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Nick Totton Presents: Deconstructing Normality | USABP Speaker Series

  • 18 Jul 2024
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Zoom


  • Members don't pay
  • Special rate for member invited guests that enter their given code.

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This Speaker Series Event features Nick Totton

Nick Totton

Author of Different Bodies: Deconstructing Normality

Check out Roz Carroll's book review in the Winter 2023 - 2024 International Body Psychotherapy Journal Issue for insights and event prep. Read now

This event will be recorded and available for members and non-members who register for this event.
This course will not include CEs.

This event will include our special Overtime! 

Overtime allows attendees to continue to ask questions and invite conversation on the event material, other related inquiries, or cases after the formal event ends. 


I have learnt hugely from communities of difference and disadvantage, and I have no delusions that I can teach them anything – although members of those groups are of course more than welcome to attend. But what I mainly want to do is to convince people who think of themselves as ‘normal’ that they – we – are the problem: just as white people are the problem in relation to colourism, and neurotypical people are the problem in relation to neurodiversity, ‘normal’ people are the problem in relation to all issues of difference and disadvantage.

We will be thinking together about the following questions, through a presentation, break-out exercises and discussion:

• What does ‘normal’ mean? Is it an actual thing?
• How does the idea of ‘normality’; damage all of us – both those who identify with it and those who don’t?
• How does ‘normality’ distort therapeutic practice, and in particular the practice of body psychotherapy?
• And what can we do about it? How can we tear that statue down?

Presenter Information

Nick Totton
He has been a body psychotherapist since 1981, and an ecopsychologist since 2004. He has previously authored 11 books, including Wild Therapy (now in its second edition), Body Psychotherapy for the 21st Century and Psychotherapy and Politics, and edited several others, including Vital Signs: Psychological responses to ecological crisis (with Mary-Jayne Rust). Nick has developed trainings in two new forms of therapy – Embodied-Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy, both of which are now being continued by other trainers. He has a grown-up daughter and two grandchildren, and lives in Sheffie
ld with his partner.

About the Book

revolution is underway in how we think about human variation. It has the potential to transform the social and political landscape, sweeping away walls and fences that stop so many people from fully participating. Psychotherapy should be in the vanguard of this revolution, but it isn’t,’ writes Nick Totton in this bold analysis of human difference. His aim is to challenge and also help the reader who self-defines as ‘normal’– be they talking therapist, body therapist, client or anyone else – to interrogate their own normality, and hopefully to relinquish the word and all the privileges it brings. It is time, he writes, ‘to dismantle that identity, pull down that statue, abandon that high plinth and rest on the solid ground of difference’. Then, he argues, psychotherapy practitioners may be in a position to learn from their clients how best to work with them.

The book addresses differences of bodily capacity, gender and lifestyle differences, differences of skin colour and neuro differences. It also tackles differences between the human and non-human beings who inhabit the Earth. Totton’s call is for recognition that we share this planet, and that creating standards of ‘normality’ leads to exclusion as well as inclusion, with all the psychological and other harms that brings.



Clinically, this book is a must-read. Nick Totton wants therapists to be aware of their destructive potential if they fail to manage the idea of normality in their work – and in their lives... The book is a call for discussion and for action lest we continue to do damage while seeking to do good.

Professor Andrew Samuels, author of Persons, Passions, Psychotherapy, Politics

In this radical and beautifully emancipatory work, Nick Totton dismantles the concept of ‘normal people’, shows how the cultural construction of ‘normality’ lurks at the root of multiple forms of social power inequality and alienation, and makes a compelling case for abandoning the whole notion that anyone is ‘normal’ so that we can more fully embrace human variation and equality... Different Bodies is really for everyone – a must-read for students and professionals in the social sciences, for educators and managers, and for anyone who’s ever thought of themselves as ‘normal’ or worried that they weren’t. 

Nick Walker, PhD, author of Neuroqueer Heresies

This groundbreaking book offers a necessary re-orientation for body psychotherapy that challenges from the inside notions to do with normativity. I read it with relief, finding in it anchors and stepping stones to explore what inclusivity means from an embodied intersectional perspective...  I see this work as essential reading for psychotherapy students. It will be on our reading list for sure.

Anne Marie Keary , Course leader, Body and Intersectionality, Minster Centre, London



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