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Forgiveness - A workshop with Sue Hanisch in Stockport on Fri 31 March 2017
Fri 31 March 2017, 09:30 – 16:00 BST
On Friday 31st March 2017 Sue Hanisch will run a workshop in Stockport on the difficult topic of forgiveness. Sue was the victim of an IRA bombing in London in 1991. She is deeply involved in the Forgiveness Project and uses the Human Givens approach to work with traumatised clients.
Sue would never broach the subject of forgiveness with a client unless they were actively resisting change by incessant blaming of others. Under these circumstances forgiveness could be the unnamed elephant in the room. It may be relevant to examine how well this is serving these clients and the why they need to hold onto blame while wishing to put the past behind them. Forgiveness is not necessary for people to get on with their lives, but unexpressed emotions leak out and show themselves in personal relationships, behaviours and physical symptoms.
Sue does not believe that she has 'moved on'. Rather she has learned to carry her experiences with her as part of who she is. She thinks that people become stuck, blocked and depressed by the idea that they have to leave something behind that is a significant part of their biography and hence biology. Her work in Northern Ireland continues to challenge and trigger her. She finds that a degree of compassion and self-care is required before a trip and on her return. This keeps forgiveness as an active process, while offering opportunities again and again to see the other side of the story.
Overview of the day
Sue is not prescriptive about forgiveness. For her it is an intensely personal matter that is nobody else's business. However, as a starting point, she will present a range on ideas and quotations. These illustrate the way in which we are influenced by our own and other's expectations around the topic. she will also discuss blame and the how this depletes our energy levels and renders us powerless to live our lives and make a difference.
The main topics of the morning will be the principles of how the brain works and the essentials of the Human Givens Approach. On the basis of these it is clear that when a traumatic event takes place, our response is to focus attention on what has happened and what has 'gone wrong'. This prevents us from thinking clearly and getting our physical and emotional needs met in a healthy way. Hence PTSD can lead to chronic depression, breakdown of relationships, anger issues, addictions etc.. The rewind technique from the Human Givens Approach helps us to recalibrate the memory of the traumatic event, which enables our focus of attention to be changed.
In the afternoon Sue will show a film, which provides a good example of the enormous difference that forgiveness can make. However, it also illustrates difficulties that can be created as a result of objection and resistance from family members. She will then invite discussion from the participants and discuss the emotional challenges evoked by forgiveness.
By the end of the day participants should be able to identify (on a personal and private level) where they are holding on to resentments and grudges. They will be invited to enquire within themselves why they are allowing this to happen. And they will be encouraged to think about whether we need forgiveness, why this is the case and for whose benefit?
The workshop leader
Sue Hanisch graduated as an occupational therapist. Initially she worked in paediatrics in Blackburn and the Ribble Valley. There she up the first community based service and provided therapy for children.
For many years she lived abroad in Iraq, Algeria, Greece, Jordan, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Israel and the Netherlands. Then in February 1991, while preparing to move to South Africa, she was involved in an IRA bombing in London. This caused severe physical and psychological injuries requiring three years of intense rehabilitation. This included prosthetic rehabilitation for a below knee amputation to her right leg and reconstructive surgery to her left leg. In 1994 she returned to work.
Following on from her experiences, she became involved in Medico-legal work. This involved discussions with individuals. It also involved learning and teaching about the effects of post traumatic stress on the body and its ongoing effects on everyday life.
In 2002, Sue completed a diploma in the Human Givens Approach to psychotherapeutic counselling. This is particularly applicable to people suffering from PTSD. She has applied the approach in childcare, in Vocational Rehab, and with returning military personnel and victims of attack and terrorism. In this capacity she has worked in Bosnia, South Africa and the West Bank. She lectures at Liverpool University and has been involved in setting up Human Givens training in Australia and Bosnia.
She gained a private pilot's licence in California in 1988 and works with great enthusiasm to promote flying scholarships for disabled people. Her awards include the Woman of the year for courage in 2002. She has worked with the British Legion, Combat Stress, Red Poppy and PTSD Resolution and is a member of the Legacy Project in Warrington. She offers advice to NHS training groups and 'Blue-light' services on interventions for people affected by violent conflict. As a member of the Sustainable Peace project, she works with ex-paramilitaries in Northern Ireland and regularly speaks on behalf of the Forgiveness Project. In 2014 she was invited to become involved in the 'Freedom Our Responsibility' project in South Africa and in recent years has contributed to several publications on the physical and psychological effects of trauma on the body.