Talks & Workshops

I can talk and facilitate workshops on any of the main topics covered on this website, and in my books, so long as I am given plenty of advance notice. My preference is for talking to public audiences, but I’m also available for talks and training to activists, therapists, academics, and other professionals.

Cost is usually £250 for an hour talk/workshop, £500 for half a day, and £1000 for a whole day (plus any travel expenses). But discounts are possible for non-profit and charitable organisations.

Check out my prezi site to see the full range of talks that I can give.

  • You can view a talk I did on love, sex and gender here.
  • There are recordings of a panel I took part in on polyamory here.
  • You can hear an academic presentation on relationships here.

Here are some more examples:

My TED talk on Rewriting the Rules.

A talk on non-binary genders.

A talk on non/monogamy.

The same presentation as the keynote at the Lisbon non-monogamies conference.

A video about Valentine’s Day.

My talk on ‘normal sex’.

My talk on sexual pleasure.

My presentation on queer.

A brief talk about The Bisexuality Report.

A longer talk on bisexuality and mental health:

Sex Addiction: Fact or Fiction?

Training

I provide training on a number of topics, primarily to counsellors, psychotherapists and other practitioners, but I can also train on most of these topics to other audiences (e.g. workplaces, medics, community groups) as well as providing interactive workshops for interested members of the general public.

I have many years experience providing training and CPD (continuing professional development) and these events are always well received. See below for a list of the topics that I train on.

Cost is usually £500 for half a day, £1000 for a whole day, and £250 for an hour training. But discounts and free trainings are possible for non-profit and charitable organisations.

This workshop is designed for therapists or other practitioners who want to know more about mindfulness and the ways in which it might be useful for their work. It is open to people working from all different modalities and encourages discussion of how mindfulness might work with a variety of existing approaches to SRT (e.g. CBT, physiological, humanistic, systemic, psychodynamic).

The workshop will start with basic mindfulness techniques and definitions for those who are unfamiliar with these ideas. We will consider mindfulness as both a way of understanding suffering and as a set of practices which people can employ. We will explore how mindfulness can be something we encourage our clients to do, something that we ourselves practice or bring into dialogue with our current approach, and a way of understanding the counselling relationship.

The workshop will be very experiential including several different practices as well as discussion of the theory behind them and how they might be incorporated into our work and/or lives.

This course is designed for sexual and relationship therapists and other related practitioners who want to know more about mindfulness and the ways in which it might be useful for their work. It is open to people working from all different modalities and encourages discussion of how mindfulness might work with a variety of existing approaches to SRT (e.g. CBT, physiological, humanistic, systemic, psychodynamic).

The day will start with basic mindfulness techniques and definitions for those who are unfamiliar with these ideas. We will consider mindfulness as both a way of understanding suffering and as a set of practices which people can employ. We will explore how mindfulness can be something we encourage our clients to do, something that we ourselves practice or bring into dialogue with our current approach, and a way of understanding the counselling relationship.

Following these introductions we will turn to sex therapy and consider how mindfulness would understand common sexual difficulties, and how mindfulness practices may be useful in the arena of sex and sexuality. Particularly we will explore the mindfulness ideas of craving and letting go in relation to sexual compulsions, and the mindful focus on being present for goal-oriented sex and sexual pain.

After this we will consider mindfulness in relationship therapy. We will explore how mindfulness teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön and John Welwood understand relationship struggles, locating them in a grasping approach to others, to relationships, and to ourselves. We will think about how such understandings might be useful in relationship therapy, and explore some possibilities for mindfulness practice individually (e.g. Tonglen practice) and in relationships (e.g. Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue).

This workshop argues that it is important, as therapists and other mental health practitioners, to regard people as biopsychosocial, and to consider to role of ‘the social’ in mental health. When working clients it is vital to maintain awareness of the social context of their struggles, particularly in relation to self-monitoring and self-criticism.

The workshop will cover the following elements:

  • Introductions and thinking biopsychosocially
  • Sociocultural aspects and mental health
  • Self-monitoring and mental health
  • The role of social messages about relationships in relationship problems

This workshop is aimed at those of us whose work involves caring for others and/or trying to change the world. This includes therapists and other practitioners, activists or academics.

Whether we’re trying to address things on an individual level (by helping people who are impacted by the current social situation) or on a social level (by raising awareness and trying to change things), we all need to retreat every now and then, and to consider how we look after ourselves and get support.

Hopefully this workshop will be a form of self-care in itself, will enable participants to reflect on the ways in which they can build self-care into their lives, and will prompt an exploration into the links between caring for ourselves and for other people and the wider world.

The workshop will be divided into four parts. During the first session we will discuss why self-care is important in our lives, and how we currently engage with it, sharing examples of possible practice and our sense of how it relates to our work. In the second session we will try out various forms of self-care with a focus on tuning into ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, and our bodies. In the third session we will start to explore more outward focused forms of self-care, including reaching out to others, listening to each other, and community-building. During the final session we will return to the question of how self-care relates to our work, considering the possibility of developing compassionate networks, and thinking about the ways in which our treatment of ourselves, others, and the wider world are intertwined.

Session 1

This course is designed for counselors and psychotherapists who work with individuals but have little knowledge or experience of working directly with relationships, or who may have worked with relationships in the past but are a bit rusty. This is the first of four linked CPD days over the next two years which will build competency in relationship therapy, covering key aspects of process as well as common content issues that come up in relationship work. These sessions are pluralistic in approach, drawing on theories and practices from a range of modalities. Attendees are encouraged to bring in ideas and techniques from their own modalities. This first session focuses on the basic process of couple work. We will cover the ways in which the dynamic of therapy alters when there are two clients rather than one. We will address some of the main techniques which therapists employ when working with couples, as well as some pitfalls to be avoided. We will also introduce the different options which are possible for couple work (in terms of length of sessions, alternating sessions, etc.) Possibilities will be tried out in practical exercises during the day.

Session 2

This course is designed for counselors and psychotherapists who work with individuals but have little knowledge or experience of working directly with relationships, or who may have worked with relationships in the past but are a bit rusty. This is the second of four linked CPD days which build competency in relationship therapy, covering key aspects of process as well as common content issues that come up in relationship work. These sessions are pluralistic in approach, drawing on theories and practices from a range of modalities. Attendees are encouraged to bring in ideas and techniques from their own modalities.

Following from the first session, which focused on the process of relationship therapy, this second session focuses on content: the common tensions which come up when working with people in relationships. In the morning we will explore the ways in which conflicts play out in relationships, considering how these escalate and practices which therapists can encourage in their clients to de-escalate conflict. We will examine the power of stories in conflict, key times of conflict in relationships, stuck dynamics, and ways of developing empathy for oneself and the other. In the afternoon we will turn to common underlying tensions which occur within relationships. A key goal of relationship therapy is often to make these underlying tensions explicit in order to understand why certain issues frequently lead to conflict. We will concentrate on the key tension of freedom and belonging, considering the multiple ways in which this manifests in disputes around space, privacy, monogamy, relationship decisions, commitment, etc. During the morning we will engage in self-reflected exercises to increase our understanding of conflict and its resolution. In the afternoon we will practice some therapeutic possibilities in role-play.

Session 3

This course is designed for counsellors and psychotherapists who work with individuals but have less knowledge or experience of working directly with relationships, or who may have worked with relationships in the past but are a bit rusty. This is the third of four linked CPD days which build competency in relationship therapy, covering key aspects of process as well as common content issues that come up in relationship work. These sessions are pluralistic in approach, drawing on theories and practices from a range of modalities. Attendees are encouraged to bring in ideas and techniques from their own modalities. It is useful, for this session, if attendees have been to the first session or have engaged in some relationship therapy themselves as it builds upon the basic skills of relationship therapy.

Following from the first session, which focused on the process of relationship therapy, this playful and creative session aims at building our toolbox of practices which may be useful when working with couples or other relationships. During the day we will try out a number of techniques and practices from different approaches to counselling and psychotherapy (e.g. CBT, solution-focused therapy, systemic therapy, narrative therapy, Gestalt therapy, transactional analysis). In order to experience them we will apply them to our own relationship experience. We will do this for three main reasons:

  • Reflexively examining our own relationships will give us more understanding of them, and of our own beliefs about relationships, which is invaluable for undertaking relationship therapy. We will have a better idea where we are coming from and what our assumptions are about relationships might be, and will therefore be better able to bracket this when working with clients.
  • We can build a toolkit of techniques which may be useful with clients. If we are planning to apply them in therapy it is important that we try them ourselves to understand what it is like to be on the receiving end and how they might be experienced by clients.
  • The practices will give us a flavour of how various theoretical approaches to counselling and psychotherapy understand and work with relationships. This may provide useful pointers to what resonates with us for our ongoing training and professional development.

Session 4

This course is designed for counselors and psychotherapists who work with individuals but have little knowledge or experience of working directly with relationships, or who may have worked with relationships in the past but are a bit rusty. This is the last of four linked CPD days over the next two years which will build competency in relationship therapy, covering key aspects of process as well as common content issues that come up in relationship work. These sessions are pluralistic in approach, drawing on theories and practices from a range of modalities. Attendees are encouraged to bring in ideas and techniques from their own modalities.

Following from the previous sessions, which focused on aspects of the process and content of relationship therapy which apply across all kinds of relationships, this final session considers how we might work across different kinds of relationships. To begin with we will consider various aspects of sociocultural diversity which may impact on how relationships are experienced (e.g. race and culture, religion, age, geographical location, class, gender, sexuality, etc.) For the rest of this day we will focus on working with people in different gender combinations and in different styles of relationship. Most relationship therapy (often even called ‘couple therapy’ or ‘marital therapy’) assumes monogamy, therefore the afternoon will focus on various kinds of non-monogamous relationships and how to work with these in therapy.

This workshop will outline a range of theoretical frameworks for working with sex and sexuality and show how these have evolved from the work of Freud to the present day. Participants will also explore the reality of sexual practice in the 21st century.

Participants will consider how their own attitudes to talking about sex and sexuality might impact upon their client work. There will be an opportunity to consider how the issue of sex has been addressed in participants’ practice to date and to identify any potential blind-spots. This module will also introduce a range of tools for engaging with clients on issues of sexuality.

Drawing on the recent book Sexuality and gender for mental health professionals: A practical guide (Richards & Barker, 2013), this day provides a basic outline of good practice when working with issues of gender and sexuality. Attendees will be encouraged to reflect upon their own ideas and assumptions about gender and sexuality, and those implicit in their therapeutic approaches. We will consider various ways of understanding sexuality and gender, and their implications for therapy across client groups. Specifically we will focus on the issues which can be faced by those who fit into normative genders, sexualities and relationship structures, as well as for those who are positioned outside the norm. We will address the main client groups of which professionals should have a working knowledge, which may be less familiar at present, covering key language and practices. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore case studies and their own experiences of working with clients across different genders and sexualities.

This unit explores the sexual dysfunctions which are identified within DSM V and ICD 10 and assists the participants in exploring how they would engage with clients presenting with these issues. It will consider how pharmacological developments impact upon the psychological treatment of sexual dysfunction. Participants will be encouraged to consider when referrals to specialists, including psychosexual therapists, would be appropriate. Finally, participants will consider how to work with alternative sexual practices, such as BDSM and fetish behaviours.

This workshop will consider how we (as individuals, communities and therapists) understand sex and sexuality, particularly in terms of the divisions that are generally made between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sex. Participants will be introduced to different ways of conceptualising sex, considering how their own attitudes to talking about sex and sexuality might impact upon their client work. There will be an opportunity to consider how the issue of sex has been addressed in participants’ practice to date and to identify any potential blind-spots. This workshop will also introduce a range of tools for engaging with clients on issues of sexuality. This second half of the workshop will focus on the ‘paraphilias’ which are identified within DSM V and ICD 10 and assist the participants in exploring how they would engage with clients presenting with these issues. Participants will be introduced to the range of sexual practices in the 21st how to work with alternative sexual practices, such as BDSM and fetish behaviours, tackling issues such as consent and creativity in sex.

Objectives

The objectives of this session are:

  • To reflect upon our own ideas and assumptions about (bi)sexuality and how this might influence our practice.
  • To understand the range of experiences and identities under the bisexual umbrella.
  • To consider how societal bisexual invisibility and biphobia impact on bisexual people and others who are attracted to more than one gender.
  • To overview the kinds of issues which might bring bisexual people to seek help/support, and potential barriers to seeking support.
  • To determine good practice with bisexual people.

Structure

  • Stereotypes around bisexuality.
  • Definitions and extent of bisexuality.
  • Wider understandings of sexuality: The place of bisexuality.
  • Bisexual invisibility and biphobia.
  • Key issues facing bisexual people.
  • Support and community.
  • Good practice with bisexual people.

Final reflections and questions, additional resources.

BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadomasochism) is perhaps the most demonized form of consensual sexuality, still criminalized in the UK and pathologised as a ‘paraphilia’ in the DSM. Much training material for therapists and counsellors still perpetuates negative myths about BDSM practices despite lack of evidence for any link between such practices and psychological problems.

This workshop encourages participants to reflect on their own belief systems around BDSM. It examines the variety of ‘kinky’ practices, drawing on existential approaches to consider the multiple meanings these may have for clients. Common myths around BDSM are challenged and the most up-to-date research on BDSM presented. Attendees consider various case-studies to think about how they might work with kinky/BDSM clients, including those whose identity/practice is unrelated to their presenting problem, those who are concerned about their identity/practice, and those who regard their identity/practice as linked to the therapeutic experience. Relationships between BDSM and self-harming practices will also be explored.

One of the most interesting recent developments in relation to gender experience are the increasing numbers of people identifying in some way outside of the gender binary, for example as bigender, pangender, genderqueer, gender neutral, androgynous, or simply non-binary. The experiences and identifications of such folk challenge the male/female binary, as well as heteronormativity more widely, given the assumptions around binary gender that are embedded within this. There are also, perhaps, challenges here to binaries around trans/cisgender and bio/social understandings of sex and gender. In this presentation I’ll explore the ways of being non-binary that are currently emerging, as well as some of the language which is developing to articulate those identities and experiences.

This day will introduce the diversity of types of openly non-monogamous relationships which are found in the UK, focusing on the most common versions: swinging, open relationships and polyamory (having multiple relationships). These kinds of relationships will be situated in the current cultural context of shifting relationship rules which we will explore more broadly in terms of the impact that this has on our clients. Research will be introduced covering the motivations that people have for engaging in open non-monogamy, and we will outline the structures of relationship that are possible. We will then spend some time examining the kinds of contracts and arrangements that people put in place in openly non-monogamous relationships and what the aims of these are. We will also look at the language of non-monogamy which has developed in order for people to make sense of their relationships. Towards the end of the day we will look at the relationships that fall somewhere between monogamy and non-monogamy and begin to question whether this distinction is, indeed, a useful one. The possibility of monogamy continuua will be introduced as a useful basis for working with all clients around such issues. As well as thinking about how we might work with individuals and couples who are non-monogamous, we will explore the ways in which larger polyamorous groups might engage in therapy.

This workshop prepares attendees to write for publication about sexual and relationship therapy. It is designed to suit everybody from the absolute beginner to the postgraduate student who is thinking of publishing their research. We will consider common anxieties about writing and address these. We will think about the kinds of publications which we could submit to, and the helpfulness of ‘gradual exposure’ techniques when it comes to academic/professional writing. We will look, in depth, at two fairly simple kinds of research that people could undertake and publish (the case study, and topic-based research), thinking about the practicalities and ethical issues involved in these. Following this we will focus on writing itself, introducing some basics for structure, tone, format and content, and the things you can do to encourage reviewers and editors to look favourably on your work. Finally we will go through the process of submitting to the BASRT journal, Sexual and Relationship Therapy in order to demystify this and encourage people to write and submit for it. Throughout the workshop attendees will undertake group and individual exercises to try out various possibilities. Examples will be given of various types of writing and references made to the key texts which expand on various possibilities.

A follow-up advanced writing workshop is also available.

This workshop explores the ways in which academics, activists, or therapists can use blogging and social media to engage publicly and to enhance their work, drawing on examples of Meg’s work (impact and public engagement). Can be tailored to different groups.

The course is designed for counselors and psychotherapists who have little knowledge of research methods and analysis, or studied this in the past but are a bit rusty. It is for those who would like to find out the basics needed in order to understand published journal articles and/or to begin to think about conducting their own research related to their therapy. Through a combination of brief lectures and interactive exercises we will learn the basics of quantitative outcome research, and of qualitative methods and analysis, and try some of these out in relation to studies on sexual and relationship therapy.