Harnessing the power of exercise: The rewards and risks of using exercise to improve mental health

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16 July 2022

Time: 10:00 - 16:00

Price: Qualified Practitioners £80;Counselling/Psychotherapy Trainees £70;WPF Therapy Trainees /Staff £55

Location: online


This workshop will be delivered via Zoom online.

Sometimes we overlook the impact of mental and emotional well-being as part of fitness.

Are you a therapist, fitness professional, social worker, teacher or other professional working with clients who are struggling with their mental health? Are you noticing a difference with the pandemic?

Many people are struggling to maintain mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The experience of depression, anxiety and stress is recognised as having significant impact. We know that exercise and fitness can have a massive benefit mental health. Physical movement and breathing have been used for thousands of years by Yoga teachers to promote mental wellbeing as well as physical health. Body Psychotherapy, Dance Movement Psychotherapy and other movement-based therapies grew out of the work of early psychoanalysts and more recently, therapies involving walking, running and other forms of exercise have developed, with incredible success.

Recent events have not only unveiled chronic inequities but also heightened the visibility of these injustices and their impact particularly in Black Asian, African and ethnic minority communities. Now more than ever Psychotherapists and counsellors must work with their clients in processing these ‘external’ issues presenting with increasing frequency in their internal worlds and in consulting rooms.

Workshop Aims  

This workshop aims to help practitioners with the following:

  • To understand how physical exercise can improve someone’s mental health and help them engage with and process trauma and emotion held in the body and not accessible to language
  • To understand that exercise has a powerful psychological effect, which can become addictive and a symptom of Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphia or Muscle Dysmorphia
  • How to work with clients to encourage them to begin to exercise, to create a beneficial dialogue between exercise and therapy, to identify and address the danger signs of over-exercise.


This unique training is an opportunity to explore to explore the impact of exercise on mood and emotion and the mind-body connection, it will include an hour long circuit-training session with Mindfulness) and will cover:

The physiology of exercise, trauma and the Fight or Flight Mechanism
The theories of how emotion gets into the body and the role of movement in emotional processing (Walking, running, HIIT, Boxing and other forms of left/right activity).
“The Body” and the “Body Ego” in psychoanalytic theory.
The relationships between therapist / patient and personal trainer / client: pair work.
Dangers and Risks: identifying, understanding and working with the risks of over-exercising.

Workshop Leader

Andrew Keefe is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, EMDR Therapist and Personal Trainer. He works in private practice in East London and the City, specializing in work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse, abusive relationships, sexual violence and Birth Trauma. He uses fitness, especially outdoor fitness, therapeutically to help people improve their mental health and wellbeing and to process emotion held in the body. Before private practice, he worked for sixteen years in clinical roles at the British Refugee Council and then Freedom from Torture, working with traumatized refugees and survivors of torture. He is a former Director of Clinic at WPF.

Target Audience:

This workshop is open to qualified and training psychotherapists and counsellors. Please note that by booking on this event you agree to keep all discussion confidential.

All participants completing the workshop will receive a Certificate of Attendance for Continuing Professional Development purposes.


Please note that by booking a ticket for this event, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions for CPD events, so please read through them carefully before making your purchase.

If you experience any problems during the application process then please e-mail events@wpf.org.uk.

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