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Home arrow Newslettter arrow College Newsletter - Spring 2011

College Newsletter - Spring 2011 Print E-mail

Jo Harris

Graduate - Deborah O'Leary

"I have successfully completed the three year somatic psychotherapy diploma course - not only has it opened the door to a new and more fulfilling career as a psychotherapist, but it has also been hugely rewarding on a personal level.  
I was extremely impressed by the teachers and the level of knowledge, skill, wisdom and support that they provided. Although it challenged me in many ways, I really loved that the academic, the experiential, and the group process all combined to bring the theory to life - which enabled me to integrate what I was learning at a very deep level.  

I became a mother for the first time during the second year of the course, and I will be forever grateful for the knowledge I gained about attachment theory, human development and neurobiology as it profoundly and positively influenced the way I am raising my children. The course sparked within me a real passion for this work and has given me a very solid foundation to build upon. I am excited by the prospect of continuing to learn and develop as a somatic psychotherapist and am looking forward to the future."

-  Deborah, Sydney

 Sounds interesting? Further testimonials from our graduates can be found here.



Teacher profile: Dr. Paul Holman,
author of "Hawks, Doves and other Humans"


* What is the book about?
The book explores the idea of constitution, that is, the kind of physical and psychological make up with which we are born. I also try to make the point that the idea of constitution unites the physical and psychological realms and therefore hopefully provides a more unified perspective of human functioning.

* Why did you want to write it?
I had only solved some of my own health problems by realising that I was a particular constitutional type. I am thin and anxious, a type described by Hindu medicine as Vata and in western medicine as ectomorphic. Such a physiological type needs a high protein, low carbohydrate diet and this explained why I had such difficulty following a vegetarian diet.

* What areas does the book explore?

I am particularly fascinated by the almost universal agreement amongst traditional medical systems that there are three constitutional trends in human development: to be thin and anxious, muscular and psychologically robust, or plump and sociable. Evolutionary research supports the idea that these trends are to be found throughout the animal kingdom and that each of these broad biological strategies helps promote survival under differing environmental conditions. In the human context, it seems that we need a suitable balance of these differing types to promote group success. 

* How is this material significant for psychotherapists?
I think it is important for therapists to realise that many of our psychological characteristics and problems are innate to our constitution and are not necessarily the result of upbringing or other environmental influences. This idea is very strongly supported by personality profiling and brain imaging in identical twins. Such concepts somewhat change the emphasis of therapy away from the often futile process of exploring the past, towards the practical management of one's inherent traits and how they interact with the current social reality. For example, anxious ectomorphs are often greatly relieved to know that their sensitivity is a positive evolutionary development and that their so-called neurosis is partially the result of living in our over stimulating competitive environment. I think that the idea of constitution greatly simplifies talking about mind/body relationships.

* What do you hope it will change in the way therapists practice?

Most of all, I hope it will remind therapists to always consider the constitutional element as it has manifested from an early age in their clients. For example, it is important to remember that even minor traumas can make a big impact on sensitive children and that the recollection of childhood misery is often the product of the Vata individual's selective memory, rather than an accurate account of their dysfunctional family!

* What have these findings meant for the way you practice as a psychiatrist?

The idea of constitution is most useful in helping people to reframe their psychological suffering into a broader context. It also helps when individuals see the positive side of their constitutional problems and pitfalls. It is useful to know, for example, that for a highly sensitive person, creativity and resonance with the suffering of others are strengths that help offset the anxiety and low energy that they often experience.

* What do you hope the general public might take from reading your book?
I hope that people might think of themselves less as having psychopathologies and more as individuals with traits that do not always mesh with the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Paul's book can be purchased from The Open Centre Bookshop


Note from the Director

It is with great regret that we announce that our somatic psychotherapy training program will no longer be offered in its present form. The time has come for me to transition to a new stage of my professional life – the details of which will be announced at a later date.

A number of events have come together to make the closing of the current training program necessary. Most notably, the days of psychotherapy training being a ‘cottage industry’ run by specialists in the field, are passing.
Large multinational companies are rapidly taking over the smaller colleges and students are understandably attracted to these more mainstream programs. In this environment, a small boutique training like ours simply cannot compete.
I feel very lucky to have been involved in the training of psychotherapists for so many years. In 1977, I assisted in the first training programs in Germany and Austria. In Australia, I began teaching body-oriented psychotherapy in 1984.

The first version of the ACCSP training program begain in 1997 with just five students - and we have been graduating psychotherapists ever since.
Over the 14 years of operation, some 244 people have trained with us – 99 of whom graduated with the full Diploma of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy.
After 33 years of teaching, it is a sad moment to finally announce the closing of this training program which has had such a powerful effect on people both personally and professionally. This is particularly poignant as there are currently no other training programs in somatic psychotherapy, in this country.
So where to from here? We are currently considering ways in which to offer this important work into the future. I am very proud of the standard of training we have offered over the years, and of the graduates who have emerged as effective and transformational therapists and aim to continue to contribute to this work.
In the meantime, I would like to thank you for your support over the years. Although we have to say goodbye to the training program in its present form, I hope to be in touch in time, with some exciting ideas to keep our work alive into the future.
Till we next connect, I send warmest wishes to you all.

Jeff Barlow

New developments for College library

The College has an extensive library of texts and journals relevant to contemporary somatic psychotherapy and these are currently available to College students, graduates and teachers to search and to borrow items online.
We are now in the process of developing the library within a more user friendly and more sophisticated and professional internet interface with automated links to Google books and Amazon for more information about each of the items in the library. The search function is more detailed and borrowing profiles can be set up for each borrower with many more features to enhance the online search experience. Using the library will be an experiential learning opportunity in itself.
We will be testing the system very soon with a small number of current and past students and will keep you posted when you can access the library for your own use. Those who are not students or graduates will also be able to sign up as a library member to enable access and borrowing rights to the full library catalogue for a small membership fee and free borrowing. Stay tuned!!
- Sue Forbes,
College Administrator & Librarian