Physis Scotland - Grow Beyond Imagination
UKATA Conference Sponsors - Physis Scotland
Fiona Firman (Fi) and Fiona Cook (Fifi) from Physis Scotland chat with Susan Arslan at the UKATA National Conference 2023.
Susan: I'm with Fiona Firman and Fiona Cook from Physis Scotland; generous sponsors of this year’s National Conference – thank you for that!
So firstly, where are you actually based?
Fifi: We are based in the elegant West End of Edinburgh; fully accessible by trains, planes and automobiles alike!
Susan: What do you actually deliver at Physis?
Fi: We’re the only TA training Institute in Scotland, and our core stuff is teaching Psychotherapy and Counselling.
Susan: What's important to your organisation?
Fifi: One thing we both value is that we know every single core student that comes to us. So, in terms of our relationships, with our tutors, visiting tutors, support staff and our core students – that is very, very important to us.
We have approximately 90 students across our courses in Core training, Extended Training, Exam Preparation and the Supervision Diploma, and we also do Couples training.
Specifically, we run a Couple’s course, that we’re promoting this weekend, a Diploma in Counselling Supervision, two Exam Prep Groups and two Extended Training Groups beyond the core training. Typically, we have students who travel from all over Scotland, and then from all over the UK and more recently, students from Europe.
Susan: Is all your training ‘in person’ or do you do any virtual training?
Fi: Quite a lot of our Advanced training for qualified practitioners is on-line so there is a choice. Our Counselling Diploma and our Supervision Diploma have been validated by COSCA, which is the Counselling and Psychotherapy, professional body in Scotland, and they have awarded us a blended delivery of training so it means that we can deliver some of these courses online as well.
Susan: So, if someone was thinking of coming to Physis, it's worth giving you a call and saying, “this is what I want to do, how can I study?”
Fifi: Yes, absolutely. We offer several pathways for those students who want to become a counsellor or psychotherapist, and we also offer advanced training for qualified counsellors, psychotherapists and coaches.
Susan: What do you really want people to know about Physis? What makes you different? What makes you stand out? Why would students go to you in Scotland?
Fi: I don't know the answer to that specifically, but people have told us that they like what they see on our website. I think we try and practice what we preach in terms of modelling relationships with people. You’d need to go and ask some of our students how they really experience us – we’re still told regularly that people feel like they are walking into someone's living room when they come into Physis Scotland; the ambience is great, we’re a warm and down to earth place!
We really wanted to create a ‘home’ for TA in Scotland but then wider within the UK and thinking about Europe, for the future; a place where people felt secure and wanted to learn. Both of us certainly believe that for our students to be able to thrive it’s really important they feel that they have a secure space for their learning environment.
That’s been a big impetus for us - providing the right balance between support, nurture and stretch, but to have fun together as well. We like to get the right gravitas between being serious and having fun together.
We’ve got lots of therapists who are trained in other modalities who will come and do Foundation Year just to get another kind of string to their bow.
Susan: What else would you like to showcase about Physis?
Fifi: As well as our core training days for counselling and psychotherapy, students can come to our regional conference, and we have this in the curriculum for Advanced clinical students, without further charge. It’s always been really important to us to help our students integrate into their field. We also have a corporate membership with the STAA because we believe in community but also helping people to attach and feel comfortable within the regional organisation before encouraging them to get involved nationally.
We have our ‘All Together Day’ as well. Every year we bring the whole school together. We rent a big space to hold it and we focus on issues related to cultural difference, diversity, intersectionality, power and privilege to try and encourage our students to be thinking about and be mindful of that all the time. We've just had one and it was fantastic in terms of bringing everyone together because otherwise the students from different courses, studying on different weekends wouldn't meet each other.
So, we have the STAA conference, the STAA also offer two free CPD days a year as well, our own All Together Day and we offer a reading group for our registered core students. If our students attend some of these opportunities, we have an offer that might be different from other people.
In addition, we have a mentorship scheme – which was specifically set up based on the feedback from our students, who felt that they needed more connections between different year groups. Now, students in Advanced clinical training can mentor students from the earlier training years – and It's a way for former students to remain connected as well as some of our former students are still working with us in a mentoring capacity.
We also have ‘Physis Connect’, our After Training Group where former students of Physis Scotland and our predecessors Physis Training Ltd., and CPTI meet once every two months - they choose a topic and facilitate themselves for a couple of hours. So that's brilliant.
And finally, we work with the UKCN, which is Sally Benson’s social enterprise. This means that in collaboration with UKCN we offer our students a placement, as they have clients in Edinburgh that our students see in our premises.
Susan: So what does the UKATA conference mean to you? Why are you here again?
Fi: It’s a lot about connections. I've been coming to a conference every year and so for me, it’s about meeting people, being able to talk to people and realising as you're meeting some of these people who feel quite big names in TA, that they're just other people. They're just human beings.
There is no other modality that has a community like we have. The other part of it is that you can get a good amount of CPD almost done in one place, you know?
Generally, being part of something bigger than ourselves, as well as that sense of community and bringing people together.
Susan: Is there anything else you need to tell me about Physis?
Fi: We have a new strapline - Grow Beyond Imagination. We sought the views of our students, trainers and support staff, and that's what we've come up with. Grow Beyond Imagination was based on people seeing that the training was life changing - that when they just started, they didn't know what was going to happen but saw how they had developed and grown. The surprise in people sometimes when they realised that they’d managed to achieve and do something they never thought possible.
Susan: Fantastic! Thank you, Fiona and Fiona.