Last meeting before the summer: Simon O’Donoghue on Humanist Pastoral Care, Tuesday 19th. June


Simon O’Donoghue is the Head of Pastoral Support at Humanists UK and he is responsible for the training, development, and management of a UK wide network of over 200 non-religious pastoral carers. Simon also sits on the board of European Humanist Professionals as their Quality Assurance Officer, and is the first non-religious person to chair the Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care Network in Health.

In his talk Simon will cover the development of non-religious pastoral care over the last ten years and the significant challenges encountered in establishing the Humanists UK’s Non-religious Pastoral Support Network in the UK. He will also look at how those challenges have been overcome and how non-religious pastoral support has now become an accepted part of the holistic care provision in hospitals, prisons, and universities.

20 January 2018 Stranger, other, outsider: Talk by Claire Marshall

Stranger, other, outsider: The conceptualization of forced migrants in contemporary culture.
Refugees, internally displaced people and asylum seekers are all legal terms for people who have been forced to leave their homes because of war, persecution or natural disaster. How forced migrants are conceptualized speaks of our own relationship with identity and community. This phenomenon will be examined in the context of geopolitical discourses, social narratives and humanitarian responses. The psychology of migration also raises issues of ethics and social justice, pertinent to any therapists working with ‘diversity and difference’.
Dr Claire Marshall is a Counselling Psychologist with 10 years of experience in private health care, third sector and management of organisations. She has previously managed a psychotherapy service in North London with key responsibility for overall service and operations, including recruitment, supervision, management of staff, clinical assessments, allocation decisions and evaluating treatment options within the service. She also ran groups and worked with people one to one, providing short and long term psychological interventions for adults with a range of issues.

Watch the video on Vimeo

19 November 2017 Shared values – Working together existential and cognitive therapy. Talk by Melvyn Flitman

Despite its effectiveness, cognitive-behaviour therapy has been criticised for its brevity, symptom-focused orientation, and application scope. Existential therapies tend to be longer and encourage overall meaning-making.

This talk presents valuable insights based 254 accredited cognitive theorists who were inquired about their views and attitudes regarding cognitive-behaviour therapy, existentialist therapies, and the integration of both modalities.

Results of the research showed that existentialist therapies could compensate for cognitive-behavioural therapies’ eventual lack of depth, fluidity, authenticity, humanity, and application scope. They were a more personalized approach, suitable and/or beneficial for certain therapists, clients, circumstances, and/or problems. They were sometimes utilized and unsystematically integrated with cognitive-behavioural therapies. Institutional power struggles, existentialist therapies’ limitations, and therapists’ lack of training and/or knowledge prevented their more extensive use. That is, compounding whatever familiarity issue was the hesitance to use such approaches, led in part by institutional biases in favour of cognitive-behaviour therapy and against approaches that are less easily measured. Nevertheless, their combination appeared as a promising endeavour that, if implemented properly, such as through training, could arguably marry the strengths of both approaches.

17 October 2017 What is post-existentialism? Lecture by Professor Del Lowenthal

Professor Del Loewenthal What is post-existentialism?

Professor Lowenthal provides this introduction: “Post-existentialism is an attempt to offer a space where we might still be able to think about how alienated we are through valuing existential notions such as experience and meaning (e.g. Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty); whilst questioning other aspects such as existentialism’s inferred narcissism and the place it has come to take up with regard to such aspects as psychoanalysis and the political. Consideration is also given to the extent to which we might include some implications of more recent ideas—for example, those of Saussure, Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, and Wittgenstein without becoming too caught up in them”

Del Loewenthal is Professor of Psychotherapy and Counselling and directs the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton, UK, where he also convenes Doctoral programmes. Del is also a Visiting Professor at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand and the University of Athens, Greece.
Del is an existential-analytic psychotherapist (having trained at the Philadelphia Association, London, established by R.D. Laing and others), chartered psychologist and photographer. He chairs the Southern Association for Psychotherapy and Counselling’s (SAFPAC’s) Critical Existential-Analytic UKCP/UPCA Psychotherapy Training Programme at Roehampton; and both the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association and the Universities Training College. He is co-founder of the Society for Critical Psychotherapy and founding editor of the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (Routledge).
Del’s recent books include: Post-existentialism and the psychological therapies: Towards a therapy without foundations (Karnac, 2011), Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age (Routledge 2013), Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals (with Andrew Samuels, Routledge, 2014), Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Implications for practice (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling after Postmodernism (Routledge, 2017).

Annual general meeting, followed by a lecture by Gill Westland on ‘Verbal and non-verbal communication in psychotherapy’

The Annual General Meeting of the Society of Psychotherapy will take place on Tuesday 19 April 2016 at 6pm, at the Existential Academy, 61-63 Fortune Green Road, London NW6 1DR.

Professor Digby Tantam, current chair of the SoP, has come to the end of his term, and will be standing down.  There are also vacancies on the Executive Committee.  All nominations for Chair and Executive Committee members should be sent to the Honorary Secretary, Helen Hayes, via email by Friday 25 March accompanied by the names of two members, one nominating and one seconding, the named nominee.  For the purpose of the election, a members is anyone who is enrolled in the SoP meetup group.

The AGM will be followed at 7pm by a lecture on given by Gill Westland on “Verbal and Non-verbal communication in psychotherapy’.  Gill is Director of Cambridge Body Psychotherapy Centre and a UKCP registered body psychotherapist, trainer, supervisor, consultant and writer.  She is a full member of the European Association for Body Psychotherapy. She is a co-editor of the journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy and an Associate Lecturer on the M.A. Body Psychotherapy programme at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. She is the author of Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication in Psychotherapy (Norton, 2015).

She says this about her topic:  the non-verbal aspects of communicating are often more significant in relationships than what is being said.  Relating to how a client is talking rather than to what is being said shifts our attention and we can pick up more of the background messages that clients are giving us.  Clients communicate non-verbally through the way that they speak, their posture, facial expressions, and more subtle phenomena such as the how they are breathing and how their skin changes colour.

These non-verbal ways of relating are laid down in early childhood before babies have developed words to communicate their needs.  Therapists too communicate non-verbally with their clients and there is now some understanding from neuroscience about the mechanisms involved in this client – therapist bi-directional relating.  Using awareness and mindfulness practices, we can develop the skills to notice both our our own physical experiences and to observe what is happening in clients and to learn how to interact optimally. 

Del Loewenthal on “Some Implications for Practice of Critical Existential-Analytic Psychotherapy, Counselling and Counselling Psychology” postponed until Tuesday 15 November 2016

The meeting on Tuesday 15th. March has been cancelled.

Professor Lowenthal will now be speaking on the 15th. November 2016.

Prof. Del Loewenthal, D Phil, C Psychol, UKCP reg., MUPCA (accred.) is the Director of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education and the Convenor of Doctoral Programmes in Psychotherapy and Counselling in the Department of Psychology at the University of Roehampton.

A lecture by Dr Gottfried Heuer on Tues February 16th. 2016 on The Nature of Burn-Out and the Burn-Out of Nature

The Nature of Burn-Out and the Burn-Out of Nature: The Sloth and the Chickadee.  Socio-Psychological, Ecological, Sacral-Political and Ethical Implications. Jungian & Alchemical Perspectives.

Dr. Heuer writes “Introducing burn-out as a form of individual self-neglect, I make a link to current ecological concerns by drawing parallels between one of the most important European alchemist-healers of the past, Paracelsus, and, moving to recent modern times, Wilhelm Reich. I am particularly concerned with the later period of his work, and I want to show that he can not only be seen as continuing the alchemist traditions, but should also be respected as the first eco-psychologist. I shall tease out the spiritual implications of these ideas, towards a re-sacralisation of analysis and radical (eco-) politics, to end with suggestions towards facing the present dilemma of individual, collective and global burn-out in presenting the concept of ‘radical hope’ ”.

Dr. Gottfried M. Heuer,  is a Jungian Training psychoanalyst and supervisor and a Neo-Reichian body-psychotherapist.  He has over 35 years of clinical practice in West-London.  He is also an independent scholar with more than 70 papers published in the major analytic journals; his books include 10 congress proceedings for the International Otto Gross Society, Sacral Revolutions, and Sexual Revolutions (both Routledge, 2010/-11); he is also a published graphic artist, photographer, sculptor and poet.

A lecture by Dr. Sally Skaife on Tuesday 19th. January 2016 at 7pm “On being ‘white’: an art therapist’s perspective”

Sally Skaife (PhD) is a qualified art psychotherapist and group analyst. She worked in adult psychiatry for many years before coming to work at Goldsmiths, University of London where she is now a Senior lecturer in Art Psychotherapy. Sally has run art psychotherapy groups both privately and within Freedom from Torture.   She has been a past chairperson of the British Association of Art Therapists and an editor of the association’s journal, then called ‘Inscape’. She co-edited ‘Art Psychotherapy groups: Between Pictures and Words’ and has published numerous chapters and journal articles. Her research interests are in the politics and philosophy of art therapy groups and experiential groups., Sally Skaife, STaCS, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

Sally writes this about her topic: “I have found that talking about race in a mixed race setting can be incredibly difficult and uncomfortable; as a ‘white’ person, my experience of race can never be the same as a ‘black’ person’s. Psychotherapists have often sought to understand racism as a form of projection of unwanted parts of the self onto ‘the other’ who is different from them. It is then other people who are racist and those who are self-aware can avoid it. However, the legacy of slavery and colonialism throws its shadow on us all and we inevitably repeat the power relations involved despite our intentions. In this paper I will discuss my growing awareness of the significance of being ‘white’ and working as an art therapist educator and as an art therapist with ‘black’ colleagues, trainees and clients. I will talk about the way in which the hierarchy of white/black stems from a mind/body binary which is also the root of a talk/art binary. I will discuss the way these hierarchical binaries have been played out in my groups and will attempt a deconstruction of an art therapy group session where the group members were all Black African and the two therapists White British.  The aim is to discuss ways in which we can avoid repeating patterns of domination.”


A lecture by Jane Hetherington on Tuesday 15 December 2015 at 7pm “Developing Open Dialogue in the NHS”

Jane Hetherington is an Integrative Psychotherapist who has been practising for 10 years after careers in law and business. She has managed services in the substance misuse field and primary care in both the statutory and third sector. She is currently principal psychotherapist in Early Intervention Services in Kent. She has a small private practice, supervises at Turning Point and is on the UKCP Professional Misconduct Committee.

Jane says this about her topic: “Open Dialogue is a model of mental health care pioneered in Finland that has since been taken up in a number of countries around the world, including much of the rest of Scandinavia, Germany and some US states. It involves a psychologically consistent family and social network approach, where all staff receive training in family therapy and related psychological skills, and all treatment is carried out via whole system/network meetings including the patient. It is a quite different approach to much of UK service provision, yet it is being discussed with interest by a number of Trusts around the country. Part of the reason is the striking data from non-randomised trials so far, e.g. 72% of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within 2 years, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to Treatment As Usual (TAU).

A number of NHS Trusts within the UK are setting up pilot Peer-supported Open Dialogue (POD) services over the next couple of years, in order to evaluate them and deepen the evidence base.  This will enable more wide scale take up, should the outcome improvement and cost reductions remain consistent. “