusing on the concept of therapeutic journey and its counter-parts on the one hand in physical ‘journeys’ in nature and on the other in metaphoric exploration of the life path.
Creativity and imagination: Environmental work provides a basis for much creativity. Other-centred methods facilitate the development of modes of expression based on empathy for both subject and materials. Participants explore the potential which materials have rather than simply trying to impose agendas on them. The work is process orientated rather than product centred. Forms such as writing, art, sculpture, poetry, and dance can all be creative expressions of the experience of being in nature and as such offer opportunities for dialogue with the surroundings. This dimension focuses on methods for inviting imaginative work and facilitating creative process. Students will themselves be encouraged to experiment with different media and to discover their creative capacities through contact with nature.
Embedded living: The impact of environmental therapies is not simply concerned with facilitating therapeutic insight and personal growth for the individual. It invites a changed relationship to the environment, which should impact both on the person’s ongoing lifestyle and on their wider appreciation of environmental issues. As modern humans we cannot divorce ourselves from knowledge of the negative impact of human activity on the biological and environmental processes of this planet and our psychology is affected by knowledge of our implication in environmental damage which has already been done and which continues. At the social level, the disquiet evoked by this knowledge manifests in avoidance activities of greed such as consumerism and hatred in wars and alienation. The ramifications of environmental problems are felt on many levels. This programme does not attempt to explore the political or practical facets of the green movement in depth, but many students will want to pursue these concerns elsewhere. Rather, it encourages an attitude of living lightly and simply, and facing the emotional impact of environmental damage. It explores the role of fear in driving greed and consumption and, in sympathy with the deep ecology movement, acknowledges the grief process evoked by such changes and the dangers of withdrawal and despair. It encourages experimentation with lifestyle change and living off the land, reducing dependence on large quantities of material resources.
The distance learning modules associated with this programme will consist of five units each covering two of the dimensions. These will consist of learning materials and guidelines, resources, practical exercises. Students submit a short reflection on each dimension (250-500 words) based on these.
Cost: £725/€900 plus accommodation (€20 per day including all meals)
Dates: October 23-29 2011; April 5-11 2012; August 12-18 2012; October 21-27 2012
Application: please complete form http://www.buddhistpsychology.info/psy_application.html stating that you are applying for the Ten Directions Programme
Further details of all Amida therapy training programmes in Other-Centred Approach can be found at www.buddhistpsychology.info
Course Leader: Caroline Brazier, head of Amida psychotherapy training programme and author of six books including Acorns Among the Grass - Adventures in Eco-Therapy (required reading); Other Centred Therapy, both published by O-Books and Buddhist Psychology published by Constable Robinson.
COMMENTS ON ECO_THERAPY EVENTS
The retreat I took part in was over five days, and was a completely immersive experience. We began each day with a period of meditation, often outside, (I have a striking memory of sitting in a bamboo grove, listening to the raindrops) and then were led through a series of exercises, including exploring nature on our own, exploring our relationship to specific parts of the environment, lots of close observation and spending time outdoors. During the retreat we had a couple of 'process sessions' in order to share our experience with other members of the group, this was valuable as the whole week was a shared experience and hearing others feelings and thoughts helped us not only decide some of the days events, for example some people chose to sleep outdoors, but also to recognise things in ourselves.
The week aroused different feelings in me - the most powerful experience was an exercise in which we were asked to imagine asking a question, directing our question to the natural world. I asked something about my path in life, I was in the process of moving out of the Buddhist community and asked about how I might keep some of the role I had there, with me in the outside world. With this question in mind I walked through the woods until I encountered a medieval track that runs across the land there. This road provided my answer, although it seems like a cliché the truth that life is like a journey, with no ultimate resting place in this world, struck me profoundly in that moment.
I also have a lovely memory of the final evening, we created a ceremony. I was asked to lead this ceremony, which felt like an honour. In the evening we took a lit candle from the shrine room, and then walked, quietly and meditatively, to a bonfire site that had become important to the group. I talked about the symbolism of fire and lit the bonfire from the burning candle. We sat an watched the fire into the night, sometimes chanting, other times quietly. Each in our own thought process, and in our own relationship to the natural world, but also together.