At the end of the 2018 European Association for Reality Therapy Faculty Retreat, on a beautiful Autumn Sunday morning on 16th September in Stirling, situated quite close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, the UK organising committee of Moira Oliver, Ruth Bradbrook, Claire Gardiner and Sean Humphreys paused for a moment to reflect on what felt like the ending of a journey that had been two years long. It had started in a much warmer and also beautiful setting in Malta when the four of us began to share our perceptions, our hopes and expectations for Scotland 2018. The details were still to come, but after a wonderful time in Rabat, we all agreed that we hoped to achieve the goal of creating another important and powerful learning experience. As all of us present shared with each other during our self evaluations and feedback at the closing session in a room near to the Wallace Monument at the beautiful Stirling University, it would be appropriate to conclude that the whole group together had achieved (this goal.
Around 72 hours prior to this, we began the conference by sharing our hopes and expectations for the coming days. We welcomed some new additions to the group and we acknowledged that some of our friends and colleagues were sadly missing on this occasion. I noticed two distinct themes in the opening meeting that were commonly shared by most of the group at least. One theme was that the group felt a warm closeness and a strong bond of love and friendship, and another was that people thought that it was possible that we could become closer together in terms of our ideas about our professions and about how we practice these.
Although it was commonly felt that one area of development had more potential than the other in terms of distance to be travelled, which says as much about our close friendships as it does about differences in perceptions about our work, it would be fair to say that we had lots of opportunities to develop both! The parallel journeys continued with a workshop by one of our special guests, a member of the Senior Australian Faculty - Maggie Bolton - who showed us some demonstrations of how she teaches Choice Theory. The energy in the room was clear to see as we enjoyed what we were learning. A series of no fewer than ten workshops from presenters from Slovenia, Croatia and the UK were enjoyed before the penultimate session facilitated by the EART President Danko Butorac where he demonstrated the science behind Choice Theory and its application in Reality Therapy. In between, the group and also our guests (including star appearances from some very talented children) learned to dance as is done at a Scottish Ceilidh and we danced some more familiar moves at the disco. We played music together and we sung, we ate Haggis and Stovies, we explored some general knowledge on topics ranging from Scottish Geography to music and history, and we saw some of Scotland together including a castle that was built at a time when most people in the world chose external control psychology as their belief system. Why are you laughing?!
As our time together progressed, maybe the parallel journeys to deepen our already strong friendships and to grow closer together by learning more about each other's work, began to feel like one combined journey of enjoyable discovery. As I remember learning from Ljiljana Supraha in Malta two years ago, this feeling of fun must be an indication that we are 'doing some things right'.
The end of the journey in terms of this EART Faculty Retreat may be here, but the journey of learning and loving together continues as we look forwarded to the next stop in Bosnia 2021. Before this, we have lots more work to enjoy doing together.
(Sean Humphreys September 18th 2018)
See photos here