Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thoughts from the Annual Institute of Psychotherapy and Disability Conference in Dublin, June 2012

I was lucky enough a couple of weeks ago to travel to the Annual IPD Conference in Dublin with a colleague from PFP&PC.  The conference was entitled What about me: Psychotherapeutic Applications to Disability.  Professor Nigel Beail presented the keynote address about setting up psychotherapy services for people with learning disabilities where he outlined the areas for consideration including the available outcome research and the importance of evaluating services to provide data to commissioners about the value of the service. 

After the break, we presented our paper “Providing Support within the Private sector: a UK experience” on behalf of Dr Pat Frankish, which described the development of our service model with case examples of the model in practice.  We were followed by Patty Van Belle-Krusse from the Netherlands, who described her project in Arduin which provided support to people with intellectual disabilities in an environment that is therapeutic. 

In the lunch break, Irish author Jack Harte read from his novel Reflections in a Tar-Barrel which tells the story of a man who is considered to be a “half-wit”; he also believes this to be true.  The story describes how he grapples with life and the spiritual and arrives at his own world view.  Harte uses a tragic humour in his story-telling, which characterised both the pain and wonder of hero’s journey.

Following lunch there were a series of parallel seminars, of which only two could be attended. I chose Angelina Veiga’s Who Framed Sigmund Freud? On protecting patient and therapist from attack and Grania Clarke’s Working with Systems within Systems: the value of systemic approaches in working with people with disabilities and the systems designed to support them. These two seminars reminded me of the huge variations in approaches to working with people with intellectual disabilities, and the vital importance of the presence of all of them as there are large variations in our clients and their needs will be different requiring different forms of therapy and support at different times.  Angelina’s psychoanalytical presentation raised the blocks to therapy that are even more damaging of the therapy for people with intellectual disabilities and the importance of the therapist to be aware of these attacks and be ready to address them.  Grania described the complexities in the systems of people with intellectual disabilities and the varied perspectives of individual’s within the system.  She used case examples to highlight the importance of using a systemic perspective in working with people with intellectual disabilities.

Well worth the whistle-stop tour!!

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