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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships

The Masks of Masculinity

Exploring the Links Between Male Vulnerability and Violence

With speakers Rotimi Akinsete, Michael Boyle, Professor Stephen Briggs, Dr Mick Collins, Tamsin Cottis, Nick Duffell, Anthony Howell and Tim Foskett

Friday 17 May (eve) + Saturday 18 May 2019 - London

Friday 17 May 2019

18.00   Registration
18.30   Rotimi Akinsete

Introduction and welcome
18.45   Dr Mick Collins

The alchemy of violence and vulnerability
Mick speaks about the impact of early trauma, adoption and a rootless existence, which underpinned a period of violence in his adolescent years, resulting in a series of criminal prosecutions. He joined the infantry, which became a significant rite of passage. After leaving the army, Mick travelled around the world and then went to live in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. He found meditation helpful, but it eventually catalysed a spiritual crisis that was extreme and violent. The alchemy of vulnerability and violence has been at the heart of Mick's transpersonal and transformative life-path, as a therapist, university lecturer, coach and author.
19.30   The Work

Documentary film
'Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, The Work (Jairus McLeary, 2017) is an American documentary that follows visitors as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four inmates. Over the four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past. The raw and revealing process that the men undergo takes the visitors far from their comfort zones, compelling them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. The Work offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanising tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.' Synopsis of film from

Rotimi Akinsete in conversation with Michael Boyle, a former facilitator for the Inside Circle project at Folsom Prison, Sacramento, USA

Panel session
Panel session chaired by Rotimi Akinsete with Michael Boyle, Prof Stephen Briggs, Mick Collins, Tamsin Cottis, Nick Duffell, Anthony Howell and Tim Foskett
22.00   End
Saturday 18 May 2019

09.30   Registration and coffee
10.00   Tamsin Cottis

"If I'm angry, I can't be sad": Helping to make all feelings allowable
With reference to the work of Dr Alan Corbett and to Dr Anne Alvarez's 'Levels of Work', this presentation will explore how child psychotherapy can support boys and young men who have experienced neglect and trauma, including sexual abuse. Case material will show how, through long-term play-based psychotherapy, informed by Winnicottian object relations, attachment theory, and developmental trauma theory, patients are helped to become more aware of their own feelings, to develop their reflective capacity, and to become able to bear and express feelings of vulnerability, shame, sadness and anger, rather than project them onto others.
10.45   Professor Stephen Briggs

Masculinity in crisis? Exploration of male suicidal vulnerability
Is there a crisis of masculinity? Does it explain male suicide rates, by trapping men between traditional and new concepts of masculinity? Are men unable to seek help for psychological problems, and have limited emotional intelligence? The answer to these and other related questions is "partly". Studies of the gendered structure of suicide oversimplify; there are diverse masculinities (and femininities), whilst attempts to reduce stigma about mental health and suicide are producing ambiguous outcomes. It is important to understand the key effects of "hegemonic masculinity" on suicidal behaviour in men, especially the fear of failure, and the humiliation from exposure of problems, through a psychosocial approach to understand both the social contexts and qualities of their internal worlds. This paper will explore these themes, drawing on research findings, and illustrate with examples from clinical practice.
11.30   Coffee
12.00   Rotimi Akinsete

It's a mad ting: Black Male Identity, Fatherhood, and Youth Violence
Rotimi, will explore black male masculinity and vulnerability with a focus on, black male identity, fatherhood and youth violence. As a member of the Confer Advisory board Rotimi developed the concept of Black Men on the Couch. The program showcases an opportunity to encourage (young) black men from the African and Caribbean community to consider counselling, psychology, psychotherapy - the helping professions - as a way of introspection and reflection in order to think (and act) differently about themselves and their reactions to events in their lives.
12.45   Anthony Howell

Offering therapeutic creative writing and art for male prisoners
Based on my experience of offering creative writing and art classes in prisons, for the most part on the Vulnerable Prisoners Unit, this presentation will offer a background to teaching offenders and the problems faced by these particular prisoners, some of whom may have to be protected from aggression in the main body of the prison. The therapeutic value of being able to distinguish between enactment (via fiction) and real life is discussed, with relevance to education of young offenders. The debilitating effect of boredom is examined as a fertile breeding ground for extremist influences and reoffending. Finally, for contrast to the male predicament, Anthony will refer to a book by Hilary Beauchamp, Holloway Prison: An Inside Story (2010), which is an account of teaching female inmates in Holloway.
13.30   Lunch
14.30   Tim Foskett

From shame to pride: The journey of gay and bi men through violence and vulnerability
If we were to construct a social experiment to attempt to dissuade a sub-group of humans (men) from being intimate with each other, contemporary masculinity could just be that experiment. And gay/bi men, of course, have been particular casualties of that experiment. Tim will explore the impact of growing up in a homophobic and transphobic world (including references to violence in the lives of gay, bi and trans men); the psychological and emotional agility needed for gay/bi men to take off their masks and be vulnerable with each other, and the many creative ways gay/bi men do intimacy in contemporary times.
15.15   Tea
15.45   Nick Duffell

Searching for the male heart: a detox for masculinity
Western civilisation is marred by the Rational Man Project: males have been trained to be soldiers, workers or hyper-rational administrators and leaders, but not to be emotionally intelligent family members and citizens. This means men's psycho-spiritual evolution has been in atrophy. Defensive, dominant masculinity, coercive, grabbing sexuality or self-destructive habits seem to some commentators to be the toxic norm, but in his talk Nick will show this to be simply immaturity rooted in a lack of proper guidance from the fonts of male wisdom. From his 32 years of working with men's issues, he will argue that entitlement is a compensation for irredeemable loss and that much of male anger, despair and lack of regulation is due to the absence of what he calls the Father with a Heart. He will explain how a 20-year experiment in therapeutic men's work rooted in these ideas, has been successful in helping men heal and evolve.
16.30   Closing panel discussion with all speakers
17.00   End

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Handouts and lunch included
Self-funded: £130
Self-funded x 2: £220
Organisationally-funded: £240
Psychotherapy trainee: £80 (sold out)
This event + the online module Fragile Selves: £230

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 9 hours will be provided at the event

6th Floor
Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road

18.00 Registration
18.30 Start
22:00 End

09.30 Registration and coffee
10.00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:30 Lunch
15:15 Tea
17:00 End