Lecturer at Terapia Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Programme, London, Capstone Foster Care Agency in Devon, Registered Provider of Child Psychotherapy, South West England
Di originally trained as a drama teacher at Central School of Speech and Drama. She trained as a dramatherapist in 1989 then as a play therapist a couple of years later. She has worked in the NSPCC Child Sexual Abuse Consultancy, the NHS and largely in private practice. Di currently works for a private foster care agency as a drama and play therapist and as a consultant to foster carers and social workers. She has been a clinical supervisor since 1994. Di completed an MA in Buddhist Psychotherapy with the Karuna Institute, Devon, in 2012. At that time, she believed she would end her practice as a drama and play therapist in order to practice as an adult psychotherapist, however, she discovered, with great joy, that Buddhism is exceptionally playful! Her book, ‘‘Playful Awakening – Releasing the Gift of Play in Your Life’ (2017, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London) was developed from her MA dissertation.
She is co-founder of the Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship Project and has a lifelong passion for horses. Di continues to supervision the Sirona team.
Di delivers a resilience training called the Challenge of Change (Derek Roger, 2017) and is studying to develop a playful, creative approach to building resilience in children and families.
Di lives in Devon with her husband, Branwell the cat and Mopperley her German Short-Haired Pointer. Her daughter Tabby is currently training as a vet at Nottingham and son Dexter is studying at City University.
Di Gammage is speaking at the following sessions
Challenge of Change
- Popularity of building resilience
- What it isn’t; i.e., an excuse for poor behaviour by others and a way of overburdening people with more and more demands.
- What is emotional resilience? Idea of the Weeble, a 1970s children’s toy which those of a certain age will know the strap line instinctively, ‘Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!’ This is the definition of emotional resilience according to the Challenge of Change model.
Introduction to the Challenge of Change; thirty years of empirical research based on immunology and cardiovascular measurements (scientific rather than anecdotal) in response to the question, ‘What is it that makes some more emotionally resilient and others more vulnerable to stress?’ based on the premise that resilience is something we can learn and develop in ourselves, not something we are either born with or we aren’t (this therefore is a very empowering approach). Five factors/behaviours have been identified as compromising emotional resilience; rumination, perfect control, toxic achieving, avoidance coping and emotional inhibition, and three factors/behaviours that support emotional resilience; detached coping, sensitivity and flexibility. Emphasis is made that all of these factors are learned behaviours (even if there is a genetic element, we still learn them through relationships) and so with practice, we are able to promote the healthy ones and reduce the unhealthy ones. In order to do this practice, the Challenge of Change has a four step programme; waking up and staying awake, controlling attention, detaching and letting go. Time will be given to introduce the eight factors/behaviours and the four step programme.
- Looking at what resources are; internal and external (although for all to have benefit they will ultimately be internalised…how they make us feel better is the crucial quality of a resource) and identifying our own personal resources using guided imagery.
- The theories behind resourcing (Levine, 2005; Sills, 2009).
- Identifying resources and what they do for us.
- The difficulties we might have remembering and accessing resources when we need them most.
- One important resource we can develop is our imagination. We can, with focused practice, use our imagination to serve us rather than disempower us (this is rumination, where our imagination is hijacked into catastrophising).
- Recognising that resourcing is an ongoing practice.