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Home arrow Latest News arrow College Newsletter - Summer 2011

College Newsletter - Summer 2011 Print E-mail

Joanne Marsh "Enrolling in this course was a natural extension of my search for who I am. The breadth and depth of this course allowed me to immerse myself in the theory, something I love to do, while also providing practical hands on experience.  
It covers a vast range of topics that have provided me with a solid grounding in the history of psychology and psychotherapy as well as many related subjects. In particular I loved learning about attachment theory and human development. The study of trauma and how this can impact on every aspect of our lives was another subject that kept me wanting to know more.  

I found the style of study particularly suited me. It involved a combination of self directed learning, followed by classroom discussion and experiential learning. I have not experienced this learning approach before and truly enjoyed debating a topic with my fellow students and teachers.

The course is a serious study program and requires a serious commitment. But like everything that demands the best of us, we receive back many times what we give. Today I am happily married and happy with who I am. I see the best in people now and am able to enjoy them for who they are. All of my relationships have improved and I can now identify those people who are not good for me and establish appropriate boundaries to keep me safe.

Life no longer scares me and I look forward to the next chapter in my life. I will be forever grateful to the college for developing this course and to the teachers for sharing their knowledge, wisdom and humanity with me."

- Joanne, Canberra


Richard Murray "The course has been an extraordinary and enriching journey for me - which has continued my personal journey of self-discovery. The structure, combined with the real debate and interactions between the teachers and students, has made the whole experience the most awesome and enriching experience that I could have ever imagined.
The exposure to the broad range of both psychotherapeutic theories and practical skills, and the opportunities to gain practical experience in counselling are invaluable. Experientially it is also very broad, introducing techniques from a number of different schools of therapy, highlighting their relevance to the work of a psychotherapist.
As part of the course, you need to work on yourself and be in one-on-one therapy. For me, therapy has been life changing. It has helped me to 'drop down' instead of 'holding up' so much in the world and to build from within rather than looking for something outside to fulfill me. As a consequence I feel more 'real' and available to be in relationship than ever before.
I am very grateful to all the excellent teaching and administrative staff of the college who have guided and supported me so warmly and professionally. It has been an experience in its entirety that will stay with me forever”.

- Richard, Canberra

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



Gena Fawns - Teacher profileGena Fawns

* What is your history with the college?
Actually, I trained here myself in the 1980’s when I was a social worker! I started my practice in 1989 and joined the Australian Association of Somatic Psychotherapists. I also went on to study couples therapy and psychoanalytic group therapy. I then began teaching at both the Sydney and Melbourne campuses of the college in 2004.

* What subjects do you teach?
I teach therapeutic touch and biodynamic massage skills - and how to integrate touch into an attuned psychotherapy relationship. I also teach body process work, with an emphasis on integrating verbal and relational experience with direct experience in the body.

* What do you most enjoy about teaching with the college?

I enjoy working with students over a three year period and seeing how much they grow and change in that time. It is a privilege to share students’ journeys in the group environment as they practice their skills and share their personal learning. 

* What do you think is unique about the training?
I think the depth at which students are able to learn is quite unique, because we allow space for theory to be related back to personal experience, and skills to be practiced in a supportive environment. Respect for individual autonomy and providing safety in the group allow people to communicate authentically with one another.

* What sorts of changes do you see in students over the three years you teach them?

Many students grow in remarkable ways over the three years. Deep areas of trauma, shame or grief are often shared and worked through, a process which is enriched by the students’ own therapy. I observe in students the emergence of greater self-acceptance, creativity and clarity about their goals in life, as well as vast improvements in their ability to relate to others.

* Why is it important that a psychotherapy training includes the body?

Not everyone’s therapy will necessarily involve touch or direct work with the body, but all of our graduates benefit from understanding the importance of the body in affect regulation and emotional experience. We help students develop an understanding of what it is to be in touch with their own sense of embodiment.

* What would you say to someone considering the training?
I think the course offers an opportunity for life-changing experience and the development of new ways of being in relationship with others. It also equips students with the theory and professional skills to help others on the same journey of growth and healing.



Note from the Director

One of the unique aspects of our training is our focus not only on the role of the body in psychotherapy, but on the role of our own ‘embodied experience’.

‘Embodied experience’ refers to the way in which we inhabit our own body and the impact that has on our daily experience.

Increasingly, research is showing that our own embodied experience can have a profound impact on the embodied experience of another. Where we may previously have thought of others as being physically ‘separate’, mounting evidence suggests our bodies are in fact connected and impacting on each other, all the time (see our book special offer for an in depth look at this by US professor of psychology, Louis Cozolino).

Nowhere is this neurobiological interconnectedness more evident than in the study of mothers and infants. Research shows that mothers transmit feelings and bodily states to their child – through facial expressions, postures, sounds, touch or simply by their energetic states.

When a mother is ‘attuned’ to her infant, her own calm neurobiological state can soothe a distressed infant and regulate it to its own calm. When a mother is excited, the child will experience the same physiological enlivenment and arousal. And when the mother is stressed, the child too will experience an increase in stress hormones, heightened blood pressure and so on. This right brain to right brain communication occurs between humans continuously – whether we are aware of it or not.

Understanding the potential impact of our own embodied experience on the experience of another, can shed new light on our day to day relationships at work, with family, partners or friends. Such understanding is particularly important for the psychotherapist. In the therapy relationship, the embodied experience of the therapist and that of the client, are involved in a complex interplay - providing an additional dimension to the therapy experience. In any given dyad, the client’s physiological state impacts the therapist and in return, the therapist’s state impacts the client.

As therapists we are thus able to use our very way of being to provide positive, or ‘new’ experiences for the client – whether regulating them in distress, providing an experience of groundedness, meeting them in their excitement, or attuning deeply to their sadness.

As Sara Lal, senior lecturer at the University of Technology’s department of medical and molecular biosciences says of research supervised by one of our own teachers, Alan Meara (see article top left) - “We now believe physiological alignment is required for successful therapy”.

Jeff Barlow