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Untitled workshop


Presenter: Brian Cade Following on from Ged Smith’s hilarious


presentation on the top ten systemic tips, I joined Brian Cade’s workshop ready to explore the use of humour in therapy. Being a last minute replacement for a workshop that had to be cancelled because of the illness of its presenter, this workshop had not been given a formal title, so I am calling it, ‘Humour in the therapy room’. I hope that’s OK with Brian. I was drawn by the word humour in the


conference pack and also because Brian was presenting. I had previously noticed his cartoons in Context, most of which appear to be aimed at making fun of himself. This also appeared to be the sort of workshop that connected with my own development as a family therapist and the curiosity to explore a new topic. Brian set the context by recounting a piece


of work with an 18-year-old female client who had a diagnosis of bulimia. He identifi ed the use of humour for making a connection that was diff erent from her previous experiences of therapy and as a resource for the young woman to draw upon when she faced her bulimic issues. He highlighted this by showing a clip from


the session where Brian recounted comedian, Billy’s Connelly infamous joke regarding the important role carrots play when vomiting (see YouTube for further clarifi cation). He described this as “in humour together”, which led to a noticeable change in the atmosphere of the therapy room. The humour cut through the woman’s sense of shame and she was seen laughing with Brian and at herself. Using humour is not without risk and


Brian highlighted the importance of always observing and listening very carefully to the client, and suggested the therapist must be cautious and always less enthusiastic about a particular change than the client. More important, using humour in the therapeutic context needs to be spontaneous as preplanning it or making a “choice to talk about it, kills it”.


Caroline Wells Context February 2012


Language: Risks and relationships in systemic therapy


Presenter: Ged Smith Ged used this workshop to discuss


his thinking around the graceful and judicious use of language he had outlined in recent articles in Context and the ANZJFT. He explained he had begun to consider how he might be able to say to clients what he was wondering, with an emphasis on being therapeutic rather than being clever. He suggests that, “As long as you say what


you feel to be true, it may lead somewhere” and used some examples from his clinical practice to demonstrate to us how ‘straight talking’ facilitated change. One example was in his challenging of


a man who was constantly justifying his controlling behaviour. Ged asked him to “Cut the crap and stop defending yourself ”, adding that he “hoped he would take this in


the helpful way it was intended”. Another example was with a man who appeared angry and threatening but who said he was “fi ne”. Ged’s straight response to him was to say, “You say you are fi ne, but I can’t work like this”. In both these situations, ‘straight talking’ led to helpful shiſt s in the process. T ere was plenty of opportunity for


group discussion, and Ged was able to highlight the point that issues of gender, risk and timing need to be considered in relation to this way of working. By suggesting that therapists “Feel what you are feeling and fi nd a way to say it”, Ged is asking us all to be authentic with ourselves in order to be authentic with our clients. T is connects closely with my own thinking, and I leſt the workshop feeling both encouraged and inspired.


Hugh Palmer


Transparency in action Presenters: Sarah Favier, Simon Jubb


and Charlie Stanley I hold a view that transparency and


action are both really helpful concepts in therapy. The presenters’ reasons for introducing an in-room refl ective- consultation model (I-RRC) into Leeds CAMHS, apparent from their declared interests, resonated with me: • Can this model help re-focus stuck or static therapeutic work (Andersen’s “standstill systems”)?


• Can it spread systemic thinking and transparency in the service?


• How is this type of intervention and refl ective consultation experienced by colleagues and families?


The model is off ered by clinicians


experienced in systemic approaches to their colleagues already engaged in family work. It does not replace existing services or supervision. The systemic consultant is invited by the clinician working with the family, who holds case responsibility and remains the therapeutic lead. It can be a one-off session or repeated. The structure of the session is summarised


in the conference program (see the AFT website). Its essential components are: • (1) The session begins with the systemic consultant using a narrative-based enquiry to interview the clinician (the therapist) about his or her understanding of the family dilemmas and the therapeutic work so far.


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AFT National Conference workshop reports


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