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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Steps to successful living by Kate Daniels

Skyros facilitator Kate Daniels, a consultant systemic therapist and jazz singer, talks with fellow Skyros facilitator Alison Goldie about her course that is running at the Skyros Centre this September....

Alison: We have just done some music together at the Skyros in London cabaret and I gather you are running a life coaching course at Skyros this summer?

KD: Yes 'SC 14' which will be running at the Skyros Centre, 1 - 11 September. I do have a musical career but I have also been a Systemic therapist for almost 30 years. I enjoy both worlds! I have worked with organisations, couples and individuals and currently I am director of training for family therapy at The Tavistock Centre. The life coaching courses I run at Skyros draw from all these aspects of my work.

What are you covering on your course this year?

The key aims are to help people get their lives and relationships on a course they define, and to develop their skills and resources with this in mind. Too often these days, people find themselves on a treadmill often trying to satisfy so many different competing agendas that they lose a sense of themselves as authors of their own destiny.

Alison: What makes your course different?

KD: My course is based on developing people’s strengths rather than focussing on their deficits. It is an antidote to self-help manuals. We live in a culture that reads like a school report: ‘could do better’ – Self-help manuals buy into this. They seem to encourage the view that one should always be striving. They imply that if you religiously follow all the rules and regimes they set out, make enough lists and get up early enough you WILL be happy and fulfilled. Of course they can be helpful but the risk is you can end up exhausted, anxious and feeling like a failure with nothing to show but bookshelves full of self help manuals.

So how is your course an antidote?

KD: I want to help people develop an appreciation of themselves rather than critical or tiring expectations. The research shows that the most successful and lasting change happens when people feel that they are in charge of the changes they make in their lives and also feel as though they are making the changes from a position of strength. In my course this is an important consideration. Using an Appreciative Enquiry approach participants are encouraged to develop a sense of their expertise about their lives and their capacity to make good choices. Equally they are encouraged to investigate and develop their own pace of change.

What do you mean by ‘pace of change’?

Everyone has a different way of ‘doing’ change and it can help to explore it and decide how it works for you. Sometimes people feel so overwhelmed with their lives they despair of being able to change anything. Sometimes they keep trying to change things by applying and re-applying the same old solutions that haven’t worked. In my course we take the pressure off and play with different ideas and beliefs. For example change doesn’t have to be huge to be effective. I like the Systemic idea that small change at one part of a system resounds throughout and can have wide effect. Or the idea that change gathers momentum like a snowball

Alison: You say ‘play’ with different ideas...?

Yes I don’t believe that change only happens accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth! We do enjoy ourselves on my course although indeed it can be challenging.

Alison: In what way ‘challenging’?

KD: Sometimes it is difficult for people to let go of old beliefs even though these might be beliefs that are disempowering and self critical. Beliefs that support and encourage a person to feel good about him or herself are often the ones that have the quietest voice. My aim is to give these more air time and turn them up.

What do you hope people will take home with them from your course?

KD: An emerging sense of confidence and optimism, some re-formulated beliefs about themselves and their world, skills and tools for developing and enriching their lives, and maybe as one past participant put it 'a host of admiring angels'!

For more information about Kate's course 'Successful Living', or for any other holidays with Skyros, call us on 01983 86 55 66 or email

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