Drawing on their new book with somatic systemic therapist, Alex Iantaffi, 'Hell Yeah Self-Care', in this experiential workshop Meg-John Barker offers practitioners an opportunity to reflect upon and learn more about the topic of trauma-informed self-care. We will consider the role of self-care in our lives, and the lives of our clients, as well as the importance of systems and structures of support around our self-care and our work. We will explore the importance of a trauma-informed approach to self-care, recognising that different self-care practices work for different people, and that all forms of self-care have the potential to be (re)traumatising if implemented in non-consensual or self-shaming ways.
The workshop will begin by exploring the idea of self-care and how it can weave together with therapy and other forms of supportive practice. We will explore why self-care is so necessary in the current cultural climate, common blocks to self-care and how to work with these, and the importance of empowering people to find what works for them, whether that is ourselves or our clients. We will then explore different forms of self-care: gentle self-care, reflective self-care, and ongoing rituals and practices, and how to build these into everyday life. After this we will focus in on trauma-related forms of self-care: making plans for when trauma hits, self-care which involves nervous system grounding and soothing, approaches which involve staying present with feelings, and the importance of being mindful of social - as well as individual - forms of trauma. Finally, drawing upon the literature on shame and self-criticism we will consider why self-care needs to be relational and collective, and consider practices which involve cultivating systems and structures of support.
Meg-John Barker is the author of a number of popular books on sex, gender, and relationships, including Queer: A Graphic History (with Julia Scheele), How To Understand Your Gender (with Alex Iantaffi), Enjoy Sex (How, When, and IF You Want To) (with Justin Hancock), Rewriting the Rules, The Psychology of Sex, and The Secrets of Enduring Love (with Jacqui Gabb).
They have also written numerous books, articles, chapters, and reports for scholars and counsellors, drawing on their own research and therapeutic practice. In particular they have focused their academic-activist work on the topics of bisexuality, open non-monogamy, sadomasochism, non-binary gender, and Buddhist mindfulness.
Barker is currently a senior lecturer in psychology at the Open University. They co-founded the journal Psychology & Sexuality and the activist-research organisation BiUK, through which they published The Bisexuality Report. They have advised many organisations, therapeutic bodies, and governmental departments on matters relating to gender, sexual, and relationship diversity (GSRD). They are also involved in facilitating many public events on sexuality and relationships, including Sense about Sex and Critical Sexology. They blog and podcast about all these topics on rewriting-the-rules.com and megjohnandjustin.com.