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Lessons from a personal multi-source feedback project

"A friend is someone who sees the potential in you and helps you to live it."     W. B. Yeats (adapted)

"Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger."    Franklin Jones

A few months ago now, I initiated a personal feedback project.  It was triggered by a number of factors.  I was soon to start the third part of an Emotion-Focused Therapy training and was interested in possibly using myself as "a case study" for the course; I had received some quite surprising & confronting feedback from a friend and I wondered how idiosyncratic or widespread his viewpoint might be; I had been encouraging feedback in groups that I run and I wanted to explore this more deeply; and finally I'm in a very good position to ask for & receive honest, thoughtful feedback from a broad social circle.

Going back for a university reunion: emotional intelligence, group work & learning to relate more deeply (3rd post)

"God guard me from those thoughts men think in the mind alone; he that sings a lasting song, thinks in a marrow bone."     W. B. Yeats

"We camouflage our true being before others to protect ourselves against criticism or rejection.  This protection comes at a steep price.  When we are not truly known by the other people in our lives, we are misunderstood.  When we are misunderstood, especially by family and friends, we join the 'lonely crowd.'  Worse, when we succeed in hiding our being from others, we tend to lose touch with our real selves.  This loss of self contributes to illness in its myriad forms."         Sidney Jourard

Peer groups, Cumbria spring group: third full day - boundary issues, friendships and singing round a bonfire under the stars

And it's the final early morning of this four day residential group.  I wrote yesterday about sunshine along the wall outside - and it's here again today, bright & fresh.  Sunday morning.  I can be a very organized person - lovely though to let my hair down at times here (what hair I've got left).  Yesterday evening we sang around a bonfire.  Fantastic stars.  The stream.  Wine.  Singing together.  Happiness.  Not to bed till well after midnight.

Peer groups, Cumbria spring group: second full day - couple's work, interpersonal challenge, fathers and banquets

The start of the third full day here.  In yesterday's post I wrote about the first full day and today I'll write about our second full day together.  We've had so much rain over the last couple of days, it's a blessing to see the bright early sunlight splashed along the wall outside the window as I sit here writing.  I sneaked away to bed with Catero my wife a bit early yesterday evening.  It had been a long special day and now I'm up this morning feeling fresh.

Peer groups, Cumbria spring group: first full day - feeling our way in, revisiting the Skye experience and dancing

Still before breakfast - at the start of the second full day now.  Yesterday I wrote about "arriving".  The noise of the mill stream just outside provides a constant back drop while we're here.  When we arrived on Wednesday evening it was flowing so quietly, the water level almost as low as I've seen it.  Then the rain came and it turned into a torrent.  Roaring.  In a way a bit of a parallel for our group.  We've got going fast.  So many of us know each other well.  Familiar place.  Familiar to be in one of these residential groups together again.  And new.  Extraordinary to "age" alongside these people.  We've brought photographs from earlier groups going back over twenty years.  Poignant, funny, endearing, happy-sad.

Peer groups, Cumbria spring group: first morning - "arriving"

First morning of the "Mixed Group".  We have been meeting like this - in an old converted watermill in Cumbria - nearly every year since the start of the 90's.  This year's residential is a bit different.  For many it's a 20 year reunion (or thereabouts).  Sixteen old friends!  Sounds a little like "The big chill" or "Peter's friends" or any of a whole series of other films and stories looking at  "reunions".  I've written a lot about these residential groups in this blog - see, for example, the group work links in

  • Update on website traffic: my own favourite top 15 (6-10) - therapist feedback, relationships, conflict, group work, & walking

    Last month I used Google Analytics to identify the most read pages on this website and I wrote the post "Update on website traffic: the ten most popular blog posts". This got me thinking - "What are my own personal favourites?" I quickly realised that the posts that I've written that have had the most impact on me and my practice as a therapist are nearly always made up of sequences of blog posts rather than just individual items.  I said that glancing back over the last year or so, themes that stood out included mindfulness, therapist feedback, self-control, conflict, embodied cognition and positive psychology.

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