Project Description

CGPS 2018 Spring Workshop

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Workshop Images

The Complex Shape of Relationship:
Using fractal geometry to understand yourself, your relationships and your groups.

With Phil Spiro , MD

 Psychotherapists have traditionally borrowed metaphors from other fields, even those far from the comfort zone of most practicing therapists. Music, dance, visual arts, film, drama, martial arts, physics, biology, anthropology (just to mention a few) have all contributed to the understanding of human psychology and the practice of various healing approaches for humans in psychological distress. This workshop offers a way in which the rigorous study of complex phenomena, complexity theory, can enlighten the psychotherapist. Among other things, complexity theory has given us fractal geometry – a relatively simple way to model the natural world, the world of organic, living, moving, breathing things. The fractal, which can be understood as the boundary between complex forms, is a geometric figure constructed by simple iterative rules. Fractals display very specific and very remarkable properties; deterministic construction, self-similarity and infinite bounded complexity. Though therapists know these concepts by different names, the properties themselves are quite familiar, especially the group psychotherapist. The complexity theorist aims to map these properties to discern underlying structure to gain an even deeper understanding of the phenomenon in question. This workshop aims to bridge the gap in understanding between the well-understood phenomena of people in groups with the scientific and rigorous study of complex phenomena using fractal geometry as a lens. This workshop consists of three parts: A didactic presentation about fractal geometry, an experiential component in small process groups in which the participants can obtain a more direct personal experience of the theory and an opportunity for Q and A and discussion of how these ideas might be practically applied.

About the Presenter:

Philip Spiro, MD received his medical degree from Yale and ultimately trained in psychiatry at Duke, after brief flirtationwith training in surgery and two years of general medical practice in rural North Carolina. He has practiced psychiatry in Chapel Hill, NC since 1990. In addition to his clinical practice,where he combines experiential/psychodynamic psychotherapy, EMDR, and, when needed, pharmacotherapy, he is also on the consulting faculty at Duke Medical Center and is involved in the training and supervision of psychiatric residents. Additionally, he is an active member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists and serves on their Executive Council.

The workshop will include experiential small groups.


At the end of the workshop participants will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify three properties of fractals and how fractal geometry differs from plane geometry.
  2. Describe three ways in which an understanding of fractal geometry can enhance the clinical process of individual and group psychotherapy.
  3. List three elements of clinical “movement” and how these manifest during the process of therapy.
  4. Learn how the concept of fractal geometry can help understand how widely differing forms of psychotherapy might be related.
  5. Develop increased knowledge of group dynamics by participating in small groups and observing their own behavior as well as that of the other group members as well as the group leader.
  6. Apply the theoretical concepts presented in the plenary sessions to the participant’s small group experience.
  7. Share clinical experiences in a large group format that illustrate the theoretical material.

Continuing Education:
12 Continuing Education Contact Hours / 1.2 CEUs:

This workshop is organized by Carolina’s Group Psychotherapy Society (CGPS) and provides 12 continuing education contact hours. CGPS is an affiliate society of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA). We seek to promote and enhance skills in group therapy and organizational group dynamics while supporting professionals working to improve the mental health and interpersonal skills of persons in the Carolinas.

The CE Sponsor for this event is Southern Regional Area Health Education Center (SR-AHEC). 1.2 CEUs will be awarded to participants who attend 100% of this program. This program will provide 12 contact hours (category A) continuing education credit to NC Psychologists. Southern Regional AHEC adheres to NAADAC Education Provider Guidelines, Provider #843. This program does not provide specific NBCC Credits. However, per LPC licensure guidelines, you may submit up to 15 contact hours of continuing education by attending programs by affiliates of the National Area Health Education Center (NAO). SR-AHEC is a member of the NAO.

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