ADLERIAN SUMMER SCHOOLS UK NEWSLETTER
26th Adlerian Summer School 2018
A review of my last Summer School as organiser
It was with mixed feelings that I approached this year’s Summer School, a place I have felt so at peace for the last 26 years, a place filled with smiles, laughter, joy, love and tears. I have loved every week I have spent in the company of such wonderful people who I call my friends. Not merely Facebook friends but personal friends travelling through life together.
I wondered what the week would bring – sadness or relief at relinquishing my role as part of the organising team. It turned out to be both. I have enjoyed being the voice on the phone that first encouraged new people to come; the face that welcomed friends old and new to the venue; the contact who tried to solve any difficulties arising from their stay. The sorting of various diets was not so much fun but even so it has been good when people have paid compliments to the chefs for getting it right.
My final night was filled with so much love and warmth and I was totally taken by surprise to receive a toast in Prosecco brought in on a trolley by a very handsome young man in full Captain’s uniform. The gifts and a wonderful card made by the young people and signed by so many were most gratefully received. A big thank you to all.
I want to express my gratitude to the rest of the team for their support and help over the last few years particularly the last year which has not been an easy one for me health-wise. We have met regularly on Skype to arrange the Summer Schools and my son overhearing a call one day said, “Why don’t you let the others speak more. You sound very bossy!!!” I apologise if I have seemed so controlling. Blame my lifestyle!
I will miss those calls. I will miss the collaboration and the co-operation. But I will be here if needed for support just as the wonderful Unity was for me when I took over the role from her. Thank you, Unity.
Thanks too to all the facilitators who have given their time and energy to making each year such a success.
And lastly thank you to all the wonderful participants of Summer Schools gone by and the newbies this year. I am always impressed by the courage, wisdom and generosity of you all. The amount of money raised every year for bursaries is amazing and it is thanks to you so many people have benefitted. I have shared so many stories, and I wish each and every one of you happiness on your road ahead.
I cannot quite believe that I have laid down the mantle but I hope that you will keep in touch and that we will meet again, dear friends.
“Self, Others and the World”
A brave presentation by Alex Marsden
Review by Wendy
“I know where I am starting from but not sure where I will end up.”
These proved to be prophetic words from Alex at the beginning of his presentation. After carefully giving a health warning that the topic may not be for the faint-hearted of spirit, he proceeded with humour and gentle enquiry to take us on this light-hearted journey of exploration of the Self. He asked us to be existential detectives effectively looking for a missing person – the Self - and to build up an identikit picture of what this is. By posing a series of questions around the ultimate and philosophical question of “Who am I?” he charted the responses from his lively audience. He asked us to look within rather than out there for the meaning of “me”. From answers such as ‘being’ , ‘consciousness’, ‘spirit’, ‘feelings’, ‘memories’, ‘awareness’, ‘ego’, and ‘the necessary fiction that makes us feel we exist’ (WOW!) Alex used the process of ‘neti neti’, a Sanskrit term meaning ‘not this, not that’, to begin to eliminate the words and phrases we had offered as the possible descriptions of the Self.
This is where it began to unravel for Alex. The audience were thoroughly engaged and totally committed to trying to help him with his search but I think he wanted to go where others were not ready to follow. Trying to prove that if Self is Awareness and Awareness has no boundaries therefore we must all be one – an infinite field of life, was a step too far into philosophical thought after a full day and dinner. I believe Alex wanted us, as Adlerians who believe in helping others, to agree that we are in fact helping ourselves. (I could be mistaken, because it certainly did get complicated at this point)
For all that this was a very well received and thought provoking talk that I could not do justice to here. And even though Alex did not reach the point of Quod erat demonstrandum it was not through lack of trying but due to the lively participation of his audience. As one member said “it was the most stimulating evening I have had in a long time”.
Thanks Alex. I look forward to reading or hearing your final thesis on this subject!
Review by Wendy
This café was opened by our host Jill Reynolds from 2-4 each day. She introduced a topic each day for discussion which was in part inspired by the morning plenary. Although this was a drop-in during the Pick and Mix session there seemed to be some who became regulars at this time of day, not least because of the lively discussions.
More importantly for the first time I believe we had three generations represented. It was such a pleasure to hear our younger members Chrissie and Daniel holding their own with their seasoned elders. It was wonderful to see how deeply they are entrenched in the Adlerian spirit inherited from parents and their experiences at Summer School and so eager to learn more theory.
But not all was serious. The week started with a follow on from Alex Marsden’s presentation as we tried to explore the Adlerian concept of self and awareness. Later in the week we moved to Jill’s presentation on organ inferiority, compensation and masculine protest. Much laughter was had as one member of the group dug himself further and further into a hole by trying to understand the concepts with metaphors and hand gestures. We had excellent material for the skit on Thursday but sadly we never got round to organising it. Sorry Jill. An oversight!!
I had not had time in previous years to join Café Adler owing to the fact that I was running a workshop in this time. I realised what a joy I had missed. I like nothing better than philosophical arguments and I got a taste this week of what Café Adler provides. A very big thank you to our host for steering us with such wisdom, knowledge and gentleness through the maze of Adlerian thought.
I think Adler would have been very proud of us.
August 27, 2018
Dr Lilian Beattie, President of the UK Adlerian Society, reflects with Peter Armstrong on a lifetime's connection to the world of the psychological pioneer Alfed Adler.
August 25, 2018
At this year's Adlerian Summer School Peter Armstrong had the opportunity to meet someone with fascsinating insights to offer - the Adlerian pyschologist, Professor Ursula Oberst.
August 27, 2018
At this year's Adlerian Summer School Peter Armstrong had the opportunity to sit down with one of the keynote speakers, Mia Levitt Frank, a psychotherapist and Director of the Adlerian School of Coaching in Israel.
The following are extracts from our evaluation forms:
What were the highlights of Summer School experience for you?
Connecting with others in a deeper way.
Connecting with myself in a wonderful way.
Experiencing a safe and warm environment.
Joining a group of others to enjoy company, learn and grow
Adler through the looking glass
A life changing experience in a positive way.
Connecting and reconnecting with wonderful people and participating through workshops.
Working with Mia. Fabulous learning space. Information delivered in a professional, accurate and very clear way. Attention to detail and very safe for members in a very small group.
Excellent morning plenaries.
Wednesdays evening in all that was an offer. Being, playing and dancing together to lovely music a bonus!
The 'indoor' campfire night.
Expert facilitators of the workshops I attended.
The people and the atmosphere.
Workshops and music.
Empathising and caring; supporting family relationship.
Take early recollection to a new level.
Being surrounded by wonderful and supportive people.
Learning more Adlerian Theory in relation to lifestyle and hearing about strategies and understanding relationship.
Realising how my current life essence was validated by the Early Recollection which I shared.
The personal and intimate challenge that I began through the coaching tutorials. Breath-taking!
Courage to be imperfect!
The community style and ethos, a precious space to be myself and delve deeper.
Some time-sharing music and dance.
Good organisation of workshops.
Kindness of all participants.
Meeting friends who experience feeling like you have and sharing experience and realising you are not alone.
Love the fire, singing and the disco!
Why I would recommend the Summer School.
Such important stuff across the board.
Wonderful feeling of community.
To have an opportunity to find ourselves in a safe homely environment.
Experience community and human connection.
I am highly recommending for personal and professional development.
It is a very positive experience within a sympathetic community.
People are valued and respected and the learning opportunity is varied.
Fun in the evenings, accessible venue, friendly and relaxed.
To learn, to laugh, to be part of something great.
For the unique community atmosphere.
A safe place to grow.
Because it offers a quality of environment and experiences that enable participants to feel relaxed, have a feeling of belonging, to learn and enjoy.
Because its action packed & in the company of warm, welcoming people who have a shared purpose interest in sharing their learning.
Life changing experience.
Fun, supportive environment.
Enjoyable, sense of community, self-improvement.
Fantastic experiences to meet therapist community in the sense that it's non-judgemental, open inclusive.
For personal development experience and the quality of the facilitators.
Caters for young and old.
It is a community in which some of the people might change year on year but ethos remains and people build a sense of connection and belonging.
Depth of learning and challenge.
Fellowship with lots of inspirational colleagues.
Very good experience all around; socially engaging.
Challenging, kind and friendly approach to counselling work.
Mix abilities and backgrounds including children.
Community experience with like mind, organised with real teaching & learning
MY EXPERIENCE OF THE ADLERIAN SUMMER SCHOOL 2017
My time at summer school had many varied experiences. I was able to skin a rabbit and then we cooked it. It tasted horrible! I was able to cook bread over the campfire last year but this year because of the rain we made bread in the house where we had our “creative mess” time at the pick and mix slot. It was really good to see my friends again and to be welcomed by the adults. I was able to relax and learn at the same time. We all got to hang out at the fire pit and Duncan sang and played guitar. I had a good laugh most of time, but the rain was a bit much as I was tenting with my mum. Emily
My Account of my first visit to the Adlerian Summer Schools UK
I would like to tell you about my experiences in the Adlerian Summer School. My name is Roswitha, I am from Hamburg/Germany and I have worked as an Adlerian Counsellor and Supervisor for 23 years in my own private practice. You can take a look at my website to see what I offer in my practice (www.fritsche-voegtle.de).
Right from my very first invitation from Bruce and my early email contact with Wendy I felt that I would be made welcome.
The programme offered numerous workshops and they were all led in a very humorous, professional and encouraging way. All parts of the programme supported personal growth for professionals as well as for those who were encountering Adlerian theory for the first time. I gained new perspectives and was able to develop my skills, which I know will further enrich my counselling work.
Right from the beginning, it was noticeable that the philosophy and theory of Alfred Adler was not only taught in workshops and lectures but the “Gemeinschaftsgefühl” was also part of the atmosphere during the whole week. The atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance permeated at all times and meant that everyone encouraged each other and there was a real sense of belonging. The calm environment supported our awareness of our own needs and those of others. The evening sessions were great fun, there was singing and laughter and sometimes, when the weather was good enough, we all enjoyed the special spirit of the bonfire.
As a newcomer at the Adlerian Summer School UK, I am very thankful for all these experiences, In 2019 we hopefully will meet again at the Adlerian Summer School UK and I am looking forward to seeing my all new friends.
Back at home, in Aberdeen, after spending one week in August at the Adlerian Summer School at the beautiful grounds of Felden Lodge in Hertfordshire, I was reflecting on the magic of my experience.
It all began on a Monday morning at the University of Aberdeen, when our person-centred Diploma course had two visitors from the Adlerian Society. They had left a sparkle of Individual Psychology and the mentioning of the Adlerian Summer School behind.
Some weeks later my 5 year old daughter and I were welcomed by smiles and warm sunshine. The first community meeting in the evening paved the way for a wonderful week. The mornings started with exercises, which we missed because we never made it early to bed in the evenings. In the evenings we were engaged in a rich social programme, spending our pennies at the auction to fund next year bursaries, dancing to the flow of music at the young people’s disco, laughing at the workshop sketches and enjoying toasted marshmallows at the campfire.
After breakfast, we came together for the community meeting, which were then followed by plenary lectures. The plenary lectures were setting the scene for the workshops and presented in an engaging way. The rich themes covered exploring perfect humans, new possibilities in metaphors, anger in emotional intelligence, non-violent communication and mindfulness. Then the doors opened to the workshops. And what a wonderful learning environment was created by the participants and the facilitators, who also shared their wealth of knowledge and passion. Whenever I asked my daughter, who in the meantime had spent her time at the young people programme, how her day was she exclaimed ‘I love it.’
What was this magic I and my daughter had experienced? Suddenly two words came to my mind: connection and belonging. The Adlerian Summer School was an experience of living Adler’s individual psychology.
The 25th Annual Adlerian Summer School
Having very much enjoyed the Summer School in 2015, this year I decided to venture back for another week of education, introspection and fun. Keen to re-connect with Adlerians from far and wide, I set off from West Wales as I had two years before but this time with one significant difference. I was now accompanied by my two sons Sydney (8) and Chester (10). What would it be like I wondered? Would I be able to fully participate as before, and would the boys enjoy and engage with what the summer school had to offer, or would the effects of screen withdrawal prove all too much.
The journey from Wales took about 8 hours, plenty of time for the obligatory ‘are we there?’ yet questions, and the subsequent follow up questions (thanks to the recent advances in navigation technology) ‘exactly how many miles left?’ And ‘How many minutes more is it?’
We were just in time for registration, and the boys whilst formerly a little apprehensive now seemed exited to see our new surroundings. My boys had been living with me full time for just under a year and this was our first big adventure together so I was a little anxious and wondered quite how it would go. I could see as soon as we arrived that they were taking it all in and they were noticing that many people here already knew me and were also quite friendly which they seemed to find reassuring. They began to relax and were quite obviously excited to be on this new adventure.
For those who haven’t been to summer school the basic format is one workshop in the morning and one in late afternoon. In between is ‘pick and mix’ (a choice of various activities from Adler Café to Spirituality and Mindfulness). And of course before it all begins you have the possibility of pre breakfast yoga /exercise followed by our morning meeting/check-in & plenary.
I had my name down for 2 workshops; Working with Emotions with Ursula Oberst (professor of psychology at Barcelona) and Perfectly Human with Anabella Shaked (Adler School Israel). The morning session with Ursula was held in the spacious well lit meeting room on the ground floor. We do our basic introductions then it’s up on our feet and in!
We were invited to walk around the room moving amongst each other whilst initially avoiding eye contact. Then we are instructed to allow glances then full and engaging eye contact with those we encounter as we wander around. From here each day we are given a slightly different brief regarding our mode of interaction and on this occasion we are invited to look on our comrades with dislike and even disgust with a caveat that we can sit down if we are finding this uncomfortable. I sit down after a short while because of course it feels uncomfortable, but then I realize that this opt out was perhaps not intended for the subsequent low level discomfort natural in such circumstance but more as a measure for keeping ourselves safe if discomfort levels become overwhelming. We all sit down and share our experiences. I am fascinated by the variety of responses to this simple exercise and touched as people express how difficult they found it to suspend their unconditional positive regard even though we were all aware that this was for the purpose of therapeutic theatre. Several interesting lines of enquiry sprang out of these morning walk-abouts. Some resulted in discussion some in other exercises and some in therapeutic interactions centered around notions of lifestyle and the Adlerian perspectives on emotional wellbeing and the evolution of our feeling states.
I awoke the next morning surprisingly refreshed and was aware of deeper feelings of love, appreciation and compassion for the fellow travellers in my group. I think driving for seven hours can easily get one stuck in a task oriented state of mind and with the accumulative tension of the journey now gone I noticed that I was beginning to feel much more receptive to people and to experience in general. I was feeling excited and very glad I took the leap of faith nessesary to attend. We proceeded to share and discuss the difference between feelings, emotional states and bodily sensations which was useful as I have always and still do have trouble trying to neatly separate out and categories these phenomena which often seem to overlap.
This morning group was very useful and I really appreciated the way Ursula held the group. She was very clear on what was and what was not her role and her intention and I was inspired by the clarity with which she seemed to see things, and also by the careful way she used language. I am a big believer in the necessity of trying to communicate with as much clarity as possible, which isn’t easy as words are often all we have. (in one sense)
We had started the afternoon group ‘Perfectly Human’ by hearing ideas on Neurosis and perfectionism, including some recent research which seems to indicate that much neurosis and depression is the result of unrealistically high expectations about the future and oneself. These unrealistically high ideals can result in feelings of inadequacy and in turn lead to discouragement, avoidance and other forms of neurotic safeguarding behaviour.
Over the following days we were guided through several processes designed to help us gain insight into our own lives with a specific focus on this idea about the felt need to be perfect and we reflected on things with a particular ear out for the language of perfectionism and areas of our lives where it might show up.
First we were asked to visualize and then write down a description of how we would ideally like our lives to be in 5 years time. Then one of us was invited to select participants from the group who would represent the other characters in our life. We then acted out the scenario of a typical future day, and were asked to elect another participant to play ourselves in the psychodrama so that we can sit back and take in the whole scene from a distance. This was both fun and a bit uncomfortable, and as the volunteer, I really appreciated the humour the group was able to bring to bear on my situation.
We were then invited to go through the same process but this time we had to act out a typical day from our current lives (the here and now reality as it were) after which we are invited to ponder on these two contrasting realities.
This was very powerful, not only did we get to see what our imagined future looked like but we also had the opportunity to view our current situation and for me the contrast between the two was rather shocking. It was very obvious that unless something dramatic changed there was no way that a repetition of the current situation was going to lead to the desired state of affairs. I was reminded of the words I had often heard Joe Dispensa say “if you keep romancing the same feeling state and carrying out the same actions your future will be a repetition of the past and nothing will change”. It’s one thing to hear these truisms but what this Psychodrama brought home to me was that it’s quite another thing to see it acted out with all its contradictions right in front of you. It really brought everything into sharp relief & the brute facts of my life really hit home! I felt very fortunate to have been able to participate so actively in this workshop and reviewing my experiences several months later I can confirm that the learning that resulted from this immersion into my life situation via psychodrama has indeed had a profound and positive effect on the way I view my life and the part my percieved autonomy might play in my future. This has resulted in changes to the pattern and feel of my life on a day to day basis from the time of the workshop right up until this present moment.
One of the most useful techniques involved a Gestalt two chair type of intervention where i was invited to talk to my current self from the position of my future self about what kind of changes would be necessary in order to move from scenario ‘a’ to scenario ‘b’, the current me was convinced there was no time for anything to happen differently however my future self was able to see through this safeguarding tendency and pointed out that it was not simply a problem of time but also a matter of priorities – eek!
Meanwhile my two Boys Sydney and Chester were having a whale of a time on the young persons’ programme. They were being guided by Duncan and Bells, who skillfully used a variety of nature based activities as a basis for learning, connecting and encouraging. They spent time in a beautifully converted horsebox, made shelters out in the wild and awnings and generally got up to a myriad of fun activities, running through the woods, gathering and preparing delicious nutritious food directly from their local surroundings. They learned to tie knots (sheets and bends) and skin rabbits and even make their own leather shoes!
They played lots of games in the woods every day, including capture the flag and man hunt. They learned to make fires with flint and steel, and other such traditional methods such as rubbing two boy scouts together etc. (Really? Editor.) When not in the wild wet the boys spent their time with Claire and Jackie creating imaginative artworks and exploring creativity in a variety of media over in Thurso, (an annex adjacent to the main building)
In addition to the main programmes there were many other opportunities to learn. The morning plenary was a post breakfast extra which yielded much valuable learning, including mindfulness from Bruce and talks on the use of metaphor and Neurosis by Mia Levitt (Israel).
All in all it was a wonderful experience, educational, social and transformative.
There where various elements which went to make this summer school a positive experience for our small family. On a personal level I really valued the professionalism of the facilitators, for me it is a great opportunity to connect with other Adlerians from around the world, to feel inspired and become better informed. To be presented with current research validating Adlerian theory and practice, all of which gives one the undeniable feeling that Adler is not only alive but thriving in the world as a powerful force for good. In this respect I also found the experience a comforting validation of my own practice, I enjoyed seeing that across the continents we all still had common understanding and methodologies for interpreting life and its challenges and facilitating movement towards greater love cooperation and personal growth.
I am very grateful to Wendy Goddard for encouraging me to attend this year and to Duncan, Bells, Claire and Jackie for nurturing my boys in a way which helped them grow in confidence and further them on their emotional journey and to all my co-participants whose courage and enthusiasm helped me grow and evolve, also to all the other people visible and invisible who help to make the summer school happen. So if you are reading this and wondering whether to take the plunge next year I would encourage you with all my heart and especially if you have children, do bring them along!