This year’s conference will be my first as Principal of NCHP, so it really matters that we get it just right. The conference for those who have attended previously is a great chance to network, share news and adventures and enjoy a little ‘down time’ in all our hectic lives among friends and colleagues but first and foremost it’s a great way to learn, and get some CPD points.

In one of my (many) long conversations with Shaun (Brookhouse, the outgoing fifth Principal) we reflected on our shared belief that lifelong learning is not only important to bringing fresh material into our practices, but is the professional duty of a therapist.

After all, our clients depend on us to be creative and solution-focused and to do that we need to keep the information pipeline open. With the wealth of information available to us now (some good, some not so good) that can feel an onerous task time-wise and something akin to drinking from a fire-hose.

As primarily an educational foundation, I believe the NCHP has a responsibility to continue to challenge the current borders of practice and to be active in going out into the world of therapy and bringing back the best in developments, be that theoretical or practical. We have a collective responsibility to our clients share and to grow together by learning from each other.

With that in mind I spent some time over early 2019 canvassing opinion and gathering feedback from students and colleagues alike, selected randomly, asking them what practical problems come up in clinical practice the most. What areas do they need fresh input and ideas around most? My aim was to bring to you what you want and need rather than guess at it.

From that research I conducted a thematic analysis to distil the themes behind the questions and the results were interesting and centred around nine main categories:

How can we connect more quickly and more deeply with clients, especially in a limited session structure?

How do we better understand and deal with psychosomatic issues, both exploring the purpose and the need behind the symptom/s?

What can we do when our clients (or ourselves) get stuck?

How can we hone our use of metaphor, suggestion and language (our main tools) to better facilitate change?

How do we work more effectively with the natural homeostatic urge in psychological terms, harnessing the client’s inner ability to heal their own psychological wounds?

What about loneliness? This is often an issue for clients who have been isolated or self-isolate after a period of struggling and can be a real obstacle to therapeutic movement.

Our clients tell us a lot about their dreams, their dreams are often seen as important or symbolic and yet there are very few practical guides to effectively including and using dreamwork in our sessions.

How do we induce trance in more creative and time-economic ways to give us more time to work in trance with clients?

These questions led to me reaching out to trusted experts in those areas, those with the knowledge and skills we need to make practical differences to outcomes for our clients. All our speakers have been specifically selected and will address these issues and much more for us over the weekend.

As I taught over the last few years, I also noticed that when practitioners came back to repeat weekends there was new information that had been added to the course and that was well received with many people asking if there was a way of regularly ‘catching up’ on the new content.

The conference, I thought was a great (and ready-made) way of presenting this content going forward so I’ll be offering that on Sunday that while our other presenters, who have been hand-picked to address the other questions, will be informing and no doubt entertaining us while giving us valuable content we can take away and use immediately.

I am really looking forward to seeing old and new colleagues, students and friends and meeting anyone I haven’t personally met in June, see you there I hope.

Stuart