Conference Review: European Association of Integrative Psychotherapy Conference, Warsaw 17th – 19th Sept 2010 Integration in Psychotherapy: How to make it work?

Reviewed by Gearoid Manning

Four of us attended an International Conference entitled “Integration in Psychotherapy: How to make it work?” from 17-19 Sept 2010.  The Conference was co-organised by the Polish Association of Psychotherapy Integration, the European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy and the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities.

The venue for the Conference was the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities.  When our taxi driver finally found the place and dropped us off we found ourselves in something of a building site.  The College was undergoing a facelift and it proved quite difficult to find out where in the building the Conference was being held.  However, all became clear eventually and we got front row seats for the opening session.  Alas, much of it was in Polish and we had not realised that we needed headphones to hear a translation.  A helpful neighbour offered his on loan and at the break we got ones of our own and figured out which channel had the English translation.

In her keynote address on “Supervision as a reflective process: Integration in Practice”, Maria Gilbert reminded us that all relationships are co-created: This is me, this is you and this is how I may impact on you.  Supervision, she said, aims to facilitate reflective practice.  I was particularly struck by her stages of learning in supervision.

The stages repeat, she said when you try new things.  This is how you keep learning afresh and avoid getting stuck.

 

Unconscious incompetence

AWARENESS

Conscious incompetence

ACCOMMODATION

Conscious competence

ASSIMILATION

Unconscious competence

 

In her workshop on reflective practice Maria spoke of four levels:

Level 1: The relationship is not seen as shared or co-created.  It’s all his/her fault, or it’s all my fault.  We can get stuck in this position, e,g, when we are angry with another.

Level 2: When there is some empathic reflection, but the problem is still mainly ‘over there’.

Level 3: Relational reflection – a dialogue begins.  We are both in this.  How are we together producing the problem?

Level 4: Personal reflection – What part of this is really mine, that I need to go and work on?  What do I need to learn from this process about my own style of therapy?

Professor Jan Czeslaw Czabal reflected on “Common factors in the process of different Psychotherapies.”  The most commonly listed factors are: the therapeutic relationship, the client’s new emotional experiences and new knowledge and behaviours gained in psychotherapy.  He suggested that the first 8 sessions are the most important, where tension is released and bad feelings are reduced.  Then the person can return to old negative experiences in a different way, with new meaning and insight – “I also had a part to play in what happened, so I can influence what is happening now and in the future.”

There is not enough space in this short report to speak about the keynote addresses by Prof John Norcross (Psychotherapy Relationships that work: Toward Integration) and Prof Bogdan de Barbaro (Postmodernistic Issues in Psychotherapy Integration), but I must mention the exciting address given by Prof Andrew Samuels “Transforming Aggressive Conflict in Political and Personal Contexts – Integrative Psychotherapy in the Public Sphere”.  He invited us to imagine a new politics that is dreamlike, idealistic, visionary, on the side of the oppressed.  This would require ‘Good Enough’ leaders who know how to fail.  Failure in politics (as in life) is inevitable.  It is the key to the Kingdom.  We have to learn how to fail better.  The good enough leader can accept failure.  He had very interesting and challenging things to say about fathers and conflict, about economic injustice, economic sadism and finding a way out of the ‘Western Box’.  Andrew will be one of the speakers at IAHIP’s Conference in April.  Don’t miss him.