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Birkbeck Training Series 2022-2023

Venue: Online

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The Birkbeck Training Series enters its fifth year in 2022-23. Launched in 2018 by the Student Counselling Service at Birkbeck, University of London, the workshops are created by and for HE counsellors and are tailored specifically for short-term work with students. We are very proud to have become a valued source of training within the sector and we hope to continue to provide a specialised thinking space for Counsellors working in HE.

While in the past the training series were delivered in person, through the course of the pandemic we moved our delivery online. Though it has been a loss to not have that in person contact and engagement, what we learned and gained was that in delivering the workshops online, the scope and access to knowledge grew exponentially. Not only are we now able to invite and have speakers from all parts of the country, but we are also making contact with colleagues in HE far and wide. This has encouraged us to continue with the training series online with the hope of not only making it more convenient and affordable for you to attend, but to bring to you a wider community of your peers so that we are able to generate more awareness on shared issues, develop understanding of emerging patterns within the sector, explore the shared challenges of working in HE and come together to be able to think about how better to navigate through them in short-term work.

As we know, the NHS and secondary mental health services are overwhelmed and understaffed, which results in many students bringing in much more complex needs into their university mental health services. It is for these reasons the need for a shared thinking space and platform that focuses on the work we do becomes even more important.

The series this year will focus on working with difference in its various forms in short-term within H.E. Our workshops can be booked individually or as a bundle at a discounted rate. Additionally, following positive feedback from last year we will be offering a bonus follow-up forum as a reflective space that will take place after the Training Series has ended, open to anyone who has attended any or all of the talks to think together about the impact of the training on our clinical practice and share any thoughts that may have emerged for you.

With that in mind we would like to invite you to join us for our 2022-2023 Training Series.


Training 1: Working with Visible Differences by Vivienne Purcell
Wednesday 18 January 2023, 9am-1pm

About the Workshop  

Emerging from an extended period of remote working we are once again more likely to encounter the whole person when we begin therapy, rather than a managed ‘head and shoulders’ image on a screen. But this may not be the case. When a presenting client is living with a visible difference, congenital or acquired, and it is a virtual meeting, the therapist may not be aware unless they choose to share. Even if they are in the room, this may still be true. There are many reasons why a key lived-with experience is not mentioned, apparently tangential to the presenting concern.

In this workshop the trainer will explore this topic and work with attendees to improve their understanding and confidence in working with difference in a sensitive way. 

Workshop Themes 

  • Looking at the social construction of difference, disability, and the role of media; considering the key messages given to children, young people and their families, as they develop.
  • Understanding how shame and stigma are manufactured; considering the ‘fragility of safety’ and how to talk about these concerns both within the therapeutic space and in other contexts.
  • Considering what supports and resources are available to counsellors.
  • Reflecting on therapist factors- what views and assumptions do you bring, and how does that impact the relationship? What do therapists think and feel about their own appearance, anxiety, pride, and shame, in a time of web therapy. Considering the potential impact of these, as we 'read' each other.  


Training 2: Working with Race, Identity and Intersectionality by Professor (Dr.) Divine Charura
Wednesday 22nd March 2023, 9am-1pm 

About the Workshop

In this workshop we will engage in critical discussions regarding broaching difference, identity, diversity, and intersectionality in short-term work.  It is easy to intellectualise about matters of race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, sexuality, disability, neurodiversity etc but as some research has evidenced, broaching these matters of difference and identity in therapy can be a challenge.  The therapeutic relationship is not divorced from our own values, beliefs, privilege, constructed self-concepts about our difference from other. Ignoring, denying, or dismissing these elements of identity and diversity, can significantly impact how we relate to others/clients and can complicate relationships and hinder the therapeutic work. When working in short-term work, it is equally important to understand the psychodynamics associated with these important elements of diversity and their potential impact on the therapeutic frame, relationship, and therapeutic outcomes. 

Workshop Themes 

  • Looking at the theoretical backdrop of understanding difference: including exploring what we mean by difference, diversity, intersectionality, and identity: i.e., ethnicity, diversity, gender, race, age, class, sexuality, neurodiversity.
  • Consider some contemporary literature and empirical research on the effects of micro-aggressions, perceived discrimination, and trauma when these elements are ignored, denied or dismissed.
  • Exploring the importance of broaching and how to work with these elements of diversity and identity in short-term therapy? 
  • Holding the frame and how to contain and work with the difference? 
  • Acknowledging the nature of transference and countertransference dynamics that can emerge in relation to diversity and difference; additionally exploring what to take to supervision and analysis?


Training 3: Working with Otherness and Privilege by Dr. Dwight Turner 
Wednesday 24 May 2023, 9am-1pm 

About the Workshop

We live in an age where the culture wars are upon us, whilst some governments and political parties advocate against the rights and humanity of the other, other groups fight for the continued pushing forward to a more equal and diverse society.

This workshop will look at how this conflict, this exploration, may well be replicated in the world of counselling and psychotherapy and will consider the importance of understanding not just the external nature of privilege and otherness but also how it appears in the unconscious internalised state as well. 

 Workshop Themes 

  • Understanding the theoretical concepts of Privilege and Otherness and how they may appear in our clinical work.
  • Exploring the complexities and nuances of early life difference and its impact.
  • Considering Privilege and Otherness in the context of short-term counselling and understanding the challenges that can arise.


Follow-up Forum
Wednesday 5th July 2023, 12:00-1.30pm

About the Follow-up forum: Following positive feedback from last years’ Training Series, we are offering as a bonus a reflective space moderated by the Birkbeck Counselling Team after the Training Series has ended, to discuss the impact of the learning, explore thoughts that may have emerged from it and to think together about how this may influence our clinical practice.

Note: You will automatically be given access to this event for free if you have booked one or more of the trainings in the series. 


Contact name:

  • Divine Charura -

    Divine is a Professor of Counselling Psychology and the programme director for the Doctorate in counselling psychology at York St John University. He is a chartered psychologist, and counselling psychologist with the British Psychological Society. He is registered as a practitioner psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in England. Divine is also an Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and an adult psychotherapist. As a psychologist, psychotherapist and researcher, Divine’s work focuses on the impact of trauma across the lifespan.

  • Dr. Dwight Turner -

    Dr.Turner is Course Leader on the Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy Course at the University of Brighton, a PhD Supervisor at their Doctoral College, a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. An activist, writer and public speaker on issues of race, difference and intersectionality in counselling and psychotherapy. His latest book Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy was released in February 2021 and is published by Routledge. 

  • Vivienne Purcell -

    Vivienne was born with a visible difference. She has been a Chartered Psychologist working in UK mental health services for more than 30 years. During that time she has been Head of the University of Reading Counselling Service, and a Clinical Supervisor in both Oxfordshire NHS Adult Mental Health Service and Central and North West London NHS. She now has a private practice in Hampshire and is a Trustee of HArt, a local arts and mental health organisation. Though during her career Vivienne has worked with a wide range of age groups and presentations her particular interests now are in psychological resilience, the performance of self, body dysmorphia, and visible differences.