"therapy is a very special social interaction, depending highly on listening skills, the ability to communicate, patience, optimism, the ability to confront, and the ability to maintain appropriate boundaries." sprenkle, davis & lebow,2009

My Professional Background and Training

My name is Anthony Manning (Tony for short!) and I am a qualified and UKCP registered Systemic Psychotherapist Find out what this means and how my registration protects your interests. The early part of my career was in statutory social work teams covering a wide range of practice over a period of 5 years - initial assessment, child care, adult mental health work, children in care, etc. After this point I specialized in what came to be known as Tier 3 Child and Adolescent Mental Health, gaining my Family Therapy qualification at the Family Institute, Cardiff. I accumulated more than 25 years in this area of work, and operated under a variety of organizational umbrellas - Social Services, Education and Health. This allowed me to understand from the inside not only how such organisations functioned but also to develop close working relationships with other professionals, such as Educational Psychologists, Child Psychiatrists and Child Psychotherapists, and with teams and organizations - schools, social work teams, and hospital paediatric and Tier 4 adolescent unit staff.

I refined my practice through my membership of live supervision teams, whereby I conducted the sessions in the room as well as acting as a supervisor in the room or behind the one-way screen. Campbell goes as far as to say, "Above all else, training-supervisory experiences determine a therapist's competence." Additionally, despite a highly demanding public service setting, we also made time for regular case presentations and journal clubs where we could keep abreast of a wide-ranging specialist literature. I continue to keep my professional development up-to-date by attending specialist training etc. and report on this as part of my registration.

I know from my direct experience that systemic family therapy can be hard to access, given lengthy waiting lists and rationed sessions once you reach the top of the list. Coupled with a lack of choice and day-time only sessions this canbe a difficult processeven for well-motivated families. I am happy to be able to offer an alternative with a fast response and more flexible appointments.

I have also implemented Peer Support Training programmes in a number of schools. This involved training enthusiastic young people in active listening, greater social awareness of issues affecting young people in particular, and developing basic helping skills.

In my practice, my aim is to listen carefully, to offer encouragement and identify strengths and resources, while fully recognizing the stresses and issues my client is facing. I pay attention to the words people use and try to help clarify what they mean so that messages and associated emotions become less confusing. I read about and study theory, but try to keep my work - and my words - simple.

I am active in sessions, offering ideas and suggestions and bringing together themes I have become aware of. There are times when I will challenge what I am told, and rather than being supportive or even passive will give a needed wake-up call!

an inclusive approach to therapy

My approach is broadly similar to what Sprenkle and his colleagues call a "moderate common factors approach". We are in an age of managerial prescription whereby imagined standard treatment interventions can be fitted to clients, taking little account either of the different personalities and needs of the client nor of the unique characteristicsof the therapist, aside from his or her model or theory. To me it's like trying to standardize musical performance: if we provide violinists with equal training and the same make of violins and ask them to play the same music, the results ought to be the same. Really? In contrast the above researchers believe "that it is in the therapeutic relationship that therapists either make or break therapy". In addition, effective therapists need enough training and experience to enable them to respond to the unique client situation with the right approaches and a flexible set of tools and techniques.

My approach pays detailed attention to the change process and to outcomes. I may be a little surprised when a client attributes great significance to something I thought of as light or incidental, or even that the most helpful element happened outside of therapy! On the other hand, if therapy broadly sets the conditions for growth many plants might flourish in the prepared ground!

Where other professionals are intensively involved it is usually constructive for me to liaise with them. Where this is an issue, the whys and hows of this will be fully discussed with you prior to any contact being made with the wider system.