On a glorious spring day, discussing Domestic Violence in North London might have been depressing – but not so! Thanks to Damian presenting a paper on attachment styles and the propensity for violence (Bartholomew, K. 2001) we had a very thought-provoking afternoon. One thing that stayed with me was that couples where there is violence experience a You and Me rather than a We, though sometimes one person is so subsumed by the other they can look like a We. I also liked that the research seems to show that couples in the most dysfunctional relationships can seem quite “stable” – something I will be quick to point out if my friends come over smug-married!
It was also interesting to think about how this kind of analysis from a psycho-analytic point of view fits with Feminist and GSD analyses. Most research in the field has been done with hetero couples so how does internalised homophobia affect gay relationships around violence? And same-sex couples don’t necessarily come from a power & control model (research in Vancouver), whereas patriarchy is still endemic in hetero relationships. In Damian’s own study of gay men and domestic violence, it turned out that the person with the least instrumental power was more likely to be the abuser.
So, thanks for a very interesting afternoon and to everyone who came. And next time (14 June) we’ll be picking up on the theme of internalised homophobia and how that gets acted out in couples.
We were treated to a wonderful paper by Pete Palumbo at our second Alumni event – based in part on a book he’d come across called Flying without Wings by Dr Arnold Beiser, and partly on his own Gestalt practice and theoretical base. It would be difficult to summarise here, but some themes were:
- being born in captivity (heteronormativity) and the effect on one’s sense of support in the world
- how needs become shame in the face of non-attunement by a care-giver (or therapist)
- how autonomy arises in relation to others, not just from inside oneself – “dependent on smoothly functioning interdependency”
etcetera….. too much to condense, but wonderful prompts to the mind, and we are hoping Pete will publish his paper. He finished with the question, “Do we attend enough to the suffering situation, or only to the suffering individual?”
After discussion, there was much sharing of our personal and professional issues in the GSD field. It is a measure of the trust within Pink Therapy, I think, that we were ready to disclose thoughts, feelings and some non-PC beliefs in the group, without worrying about judgment.
Damian McCann has offered to present something at the next Alumni event in March. We’re adopting a pattern for the afternoon of starting at 2 pm with drinks and biscuits, having a lengthy introductory round followed by the ‘presentation’ and discussion; then a break, and finally a free-floating group discussion, until 5.30 pm. It seems to be working fine.
At just £10 for 3.5 hours, it’s a great way to keep in touch with Pink Therapy people and ideas. Next Alumni event, Saturday 15 March 2014. Open to all who’ve done the longer PT trainings. Do come.
Meeting Again: the First Pink Therapy Alumni Event
If sexuality is one of the ways we feel most alive in the world, I have felt this in abundance during the privilege of a long Pink Therapy training. To my delight, it turns out that other participants on PT courses felt this way too. So, when Dominic suggested we have a quarterly Alumni event for anyone who’d done one of the substantial trainings, I was more than happy to host the first one.
It felt a bit like turning up at a party where you know you’re not going to know anyone, but willing to reach out and hoping it will be good. I had brought a case-presentation (always take something to a party!) and the others were happy to spend time focusing on my couple-case of two women in their sixties who’d been wondering whether to split up. Lots of learning, lots of self-reflection and lots of intelligent, generous contributions from those present. There are not many places, even with good supervision, where I can guarantee the quality of thoughtfulness and openness. Pink Therapy events continue not to fail me.
After the case discussion, we just talked. We talked about our professional and personal selves; about ‘homonormativity’ (the experience many of us had had of not-quite-meeting-the-requirements of gay and lesbian social groups); we talked of our work with hetero clients and whether we challenge them enough, and we talked of the significance of a clients’ choice to work with us. We also mused on whether there is unconscious homoeroticism amongst heterosexuals in gyms and spas, disguised by competitiveness and envy. That makes it sound too heavy – we also enjoyed laughing at ourselves and our guesswork.
The magic of Pink Therapy events is finding there’s always more to learn. I used the acronym LOL and not everyone knew what that meant (Late-Onset-Lesbian), and someone used the term ‘the creative void’ about those times in life when you’ve let go of something, but haven’t found a new way yet. We thought a bit about the changes in legislation over our life-times and appreciated – and even envied – those who had been in the fight for basic gay rights back in the 1960s and 70s. And most of all we talked about how sexuality isn’t something that can or should be categorized by words or experience, but a lifelong way of becoming ourselves.
We look forward to the next event, scheduled for Saturday 14 December 2013 at 2 pm. The following two dates are 15 March and 21 June 2014. These events are open to anyone who has completed a Pink Therapy Diploma, Certificate or Essentials course. And only £10.00.
Contact: Chris Kell (firstname.lastname@example.org