Promoting therapeutic and relationship-based approaches in social work

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GAPS National Conference 2019 “Social Work and Trauma – Context, Theory and Relationship-Based Practice”

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We are delighted to confirm our conference speakers Professor Andrew Cooper (The Tavistock and Portman) and Trauma specialist, Kati Taunt.  We will also be joined by socio-dramatist Valerie Monti Holland who will help explore our conference theme from a different perspective.

There will be opportunities to reflect and connect through facilitated group discussion.  We will provide a hot vegetarian lunch and refreshments throughout the day.  We really look forward to seeing you there.

Andrew Cooper: ‘Optimism of the will…’ Suffering, trauma, hope and the heart of social work.’

Our society is traversing massive upheaval. Unhappily the prospects for social work and the communities we relate to are unlikely to be favourable. Everyday working life is already extremely testing for most practitioners. Drawing on personal, professional and practitioner experience I want to consider what kind of leadership individuals and organisations like GAPS might be called on to offer in the coming period. To do this I believe we must understand the role of social work in society more accurately and incisively than we presently do.

Social workers routinely engage with painful transitions, conflicts and trauma in the lives of individuals, families and communities, working within organisations that often fail to protect and sustain us in the face of these tasks. Social suffering, anxiety, existential dilemmas and conflicts are at the core of what we engage with each day but I also ask us to take care with the word ‘trauma’ in order not to devalue it.

Relationship based practice is the only really effective and meaningful response to the demands of our job, including trauma. But what does it consist of when the problems our service users face, and the organisational difficulties we struggle with are so evidently both individual and systemic, private and also public, personal and political?

Social work must be a hopeful, progressive endeavour, but also a realistic one. I hope to engender hope in these difficult times by articulating a vision of social work that embodies something of Gramsci’s famous saying, ‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.’

About Andrew Cooper: Andrew Cooper is Professor of Social Work at the Tavistock Centre, a psychoanalytic therapist and practising clinical social worker in the Adolescent Family Therapy service at the Tavistock. He has written widely about relationship based practice and the politics of social work and welfare provision. He is a former editor of the Journal of Social Work Practice and founded the Centre for Social Work Practice of which he is now a patron.

Kati Taunt: The Impact of Traumatic Childhood Experiences

Kati will introduce the growing body of thought around the impact of early trauma on the developing brain and the effects across a life time of traumatic experiences that occur in childhood.  The second part of Kati’s contribution to the day will look at what happens when social work encounters are infused with past trauma, and how we might helpfully contribute in these interactions.

About Kati Taunt :  Kati is a registered social worker, systemic practitioner, cognitive behavioural therapist and EMDR practitioner with 25 years of experience working in residential childcare and specialist child and adolescent mental health services. Kati has always specialised in trauma and in working with children looked after. She is a licenced ARC (Attachment, Regulation and Competency) trainer, licenced by the Boston Trauma Centre. USA. Kati has been working to introduce trauma informed practice into schools, residential care, foster care, youth offending, adolescent psychiatric in patient services and CAMHS teams in a locations throughout the UK.

Valerie Monti Holland is a sociodramatist whose own narrative began in Philadelphia as an actor, director and facilitator. Her passion for devising theatre with groups led her to an MA in Applied Theatre at the University of Manchester , a diploma in Sociodrama and Action Methods and a career using creative techniques in prisons, schools and organizations across the public, private and voluntary sectors. She uses sociodrama and action methods  and Forum Theatre as  ways of delivering training, facilitation, community engagement and research primarily in the areas of Criminal Justice, Public Health and Regeneration both in the UK and across Europe and the world. Valerie works in partnership with a number of different individuals and organisations including the Cleaver Company International (Boston, USA) and Sheffield Hallam University.