Arranged by Norwegian colleagues Jan Sjøberg and Silvia Grøndahl. Five days (and evenings) of intense socializing and work with colleagues from seven different countries: Norway, Kenya, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany and Estonia.
sunny and around eight degrees. With light steps I make my way from the Upper
West Side to the conference hotel at 7th Avenue and 53rd Street. I was last
here in 2017. For the fifth time I ´m presenting my
supervision and group model "Life Staging®" at the American Group
Psychology Association's annual conference. 2019 was "live" in Los
Angeles and on two occasions during the pandemic it was online. Meeting "in
person" again was fantastic. Especially to meet several colleagues/friends
from the zoom group I have been participating in - usually twice a week - for
three years! A zoom group with about twenty people from Germany, England, USA,
Canada, Israel, Palestine, China, Singapore, etc.
So, to the conference. Although there was a strong focus on social networking, I found some more "gems": for example, I listened to Eliot Zeissel on the value of group therapies. Also known for "GROUP" - a series of group psychotherapy sessions with actors - which is available in seven segments on YouTube. "Most things in life happen in groups," says Elliot Zeissel. And I note that group psychotherapy is not very common in Sweden. At the moment. One might ask why? Maybe even start a group?
Other choices this year, besides the half-day workshop in Life Staging®, were to attend lectures and workshops with more creative elements. I have discovered that I am no longer that interested in different types of (written) theories and their teachings about doing this or that. So my friend Daniella Bassis, and her three Israeli colleagues' workshop, became one of my choices: "An Expressive Arts Therapy Journey" where you could try "visual arts, bibliotherapy, drama and movement".
Another gem was about common mistakes that group psychotherapists make and how these can be repaired. Humble and courageous. Among others, Jan Morris, who I also got to know a bit more during the conference, spoke poignantly about the topic and the insights she gained from her work with one of her patients.
Unfortunately, I missed Ronnie Levine's lecture: “How to become comfortable with uncomfortable feelings”. But having heard her before, heard the feedback from her talk and met her more privately I look forward to listening tothe recording of the her talk!
Narrative and artistic approaches are still in the minority at AGPA (in psychotherapy in general). However, there was a small group of people at my workshop, a collection of people who contributed to the intimacy, creativity and collaboration that always occurs when making these constellations: Contributions that arise on a more personal level when focusing the signals of the body, the silent dialogue, on the experience and "resonance", rather than on reflecting and understanding in a more traditional way. One comment I received from a participant I was particularly pleased with: "Your presentation and your authentic self were unforgettable". Finding the coherence between one's core values and who one wants to be and being able to express this are important ideas in Life Staging.
However, I really enjoy these contexts that offer both learning and other perspectives. Arriving at seven o'clock to participate in "The Large group" together with hundreds of colleagues can surely be considered an act of motivation? Above all, I appreciate all the great meetings, deeper conversations and developing relationships.
I had the opportunity to live well, was able to hang out with my friend Rachel Kaplan and little Ludec on 92nd Street before moving down to an accommodation near Lincoln Center with Sima Ariam, to finally stay two nights at the conference hotel. 15-20,000 steps a day it almost became since there's a lot to discover and re-experience in New York (where I lived for a couple of months in 1979) on and around the conference. I leave with a very nice feeling, fun and rewarding but unclear how long I can afford this pleasure "in person"? The Zoom group continues as usual on Tuesdays and Fridays at Zoom. The next AGPA takes place in Washington DC.
Connection is solution!
Many professional conversations, meetings and collaborations begin and continue without an agreement on purpose and structure. With the help of the five questions, the collaboration can be formulated jointly in preliminary arrangements that can be reflected and thus change over time by asking the five questions over and over again. In a changing world, one also needs a changing structure without losing sight of the goal!
For the first tim I presented Life Staging® online. 14 professionals from different places joined the workshop with the title: Life Staging®- An Opportunity to See, Feel and Hear Beyond Your Prejudices!
Life Staging® is a group sculpting model and philosophy that embraces the embodied knowledge and non-verbal in interaction. The seeing and hearing beyond our "taking for granted" ideas, prejudices and theories. A transformative process activating knowledge, emotions and skills that were always there - but often silenced. When the words are not in the way- what’s there to see, feel and hear- and thereby to know? A "peace action” as participants in Life Staging® get a deeper understanding in how we all are connected. More on this on the next page!
Presenting Life Staging® online for the first time was quite a challenge! Though feet quite confident after a trial some great colleagues offered me before the presentation. Improvisation and creativity is what Life Staging® is all about- and being congruent with that I guess, is important. Like my colleague Dance Therapist Danielle Fraenkel says: Connection not perfection!
For almost two years now, I have participated in a Zoom Group twice a week organized by colleagues in the International Network AGPA, American Group Psychotherapy Association. The aim is to connect members and to support each other during Corona. Everything is improvised and quite "leaderless" which is both challenging and developing, especially since all dialogue takes place in English. It is fantastic to getting to know colleagues both professionally and privately from all over the world. Talking and listening in real time with and to so many interesting and experienced colleagues in China, Singapore, Serbia, USA, Israel, England, Brazil etc. is a very rich experience!
Around 1500 Family Therapists from Europe, and some from elsewhere, met at EFTA’s conference in Naples.How do you arrange for that? Where do you find space for all of them? How to give room for all the people who want to present? Cut down the time and space of course. So what do we get? “The classroom model,” as it is at the University with 3-5 presenters in a row and the audience opposite, withoften unrelated presentations, created gaps between presenters and a gap between presenters and the audience. A fragmented and tiring experience, also due to similarity in the way the content was presented, verbally or/and by power points. Of course there were some really good exceptions! Mostly this was about the fact that there were fewer presentations that split the time or that the content was better connected.
I had applied for a workshop, as my presentation is experimental, but was assigned twenty minutes in a so-called round table together with two presenters (who also had wanted to do a workshop). It was not a round table. It was a square table, facing the audience sitting in fixed wooden benches in rows. I suggested we three should have a dialogue first so it became more dialogical, but it didn’t work. Our presentations didn’t have much in common. Nor in content, nor in how we presented. The rest of the time, some half hour, was for the audience. I found the setting very frustrating, but learning, as I too recognized a similar frustration when I was audience on many of the other’s presentations arranged this way. It confirmed the importance of the arrangement. The physical environment, the over all context in time and space.The importance of varying formats, stimulating dialogue, movement and as audience being able to participate, experience, to deepen, to feel.A therapist from Ireland, Valerie O’Brian, made a great effort at one point, by interrupting the “podium” and naming the gaps that easily arises in these arrangements. Asked us as audience to feel what happened to us receiving all this information and to draw a picture of this experience and share it with a bench colleague. It made a difference.
All intentions were good; the efforts to organize such a large conference must be huge. A great job has been done! So no shadow falls on the organizers. More reflections like “less is maybe more” and insights in how the arrangement impact on how people and content can come into their own right. Because there was fantastic professional knowledge, skills and experience that were in place and many contacts, experiences, joy and enriching conversations emerged out of the venue. From deeper insights to the joy on the dancing floor!
I am very grateful and happy with what the whole conference gave me!
Life Staging®, together with other supervision models, is described in a book about Supervision that is published in 2019. Written by Lilja Cajvert, Senior lecturer and head of the Supervision Education at the University of Gothenburg, Department of Social Work.
At this conference I met many people I know since long time ago. I had a workshop on Life Staging® with many participants and great conversations with Cherry Ravelli Shotter, Saliha Bava, Kerstin Hopstadius, Mats Sparrman, Kristin from Norway and many more. Probably the "Collaborate format" is close to my thinking...
"Building Bridges of Connection Through Group" was the theme of the Conference.
AGPA Los Angelses - 2019 - summing up the congress; Excited contexts when close to a thousand group psychotherapists, family therapists, psychoanalysts, researchers, etc. from many parts of the world met at the American Group Psychotherapy Association's annual congress, this time in downtown LA. The keynote speakers presented interesting neuroscientific research on how (especially) our right brain, mirror neurons and vagus nerve affect and are affected in the therapy context. The importance of communication between right-to right brain (and yet we talk sooo much in therapy) as well as how the vagus nerve, our second brain, is the one that sends 80- 90% info to the brain and not the other way around. As we might have thought ... Information that affects the nervous system, body, facial expression and voice mode in milliseconds. What we mainly read in relational contexts, the face and the voice situation. So maybe we should practice more on being in a "right brain context", refrain from trying to "understand" so much with the left brain? Which is also related to thoughts within SCT- System Centered Therapy (Susan Gannt). I had already participated in the SCT group during the IAGP's congress in Malmö and gained a taste for the current method and theory, which was deepened in LA. Really interesting how groups are involved in regulating the participants' nervous system and how (through a special conversation in the group) we can create new "neuroception" and thus change our original automatic survival strategies. Which in turn is related to early attachment, which Allan Shore told us a lot about. With me home, I also have a book about Virginia Satir's accumulated knowledge, superbly summarized by Barbara Jo Brothers. Finally, but not least, we got to listen to an interview with a favorite, Irv Yalom, who wrote "The Gift of Therapy" among other things and got inspired by his experiences, vitality and good advice. That I was then given the opportunity for relaxing days for reflection on Venice Beach was also important for the whole experience. It all came together ...
A workshop was held at the Swedish Family Therapy Congress in Stockholm in October 2018. Around 90 professionals from Sweden attended. Through great cooperation we were able to demonstrate the format in doing two constellations despite the amount of participants. A workshop was also held at IAGP Congress in Malmoe Sweden with the theme; RISING TIDES OF CHALLENGE AND HOPE HEALING IDENTITY, IN SOCIETY, GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS, in summer 2018
I gave a workshop on Life Staging® at the conference with the theme; RISING TIDES OF CHALLENGE AND HOPE HEALING IDENTITY, IN SOCIETY, GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS
A two day workshop in Life Staging® was held i Stockholm 2017 in The Old Town in great surroundings. With Supervisors; Therapists and Leaders from different professional fields. With enthusiasm we all co created pieces of art during these days!
In December a special workshop was held in Gothenburg with professionals at The University of Gothenburg, Faculty of Social Sience and Department of Social Work. ( Socionomutbildningen och Handledarutbildningen).
American Group Psychotherapy Association, AGPA*, have accepted my workshop proposal on Life Staging® for the Annual Meeting March 6-11, 2017 in New York.
"Connecting, Educating, and Leading for 75 Years: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Group Therapy"
AGPA* awarded Accreditation with Commendation
As a provider of continuing medical education for physicians through the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). This status is the highest accreditation the ACCME offers.
I made three stops on this trip. First at Mercy College and meeting with Saliha Bava, professor, whom I met in Galveston earlier. Saliha is working at the Systemic Family Therapy Program at Mercy. Here is the call for the workshop!
MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPY PROGRAM OFFERS A FREE
– Apply creative techniques in group work and supervision!
– Question the normative power in traditional language and settings!
– Practice creativity through interaction in the workshop!
– Collaborate in rich story development!
LIFE STAGING® - SUPERVISION AND GROUP WORK IN A CREATIVE FORMAT
Life Staging®, by the creative format and collaborative process, activate our evolutionary and personal knowledge and skills as humans, thus create meaningful connections, resonance and develops relational skills. Moreover, it also challenges the dominant taken-for-granted ideas on "what's there" that easily kidnap professionals into thin inscriptions of people and phenomena. Life Staging® offers a (magic) dance, by moving away from dominant ideas of knowing, in ways that might both touch and surprise you.
Spooky? No, just a use of more right brain knowledge that always was there-but silenced.
Scary? No, rather more fun and playful.
March 6, 2017 11:30am-1:30pm Manhattan Rm 723
Elisabet Wollsén, MSc, Private Practice, Stockholm, Sweden
Certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist in family therapy. Forty years of experience as a clinician, while thirty-five in supervision, education and professional development in her own company. Influenced by systemic and narrative ideas and expressive art therapy formats. She did narrative research in the mid-nineties and besides ordinary work, she is now writing professional books, developing Life Staging® and cooperates with a massai women’s project in Tanzania.
After that I attended the AGPA conference. There were around one thousands of Group Psychotherapist and starting with a two day Lacan Group Psychotherapy was interesting. It was a long time ago since I joined an event like that. Though I liked it. Thereafter three days conference and on one of them I held a workshop on Life Staging.
Next stop was to meet with Lois Holtzman at the Eastern Institute. She is a leading proponent of cultural approaches to learning, development and psychotherapy.
A great meeting where we shared ideas on our respective ideas around creativity, play and performance. They are doing some fabulous work there. Here is a link to their homepage.
Read the blog!
Lois also introduced me to Joyce Dattner who directs the West Coast Center for Life Performance Coaching. Here is a link to their homepage.
As a coach, Joyce Dattner takes “life performance” literally—helping people see living as an evolving, creative act, and themselves as performers of more effective and satisfying ways of being in the world. Her clients learn the skills of improvising to produce qualitative change in how they relate to themselves, their colleagues and loved ones. In search for more innovative approaches to learning and development she found the groundbreaking discoveries of Fred Newman, founder of social therapy, and Lois Holzman, developmental psychologist, who together created a unique performance-based approach to human development.
I will definitely catch up with these ideas and persons again to continue the important conversation around our mutual interest in play and improvisation and how Life Staging can be linked to their work and ideas. Hopefully we can collaborate in the future!
LIFE STAGING®™ – supervision from an artistic and narrative approach was accepted for the upcoming IFTA Congress Conference.
The 24th World Family Therapy Congress will be held 30 March – 2 April 2016 in Kona, Hawaii, USA. We invite you to join colleagues from around the world at the Congress Hotel, the Hilton Walkoloa Village, a resort hotel on the Big Island. Watch a video about Big Island.
Unfortunately I had to cancel the trip due to some health issues!
A two day workshop in Life Staging® was held twice in 2016 Stockholm with participants such as coaches, psychotherapists, university teachers in supervision, management consultants, special teachers, authors, network therapy leaders, group leaders and the like. It´s great when such a "team" comes together and shares their huge professional experience as well as the life wisdom that comes with that (or vice versa..)
A two day workshop in Life Staging® was held i Stockholm with seven participants. All supervisors from different professional fields. With enthusiasm we all co created pieces of art during these days! To be followed up later on.
Life Staging and Yoga- together in India! Vitality, flow, energy. We are all connected to one another. "Connection is solution". No need to be taught anything. We just have to remember who we are. Yoga and Lifestaging create a room and a space where such rememberance can take place. Workshop held in north Goa in cooperation with Existens Yoga retreat. www.exi.se
I demonstrated Life Staging® at the "Swedish Supervision Association" (Svensk Handledarförenings) annual meeting in early March in Kungälv. Fun!
Happy as I just received The Swedish Supervision Association (Svensk Handledarförenings) Scholarship in 2015 and could demonstrate Life Staging® at the annual meeting in March in Kungälv.
Here is their justification;
"Elisabeth Wollsén seems to be based in the systemic theory which methodology supervision is based on. She has developed her own method, tested it in her supervision groups for a long time and also got a good ear for it at The Tavistock Institute. Life Staging® is a method which may be a way to get beyond the verbal language often dominating in supervision sessions. The scholarship will be, according to the applicant, used to formulate thoughts about the method in a book which is something that is commendable and therefore may contribute to development in the supervision area where several can try and help that the author gets feedback to further refine the method. "
Under the open sky on a warm evening in October on a terrace near Tel Aviv me and my colleague Tommy Kvarnlöf gave a workshop on Life Staging®™. Narrative colleague, psychotherapist and supervisor Andrea Lazar, who owns Narrative Therapy Israel, had gathered a bunch of enthusiastic psychotherapists who readily tested the format! It was a touching evening in many ways and one of the participants' comments I liked especially was; "- It was not that I could feel and think freely, it was the feeling of just being able to be".
Finland hosted the Nordic Conference and had chosen the place to be Turku. This beautiful city that offered long walks in the picturesque neighborhood, by the cathedral and along the river that runs through town. The atmosphere was familiar as usual although the welcome speech went in a little somber tone. Even if the Finns described themselves as quiet, melancholy people with high suicide rate, I brought with me a lot of pleasant and joyful moments with the Finns. Like learning to dance Finnish tango by Jaakko Seikkula!
The content of the congress was marked by an illuminating and questioning of the spirit of the times as many of us recognize. With watchwords as evidence, documentation, statistics and so on… at the same time we got to experience extensive knowledge and many successful projects proposed an alternative approach and practice. Perhaps we need to find ways to combine these approaches? Self, I liked that it seems like it has become more important with the "structure with fewer interpretations" than "scant structure and a lot of interpretations."
Around research was the important notice on the difference between "about research" and witness research " which of course offers different data.
A favorite from a lecture was the photo of the four boys, with the same haircut, the same Canada Goose Jacket and matter; - What do you think about school uniforms?
Yes, you can guess what they said ... The normative power is great and makes us anxious and more likely to follow a template though we may think we make individual choices.
Huntingdon was the location for this event; it turned out, a couple of miles outside Cambridge. Kiki Oljemark and Cherry Ravello had really created a context that attracted many interesting colleagues from Europe. All of us "ordinary" and some keynote speakers lined up with both their time and their ideas "for free". Like Ken and Mary Gergen, Elspeth Mc Adams, John Shotter and others. Jim Wilson would also have participated but cancelled at the last minute due to illness. But, since it was about just a "gathering" all contributed with innovative ideas and inspired us all the same. What I think really stood out, though maybe because I want to understand it thus, is a focus on the non-verbal as an unexplored area, as something that may need to be valued more. John Shotter spoke, for example, about "the before facts", what is there before we mention it, which he thought was not necessary important in itself. An urge to get off thinking "about" phenomena and name them. Ken challenged the idea of what we can know through our so-called "mind". If I did understood it correctly? Exciting research was reported also and I held a workshop on Life Staging®™ demonstrated through a “live session” of the format. Brampton Mill was the cozy restaurant at which we gathered for the evening's more social dialogue, where we enjoyed really good food and a great atmosphere!
In the beautiful city of Lasi, pronounced "Yiash", in Romania was the third European narrative conference held this year. Attended by many Europeans but also colleagues from Israel, USA and others. Ovidiu Gavrilovici and his team organized the conference, which took place at the University of Lasi, Romania's first University. Overall, we found ourselves in an exciting historical cultural context that we also got to experience more during our day trip to Moldova. Days were filled with a plurality of workshops and large lectures. Just as vital as where the narrative perspective is always, with hopes to develop, challenge, stand up for and take a stand in trying to influence more than just inside the "therapy room". Challenging the inscription of people into thin diagnoses, moving away from psychiatry straitjackets and medication. Suggesting alternative more human contexts in which people can heal and live more dignified was the point in many speeches. With personal testimonies, presence and exciting new ideas. Surely this contributed to the social gathering in the evenings. It was a real happy bunch of Danes, Romanians, Belgians, Russians, Dutch, Hungarians, Greeks and other colleagues who joined for dinners and dancing until late into the night. FIFA World Cup, with Holland in the lead, did not make the atmosphere less enthusiastic! I also gave a workshop on Life Staging®™ joined by playful participants. Romania thanks for this amazing connection. The next European conference will take place in Spain!
Family Therapy as a kaleidoscope (in swedish)
More than 330 family therapists gathered in the annual Swedish congress.
Here is my abstract on the workshop I held on supervision (in Swedish)
HANDLEDNING UTIFRÅN EN KONSTNÄRSMETAFOR
– Finns det andra sätt att bedriva handledning på än att dra ärenden?
Ord som handledning för in oss i ett språk som bär med sig sitt speciella paradigm. Jag föredrar hellre att tala om professionellt samarbete. Jag ser också på ”handledning” som ett eget ämne, där handledarens yrkesskicklighet mer liknar konstnärens än skicklighet inom det aktuella handledningsområdet, till exempel familjeterapi. Under mina drygt trettio år som handledare och familjeterapeut har jag varit med om olika (ofta parallella) strömningar inom handledning och familjeterapi. Där det dominanta formatet, i båda fallen, handlat om att ”dra ärenden” respektive ”berätta sin story”. I dessa format försöker professionella vanligtvis förstå/söka mening i ett innehåll för att när så skett bidra med en lämplig ”kur” (reflektioner, idéer) som ska leda till förändring. Många av dessa format utgår från ett drogmetafortänkande där professionellas teoretiskt och metodologiskt föredragna kunskaper inom ett specifikt område– numera gärna evidensbaserat – betonas och ses som yrkesskicklighet.
Handledning utifrån en konstnärsmetafor har ett annat paradigm och färdas i ett annat språk. Innehållslig information om dilemmat är till exempel (initialt) av underordnad betydelse. Formatet uppmuntrar till relationer, känslor, improvisation och samskapandet av upplevelsebaserad kunskap–i-stunden snarare än tagen-för-given-kunskap och expertis inom ämnesområdet. Ur detta kommer att yrkesskicklighet handlar om handledarens förmåga att aktivera deltagarnas personliga och professionella kunskaper, färdigheter och erfarenheter i en kreativt samskapande process utan primär målsättning att förstå hur något hänger ihop, i mer traditionell bemärkelse. Målet är istället att deltagarna ska få tillgång till mer av sig själva och andra, bli modigare, upptäcka relationella sammanhang och lära sig att se- i betydelsen inse- de fördomar vi ofta ser som ”verkligheten”.
Uppställningar/Life Staging®™ är ett av flera handledningsformat jag utvecklat utifrån detta paradigm och som jag kommer berätta mer om på min presentation.
Opening doors to possibilities: Inviting dialogue, stories an community in therapy and social transformation.
"This event will provide an opportunity for dialogue among the field’s leading practitioners, thinkers, theoreticians, and researchers. There will be an opportunity to wonder, share and be irreverent of the paradigms that have informed the field and create enriched ways to move together into the future. Come engage in a conversation-fest that will expand the field and open doors for greater possibilities, optimism and a renewed sense of community."
Invited presenters include: Ken Gergen, Harlene Anderson, Jill Freedman, Gene Combs, Sue Levin, Sylvia London, Saliha Bava, Karen Young, Jim Duvall, David Pare, Tod Augusta-Scot, John Winslade, Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin, Bonnie Miller, Monte Bobele, Arnold Slive … And many more
We are happy to inform you that your proposal, “LIFE STAGING®™”: Narratives from the Body in Supervision” has been selected for presentation! We look forward to your participation and your help in creating a learning community and dialogical space at this gathering.
The 9 th Nordic congress in Family Therapy ”Roots and Wings” gathered almost one thousands of participants in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. In this congress I held a workshop on Life Staging®™ visited by 45 colleagues. One of the hosts (seen in the picture) is Lena Sahlström, vice president at the board in the Swedish Family Therapy association.
Warja Ensjö, kurator i Katrineholm har ingått i en av de handledningsgrupper som provat på uppställningar och andra kreativa format. Inom ramen för handledarutbildningen vid Göteborgs Universitet har Warja författat en uppsats format uppställningar/lifestaging. Följ länken om du vill läsa den! Ytterligare en skrift om Life Staging® har författas av två deltagare på handledarutbildningen vid Göteborgs Universitet. A paper on Life Staging® written by Maria Kjellberg Carlson and Helena Sandgren at the Education for Supervisors, University of Gothenburg , Sweden is published recently. A link follows here (in Swedish only)