Tag Archives: Psychotherapy Skills

Introducing Skills Lab: Sharing, learning, integrating…and getting a bit musical

In the fourth of our occasional blogs, CAT psychotherapists Cheryl Delisser and Clive Turpin invite CAT therapists in the north to get involved with the Skills Lab hour in our regular Projects Forum.

The Catalyse Projects Forum has been running since 2011. We took on a shared co-ordinating role in 2014 and have enjoyed seeing how the the meetings have developed since. The idea of incorporating a Skills Lab Hour was offered by Rhona Brown, who’d toyed with this idea since watching, she confesses, one too many box sets of Grey’s Anatomy. One setting for the various personal and professional dramas played out by characters in this US TV series is a room where trainee surgeons go to practice novel or important clinical skills, either alone or together. We liked the idea of offering a setting for CAT colleagues to practice clinical skills together and hoped it might go towards helping to meet ACAT’s CPD requirements for those within the Catalyse network.

Glenys Parry also reminded us of the concept of deliberate practice, originally highlighted in the early 90’s, and more recently developed in the realm of psychotherapy by Scott Miller and colleagues. This recent research supports the potential benefit of engaging in deliberate and repeated practice of psychotherapeutic skills as a way for therapists to increase their effectiveness.

So since the start of 2015 we’ve incorporated a Skills Lab within the Projects Forum which has been well received by those attending. The Skills Lab runs for an hour and each session has been led by someone with some knowledge and experience of using that skill. We have led two of these:- the first on ‘mapping in the moment‘ and the second on ‘versatility and dialogue‘. Other topics have included power mapping, led by Rhona Brown; social support network analysis, led by Glenys Parry, and most recently, the use of technology in therapy, led by Jo Varela.

People attending have really valued the integration of Skills Labs, and we’re keen to continue with a diverse range of topics and participants. So we encourage and invite all CAT therapists within the North to reflect on your own areas of interest or experience, and share these with others by leading a Skills Lab. There’s no expectation of some high-tech presentation; the Skills Lab is there to help participants develop or maintain a skill, not to listen to someone talking for 45-50 minutes about a topic. What we find works best is an initial introduction on the subject and then some form of practice whether alone, in pairs or small groups, followed by sharing experiences and thoughts.

Offering a personal parallel to this is my (Clive’s) experience of learning to play the piano. I can apply my knowledge of music and the instrument and read the music in front of me to break down a piece in order to learn it. However something changes when I’m sat with my teacher and we’re in dialogue about my skills, or sometimes the lack of them! He will see and hear things that I do not and brings them to my attention to help my learning, growing awareness and improvement. After my teacher leaves there is much that continues to resonate and sometimes in the following morning’s practice I seem able to play parts that I struggled with the previous day. The Skills Lab offers a similar form of sharing a skill and being in dialogue in small groups or pairings in relation to it, which can support development and enhance future practice.

We are really keen to have as many ‘voices’ as possible contributing to the Skills Lab and attending the Projects Forum. If you’re interested in leading one, or have an idea you’d like to sound out and develop, then please contact us and we can work towards making it happen. Even if you don’t want to lead one yourself, you may want to put forward some topics that interest you, which could spark others to think, “I’ve got some experience to share about that”.

The next Projects Forum takes place on Friday 19th May 2017 in Manchester, and the Skills Lab slot remains open. We’ve had one suggestion on incorporating positive psychology and strengths-based approaches into CAT and would welcome any offers to lead, either on this theme, or another.  If you have any ideas to share, then get in touch or leave a comment on this blog.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Cheryl Delisser and Clive Turpin

You can find Clive on Twitter @Clive_Turpin