Location and timing of lectures

The Society, founded in 1998, sponsors lectures and seminars on all aspects of psychotherapy.  During the COVID crisis, these are held online.  They are open to all friends of. psychotherapy.

Lectures normally take place at 7pm to 8.30pm  on the third Tuesday of each month during the academic year (October to July).  They are currently being held online hosted by  TheTherapy.Space.  Each seminar costs £6.  The link will be provided once you book online via our Meetup page (https://www.meetup.com/Society-of-Psychotherapy/) or at the Existential Academy web page (www.existential.academy)

‘The bi-rooted immigrant’ online lecture to be given by Dr. Nancy Hakim-Dowek at 7pm GMT on 22 Dec 2020

Nancy describes her topic as follows: “The bi-rooted individual will be confronted regularly with a simultaneous and flexible set of references which will contribute to the sense of being in constant flux; thus creating that unique position which sometimes includes both sets of references, or their being interchangeable. The bi-rooted individual’s experience of living is filtered through multiple points of reference, in multiple dimensions: cultural, personal, social, physical, emotional and spiritual. Being a bi-rooted migrant is one out of many possible scenarios that engender an existential crisis and creates the void that ignites a process of self-searching. The particular experience of the bi-rooted migrant highlights the urgency of self-rootedness and outlines the scope and nature of its role in one’s conduct in the face of challenge.”

Book via Meetup

Working with death and loss in therapy. Webinar by Aviva Barnet 7 pm 16th. June 2020

Synopsis: This webinar will look at types of losses,assumptions about loss, cultural beliefs around loss, working with short term unexpected loss versus an anticipated loss, and there will be an open discussion about the current situation of the corona virus and the impact on those working with people affected by loss right now, including to work with those dying alone.


Aviva Keren Barnett is an Existential Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor and International Lecturer. Aviva has over 15 years clinical experience and works in Israel and London. She works with individuals by phone, zoom, skype, and will resume to face to face work once the current world crisis is better. Aviva is a passionate and driven therapist who works hard to put her clients at ease as soon as possible, and she believes that anyone working in this field who does not feel passionate about it should perhaps revisit their choice of being a therapist. Aviva trained in Birkbeck, Regents, and NSPC 

Why we will return to ‘normality’ and ‘business as usual’: warnings from the economic psyche

Webinar Tuesday 19th May 2020. Join via the Society of Psychotherapy Meetup site

The international liberal intelligentsia, political activists and artists from many quarters do not want to return to ‘normality’ when the dust has settled after the viral storm. ‘Business as usual’ is ruled out of the question. Andrew Samuels shares many of these aspirations and values. But he is concerned that if certain underlying economic assumptions – they are better referred to as ‘economic fantasies’ – are not challenged, then there will just be a rather pretty and superficial outcome. Nothing will change. What can be done? Maybe depth psychology has not yet exhausted itself when it comes to economics, money and class. Specifically, we need to pay heed to the collective psychological obstacles that lie in the path of a move to greater economic equality. What if humanity is deeply captivated and fascinated by inequality? What if we just love our billionaires? The role of depth psychology and psychoanalysis when it comes to politics is often to look at why we cannot achieve what we desire. The talk will blend theory with an experiential approach, with a special and entertaining focus on what Samuels calls ‘economic sadism’.

Andrew Samuels is a Jungian analyst, university professor, writer and political activist. He consults to political leaders, parties and more progressive groupings in several countries, and to the NHS. He was one of the two founders of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility and a former chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy. His many books are translated into 21 languages and include The Political Psyche (1993), A New Therapy for Politics (2017), and Analysis and Activism (edited, 2016). 

“To She or not to She: queering womanhood” Lecture by Sasha Smith on Tuesday 18 February 2020

In the ongoing (and often contentious) dialogue around gender, there are many specific questions on the notion of womanhood and how this intersects with other aspects of human identity. Together we will explore these issues, looking at theories of essentialism, nonbinary identities, feminism and intersectional politics. If you want to better understand some of the challenges amongst LGBTQ+ clients, explore how queerness can highlight certain core complexities of being human, or simply spend some time thinking about notions such as womanhood and gender, this talk is for you.

Sasha van Deurzen-Smith is an existential coach and course leader of the MA in Existential Coaching at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. Sasha has worked in private practice for 8 years and specialises in creativity, autism and LGBTQ+ issues. Outside of the office, Sasha is a keen community activist and a drag performer.

Lecture on 16/4/19 at 7pm with Helen Kewell. We Need To Talk About Ageing: an exploration of working therapeutically with older and profoundly old people

Please note this is a fee paying event £6 if booked via Meetup and £8 on the door on the evening.

“Older people rarely feature in counselling literature, and the very old barely at all, although this is changing as our society has begun to age rapidly. Helen Kewell seeks to address this often-overlooked topic by using resonant case studies describing her encounters with some of the old and very old clients with whom she has worked as a counsellor. Woven into these accounts are her personal reflections on how working with these clients has changed her and contributed to her own growth as a counsellor and as a human being. She also explores the theoretical and philosophical works that have influenced her practice, looking to humanistic, existentialist and experiential approaches to guide her in this largely uncharted territory.

Helen Kewell is a humanistic counsellor with a private counselling practice in Sussex, and volunteers as a counsellor and supervisor for Cruse Bereavement Care. She is the author of‘Living Well and Dying Well: Tales of Counselling older people’ which is out now via PCCS Books: https://www.pccs-books.co.uk/products/living-well-and-dying-well

Asleep on the Volcano-Forensic Psychotherapy. Tuesday 19th of March at 7pm

Asleep on the Volcano-Forensic Psychotherapy with Marcus Price.

Marcus will use literature, poetry and metaphor to reveal life behind the fence of a secure hospital, a place of distorted time, fragmentation and exaggerated friendliness, a culture that seals away unbearable feelings and histories that can sometimes erupt into violent enactment. He will describe his role as a psychotherapist, his countertransference reactions, the need to interpret them and how he actively helps patients find narratives that will include them as both victim and perpetrator. With themes of punishment and revenge, seduction and lure, and the constant danger of unconscious enactments with patients and staff alike, Marcus will refer to his work with staff teams, reflective practice groups as well as inpatient psychotherapy.

For over a decade Marcus has worked as a psychotherapist in a secure hospital. Having worked in the healthcare professions for over thirty-five years, he trained as a Mental Health nurse and then as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the University of Kent achieving two master’s degrees. He has also completed a Diploma in Group Analysis at the IGA and a Diploma in Supervision at the SAP. He is the founder of The Experiential Psychotherapy Initiative, which is a group of psychotherapists working as a cooperative, training health-care workers in psychodynamic ways of thinking. Marcus is a full member of the Group Analytic Society International and is poetry editor of the GASI newsletter Contexts

The Existential Crisis of Motherhood- Dr Claire Arnold-Baker

Tuesday 19th. February 2019

The transition to motherhood is a time of great change for women. Whilst this area has already been well researched and written about, little has been written on how this transition effects women in existential terms. Claire will discuss the existential-phenomenological research that she conducted on first time mothers and will highlight how motherhood is a time when women are confronted with their own existence. She will further elucidate the existential themes that emerge for women and suggest ways in which existential perspectives and the use of the four dimensions can help health professionals gain a more holistic view of the experience of becoming a mother.

Dr Claire Arnold-Baker is a counselling psychologist and existential psychotherapist who specialises in working with maternal mental health.  She is Academic Manager at NSPC, where she is also course leader for the DCPsych programme, a lecturer, and a clinical and research supervisor.  Claire is currently writing an edited book on the existential dimensions of motherhood to be published by Palgrave Macmillan next year

7 pm at the Existential Academy

Tuesday 16/10/18 at 7pm Unintended harm (iatrogenesis) in the therapeutic space lecture by Phil Cox

Unintended harm (iatrogenesis) in the therapeutic space

Please note this is a fee paying event £6 if booked via Meetup and £8 on the door on the evening.

This talk focuses on the ethical and philosophical imperative ‘do no harm’ in psychotherapy, also known as unintended harm (iatrogenesis). Around 10% of the public say they feel harmed by attending psychotherapy. This significantly rises for marginalised groups. Between 27%-40% of therapist’s report experiencing their personal therapy as harmful. The trend of complaints to all professional registration bodies is upwards.

The practice of naming and shaming those who get the delicate balance of good
work vs making perceived errors wrong is causing distress, which risks driving an open and honest debate underground. This means the very ethical frameworks or codes of ethics meant to protect people could themselves have an unintended impact.

Philosophically, we are the good and bad therapist too: a practitioner involved in unintended harm in many ways harms theirselves. This talk considers the exploration of unintended harm as a sign of good rather than poor practice. Yet, the topic seems rarely discussed in trainings or openly amongst therapists. Here, we will create a safe space to explore what the public, therapists and complaint trends, seem to be telling us. We will also discuss the Psychotherapy & Counselling Union’s advice regarding what to, and not do, if you receive a complaint.

Dr Philip Cox (PsychD) is an HCPC registered Chartered Psychologist and BACP (Accred) member with over 20 years of clinical experience in Primary care, Secondary care and specialist services. Philip is a Psychotherapy & Counselling Union executive committee member, leading on professional complaints. He is also a BPS Psychotherapy Section executive committee member and the e-letter editor. His research publications, conference presentations and lectures focus on unintended harm within psychotherapy, and how to support professionals who seemingly misjudge the delicate balance between good and less helpful practice. Philip is a passionate advocate for social activism and supporting marginalised groups, which includes therapists who experience difficulties – Philip’s philosophy is that by supporting therapists, we support clients.


Poetry on the couch on Tuesday 17th of July

Poetry on the Couch
Please note this is a fee paying event £6 if booked via Meetup and £8 on the evening.
“When we share – that is poetry in the prose of life.” Sigmund Freud
Come to an interactive evening of poetry and sharing on Tuesday 17th July at 7pm at the Existential Academy 61-63 Fortune Green Road London NW6 1DR.
Together, we’ll read and listen to poems, and explore the connection between poetry and psychotherapy.
The evening will be hosted by Jon Sayers, poet and poetry therapy facilitator.  Jon will briefly share some of his poetry and experience before inviting readers from the floor.
Please bring some poems,whether written by you or other poets, and be ready to say a few words as to why you’ve chosen them. Your poems might be directly related to psychology or psychotherapy or might touch on some of the themes therapy works with, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, sexual issues, self awareness, loss and grief.
In discussion together, we’ll see what poetry might tell us about the human condition, and we’ll test Freud’s other assertion:  “Poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science.”
At the end of the evening, Jon will also offer some links and recommendations to anyone who would like to take their explorations of poetry or poetry therapy further.
Please let us know if you would like to read. If you don’t wish to read but would prefer to listen or join in the discussion, you are also very welcome.


Jon Sayers is a poet and creative writing teacher. He has a certificate in counselling and is training as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator with the National Association for Poetry Therapy in the USA.
Jon has used poetry therapeutically for many years, working with diverse population groups, from prisoners in HMP Pentonville and Barnardo’s care leavers to a church community in his local Lambeth and a group of older women carers through the charity Open Age.
He has had poems, translations and reviews published in leading literary journals in the UK and abroad, and his radio play, A World Full of Weeping, a supernatural thriller featuring the poetry of WB Yeats, was broadcast twice on Radio 4.
Jon is a former chair of Magma poetry magazine and vice chair of The Poetry Society. He regularly interviews leading poets, such as Christopher Reid, Jo Shapcott and Annie Freud, for the Winchester Poetry Festival. He has had a long career working with language, training initially as an actor and working as a copywriter and creative director in advertising and a verbal identity specialist in branding.