The DMPeror’s new clothes?

DMP at LCHLOh what a week that was.

I’m left feeling somewhat ambivalent, holding both good and bad feelings about events and prospects.

After a time of incubation I finally delivered the first of two scheduled ‘free’ talks on DMP to a local centre offering complementary medicine and holistic therapies.

I wasn’t expecting the 70 that had crowded the centre for a rather more illustrious and established therapist but, I was a little disappointed only to have 10 people: two of whom were also linked to the centre so I felt they didn’t ‘count’ (OK, Mrs Superego, thank you for that helpful comment).

I had prepared fully – even making a short PPT slide show – of images – not death by bullet point.

I’d even checked the day before that the laptop spoke the same language as the projector. No more lastminutedotcom for me.

On the way home from this dry run, I felt warm and content inside – a happiness rush if you like – and an image of a fitting for a new tailormade coat came to mind. In yellow, with wide cuffs. I could see the stitching where the fabric had been marked for alteration for alignment and fit. It felt right.

I practised out loud… added anecdotes from clinical work and pre-DMP life … and allowed myself to use my body in ways that feel natural to me, not constrained by the concept of formal presentation.

I helped set up the room – somewhere I knew well – with a Chacian circle in mind. Well, a horseshoe to be precise so the slides were visible to all on the wall. Looking back, I felt something to look at would take the focus off me and prevent my audience from seeing my anxiety with X-ray specs. And PPT slides are professional: I had done many presentations during my previous career.

I think I paced myself and structured the talk well, with a bit of context, theory and principle, and then a chunky ‘experiential’ section. Playtime with props. This was received really well, with rich imagery of butterflies, womanly curves, childhood games and more. Despite being a demonstration, I also realised that amongst the playfulness, darker issues lurked in the corners – exclusion, loneliness, self-imposed constraint, body image and escape. I could almost smell it.

At the end of the session, there was a palpable energy in the air – excitement even – and a reluctance to leave. I thanked the group and they said no, thank YOU.

But what next… this therapy when experienced seems to move people yet the understanding and attitude towards adoption seems fraught with doubt and denial and distrust. Or are these my own concerns which I’m projecting onto potential clients and employers?

Emily d’Anunnzio – an American DMP and regular blogger – has recently commented on a similar issue, including her clamber for more qualifcations to validate what she offers. I understand this well too, having taken a further uni course in CBT last autumn (which I passed well): it was a case of ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer’. Now, I no longer view CBT as the enemy, rather as a useful and valuable strategic partner. Like the coat in my image above, one size or item of clothing does not fit all or all situations. Therapy is infinitely variable and flexible to meet the shape and needs of each client and their experience. Sometimes you need the structure of a tailored suit, at others, the freedom of flowing silk.

The following day I felt a sense of hollowness, of a light dimming, especially when my second talk – scheduled for tonight – was cancelled. Maybe Friday 13th wasn’t the most auspicious date.

The hollowness has faded and the light begun to glimmer once more. I tried one approach which produced a positive response. It will happen again. In fact I have been asked to hold two short sessions/talks at a women’s group health and wellbeing day. Who knows where that might lead?

Perhaps the way in is to engage people physically, to embody DMP, and from that maybe my fledgling career will begin to find its wings.

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