No Pain, No Gain?

Personal and professional development is a big issue in the psychotherapy world. My professional organisations (BACP: UKCP: UPCA) all demand that I engage in the stuff called ‘continuing professional development’ with the personal bit assumed to be somehow incorporated or concomitant. However, having written a book on this subject I think I am on firm ground when I say the definitions of development are somewhat sloppy. Is change the same as development?

I’m thinking about this now for two main reasons. The major push comes from agreeing to write a book chapter on the subject. Out of the fog of procrastination, some embryonic thoughts are emerging. The other impetus comes from having moved from the Midlands to the South West. The change in environment and circumstance has had a big impact on me ‘personally’ – but have I ‘developed’?

fox lodge

I think I have been freed up to experience what is around me in a new way. Of course it is unfamiliar and exciting, and perhaps in time it will all become taken for granted – but I don’t think so. It reminds me of holidays in beautiful places, where you get up every morning and are bowled over by the view; but now there is no going home – I live here! Unlike a holiday I now have the opportunity to appreciate a beautiful physical environment over a long period of time. Right now this is still difficult to grasp, whilst at the same time I feel I have a significant relationship with the place already.

Our relationship with place is something that I have been exploring here in the blog before. I see now that my proclamation of love for the boatyard was just a foretaste of what was to come. With this positive and very visceral relationship with the physical environment I feel that I am moving into new territory. If this had been an outcome of therapy, I’d call it a great success.

A great success but also a great challenge. The moving process itself was riddled with anxiety and shock, and despite the enormous gains there were many losses. It challenged me in all sorts of ways, and that, I am sure, has got to be a part of the process of development. It has to be more than reading the book and doing the ‘self reflection exercises’ that are now in every psychotherapy book I come across!

In just the same way my sketching is unlikely to develop without something toppling me off of the current plateau and making me struggle.

sketchstroud1                window 1

sketchstroud3          blckbooks

It’s taken a while to get it going again after moving house, but it’s back on track – a track that will probably be ploughed up in the summer when I attend the Urban Sketchers international symposium in Manchester. Tickets sold out within 4 minutes of going online, so even the process of booking was a challenge. I’m thinking that the workshops will demand far more, shaking me free from my comfort zones but holding out the possibility of seeing more of the world than I can at present.

There is, it seems to me, no way of avoiding feeling useless, confused, upset, de-skilled, off balance –  if any new personal learning is to take place. I think this should be part of the definition!











10 thoughts on “No Pain, No Gain?

  1. Jackie Moulsher

    Hi Chris It’s been a long time and I have been thinking of you quite recently and then I came across this website – what a delight. best wishes Jackie

  2. Chris Post author

    ‘Following your nose’ might, in psychotherapy terms, be probably seen as a response to unconscious desires or promptings, which is perfectly legitimate personal development ‘work’!! How we use the word ‘work’ is itself interesting – and how it gets set up in opposition to ‘play’ a lot of the time. Although I’ve been writing about ‘no pain, no gain’ I wouldn’t want to underestimate the importance of play!

  3. Pam Lunn

    Really good to see you back online, Chris; and your new place looks wonderful in your sketches – the feeling for it that you write about shows through in the images.

    And it’s a thought-provoking, generative piece. I’ve been mulling over it since you posted, returned to it today, and was interested to see that you’ve written in your later comment: “there is some implicit notion of ‘working at it’ – the English social class baggage of self improvement, trying harder” . . . because that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

    When I was still working, in facilitation and PD work, the need for ‘personal and professional development’ wasn’t as structured as in psychotherapy, but was still there, and real. And I’d been thinking that, as a result, the ‘development’ felt like ‘more work’ . . . undertaken deliberately, planned, in a way instrumental.

    Since I retired from paid work I’ve just stopped all that . . . instead I’ve been ‘following my nose’, just taking up what seems to draw my attention, to interest me, something that seems like a good idea at the time; not doing anything because it would be ‘good for me’. This approach has taken me into some surprising areas, activities that aren’t anything I might have anticipated or guessed at, ways of doing things that are challenging and ‘developmental’ without being ‘work’.

    It’s endlessly fascinating . . . oh, I see, I’m trying that now, am I? . . . as well as enjoyable.

  4. Chris Post author

    You’re right about value, Claudia. For the psychotherapist, personal development is supposed to be A Good Thing whereas change is neutral – could go either way. Plus I think there is some implicit notion of ‘working at it’ – the English social class baggage of self improvement, trying harder, learning from one’s mistakes and so on.( When I was at school there was an exercise that some of us girls did to the chant of ‘we must, we must, we must improve our bust’!)
    As for the new found relationship with the landscape, I’m going to ‘try hard’ to develop it. Some things are very resistant to change!

  5. Claudia McGill

    I think the thing that is sticking with me is the part about is change the same as development. I’m not sure. It seems as if it matters whether development is given a value, I mean, being a positive thing, or a mindful thing, as opposed to going in a bad direction, or doing so at the will of the wind.

    Also, interesting to me what you say about being so taken with the natural world in your new home. I will be interested if the newness wears off, or if the love of the place just gets stronger, because you’ve found a place where you fit?

  6. Chris Post author

    Hi Eleanor
    It’s taken a while to pick up the blog – a sign of settling in! Good to know you are still reading it!

  7. nesbitteleanor

    So good to read/ see this, Chris.  Only yesterday I was asking Ruth Stagg ifshe had news of you. Very best wishes Eleanor

    From: “sketching, psychotherapy and beyond” To: Sent: Sunday, 31 January 2016, 10:26 Subject: [New post] No Pain, No Gain? #yiv8582761204 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv8582761204 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv8582761204 a.yiv8582761204primaryactionlink:link, #yiv8582761204 a.yiv8582761204primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv8582761204 a.yiv8582761204primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv8582761204 a.yiv8582761204primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv8582761204 | Chris posted: “Personal and professional development is a big issue in the psychotherapy world. My professional organisations (BACP: UKCP: UPCA) all demand that I engage in the stuff called ‘continuing professional development’ with the personal bit assumed to be someho” | |

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