Psychology festival looks to inspire transformation

psychology---textTalks on money, relationships and self-coaching are on this year’s Festival’s agenda. (Image: Youtube, Cadarn Learning Portal)

The South African College of Applied Psychology (Sacap), an independent facility, is on a quest to inspire transformation with this year’s annual Psychology Festival of Learning.

Taking place at its Johannesburg campus on 19 and 20 May and at Cape Town campus on 26 and 27 May, the festival’s theme is “Inspiring Transformation”.

The event centres on the success stories and ideas that have inspired, and are still inspiring, transformation in our communities, families and workplaces.

Lance Katz, Sacap’s CEO, said the festival would look at where transformation needed to take place. “Through the Festival of Learning we don’t just want to share stories about transformation, we want to inspire South Africans to identify where transformation and change is needed and to be part of the transformation process.”

Relationships and self-coaching

The festival will have over 50 guest speakers and offers a wide range of one-hour talks.

In Johannesburg, topics on money, relationships and addiction will be covered; the Cape Town leg will offer talks on self-coaching, storytelling and art psychotherapy.

In 2015, the festival introduced a short talk segment and this year will be no different. In both cities, these short talks will look at addiction recovery, changing higher education through social entrepreneurship and even transforming divorce.

Click for the full programme.

One of the talks to look out for takes place in Johannesburg: child development expert Luke Lamprecht hosts a session titled “Lessons from a boxing gym in Hillbrow”.

Fight with Insight

For a decade, Fight with Insight, Lamprecht’s non-profit initiative, has been helping vulnerable youth through boxing. Though it mostly attracts boys, it is open and accommodating of girls too.

“Right now, there’s a bunch of Johannesburg inner-city youth, growing up in all the toughness of Hillbrow and its surrounds,” said Lamprecht. “And as you might expect, they have trauma and violence woven into the fabric of their young lives.

“But they have something else too. These kids happen to have coping skills that many stressed executives would admire. And they have a sense of purpose that many talented but distracted people would love to have. And they have the unrelenting focus on their physical fitness and health that many of us would like to find. These kids also have a unique confidence they can play the rough cards that have been dealt to them in a different way.”

According to Lamprecht, Fight with Insight is not just a boxing programme; it’s a metaphor for life. It offers these children opportunities to develop a different way of being that their poverty-stricken, inner-city circumstances do not provide.

“It is the very nature of the sport that provides the greatest benefit to the children who are traumatised,” he said. “It is well known that trauma affects us physically and emotionally. On a physiological level, trauma activates the amygdala and prevents experiences moving into the hippocampus. The result is hyper-vigilant children who struggle to learn, to focus and be calm. When you are traumatised it is hard to think, as the fight-or-flight survival mechanism is activated. Combat sports mimic their real environment, where fight-or-flight is turned on and you are under threat.”

But the environment in his programme was strictly controlled and safe. It allowed you to bring yourself into your body and be present so that you were not overwhelmed by feelings in a situation where a behavioural reaction would occur.

“You learn to be in that state, recognise it and still think, plan and choose the best course of action. Boxing actually helps when the threat of violence and the stress that it causes needs to be generalised in your everyday life. Boxing is also a highly aerobic activity which releases stress through a cascade of good hormones that reduce cortisol and cytokine levels.”

Tickets for the Psychology Festival of Learning are available through the festival website.