Coaching for Psychiatrists
'Mental Health' Wellness Coaching for Individuals & Groups of Psychiatrists covering both complementary education and practices for self-care and well-being.
I have been offering education and 'care for the carer' services for clinicians for the past five years in Switzerland, Italy, Brazil and the UK.
These events came about because of personal contacts, that cut through the 'hierarchies' and 'barriers to sanity' that exist within our culture.
So an influential psychotherapy teacher in Switzerland, a Brazilian psychiatrist and nursing professor I met while training in Mindfulness and a clinical psychologist they introduced me to in London facilitated me taking the floor, with their peers and students.
And from them I have met other clinicians who have been interested in my work.
What they all had in common was an open mind and warm heart. Along with a desire to see mental health care evolve to be more effective in supporting patients to recover.
I am still interested in this presentation / workshop style work, but what I want to offer here is personal one to one and small group coaching services for psychiatrists.
My Relations with Psychiatrists
My interaction with psychiatrists over the years has been interesting!
My first meeting with a psychiatrist was as a prospective patient.
I needed to discuss some urges I had become aware of to cause hurt to my then girlfriend, which distressed me enormously. We had discussed it together and agreed I would see a psychiatrist as she had her own mental health background and was familiar with this world.
Upon seeing the psychiatric hospital from the inside, I changed my mind, and just had a 'nice chat' with the goal of not hanging around any longer than necessary.
I called him again later though, explaining what had happened, and he very kindly agreed to visit me at my flat on his way home and give me another chance.
He was able to reassure me about my 'threat to others' concern, and we continued our chat with the state of the hospital, his concern for his own well-being, the difficulty of his position as someone who wanted to find more human ways to work with people within an NHS system that seemed closed to change and the possibility of real change when the society itself cared enough.
We concluded with him encouraging my interest in politics to see if I could help the change along.
I am still grateful for our meeting today, 26 years later. It was one of the seeds for this website.
My second meeting with a psychiatrist was in China as a patient five years later. We met in the back of a van with the police handing me over to him from a police cell I had covered in my blood.
He did his best to reassure me with his limited English and was kind in his manner with me. I believed he was Chairman Mao, come to order my execution, but was not aggressive with him.
It was a difficult start together, but once we were settled in the hospital and my parents were present, we got on well. This was a good human being doing a difficult job and I am grateful that he was my doctor there.
My third meeting with a psychiatrist, was again as a patient, now in the UK. You can read about it in the journal issue1: A Letter to the Psychiatric Profession from One who 'Got Away'.
My fourth meeting was in a peaceful Zen Centre, with an Austrian psychiatrist, feeling good about his life, on his way to emigrate to New Zealand.
The conversation moved from a friendly chat to full on confrontation, in which he attempted to crush me to stop my words, before finally admitting that his work as a psychiatrist in Austria had been guided by financial concerns as well as protocol and if he had spent time with his patients to discover the ones who could have been helped in ways other than just tranquilising them, he wouldn't have earned very much money.
My fifth psychiatrist was in a desperate state. Deep in depression, having retired and had time to reflect on his life, he came to a group I sat in for confessional it seemed, and we listened with compassion. Everyone in the room having been through psychiatric care. The last time I listened to confession, was from a Chinese man who had helped develop missile nose cones aimed at the West!
My sixth psychiatrist was an utter delight. He joked that he was glad we became friends before I realised he was a psychiatrist. A relaxed Brazilian. I enjoyed his laughter throughout the mindfulness training we shared and a year or so later at the end of our training, we decided to pair up together to do our graduation presentation, which we did on Mindfulness for Burnout.
The audience quickly realised that he was an expert psychiatrist specialising in people with sensitivity having breakdowns including burnout and I was a person experienced having been through it all.
We had feedback from people requesting to join whenever the two of us collaborated together professionally. And so my work started in Brazil a little later.
There have been many more. Some are friends now. Others I found strange.
One person who attended an event I was leading, seemed to find it difficult to acknowledge I existed. I sat next to her at lunch, when I could have given attention to many others, yet she closed our conversation and turned instead to engage with another attendee to her other side, probably one of the other clinicians present.
Another, who is more close can be good for a warm chat, but on certain territory around the use of medications, the emotional tone can get a little bit intense at times.
After all I am challenging the view, important to any psychiatrist's self-image that past patients have been treated as well as they could have. This is not easy to look at, but I believe it is correct and essential to recognise so that care can evolve.
Caring for the Carer
Through the second half of 2001, every two weeks, I attended an outpatient clinic at my local GP surgery to see my then psychiatrist.
It was an unpleasant experience sitting in the queue, and I remember often looking at all the people around me, thinking what kind of person could meet a constant stream of people in such misery day in day out. I was one of them.
Now if you are able to meet them in authentic compassion, face the emotional pain together, cry a bit together and do something, even if small to help the life showing up through them to shine a little brighter, then its a joy and privilege. And you yourself will be enriched by the experience.
Perhaps there is a risk of vicarious trauma, but I think compassionate meeting is an antidote to this, along with mature sensitivity to your own needs, emotions and limitations and sufficient time for practices to rebalance yourself.
But if the meeting is without heart resonance, power based defences being held firm against the suffering of the other, 'professional detachment', then you suffer another kind of gradual personal tragedy, in which the heart becomes closed.
Naturally alongside this, the cognitive mind will dominate more of the interaction with others, facilitating diagnostic work perhaps, but disabling you to provide emotional care to the person in front of you.
And if like the retired psychiatrist I met, you suddenly one day have more time and space to reflect and heart feeling starts to return, the experience might not be a comfortable one. I can only imagine.
I am not interested in judging anyone. What I am interested in, is helping people to come back to feeling if they realise this issue and need help on the journey.
In the case of clinicians, this will also touch the lives of your patients and from them out into the wider society. It seems a worthy task.
If you want to help someone, you need to be able to understand, ideally 'know', what they are experiencing, and how their relationship to it, which is likely traumatic, could be different.
The difficulty with understanding people experiencing extreme mental / emotional states is that they are likely in so much confusion that they can't communicate their experience and so as a clinician you end up looking in at an opaque, murky pool of water with little idea what is moving below the surface.
To fill the gap, perhaps there is some book knowledge to learn from authoritative psychiatrists now or in the past who for some reason felt that they had this understanding or knowledge.
And perhaps there is some research done which has been marked as science, reliable in its quality or not, to establish truths of the 'church', as I've called it in other writing. The problem is science is weak when cognitive frameworks behind the research design are flawed, participants can't communicate well and vested interests are high.
What you are left with is a whole load of vague myths and some 'truth in the field', where practising psychiatrists can see people coming in agitated, calm down and regain some insight once given medications.
If this was the end of it and people then went home well and carried on with life, we might not need to be concerned, but in truth this isn't the case is it. I will write more elsewhere.
The strange truth is, that the people best positioned to inform the psychiatric profession are the ones who have managed to get away from its care somehow and they just might prefer never to have contact with it again.
And if someone does start to challenge the myths, you may either be written off as unwell still or unreliable, or ironically be considered someone who probably wasn't that sick in the first place, and so was able to recover without the all essential medication!
Anyway, for those open, I am happy to share my experience of non-ordinary states, without the use of psychoactive drugs or plant medicines and stabilization and recovery without the use of anti-psychotics.
The Psychiatric Profession
Psychiatry is a strange profession. It is still a recent area of medicine, with coercive treatments forced on people in the 20th Century ranging from insulin torture, to electric shock treatment, to gland removal, to brain frontal-lobe removal, to ice blankets... all in the name of medical care.
Add to this the general dehumanising way of relating to people including the group hosing down in some asylumns for hygiene purposes and you have to wonder what they were thinking.
And then since the 1950-60's there has been mass use of brain chemistry changing medications without stopping to notice that people don't have a great life on them. People in countries with less access to psychiatry appear to fare better.
If a free thinking alien arrived to observe the whole process, they might wonder about our ideas on helping people!
So no pretences here. This is not necessarily an easy conversation, but it is an important one and I am willing to participate in it.
My view on 'meetings' is that they are a chance for both people to meet another view point, allowing them to enrich and deepen their personal understanding. I am not concerned whether we agree on everything, so long as there is respect.
If I am able to help even in a small way to enable you to work better with your patients, then I would have done my job very well.
Contact me if this sounds of interest. I can also work with small groups if there are several people who want to learn together.
Wellness Coaching: I am offering 'wellness / life coaching' sessions as an 'expert by experience'. I am not a regulated psychotherapist or counsellor. I have professional training and up to date insurance to work with individuals as a Mindfulness teacher, a Bodywork therapist and as a Tai Chi teacher.
This is a legal disclaimer: What you take from a session and put into action in your life is your personal responsibility. By engaging my services, I will assume you understand and accept this.
Personal Responsibility: I expect individuals to take responsibility for themselves. I cannot take this on myself, though I will support people as best I can. If the individual cannot do this then family members need to take responsibility. If there is a situation in which no one is able to take responsibility, then sadly this is where the mental health services play an important role in our society.
Psychiatry: In my experience the psychiatric profession plays an important health and safety role for the society. I must acknowledge that for some people the use of some form of anti-psychotic medication may be appropriate despite the side-effects. When something better is available the treatments should be updated.
But I also believe that there are individuals with more sensitivity who could be helped in other more gentle ways and right now these options are not available to them. Treatment with anti-psychotic medications may prevent them from living out their full potential in life and this is very, very sad. Most people will prefer to look away unless it is their own life being ruined or that of someone they love but this cannot be ignored and needs to change in our society and mental health systems.
So while the pharmacology path may be the only option for some people, as a kindly psychiatrist once told me, if you can find any other path, take it...
Dangers - I am not naive as to the dangers inherent in non-ordinary experiences, but am not afraid of them in the way perhaps the majority of humanity are, including psychiatric professionals. We will discuss this, and if in the end you need 24hr support (which I did the first time), then the options will include psychiatric care, hopefully for a short time.
Trauma & Suffering - In my experience, people experience mental health difficulties for a reason, not because of a random 'act of God'. Whether anyone wants to face the 'reason' is another matter. A benefit from having been 'cruxified' in my own journey is that I have a capacity to be with suffering in others. We may even be able to make light of it...
Practical Details & Fees
I would suggest people make an initial contact with me through this website.
We can then arrange a first paid session if you are clear you want to work with me.
I have found with Experiencer coaching that we need 1 1/2 hours for a first session, the fee is £75.
Any subsequent sessions will be £50 for 1 hour.
Coaching for Family members or Clinicians will be charged at £50 / hour. First sessions can be 1 hour.
For small groups, I will charge £30 / hour each for two people, £20 / hour each for three, £15 / hour each for four to ten people (open to discussion).
I charge £80 for Sei Ki Touch and coaching sessions combined in person usually lasting 1 1/2 hours.
Payment can be made by bank transfer or credit card via Paypal. I will send details. I request payment to be made before the agreed session.
Embodied Mindfulness & Qi Gong
- Tuesdays: 7.15-8.30pm - Hara Conditioning
- Thursdays: 7.15-8.30pm - Tai Chi Qi Gong
Both classes have much to offer us to develop greater embodiment and enhanced physicality which serve us well when we need to strengthen our physical or mental health resilience.
Open to people with any physical or mental health condition.
Nb. I prefer people to sign up for at least one private session before joining the group class, so I am aware of your specific needs.
Class Fee £15 / session. £7.50 concessions. Maximum 5 people per class.
I have also created an online Tai Chi & Qi Gong course to help people maintain their physical and mental health. Enjoy.
This is a series of videos detailing practices I share in my Weathering Storms Mental Health Resilience Workshops.