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From 2013 into 2014

So here I am, almost at the top of Great Britain* and almost at the end of the year. Time for a review and for the expression of some appreciation and thanks. I am dancing the old year out and the new year in (with Bodysurf Scotland, and thank you to them – check them out), and gratitude is one of many feelings that is being brought to the fore. Except that it’s not really a feeling, it’s an action, an activity. So let me do gratitude to a number of people.

Though my next comment might sound like a plug, but let’s make this a celebration of the year too. I have finished writing my book on solution-focused practice (finally, it was more than a year’s work) and I look forward to its publication in 2014, hopefully in the summer. Lots of gratitude due here too – check this out in full by getting hold of the book and reading the acknowledgements 🙂 Let me just mention here Judith Milner for giving me the opportunity to write it in the first place, and the many friends who have helped me directly or indirectly.

A big part of my year has been the development and expansion of my international contacts and relationships in the solution-focused world. Two highlights were going to teach and supervise in Malmo in March and in Moscow in November, and much appreciation to Jörgen Anderson & Ylva Olsson for the former and to Victor Bogomolov, Olga Zotova, Arseniy Pavlovsky & Sasha Pavlovskaya for the latter. If I were to set any New Year resolutions for 2014 (I read a very cogent argument about why not to last year, but I can’t remember it now), one would be to write a blog post about my visit to Moscow (I already did about Malmo, I think), which I enjoyed very much.

So perhaps I shouldn’t say too much now, except to mention that one of the highlights was dancing the 5 Rhythms with Alex Nikiforov, the night before the three-day solution-focused training course started. What a great connection, these new Russian stars in the solution-focused firmament, with dance and movement, and I look forward to learning more from Olga Zotova, my interpreter and a dance movement therapist, in particular.

2013 started with a course on Focusing, which I attended with Rob Rave, who I am grateful to for his continual encouragement in engaging with focusing and other ideas outside the solution-focused mainstream (is that an oxymoron?!). I’ve introduced focusing into some workshops, notably in Malmo and at the UKASFP conference in Birmingham, and in small ways into some client work, and I look forward to developing this aspect of my practice further. Thanks as ever to my friend and associate, Rob Black. It was once again a great experience doing a workshop with him** (the UKASFP one) – playing Beethoven’s 5th to film of skateboarders as the participants were arriving, and having them all sing Lets Get Physical being the highlights. Talking of which, another great international connection, Jonas Wells from Sweden. Building on his solution-focused Spotify list, we have embarked on a project of developing uses of songs and music in solution-focused practice – watch this space! For one, it will probably take me to a Solworld conference for the first time, as we plan to present on it in Stockholm in September.

Jonas and I both attended a conference at the University of Hertfordshire in September, bringing together the worlds of solution-focused & narrative practices, research and philosophy. It was especially interesting to me, given my current academic study of philosophy (a Masters with the Open University) and my interest in integrating the solution-focused and narrative approaches. Even more exciting is the fact that the philosophy represented was of the relatively new enactive and embodied school. It was perhaps the moment in my year when overlaps were most prominent – illustrated most clearly when the Belgian therapist, Ellen Reijmers, suggested the possibility of asking clients to dance what 10 on the scale would look like – yeah!

In terms of the narrative connections – thank you to Rob Cumming, for lending his expertise – in solution-focused as well as in narrative therapy – in co-running our course, Come Together! in November – and what a privilege to have Nihaya Aburayyan as a guest on the course, the Palestinian narrative therapist who reawakened my interest in narrative therapy in 2012.

Nihaya was there because she was in London to speak at the conference on Social Work in Palestine, organised by the Palestine-UK Social Work Network, and what a tremendous success that was. It’s been another privilege to be involved with this network in the past two years, and the connections made now feel so firm that the relationships created can only go from strength to strength.

Practice-wise – I began doing sessions for the Wandsworth Integrated Offender Management Service in December, and have had two trips to HM Prison Wandsworth and two to the local Probation office so far. Nine sessions completed out of ten arranged, including six in the prison, five first sessions and a follow-up. An incredibly exciting opportunity and thanks in particular to Barbara Cala-Lesina for it. Not just blog posts to follow, but articles too hopefully…

Which takes me onto 2014 – no resolutions, but lots to look forward to –

More writing – blog posts, articles, stories – the publication of the book

The next conference of the Palestine-UK Social Work Network to take place in Jerusalem

A masters dissertation on embodied philosophy

A UKASFP conference in Liverpool (more fun and games with Rob Black)

Trips to Denmark, Poland (twice), the Netherlands, Sweden and elsewhere

Training in narrative therapy

Songs and solution-focused practice

And – watch this space also for the fruits of a developing project with Kirsten Dierolf – looking back at the origins of a solution focus…

I appreciate the opportunities to be involved in all of this. I look forward to my continuing collaborations and to new ones. And now, back to dancing.

A happy new year to all.

*The photo is my iPhone’s attempt to capture the beautiful light at Findhorn on the afternoon of the 31st December 2013 – it doesn’t quite do justice to what I actually saw…

**I also had a great time running a workshop at the EBTA conference in Bern in September, though I missed Rob – it was the first time I had a workshop singing along to a song without him – ‘T’aint what you do’, by Ella Fitzgerald & the EBTA Singers.

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