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REGULATING EXISTENTIAL FEELINGS: THE CHALLENGE OF MEANING-MAKING - Exploring and promoting hope, tolerance and resilience for clients in challenging times

Event Details
Date: 25 Nov 2020
Venue: Melbourne, Vic
CPD hrs: 7

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Organiser: The Professional Development People

The early 21st Century is presenting monumental challenges to both leaders and everyday people. Global threats of climate change, mounting numbers of refugees, declines in civility and respect for democracy and accelerating inequality, to name only a few! Such matters may feel ‘all too big’ to fathom, let alone respond constructively. Evidence also suggests these conditions are raising a degree of existential anxiety in societies across the world. Mental health professionals are increasingly finding themselves impacted by these and similar trends. The ‘outside world’ is increasingly visiting us in our lives as well as our provision of care. How can we respond? There is much we can do, but perhaps we need first to pause, acknowledge the challenges we face and assess our own strengths. This unique seminar proposes a dynamic model of secure base and safe haven functions to support therapists working in troubling times. [Yes, an attachment derived approach to our own practice.] What might count as our unique secure bases/safe haven of support? The first part of the workshop aims to help us explore this question. The workshop will assist us to

  • claim the values/virtues—components of our unique secure base—that motivate us to face challenges, and
  • identify the people and places that support us along the way—our safe havens. This initial exploration will be set within the psychotherapy humanist/spiritual traditions of the mid 20th Century.

The seminar asks us to revision or renew our practice in the notion of the Mythological Hero. The second half of the morning turns to a focus on empirical findings on the regulation of affect. How do we and our clients best cope with the range of feeling states encountered in facing the world. And more practically, we look at recent critical discussions of existential feelings: affect states that are more like moods but with the broader implications for things like curiosity, innovation and global care—but also despair and paralysis. These more existential states have been shown to potentially influence our abilities to be open to new possibilities. And as such, they are capable of regulation as are emotions and moods. They may also function as less conscious background experiences capable of being raised to the foreground of awareness—something clinically relevant for clients. Next, the third and fourth sections in the afternoon continue our practical exploration into building tolerance and anchoring ourselves and clients in hope. The influence of healthy anger—still a controversial and unresolved topic— is initially surveyed. The less healthy influences are considered in light of growing lack public civility and the rise of hatred in societies. The potential role of forgiveness is combined here to assist us in applying knowledge to clinical realities. Two practical areas will be addressed:

  • the challenging topic of hate crimes in light of recently published ISTSS guidelines on treatment of victims, and,
  • a look at how we might assist in building increased tolerance within all who may be faced with anger challenges. Finally, the fourth section brings back experiential reflection to the table. Hope will be examined and its role in our clinical work will be raised. Hope need not decline when matters might less than optimistic. But bringing the sort of heroic awareness discussed at the outset will return to conclude our day.

Learning objectives

  • Explore personal perspectives on values/virtues (including spirituality and meaning making) that support our well-being and practices.
  • Identify how existential feelings impact the pursuance of a good life.
  • Update our understanding of current empirical views on nature of emotions and moods and their regulation.
  • Reassess both adaptive and unhealthy roles of anger.
  • Understand how forgiveness and hope may be unrecognised sources of strength in life

Presenter details

Kevin Keith, PhD is a counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor. He splits time between private practice and education/academic activities. He is a lecturer in the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) and Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP). In 2017, he completed his PhD at the University of Sydney (History and Philosophy of Science Unit) with primary research interests in Attachment Theory. His thesis—The Goal-Corrected Partnership: A Critical Assessment of the Research Programme—brings focus on attachment development postinfancy. This work rearticulates Attachment Theory in light of advances in the lifespan developmental sciences, especially approaches to biological complexity. Kevin presents regularly on Attachment Theory to a wide range of audiences, including a May 2016 paper at the International Society for Philosophy of Psychiatry in Atlanta GA USA [on attachment within the NIMH Research Domain Criteria, an alternative model to the DSM-5]. He is acclaimed as an engaging and inspiring presenter whose seminars change the way therapists perceive and work with their clients in ways that surprise and delight.

Location and date

Mantra on Russell
222 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

25 November 2020

9:15am - 4:30pm


Standard fee $298

This event is fully catered and all resources are provided.

Students and new graduates may apply to attend at a discount apply here.


Register online by clicking here

Ph: 1300 887 622 OR Inquire about this as inhouse training, wherever you are - we come to you.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers