Training I offer with my partner

The training we offer is aimed at mental health workers, service users and family members and anyone interested in mental health and wellbeing. The training is interactive and focusses on sharing skills, practical ideas and resources.

We have an interest in providing training to inpatient settings as well as community settings. We also offer consultancy to groups and individuals.

Please contact me if you are interested in any of the sessions shown below.

Our biographies:

Rufus May has worked as a clinical psychologist in adult mental health services for 19 years. He provides training and consultancy in recovery and integrative based approach to psychosis and other mental health problems. He has an international reputation for training people in holistic and recovery based approaches to mental health problems, having carried out work in the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Holland. His interest in psychological approaches to psychosis and recovery is rooted in his own experiences of psychosis and recovery in his late teens. He has written a number of articles and book chapters and his work was featured in the English Channel 4 documentary ‘The Doctor who hears voices’.  Rufus also has an interest in mindfulness, voice dialogue approaches, conflict resolution communication skills and community development approaches including developing self-help networks. See more

Elisabeth Svanholmer has worked since 2006 as a Danish Hearing Voices Network trainer and facilitator. Her recovery journey has inspired her to use her own experiences of living with voices and other unusual experiences to help others. Elisabeth is passionate about facilitating creative, supportive spaces for people to talk about their experiences and learn from each other. Living in the UK she is still one of the organisers of a bi-monthly Danish open meeting for hearing voices groups in Western Denmark. She has facilitated training on the hearing voices approach, mindfulness and understanding the highly sensitive person in Denmark, UK, Canada and Australia. She has co-facilitated a mindfulness group and a hearing voices group. She presently co-facilitates monthly arts and wellbeing sessions in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.


Understanding and working with hearing voices

The hearing voices approach offers an inclusive and open approach to working with experiences that society fears and turns away from. This workshop looks at practical ways to help people hearing voices. It includes:

  • Accepting Voices thinking
  • Coping strategies
  • Mapping out the voices and the persons life history
  • Helping people change the relationship with their voices
  • Ways to respond to aggressive and domineering voices
  • Dialoguing and negotiating with voices
  • Using creative strategies to dialogue with voices
  • Grounding techniques and how to work safely with the voice hearing experience


Working with unusual beliefs

People treated for psychosis often have beliefs other people struggle with. Some beliefs can be distressing for the person. This workshop will look at ways to understand the function of the beliefs and how to support people to have more choices in their lives.

  • Understanding the protective function of unusual beliefs
  • Giving space to strongly held beliefs
  • Validating emotions connected to beliefs
  • Thinking about when or if  to challenge disturbing ideas
  • Making sense of psychotic episodes
  • Trauma memories and paranoia
  • Voice dialogue ideas in relations to magical thinking and persecutory ideas
  • Holistic approaches to building trust and confidence
  • Building awareness skills and the value of social connectedness


Conflict resolution skills in mental health

This workshop or series of workshops is aimed looks at ways to reduce and handle conflict. It will include dialoguing skills ways to to help de-escalate conflict situations and preventative strategies.
The training will include:

  • How to listen effectively in stressful situations
  • Self care in stressful situations
  • Understanding aggression and anger
  • Ways to communicate with someone who is very angry or aggressive
  • Self empathy and empathy skills
  • Setting boundaries in clear ways
  • Understanding competing needs in conflict situations and finding way forward
  • The role of mindfulness in conflict situations
  • Sharing communication skills with staff and service users


Understanding sensitivity

Being highly sensitive is a concept that can be very useful to understanding a range of mental health difficulties. It offers a way of looking at vulnerability that is non-judgemental and empowering. The workshop will include:

  • What are the signs of being highly sensitive?
  • Advantages of seeing sensitivity as a trait not a deficit
  • Sensitivity on a continuum, connecting with our sensitivity
  • The strengths of sensitivity
  • The challenges of being highly sensitive
  • Understanding over stimulation and overwhelm
  • Strategies to cope with overwhelm
  • Self care principles
  • Developing an accepting attitude
  • Developing resilience without numbing/ suppressing sensitivities


Mindfulness and mental health

Mindfulness is an approach to life that can reduce stress and improve memory and concentration.
It is being increasingly used in mental health settings for both staff and people using services.
This experiential workshop will include the practising of accessible practical exercises plus:

  • Mindfulness attitudes, ways to be with the present moment as it unfolds
  • Mindfulness in everyday life, mindful activity, mindful movement, mindful breathing
  • Mindfulness supporting people
  • Mindful listening skills
  • Mindful approaches to working with and transforming anger
  • Mindfulness and other extreme states of mind (strong fears, voices, visions etc)
  • Grounding exercises and techniques


Grounding and Centering 

Trauma, overwhelm and stress of daily life can disconnect us from our bodies. Grounding techniques reconnect us with the here and now, with the body and the resources we have naturally available. We all dissociate to different extents and different ways in response to challenging situations.  Learning grounding and centering techniques can give us a useful strategy to have when navigating demanding situations.  When we ground ourselves, it can help us create sense of safeness. This course is for anyone interested in using grounding skills, both for themselves as well as to help others become more grounded and less overwhelmed. It will be useful to people interested in mental health, trauma and therapy work, stress management, mindfulness and wellbeing.

This course will:

  • share simple and effective exercises that can help us to become more centered and grounded
  • Create space for reflecting on what we learn as we practice grounding and centering
  • share practices that can be used in everyday situations
  • share strategies for times of conflict or stress


Trauma informed approaches to healing and recovery

What can we learn from approaches to trauma healing to inform how we seek to promote recovery and well being in mental health. This workshop will include:

  • Stages of healing from trauma, safety, making sense of experiences and social reconnection
  • Discovering what promotes a sense of safety
  • Understanding disassociation
  • Flashbacks, paranoia and other memory effects
  • Integration approaches
  • Using the body and grounding exercises to release stress
  • Working with powerful emotions
  • Thinking together about the narratives relating to traumatic experience
  • Making social connection; relationships, activities and roles


Understanding psychosis and working towards recovery

The hearing voices approach is transforming how we are understanding and approaching psychotic experiences. This workshop looks at practical ways to help people having these experiences. It includes:

  • Psychosis research and implications
  • Accepting approaches to voices and unusual beliefs
  • Helping people change relationship with their experiences
  • When to challenge disturbing ideas
  • Making sense of psychotic experiences
  • Mindfulness and challenging experiences
  • Voice dialogue ideas
  • Group work approaches
  • Recovery stories
  • Alternatives to medication
  • Wise ways to use medication and to reduce its use