Nick Totton's Page

Helping people remember who they are and what they're doing here

Nick



I have been working as a therapist, supervisor, trainer and workshop leader since 1981, having trained originally as a Reichian bodywork therapist. (You can find out something about Reichian therapy and its founder Wilhelm Reich by going here.) Since then I have completed an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies; trained (but don't practice) as a cranio-sacral therapist; attended a number of seminars in Process Oriented Psychology; and developed my own integrative approach to psychotherapy. 

I offer workshops and seminars on a range of themes, including embodiment, ecopsychology, and the politics of psychotherapy; and am the founder of, though no longer a trainer for, Embodied-Relational Therapy, as well as being the founder of the Wild Therapy project, 'bringing therapy into the wild, and wildness into therapy'. I recently moved from Cornwall to Sheffield.

My work as a therapist


I identify myself as a body psychotherapist, but it's not really a very satisfactory term: it sounds as though I only work with people's bodies, whereas of course I work with the whole of them, united bodymindspirit. My goal is to follow the client wherever their process takes them; but a central concern is the nature of the embodied relationship which the two of us can grow together, and how this reflects the themes and issues of the client's life.

Following someone's spontaneous process can end up in some unusual places; but often the session will be spent sitting and talking together, in the way that most people expect. Other possibilities include (by mutual agreement) working with breath; with visualisation and fantasy; movement; and working out of doors.

I am open to various practical arrangements, including both long termand short term work. I charge on a sliding scale, normally between 45 and 70 an hour.

I am shortly closing my practice with individual clients or supervisees, although I will still offer one-off or occasional consultations. However my partner, Helene Fletcher, is also a body psychotherapist, i and you can see her web page here.

You can email me here.

Workshops and Courses
I don't work as much as I used to, but I do run occasional workshops and courses; to go on my mailing list for these, contact me.  For the training in Embodied-Relational Therapy, go here;  and for the Wild Therapy one year training and taster workshops go here.

Recent Books

Different Bodies:
Deconstructing Normality

Different Bodies: Deconstructing Normality
The aim of this book is to challenge the reader – talking therapist, body therapist, client or anyone else – to interrogate their own sense of ‘normality’ and relinquish the term and all the privileges it brings. It is time, he writes, ‘to dismantle that identity, pull down that statue… and rest on the solid ground of difference’. Only then, he argues, will psychotherapy practitioners be in a position to learn from their clients and their different bodies how best to work with them.
 
The book addresses differences of bodily capacity, gender and sexual identity, skin colour, and neurology; also differences between the human and non-human people who inhabit the Earth. Totton’s call is for recognition that we all have a right to share this planet, and that creating standards of ‘normality’ also creates marginalisation, with all the consequent psychological and material harms. ‘Real change for anyone means real change for everyone', and psychotherapy has the potential to help  bring this about.

Sailing to  Bohemia:
The Vision of Freedom from Work-Discipline


Sailing to Bohemia: The Vision of Freedom from Work-Discipline
What is bohemia? What roles has it played in our past — and how might it be important to our present and future? Sailing to Bohemia is the first scholarly attempt to survey the whole global history of bohemianism, and try to give some unity to what is at first sight a very confusing field.

It tells the story of bohemianism in its many forms, and also of various precursors which did not use that name but which expressed the same impulse: the rejection of enforced wage labour, and the desire for a society based on creativity, mutual aid and direct relationship.

Sailing to Bohemia argues that bohemia is a continuous potential in human society, like a gene that will be expressed in any suitable environment; and that its world view is a significant third way, distinct from both dominant and working class cultures.

How To Be A Bad Therapist
Written together with Allison Priestman.  In this short and hopefully easy-to-read book we aim to throw open some windows, to bring fresh air into the discourse about what makes a good or bad therapist and to offer some redefinitions of therapy. We believe that the core skills of being a therapist are human and innate. Rather than offering a restrictive model of what should and shouldn't be done, training could reframe itself to look at what's getting in the way of the practitioner's ability to be in contact, offer intimacy, create and maintain an appropriate relationship. Training to explore how to work creatively with, rather than act out from, our wounding. Counselling and psychotherapy, especially when we work relationally, is often an unpredictable process. We will explore how to embrace the inherent messiness, awkwardness and un-knowableness, of working as a therapist.

Grace & Chaos:
A Short Book on Group Facilitation


Grace & Chaos
Three things to ask yourself as facilitator (especially when things get stuck):
  • Who in the room am I not noticing? This could be a group member; it could also be myself, or someone who is not physically present but keeps being referred to, or some ghost role like an authority or a terrorist...
  • Who in the room am I disapproving of? This means I am caught up in a polarisation that I am not currently able to facilitate. The person may be holding a disturber role which I urgently need to listen to. It also may be that the real issue is my involvement on the side of someone else whom this person is criticising.
  • What position am I not supporting? Either I am opposing it because I am polarised, or it is out of my awareness for some reason.

Older books

Embodied Relating: The Ground of Psychotherapy

Embodied Relating: The Ground of Psychotherapy

Embodied relating is embedded in our everyday life: we can all ‘do’ embodied relating, though some do it better than others. Like many other important aspects of life, it generally happens of its own accord, but sometimes benefits from the sort of close examination which tends to happen in therapy. However, psychotherapy has a history of keeping embodiment out of its field of awareness, and of preferring language-based relating to all other kinds - indeed, until quite recently, of downplaying here-and-now relationship altogether. All these things are now changing; and this book is intended to be part of the change.

Embodiment and relationship are inseparable, both in human existence and in psychotherapy. If we explore embodiment, we encounter relationship; if we explore relationship, we encounter embodiment. Therapy is more powerful when the practitioner is able to recognise the constant interplay between these two aspects of being human, and to follow and support the shifts of change from one to the other.

Reichian Growth Work 2nd Edition






The first edition of Reichian Growth Work: Melting the Blocks to Love and Life came out twenty years ago, and it has long been out of print; for some while we made it available on the Internet. Now there is a heavily improved and updated new edition from PCCS Books.

Reichian Growth Work sets out to convey the essential features of Reichian therapy in concrete and easily understandable language. The style of body therapy which it describes is democratic, growth-oriented and undogmatic, while still committed to Reich’s radical description of human beings and their difficulties.



This volume brings together 24 of Nick Totton’s articles and book chapters from the last thirteen years, all exploring in different ways the relationship between therapy, the world and society. A central argument is that therapy, if it is to be effective, cannot and should not be risk-free or risk-averse. Among the themes addressed are professionalisation and regulation; the fetishisation of boundaries; democracy and therapy; intimacy; embodiment; overwhelm; and ecopsychology.

Throughout, there is a two-way dialogue between therapy and politics, with each enriching the other.  Nick Totton argues that therapy is intrinsically without goals, and therefore cannot usefully be harnessed to the task of relieving symptoms and getting people back to work. This also means that therapy offers a model for a different kind of politics based not on policies and demands, but on process.

Although regulation in the UK is temporarily halted, the long term battle over who controls psychotherapy and counselling is not over. So this collection of direct or implicit arguments about the wild nature of therapy, and its intrinsic unsuitability for domestication, is both relevant and urgent.

- See more at: http://www.pccs-books.co.uk/products/not-a-tame-lion/#sthash.ZJZj0Bf7.dpu

This volume brings together 24 of Nick Totton’s articles and book chapters from the last thirteen years, all exploring in different ways the relationship between therapy, the world and society. A central argument is that therapy, if it is to be effective, cannot and should not be risk-free or risk-averse. Among the themes addressed are professionalisation and regulation; the fetishisation of boundaries; democracy and therapy; intimacy; embodiment; overwhelm; and ecopsychology.

Throughout, there is a two-way dialogue between therapy and politics, with each enriching the other.  Nick Totton argues that therapy is intrinsically without goals, and therefore cannot usefully be harnessed to the task of relieving symptoms and getting people back to work. This also means that therapy offers a model for a different kind of politics based not on policies and demands, but on process.

Although regulation in the UK is temporarily halted, the long term battle over who controls psychotherapy and counselling is not over. So this collection of direct or implicit arguments about the wild nature of therapy, and its intrinsic unsuitability for domestication, is both relevant and urgent.

- See more at: http://www.pccs-books.co.uk/products/not-a-tame-lion/#sthash.ZJZj0Bf7.dpuf
Wild Therapy: Rewilding Inner and Outer Worlds



Therapy is by nature wild; but a lot of it at the moment is rather tame. This book tries to shift the balance back towards wildness, by connecting therapy with ecological thinking, seeing each species, each being, and each person inherently and profoundly linked to each other. Therapists have always tried to help people tolerate the anxiety of not being in control of our feelings, our thoughts, our body, our future. Human efforts to control the world are well on the way to wrecking it through environmental collapse: the more we try to control things, the further out of balance we push them.
Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis

Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis

Edited with Mary-Jayne Rust."Vital signs" are, of course, the basic physiological measures of functioning which health practitioners use to assess the gravity of a patient’s predicament. This anthology focuses not so much on our physical predicament, with so many of the Earth’s systems severely stressed and beginning to fail – there are plenty of other places to read about this Instead we focus on our psychological predicament, as news of the situation slowly penetrates our defences and we struggle as individuals and as a society to find an adequate response. By “vital signs” we also mean signs that such a response is beginning to take shape: signs of hope, signs of healing.

Not A Tame Lion:
 Writings on Therapy in its Social and Political Context


cover

This volume brings together 24  articles and book chapters from thirteen years up to 2012, all exploring in different ways the relationship between therapy, the world and society. A central argument is that therapy, if it is to be effective, cannot and should not be risk-free or risk-averse. Among the themes addressed are professionalisation and regulation; the fetishisation of boundaries; democracy and therapy; intimacy; embodiment; overwhelm; and ecopsychology.

Throughout, there is a two-way dialogue between therapy and politics, with each enriching the other. I argue that therapy is intrinsically without goals, and therefore cannot usefully be harnessed to the task of relieving symptoms and getting people back to work. This also means that therapy offers a model for a different kind of politics based not on policies and demands, but on process.


Body psychotherapy currently attracts more interest than ever before and is taking up an important role in the general psychotherapy field, bringing awareness of embodiment into what has been a verbally oriented profession. It is also developing a sophisticated approach which engages with recent advances in other fields including neuroscience, phenomenology, and cognitive studies, as well as the relational turn in psychotherapy. Body Psychotherapy for the 21st Century charts the history of this transformation and shows how four distinct versions of embodied practice have interacted to generate the current field. It makes the case for body psychotherapy not only within the therapeutic world, but in the social sphere, where bodily difference - of gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality - is one of the major markers of oppression.
Even older books



The Water in the Glass was published by Rebus in 1998.

Psychotherapy and Politics came out from Sage in 2000.

Character and Personality Types (with Michael Jacobs) from Open University Press in 2001.

Body Psychotherapy: An Introduction from Open University Press in 2003.

Press When Illuminated: New and Selected Poems, 1968-2003 came out in 2004 from Salt.

I have also edited Psychoanalysis and the Paranormal: Lands of Darkness (Karnac, 2003), New Dimensions in Body Psychotherapy (Open University Press), and  The Politics of Psychotherapy (OUP), and co-edited Implausible Professions (PCCS, second edition 2011).

I was founding editor editor of the peer reviewed journal Psychotherapy and Politics International, now online only.

Poetry Books
Cold Calling

Poems, mostly written 2016-17. My first collection since 2004. 

    O, say it with mirrors! No skin off my bone but it’s
    half a bucket of nothing, the brave machines confused
    by dirt extracts in a hurry. A hard bargain driven home,
    a stone cast first at the glass castle: be it ever so humble,
    you can always stumble and end up face down in the crumble.
World Frequency

You wait twelve years for one, then two come along at once! World Frequency was published not long after Cold Calling:

    Dodging and burning incite a smooth rendition;
    flux descent whispers of free oxygen spilling
    across the membrane. Salty transitions solid in
    righteous impulse, brittle and difficult to fuse.

    Which purchases we crawl, several and absolute,
    a required trace not found in nature. Known issues
    resist this drastic treatment, semaphoring the need
    for slipping through holes. How about now?

Buddha Poems



In these nine short poems, the Buddha seems to be living in England and encountering the small problems of modern everyday life.


 Buddha in the Kitchen
 The Buddha’s favourite snack is cheese on toast. Cheese,  chutney, butter, bread – mmm! Sometimes, however, he finds he  has no chutney. Sometimes no butter. Sometimes no bread.  Sometimes no cheese. Take away all the ingredients, and what’s  left? – Oh, please, says the Buddha; that’s just ridiculous!

Remix Theory



A single  long poem.

Smash. Bang. Wallop. My explosive brain refuses the stern order to put it

down, boy, heel! It is on the scent. Or scents. Or spidey sense – manufacturing
excess of desire over need, it must make connections to live, drive rewilding

corridors across the watersheds of relevance. For ‘brain’, read
‘body’:  thought
is shaped by feeling, sensing, moving, by speaking: thought is made in the mouth.

But – and how tedious to keep asking in new versions – in
whose mouth? From
whose
mouth do the words pass to ours, still dripping with saliva, imprinted
by alien
teeth? Our blood-flecked lips signal the vampire state, splendidly
panoptic in its glass coffin, set up by the roadside like a speed camera to snare

passing princes and foreign foragers. It’s almost as if everything's connected! 
Second Language

Second Language



BAD GATEWAY


The older generation these days
just don't seem interested in screwing young people up
to compensate I ate one of my arms
and the other ones became electrified
and returned home: in any situation
the best choice is the least familiar. But no one
has a monopoly; I myself have been known.


Other writings



You can read and download quite a lot of my articles etc from academia.edu




I am a founder member of the BPN,  which is open to anyoner who defines themself as a body psychotherapy practitioner.


Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility



I am also a member and ex-chair of PCSR, which aims to locate psychotherapy and counselling in its social context


Dancing Bear

My partner, Helene Fletcher, is a painter, photographer and printmaker, and has now come out of retirement and restarted working as a body psychotherapist. To find out about her work in all these fields, click here