2017 - 11th annual event

Keele Counselling (Research and Practice) Conference

Counselling and (non) normativity:
How we stay 'round and bouncy' in a 'straight and narrow'world'

The Keele Counselling Psychology team warmly welcomed counselling practitioners, researchers, and students whether relatively new to the field or very experienced, who had an interest in issues of diversity, inclusivity and social justice.

Presentations (PDF)

Keynote speakers

'The taboo of talking openly about race'

Eugene Ellis What racial differences impose on our minds and bodies as individuals and collectively as a society is challenging and complex. As we talk about race and need to talk, it gets harder to talk. We feel powerless and voiceless when we think about the impact of racial differences on individual's identity and mental well-being. This then leads us to feeling hopeless and to the question: "can we make a difference"?

I want to explore what happens in our minds and also importantly in our bodies in the midst of the race conversation and explore how a mindful approach to our physiological responses might help support us to stay at the contact boundary of our experience and find our voice.

'The medicalisation of everyday life: ‘There is good money to be made in prolonging the problem’ (Larry Kersten, sociologist)'

Sanders Record numbers of citizens are being diagnosed with depression and a burgeoning list of mental ‘illnesses’ and treated with chemicals. Until counselling and psychotherapy deal with the elephant in the room (of medicalisation and associated nonsense like diagnosis), it will always be part of the problem - destined to forever be ambulance chasing instead of truly helping alleviate the distress of ordinary people. Can counselling save itself?

'Autism is Not a Disorder – presenting a positive side of autism'

Beardon In this presentation a critical exploration of how valid theory actually is in relation to the autism experience will be expressed; current thinking is challenged and the notion of autism always being presented as a disorder is firmly debunked. The positive aspects of autism are identified and a model of autism within a positive paradigm will be the theme running throughout the presentation.

Towards a trans-therapeutics

The aim of this presentation is to make the case for considering more fully an epistemology of therapy that works within a trans-positive epistemological framework. Most models of therapy are embedded in a cis-positive framework, assuming modernity, linearity, rationality, and the privilege of ‘ (hetero) masculinity’ while affect, irrationality and ‘femininity’ (all versions of ‘the feminine’) are downgraded and thought to be far too destabilising to warrant a serious threat to changing the heteronormative and cis-gender social order.

Added to this, almost all therapies move towards identifying inner turmoil at the expense of social disarray. In this paper I am suggesting that unless we really place interarticulation (Butler 1997) at the heart of our thinking about the numerous forms of power (class, heritage, gender, religion, sexuality, age, levels of physical and mental ability), and begin to gather together the silent stories that inform therapists about both micro and macro social processes then we are likely to misrecognise what is taking place within the therapeutic encounter where radical change for social transformation can operate if therapists are willing to re-articulate meanings for and about the social actions of their clients. In this outline, gender is taken as one example of the importance of contemplating interarticulation (for client and therapist) of gender as a form of social action within session how it impact on work with clients and the way these actions are understood. I want to begin with a story, a story that represents the biography of clients I work with quite often in my practice. It is the story of Jaden, a person who defines as ‘doing’ genderqueer and relationally polyamorous and uses the pronoun ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’.

Storytelling with Kimberly Dark "Peace, Power and Privilege : The importance of handling human complexity - in ourselves and others.

Kimberly Dark Kimberly Dark is a sociologist, storyteller and writer who has spent the past twenty years re-crafting the skills and perspectives of social science scholarship for public audiences. She tours the English-speaking world doing performances and interactive talks and workshops for colleges, universities and festivals, conferences and community events. She developed this work, in part, because academics are known to be boring and out of touch, rather than as engaged professionals, working to ameliorate human conditions. This can change, and Kimberly’s aim has been two-fold: 1) deliver thought-provoking data and suggest social frameworks that encourage original thought on topics related to social well-being and body-politics (gender, race, sexuality, age, ability, etc.). 2) To encourage all people to see themselves as social creators - as the “independent variables” in their own experiments with culture.

Kimberly teaches as an adjunct lecturer in the graduate program in Sociological Practice at California State University in San Marcos and this has been her particular work with graduate students for more than a decade. In the CSUSM Masters program, all students work with Kimberly in their final semester to re-imagine their thesis research for a variety of audiences and using a variety of methods and creative options that are not generally taught in sociology.