2016: Dr Belinda Harris “Fear, love and learning”

In her lecture Belinda identified how her own personal experiences of fear, power and love have informed her understanding of how they are so closely intertwined, and how they are mediated by power relations. Drawing on her experience as a secondary school teacher, psychotherapist, supervisor, trainer and academic, Belinda argued that awareness and understanding of power dynamics is essential for educators, just as much as for psychotherapists. She examined the human cost of focussing on outcomes and results without sufficient attention to the intrapersonal, interpersonal and group processes that support learning and growth. Systemic fear and the exercise of ‘power over’ directly affect the embodied experience of teaching and learning. Belinda explored how ‘relational alchemy’ – and the fitness, maintenance, and depth of relationships – are necessary in promoting a sense of community; how collective energy can be harnessed for deep, embodied learning; and how human growth is based on the exercise of ‘power-with’ and ‘power-for’.
In the current policy climate, with so much attention to performance measures, educators and therapists alike may find it more difficult to attend to the social-emotional and embodied dimensions of their practice. Belinda argued that counsellors and psychotherapists can have a significant role in helping to develop robust, relationally attuned learning communities. They can support educators and others to gain deeper awareness and understanding of power relations. Helping professionals who are motivated by a keen desire to ‘make a difference’ can reconnect with their sense of moral purpose and love of what they do.

In the afternoon, Belinda facilitated a multi-sensory experiential session to support participants’ own growth and learning in relation to fear, power and love.


Dr Belinda Harris is an educator and academic, UKCP Registered Gestalt Psychotherapist and ICF Registered Gestalt coach. As an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Nottingham University, gestalt theory and practice has informed her work with therapists, teachers, school leaders, mentors and coaches. She is a Professional Associate of the Gestalt International Study Center on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where she has worked with school systems, schools, and school principals, and currently co-teaches their leadership programme. She received the Lord Dearing Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000.

You can listen to Belinda’s lecture here:

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