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Can I keep my symptoms please? Working with secondary gains

posted 3 Feb 2011, 09:45 by Debbie Cotton   [ updated 26 Oct 2011, 14:42 ]
Open group training

Many years ago I met a woman with a debilitating phobia – she couldn’t drive. Driving gave her panic attacks. Through very brief intervention this woman was free of her phobia only to be confronted with flood of pain: for twenty years, she was married to a man she didn’t love. Somehow, her phobia served a purpose all those years – it protected her from dealing with something that was too painful.

Another man suffered from migraines every time his in-laws visited. So painful were his migraines that he just had to excuse himself into the bedroom and lay in silence…

Symptoms do that – they may make our lives uncomfortable, but they serve a purpose. And they care for us deeply. To support a truly integrated change, their purpose should be investigated, respected and sponsored.

During the workshop we will celebrate the symptoms and speak to them. Brining both systemic and relational approaches, we would talk with symptoms, befriend them and liaise with them so that we become cooperative partners rather than enemies trying to eradicate each other.

The workshop will be useful for psychotherapists, but also for people who work with physical symptoms, such as medical doctors, physiotherapists and complementary health practitioners. While using psychotherapeutic framework (relational), the dialogue that can develop with the symptoms could be used within other modalities too.

For questions, or more details you are welcome to email me at

Dates: 9th and 10th of December 2011
Location: The Open Centre, 188 Old St London EC1V 9FR
Cost: £210 for the whole workshop

This is an open group, so anyone who has interest in psychotherapuetic training is welcome. Please contact to book a place.