Dr Niklas Serning

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About me

I am a Doctor of Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy (NSPC), Chartered Counselling Psychologist (BPS, HCPC), Child Psychotherapist (UKCP), Existential Psychotherapist (UKCP), and Registered Supervisor (UKCP, BPS RAPPS). I have presented and published my work at the World Congress of Existential Therapy, Society of Psychotherapy, British Psychological Society, University of Bristol, Breaking Convention, the Hermeneutic Journal and Society of Existential Analysis. I'm a member of the editorial review panel of Existential Analysis, Professional Doctorate External Examiner at a number of universities, and also sit on the ethics board for NSPC/Middlesex University.

My previous research and research supervision has included critical examinations of PTSD, psychosis and addiction, and I'm also experienced in research around existential migration. I work extensively with children and young people in my role as Consultant Psychotherapist at  OTR Bristol. I also have a background of several years working with the UN in a range of war zones, and can hence assist in research connected to this.  More information can be found at www.serning.com.

I am interested in the impact of current genetic research into character traits and predispositions, and how these interact with our personal and social environment. If half of the variance in personality traits can be accounted for by our genetic heritage, the importance of family remains, but not in the way that psychology has traditionally thought about it. In particular, the finer details of family nurture, such as attachment styles, mean far less than we think. I am interested in exploring the areas in which there is an empirical and non-subjective evidence for the impact of parenting and social environment on our mental wellbeing, and in looking at how we can work with our genetic and environmental heritage to make the best of what life deals us. Outside of the severe trauma that does create long-lasting impact for a minority of people, and that should not be seen as equivalent to the subjective struggles that most of us will encounter at some points in our lives, I believe that psychology should become less about healing childhood wounds and more about acknowledging and working with what our genes and life have given us.

Area of expertise

Humans have lived in fear over the overwhelming majority of our time on the planet, our anxieties adaptive as they responded to real threats. Affluence and relative safety has found us hunting around for things to be anxious of when there is precious little that actually threatens our basic needs. These constructed anxieties are experientially real yet maladaptive, and we must be wary of movements that hijack these anxieties in order to promote resentment and suffering.

We have also seen how political movements on both left and right have hijacked our capacity for anxieties in recent years with significant consequences not only for the body politic but for the well-being of those involved in activism. My experience in organisational settings and private practice has led me to take an interest in how best to navigate this personally and institutionally. I am committed to open, frank and civil discourse and am an active member of Heterodox Academy.

Another current development in psychology of interest to me is the recent FDA approval of 'breakthrough status' to psilocybin in a therapeutic setting, and the implications of that for the therapeutic use of other psychedelic substances. Research indicates that the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy will offer us a radical and efficient way to enact insight and change, as well as offering compelling new psychological models of how behaviour and perceptions settle and change.

Publications:

Serning, N. (2019) Time to let go? The difficulties of simple conclusions from attachment theory. ResearchED Magazine, 4. pp. 28-31. Available from: https://researched.org.uk/time-to-let-go-the-difficulties-of-simple-conclusions-from-attachment-theory/

Serning, N. (2019). 'Psychotherapies and Psychoactives of Submission and Engagement. In Breaking Convention IV - Psychodelicacies. Eds. C. Adams et al. London: Strange Attractor Press.

Serning, N. (2017). 'Children in Society: Politics, Policies and Interventions by C. Newness - review'. Counselling Psychology Review. 32:1.

Serning, N., Lyon, N. (2016). 'Nietzschean modes of gender construction in a post-feminist age'. Self & Society. 44:3, p204-214.

Serning, N. (2012). 'Towards the Cybernetic Mind'. Journal of The Society for Existential Analysis. 23.1.

Serning, N. (2011) 'Sex and circuses by Manu Bazzano - review'. Hermeneutic Circular.

Serning, N. (2011). International aid workers’ experience of support – an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Doctoral thesis, Middlesex University.

Publications

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