Embodiment, Relational Space & Working with Trauma to the Sense of Self ~ 30/31 May 2018

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Embodiment, Relational Space and Working with Trauma to the Sense of Self

An embodied and theoretical exploration of our relational selves, narcissistic wounding, and the burdening of the therapist.

A two day workshop led by Tim Sheard, CAT Psychotherapist

Please note this event has passed.

Hashtag: #CATerst18

Some participant feedback from the day:

What was useful, interesting or enjoyable?

Group process & engagement

The experiential & group.  Appreciated reading material before.  Just right, not too structured

Understanding aspects of my personal & professional experience; ‘getting’ embodiment in ways I can apply in practice

Looking inside.  Allowing unstructure.  Not too busy.

All of it.  Good to have material prior to workshop.

I liked and benefitted that it wasn’t overly structured, but it flowed & felt organic, which felt more appropriate to the content & context. So I see this as a plus! The group experience, the emerging content but most helpfully the pace.

There was nothing that I didn’t find valuable about this workshop. Tim is great and a wonderful facilitator

Date:       Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 May 2018
Time:      09:30am to 4:30pm
Venue:    Chancellors Hotel, Chancellors Way, Moseley Road, Manchester M14 6NN
Fees:       ACAT member :: £230.00
Non-ACAT member :: £250.00

Overview of workshop:

This workshop focused on how engaging with our own embodiment as therapists may enhance our relational capacities and help free up stuck and overwhelming processes when working with clients who have experienced significant developmental trauma.  At the same time this may make us more aware of the significant stress and burden we can so easily take on in this work.  It explored how such stress may be understood to be an unrecognised form of collusive reciprocation.  Last, but not least, it provided an opportunity to learn and practise skills potentially to reduce this burdening.

A particular focus was on the narcissistic pole of developmental trauma, and associated unmanageable experiences of shame, self disgust, emptiness, and contact with a sense of self being experienced as traumatic or annihilating.  This is in contrast to a focus on abuse, abandonment and rescue, which are perhaps more usually a target for work in cognitive analytic therapy (CAT).

Aims and learning outcomes:

Over the two days of this workshop, there was opportunity to:

  • Learn ways to engage with your own embodiment as a therapist.
  • Discover how embodiment can enhance your relational capacities, open relational space and free up stuck or overwhelming process when working with complex developmental trauma.
  • Gain an embodied sense of how this burdening can be understood as a damaging form of collusive reciprocation, often unrecognised as it is hidden in bodily burdening of the therapist.  In other therapeutic frames this may be understood as dysregulation or vicarious traumatising of the therapist.
  • Develop embodied insight into ways you may be taking burdens from your clients and carrying them inside your body.  This may result in stress, tiredness, exhaustion,  burnout and vicarious traumatisation.
  • Learn and practise how to reduce therapist burdening using embodiment skills.
  • Explore in particular the relational challenges of working with narcissistic wounding and how embodiment can support the therapist to creatively interrupt narcissistic procedures.
  • Begin to explore how the therapeutic relationship takes place in an embodied relational field, not simply between two reflective “minds”, and how embodiment skills may render it more tangible.  This may help clarify the kind of relational presence we offer as therapists while supporting the development of healthy self-to-self reciprocal roles to resource us in the therapy room.
  • Touch on our crucial but perhaps intangible experience of a sense of self, that of some sense of separate identity while in relationship with others.  This may open up new perspectives on therapeutic and relational space, containment, and how relationship may be mediated through embodied presence.

Who was it for?

The day was aimed at trainee and qualified CAT practitioners and psychotherapists.  It was also relevant and accessible to other therapists familiar with CAT (particularly with the concept of reciprocal roles) and using relational understanding in their work with people with complex developmental trauma.


Tim Sheard qualified as a UKCP-registered CAT psychotherapist in 1997, has a background in medicine, and has trained in body psychotherapy, transpersonal and constellations work.  Nowadays his teaching in the UK and Finland focuses on embodiment as a creative resource in mediating the therapeutic relationship and therapist self care.  This is described in his article in the Summer 2017 issue of Reformulation.

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