Conference 2005
The Power of Being One

The Experience of Growing Up as an Only Child
Saturday 9 July 2005 | London

2005 Conference Transcript

The Power of Being One Conference was the first of its kind, bringing together 73 adult onlies, counsellors and parents of onlies - age range, mid 20 to mid 70. It was a great day!

Our venue was Beauchamp Lodge in London's Little Venice, two days after the attacks of 7/07.

Despite this, delegates came from Dublin, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Derbyshire, the Midlands, Dorset, the South Coast and of course London.

On arriving at the Centre, they were welcomed by a team of onlies and friends, who worked all day to provide information, refreshments and guidance up and down the many stairs!
Ann Richardson, Conference & BeingAnOnly Director, welcomed everyone to this day of adventure. She introduced,

David Emerson, Co-Author, Only Child; How to Survive Being One, who began by setting two contexts for the day's work:

1) The benefits to society of increased emotional literacy - for only children who have spent time alone, this mirroring opportunity of collective sharing was important in developing emotional literacy.
2) Discussion about only children should be contributing to social policy.

Jill Pitkeathley, Co-Author continued by outlining the themes from the research contained in their book. Common only child experiences included:
- strain of 'being everything'
- lack of rough and tumble
- struggles with self image
- feeling socially mature but emotionally immature
- sense of being 'always alone'

Jill concluded with a '10 point survival plan'.

From the beginning, there was a warm atmosphere of openess and sharing and many appreciative nods and grunts of acknowledgement in response to Jill and David's enthusiastic presentations.

They were followed by
Paul Smith-Pickard, Chair of the Society of Existential Analysis and Co-Facilitator of workshops with Bernice Sorensen. Paul presented findings from Bernice's doctoral research Not Special but Different. He referred to other researchers of only child experience - from Adler and Stanley Hall who gave a none too complimentary interpretation - and described the multi-voiced methodology of Bernice's approach. Her interest has been to listen to the experiences of only children and has begun to interpret those stories in terms of an 'only child archetype'.

transcript is a word by word account of all speakers - so you can relive it, if you were there. Or, if you missed it, you can imagine you're almost there.

The morning got off to a lively start and the room was buzzing by the time the coffee break arrived.

After refreshments and home made biscuits, workshop sessions offered delegates the chance to work and share in small groups.

Siblings - the missing experience |Ann Richardson
The male experience of growing up an only child |Paul Smith-Pickard
Healing through the family soul |Philippa Lubbock
Coping with elderly parents as the only child | Denyse Whillier

The only child and the world of work | Andrew Corrie
Parenting an only child |Louise Trowbridge

Delegates had chosen three out of six different workshops and there was some frustration that there wasn’t time to do all six – many thought all the titles were relevant for them. Sessions were one hour and necessarily just a ‘taster’, but there was deep and honest sharing nonetheless.

Lunch was provided at the centre for those who wanted it – roast beef, salmon and a spinach roulade, followed by fruit salad. I mention the food, because it was home made and delicious and seemed to contribute to the enjoyment of the day.

The afternoon offered two workshop sessions. The plenary session was a feedback session for delegates and facilitators, all of which is noted down in the transcript.

Ann Richardson, UKCP registered transpersonal psychotherapist working in private practice & Director of BeingAnOnly.
Paul Smith-Pickard, UKCP registered psychotherapist, Chair of the Society of Existential Analysis. He has brought his experience as an only child growing up without a father, to his work with adult onlies.
Philippa Lubbock studied with Bert Hellinger and has led constellations workshops in the UK and Europe. UKCP registered Gestalt therapist, practising as a Body Alignment Technique practitioner and teacher.
Denyse Whillier, CEO, Age Concern, London Borough of Ealing and has run local authority services for older people.
Andrew Corrie, Executive Manager of Eyeline Stockport Institute for the Blind and has worked as facilitator and trainer at management and community level in both commercial and voluntary sectors.
Louise Trowbridge, is an only child, the parent of one son and has worked for ten years as a UKCP registered psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer.

Book Stall
Throughout the day we had a bookstall run by
Worth Reading! who had put together a rich selection of psychology related books with many specific only child titles - factual and fictional.

Boat Trip
The end of the afternoon meant farewell to a few delegates and hello to some new ones who wanted to join the boat trip, purely for social reasons. We were 60 on board. The sun came out and we cruised for a relaxed 3 hours from the Little Venice Basin, through Regent’s Park to Camden Lock and back, eating, drinking and talking.

Thinking that eleven hours of togetherness would have sufficed for most at this stage, to my surprise, as we docked, a sizeable group adjourned to the nearby bar!

Feedback from the day was very positive, with delegates asking
‘what next?’

There was appreciation of the fact that the event itself had been well organized, that there was information and a chance for individual sharing and experience. There was enthusiasm for another conference, for supervision and training for counsellors and a real desire for social events – from garden tours, to visits to historic houses. Many were keen to make use of the online facilities on the website, to talk to each other, to advertise their own services and to be part of a network.

A collective sharing certainly took place. There was interest in the variety of‘only child experiences and the similarities too - both for professionals and non-professionals. For many this was for the first time. And for those who had taken part in workshops before, it was exciting to meet up and continue the journey.

The demand for Jill and David's book (at the time out of print) was such, that a re-print was made in January 2006.

Two journalists, who were also only children, took part in the day. Deepa Shah was writing for the Sunday Times, and Sue Ellis produced a half hour documentary for BBC Radio 4, which was aired in May 2006. Their presence and the enthusiasm with which delegates took part in this day is testament, I think, to the fact that the experience of the ony child is now firmly on the agenda of society's interest. David's second context for this issue contributing to social policy is perhaps coming nearer. As the beanpole family syndrome increases, so the need to understand the only child experience increases with it.


Other Conferences

Conference 2006
Only Child:
A Unique Inheritance

Conference 2008
The Only Child & The Natural World

I very much enjoyed and appreciated that wonderful conference on Saturday. It was an original idea, and it certainly took off! I gained much from both speakers and workshops which I found most illuminating. And add to that the exquisite setting.
Anne Parker
















































Other Conferences

Conference 2006
Only Child:
A Unique Inheritance

Conference 2008
The Only Child & The Natural World