Last updated on 7th September 2010
Why a workshop on friendship? Relationships are so important - whether we look at wellbeing & happiness, resilience under stress, or surviving to have a long, healthy life. The diagram below is based on a series of studies that have been around for a while - Berkman & Syme's "Social networks, host resistance, and mortality", House et al's "The association of social relationships and activities with mortality", Welin et al's "Prospective study of social influences and mortality", Orth-Gomer & Johnson's "Social network interaction and mortality", Rosengren et al's "Stressful life events, social support, and mortality", and Olsen's "Impact of social network on cardiovascular mortality". There's plenty of recent work showing similar patterns. Biological, health behaviour, personality and health status variables do not explain away this association. Social integration is as strong or stronger as a risk factor than smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol & family history ... and social integration seems to be deteriorating due to changes in divorce rates, proportions of those who are old or living alone, city lifestyles, and so on.
But it's not just about physical health & mortality - relationships are also so strongly connected with happiness & wellbeing. Csikszentmihalyi & Hunter's "Happiness in everyday life: the uses of experience sampling" found highest levels of reported happiness when people were with friends. Diener & Seligman's study on "Very happy people" reported how social happy people are. And it's not just sociability, it's depth too. Demir et al found that friendship variables (number, quality, personality, conflict) accounted for nearly 60% of variance in happiness, with friendship "quality" being of particular importance. Similarly Reis et al's "Daily well-being: the role of autonomy, competence, and relatedness" reported that to satisfy relationship needs "The best predictors were meaningful talk and feeling understood and appreciated by interaction partners". And in a study done this year - "Eavesdropping on happiness" - Mehl & colleagues used digital audio recorders to track real world behaviour and found that "The happy life is social rather than solitary, and conversationally deep rather than superficial".
With so much good evidence highlighting the huge importance of relationships, why not treat yourself to high quality time exploring these issues more fully? There's a residential course this autumn that provides just this opportunity. It is designed to be relevant for pretty much everyone - therapists and general public alike. There will be factual & theoretical input, but primarily it's a three day workshop providing tools & experience in looking at the relationships - and especially the friendships - in our lives:
what is this course about? This is a three day residential for those of us who would like to look more deeply at the crucial importance of friendship in our lives. We'll explore four areas: a.) the fascinating, and growing evidence that friendship is such an important contributor to our physical mortality risk, to our psychological resilience, and to our well-being & joy in life. b.) review how we've got to where we are - how our attitudes to friendship itself have evolved over our lives, and look at our past & present patterns in building relationships - exploring what obstructs & what nourishes how we are as friends. c.) use practical exercises to chart our current friendship networks, and try out ways of working with conflict, building enjoyment, & deepening intimacy. We'll aim to clarify our relationship needs more fully, and plan how we would ideally like our friendships to grow in the future. d.) learn from the experiences of others in the group, including reflecting and sharing feedback on the here-and-now of our evolving group interactions. Friendship is so important. Pretty much all of us could enjoy and benefit from exploring how we want to nourish our friendships even better.
who will be there? We plan to have up to 16 participants plus the 2 facilitators - James Hawkins & Larry Butler. Larry & James have been friends for nearly 30 years and have worked together over this time with a variety of interpersonal groups both in Scotland and in the UK more generally. Larry was born in Illinois and has been living in Glasgow since 1981. His day job is teaching tai-chi in healthcare settings and leading life-story groups at the Maggie Cancer Care Centre. He is convenor for Lapidus Scotland: http://www.lapidus.org.uk/ and his current major project is creating an arts-eco village: http://www.bodhi-eco-project.org.uk/. James is a medical doctor & psychotherapist. He works in Edinburgh seeing clients on a one-to-one basis and running life skills and interpersonal groups, as well as providing education and training for other health professionals.
course dates & location? This is a three day residential group running from a shared supper at 7.30pm on Thursday evening 25th until 3.00pm on Sunday 28th November. We'll be staying at Stroove House, 38 Montgomerie Terrace, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire, PA17 5DT. Stroove - www.ymcaglasgow.org/stroove.asp - is on the coast between Greenock and Largs, less than an hour's journey by car or train from central Glasgow. There are bus & rail links to Wemyss Bay which is close by.