Workshops for Therapists

Fear and the Therapist

A one-day workshop aimed at enhancing our ability as therapists to recognise and regulate our own Fear System responses in our work with clients.

                                                    Facilitator:                  Michael Guilding

                                     Venue:                       Acomb Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice

                                                                      17 Wetherby Road, York, YO26 5BS

                                     Dates:                        TBA

                                            Time:                          10.00am to 4.30pm 

                                     Cost:                          £70 including a light lunch

Very few clients come for therapy who do not have some history of trauma.   Most of the people we work with have an autonomic nervous system highly attuned to threat and prone to fear responses such as alarm, anger, withdrawal or collapse. Working with our clients, our own fear system responses are activated.   These are biological processes that can shut down our social engagement system and render us ineffectual as therapists.  

When our fear system activates in the counselling room, we can experience tension, anxiety, fright, loss of our ability to think clearly, irritation, frustration, feelings of uselessness and hopelessness or extreme exhaustion. This is the opposite of the experience of energy, vitality and absorbed interest that we have when fear is regulated and we, and our clients, become exploratory rather than defensive.

The aim of this workshop is to increase our awareness of the physical, emotional and mental impact on us of our biological fear system responses, and to enhance our ability to regulate these responses, bringing ourselves and our clients to a place of safety – the “window of tolerance” within which therapeutic work becomes possible.

The workshop will combine an explanation of how the biological fear system works and the various states it throws us into, (covering Polyvagal Theory and the concept of the Fear Cascade), with opportunities to share our own experiences of fear system activation, both in our personal lives and in our work as therapists. We will also work with a number of practical methods for regulating our fear system responses.   

While everything we will cover on fear system regulation is applicable to our work with clients, the focus of this workshop is on ourselves as therapists, as our ability to regulate our own fear system responses is the single most important factor in our capacity to facilitate therapeutic change in others.

Each workshop will be limited to seven participants and will be facilitated in a manner which prioritises the creation of a safe space for exploration. 


To book,  please contact


Exploring the Dynamics of Attachment in Adult Life

A 5-day personal and professional development course for therapists

As therapists, we are professional caregivers, and our work requires us to respond to the needs of others who seek care from us.     Careseeking and caregiving are instinctive biological systems which, working in a straightforward manner, enhance our wellbeing and sense of self.  However, when our careseeking needs are not adequately met by responsive caregiving in infancy and childhood, our patterns of careseeking and caregiving can be defensive (infiltrated by fear-system responses) and become complicated and ineffective. 


This applies both to us as therapists and to the clients who come to us for help.  However when our clients’ fearful careseeking meets our fearful caregiving, neither of us achieve our goals and both are frustrated and diminished.   As therapists we too often don’t create the conditions that support our own personal and psychological development and patterns of defensive caregiving can ultimately create disillusionment and burnout.


This course, conducted over 5 days in a closed confidential experiential group, is aimed at helping therapists to explore their own patterns of careseeking and caregiving and become aware of the changes they might be able to make to these patterns in order to enhance their ability to both careseek and caregive more effectively and appropriately.    This can lead to a significant improvement in wellbeing and self-esteem.


The theory behind this course was developed by Dorothy Heard and Brian Lake who built on the work of Bowlby, Ainsworth and others to formulate the “Dynamics of Attachment in Adult Life” consisting of seven biologically-based systems which, working together, strengthen and develop the self and help it to recover and maintain wellbeing in the face of threat.    These seven systems are careseeking and caregiving, interest-sharing (exploration and play), affectionate sexuality, self-defence, the way we shape our external environment to be more or less supportive, and our “internal environment” in which we either treat ourselves compassionately, or we attack and undermine ourselves. All of these seven systems are explored during this course.


The course itself was developed by Una McCluskey who integrated Heard and Lake’s work with her own research on attunement and has created a way of working in groups which fosters a safe environment for exploration and personal development.  Therapists who have been put off working in a group by experiences of unsafe personal development groups during their training will find this approach very different.


Dates:                       To be announced (from January 2021)           

Times:                       09.30 to 17.00 each day     


Venue:                       Acomb Counselling & Psychotherapy Practice  

                                  17 Wetherby Road, YORK, YO26 5BS


Cost:                          £350 (may be paid monthly in instalments from December to April)


Course Facilitators:   Fran and Michael Guilding (Fran and Michael have trained with Una McCluskey over a number of years in Exploratory Goal-Corrected 

                                                                                        Psychotherapy, the method of group work that will be used in this course)


To enquire or book,  please contact