Self-harm, self-care and the way between with Dr Maggie Turp
In this workshop we will explore the relationship between self-harm and suicidal behaviour. Drawing on DVD footage and service user testimony, we will consider how individuals who self-harm conceptualise their own experience, attending to both the aetiology and function of self-harming behaviour. With the assistance of supervision group vignettes, we will reflect on the multiplicity of ways in which self-harming tendencies can become manifest. In an endeavour to address the prevalent polarisation between we who do not and they who do self-harm, participants will be invited to reflect on sub-clinical manifestations of self-harming tendencies that they may recognise in themselves. A continuum model of self-harm will be presented and discussed.
Drawing on extracts from infant observation studies, we will consider the building blocks of a functioning capacity for self-care. Particular attention will be paid to the development of boundaries around the self that are appropriately permeable – neither so tough as to impede communication, nor so porous as to invite the invasion of chaos. These matters will be discussed in terms of psychic skin functioning (Bick 1968, Briggs 1997, Turp 2003, 2007). Parallels will be drawn between psychodynamic understandings and neurobiology findings relating to arousal levels, affect regulation and problems with interdependency.(Schore 1994, Gerhardt 2004).
The focus in the afternoon is on clinical practice. Clinical vignettes will be provided for discussion in small groups and a large group discussion of issues arising will follow. Space will be available for consideration of clinical dilemmas currently being experienced by participants. Particular attention will be paid to countertransference issues, with their potential for eroding empathy and impeding thoughtfulness. The afternoon will end with a summary of helpful therapeutic strategies.
What participants can expect to learn:
- Basis for distinguishing between self-harming and suicidal behaviour and evaluating risk.
- Enhanced understanding of causative factors underpinning self-harming behaviour (historically based).
- Enhanced understanding of purpose and function of self-harm (present and future based).
- Familiarity with the continuum model of self-harming behaviour.
- Working knowledge of concept of psychic skin functioning and ability to think about self-harm in terms of damage to boundaries around the self.
- Capacity to think about the impact of early experience and integrate understandings based in infant observation with findings from neurobiology.
- Capacity to identify, understand and address dependency issues in clinical work.
- Capacity to think about self-harm in the context of difficulties with affect regulation.
- Understanding of countertransference responses and their potential impact on empathy and thoughtfulness.
- Enhanced competence and confidence in working with individuals who self-harm.
Participants attending the full course will be awarded a certificate of attendance for CPD.
Dr Maggie Turp is a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice and a chartered psychologist. Her academic career has included lectureships at the University of Reading and at Birkbeck College, London. Since retiring from mainstream academic life, she has been an external examiner and visiting lecturer at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Her publications include several journal papers and two books; psychosomatic health: the body and the word (2001 Palgrave) and hidden self-harm: narratives from psychotherapy (2003 Jessica Kingsley). She welcomes correspondence.
About Helen Davies
Note: See above for course facilitator.
Helen is a relational transactional analyst and UKCP reg psychotherapist, supervisor & trainer. She practices in Chichester, lectures on courses across the South Coast & consults on culture & communications in organisations. Helen is a member of UKATA’s ethics committee & comes from a business background.