How to Work with Difference in short-term work

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Organised by:

Counselling Service at Birkbeck, University of London

18 January 2023 - 24 May 2023

Price: Various ticket prices

Location: online


Date: 18 January 2023-24 May 2023
Timings: 09:00-13:00
Venue: Online


The Birkbeck Training Series enters its fifth year in 2022-23. Launched in 2018 by the Student Counselling Service at Birkbeck, University of London, the workshops are created by and for HE counsellors and are tailored specifically for short-term work.

The series this year will focus on working with difference in its various forms in short-term within H.E. We have brought together clinicians who have embraced the idea of difference in their own practice and found meaning with which they work, and we hope as they present their ideas to you that you too will find meaning in the multifacetedness of what it means to be different, be other, to be unique, to be us and to be them; to try and understand how we see, how we experience being seen and what we see in the consulting room.

Our workshops can be booked individually or as a bundle at a discounted rate. Discounted tickets are also available for trainee/honorary therapists in placements.

Each workshop accredits you with 3.5 hours of CPD.

Training 1: Working with Visible Differences by Vivienne Purcell

Wednesday 18 January 2023, 9am-1pm

About the Workshop
Emerging from an extended period of remote working we are once again more likely to encounter the whole person when we begin therapy, rather than a managed ‘head and shoulders’ image on a screen. But this may not be the case. When a presenting client is living with a visible difference, congenital or acquired, and it is a virtual meeting, the therapist may not be aware unless they choose to share. Even if they are in the room, this may still be true. There are many reasons why a key lived-with experience is not mentioned, apparently tangential to the presenting concern. In this workshop the trainer will explore this topic and work with attendees to improve their understanding and confidence in working with difference in a sensitive way.

About the Speaker
Vivienne was born with a visible difference. She has been a Chartered Psychologist working in UK mental health services for more than 30 years. During that time she has been Head of the University of Reading Counselling Service, and a Clinical Supervisor in both Oxfordshire NHS Adult Mental Health Service and Central and North West London NHS. She now has a private practice in Hampshire and is a Trustee of HArt, a local arts and mental health organisation. Though during her career Vivienne has worked with a wide range of age groups and presentations her particular interests now are in psychological resilience, the performance of self, body dysmorphia, and visible differences.

Training 2: Working with Race, Identity and Intersectionality by Professor (Dr.) Divine Charura

Wednesday 22nd March 2023, 9am-1pm

About the Workshop
In this workshop we will engage in critical discussions regarding broaching difference, identity, diversity, and intersectionality in short-term work. It is easy to intellectualise about matters of race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, sexuality, disability, neurodiversity etc but as some research has evidenced, broaching these matters of difference and identity in therapy can be a challenge. The therapeutic relationship is not divorced from our own values, beliefs, privilege, constructed self-concepts about our difference from other. Ignoring, denying, or dismissing these elements of identity and diversity, can significantly impact how we relate to others/clients and can complicate relationships and hinder the therapeutic work. When working in short-term work, it is equally important to understand the psychodynamics associated with these important elements of diversity and their potential impact on the therapeutic frame, relationship, and therapeutic outcomes.

About the Speaker
Divine Charura is a Professor of Counselling Psychology and the programme director for the Doctorate in counselling psychology at York St John University. He is a chartered psychologist, and counselling psychologist with the British Psychological Society. He is registered as a practitioner psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in England. Divine is also an Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and an adult psychotherapist. As a psychologist, psychotherapist and researcher, Divine’s work focuses on the impact of trauma across the lifespan.

Training 3: Working with Otherness and Privilege by Dr. Dwight Turner

Wednesday 24 May 2023, 9am-1pm

About the Workshop
We live in an age where the culture wars are upon us, whilst some governments and political parties advocate against the rights and humanity of the other, other groups fight for the continued pushing forward to a more equal and diverse society.
This workshop will look at how this conflict, this exploration, may well be replicated in the world of counselling and psychotherapy and will consider the importance of understanding not just the external nature of privilege and otherness but also how it appears in the unconscious internalised state as well.

About the Speaker
Dr. Dwight Turner is Course Leader on the Humanistic Counselling and Psychotherapy Course at the University of Brighton, a PhD Supervisor at their Doctoral College, a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. An activist, writer and public speaker on issues of race, difference and intersectionality in counselling and psychotherapy. His latest book Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy was released in February 2021 and is published by Routledge.

Follow-up Forum

Wednesday 5th July 2023, 12:00-1.30pm

Following positive feedback from last years’ Training Series, we are offering as a bonus a reflective space moderated by the Birkbeck Counselling Team after the Training Series has ended, to discuss the impact of the learning, explore thoughts that may have emerged from it and to think together about how this may influence our clinical practice.

Note: You will automatically be given access to the follow-up forum for free if you have booked one or more of the trainings in the series.

For more information regarding the event please visit our website:

If you have any queries about bookings, how to make group bookings or would like us to send you the event brochure, please email Aditi Dhar at

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