In this issue


Messaging the soul
William Ayot brings the lost art of ritual and embodiment to leaders in the corporate world. He outlines why we need to reintegrate ritual into our professional lives

Horses at work (free article)
Suzanne Slade explains why businesses are turning to equine guided learning to provide personal and professional development for their employees

Healing in the boardroom
A trainer in the Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP), Juliet Grayson reveals how it works and why it has the potential to transform workplace conflicts

Trauma support in Paris (free article)
Andrew Kinder reflects on his role providing post-trauma support


Notes from the chair

The bigger picture
Lead Advisor Rick Hughes on the latest workplace news

Workplace matters
Sandi Mann – paying it forward

Steve Martyn – changing technology, blurring boundaries

EAP matters
Libby Payne and Claire Neal look at how to manage the unique ‘tripartite’ relationship of EAP counselling

Service matters
Cindi Bedor reflects on a chance meeting

Cover of Counselling at Work Winter 2015

A pdf of this issue is available in the Counselling at Work archive

​First words

We don’t often talk about the body at work, and when we do, it tends to get us into trouble. But this issue is all about getting out of our heads and into our bodies, focusing on how practitioners are creatively working with the corporate sector to offer personal and professional development opportunities that go beyond the formulaic and the grey. Designed to draw people out of our left-brain-centric way of thinking, so familiar and deeply embedded in our organisational cultures, these liminal spaces offer the chance of an embodied experience where deeper learning and connection can take place.

In ‘Messaging the soul’, William Ayot writes of the ritual deprivation at work that can leave people feeling disconnected and alienated. He writes: ‘One of the greatest challenges facing us in the workplace these days is that of simply being present, meeting each other in an embodied and attentive fashion, without either vanishing up into our heads, or hiding behind false personas that bury us in increasingly impenetrable layers of insincerity.’

As a writer and poet, William brings a language and a way of being that may not seem to be a natural bedfellow to the world of the corporate executive. Instead of using jargon and acronyms, he talks about ‘the soul’ and ‘grief’. Experiencing a hunger for more meaningful conversations and engagement from the leaders he works with, William argues that one way of opening a door towards an inner life, is through the ancient art of ritual. Even the simplest rituals around beginnings and endings at work will often go unacknowledged and unattended to, leaving individuals and teams lacking a sense of meaning about their role, and fuelling discontent and disengagement. Making a call for the reinstatement of ritual in society and in our workplaces, William highlights the need for people who are skilled to lead and facilitate this important work.

Non-verbal communication with another being can offer an opportunity to develop one’s intuitive sense and gain insights into group dynamics, hierarchy and leadership style. It’s for this reason that the corporate sector is turning to horses. Suzanne Slade explains how The London Business School has been engaging Equine Affinity on its Executive Education Programme, to give leaders an opportunity for personal and professional development, based on experiential learning with horses. Highly sensitive, with a finely tuned gut instinct, horses can congruently mirror our behaviour in ways that can provide a unique insight into how we relate, build trust and communicate. These insights have obvious parallels to the workplace, and while the sceptics may not take much from the work, for others it can prove transformative and, potentially, life changing.

The unconscious is so often played out at work in how we interact with others. Bosses and organisations often end up unknowingly playing the role of parent in some form and triggering unprocessed material. Welcome back to Juliet Grayson, who writes about her training work with companies, introducing body-based psychotherapy to access hidden emotional processes to help transform relationships at work. Again, this work is about an individual’s embodied experience, which can shift unconscious ‘stuck’ material at great speed. This has obvious benefits to the workplace, given how costly and time consuming such conflicts can be. For the individual, the power of this reparative and healing work is no doubt priceless.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November, Andrew Kinder provided post-trauma support to employees working in the city. He reflects on his role, helping staff come to terms with the atrocities, negotiating the task of travelling to and from work and how to get on with their lives. Visiting so soon after the attacks, Andrew shares many of the concerns they felt and offers a practitioner’s view of preparing, carrying out and returning to normality after post-trauma work.

It’s heartening to feature such a breadth of articles that showcase how much the world of therapy has to offer the world of work. Inwardly, I’m applauding all those individual employees willing to make themselves vulnerable in their workplace in workshops and trainings. But I’m also acknowledging the skill of all practitioners who are capable of working with such complex individual and organisational dynamics, tending to the wounds and conflicts that are interwoven into who we are in our personal and professional lives.

Organisations desperately need diversity at every level, not just in terms of who they employ but also in the opportunities that people have for training and professional development to learn, think and grow. Diversity is essential, not because of political correctness, but because when everyone thinks the same and behaves the same and this goes unchallenged, a dangerous herdlike mentality can occur, where unethical behaviour becomes a cultural norm. The endless cycle of corporate scandals is surely evidence of this.

At BACP Workplace we’re raising the profile of our work and the contribution we know that our members play in supporting good mental health in the workplace. If you or your service are involved in work that you think we should hear about, or if there’s something that we’re not covering, do let me know.

Nicola Banning