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.

Tuesday the 20th of March: The psychology of political failure lecture with Bob Haris

Why is it that, after thousands of years of philosophy, religion, economics, we still experience global gross poverty, massive inequality and endless wars. Why are people sleeping in shop doorways in the world’s wealthiest countries? Why is suicide the leading cause of death amongst young men in the UK? And why do we still continue with the same political behaviours, hoping that things will turn out different this time around?

Bob Harris will discuss these and other aspects of political failure. He is a group analyst, currently working in the UK, Russia, Albania, and Kalmykia, and recently led a year long Foundation Course in Group Analysis in Kazakhstan. He has a special interest in severe and enduring psychopathology, large groups, is a political activist and an ardent sailor.

Book and pay via our Meetup site for £6 or pay on the door on the evening £8.

Malcolm Peterson 17th of April “Taking Freud into rehab”

In this lecture, Malcolm Peterson will look at the similarities between psychotherapeutic thinking and that of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, firstly exploring some of the early contact between the founders of AA and early psychoanalytic thinkers. He will then look at the work of Winnicott, drawing links between some of his theories and their resonance with the principles of AA & NA. This will be followed by an exploration of further links between group analytic thinking and that of 12-Step Fellowships. He will explore how they could complement each other to help in the treatment

This a fee paying event £6 if booked via meetup or £8 on the door on the evening of the lecture.t of those suffering with addictive disorders.


Malcolm Peterson is a  UKCP registered group analytic psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. He has a background in working in addiction treatment services and specialist NHS personality disorder services.

20 February Book launch of The Interbrain. Lecture on the interbrain by Digby Tantam

This event is free, and preceded by a launch (starting at 6pm) of Digby’s new book, published by Jessica Kingsley.  Described by Steve Silberman, author of ‘NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism’ and ‘How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently as “a groundbreaking, wide-ranging, and endlessly fascinating meditation on our innate ability to feel ‘connected’ to other people — and on what can happen when that precious connection is diminished. It’s compelling reading for anyone interested in the subtle mechanisms at work behind the essential experiences that make us human”

21 November 2017 at 7pm “Life as literature; exploring the ‘literary mind’ in psychotherapy. With Martin Weegmann

“Life as literature; exploring the ‘literary mind’ in psychotherapy.

Please note this is a fee paying event £6 if booked via our meet up site and £8 on the door.

In this talk, Martin will summarise the notion that human beings have inherent ‘literary minds’, that most of our therapies involve a ‘permission to narrate’, and that we can learn a great deal about psychotherapy through the perspective of narrative psychology. This can be helpful across differing orientations. he will offer some interactive exercises and illustrations from his work with clients.

Martin is a clinical psychologist, group analyst and author. he has long experience in the NHS and independent practice. a well-known trainer too, he has specialised in substance misuse, personality disorder and complex needs. His first book was Psychodynamics of Addiction (Wiley, 2002) and his latest book, Permission to Narrate: Exploration in Group Analysis, Psychoanalysis and Culture (karnac, 2016). He has completed a new edited book, Psychodynamics of Writing (Karnac, 2018).

Windy Dryden, 20 June 2017 Very Brief Therapeutic Consultations: What Can Be Achieved?

Very Brief Therapeutic Consultations: What Can Be Achieved?

In this session, I will discuss what might be gained from very brief therapy consultations of 30 minutes or less. I will demonstrate how I work in this modality with volunteers from the audience wishing to to be helped with genuine concerns. This work will then be discussed by those present.

Windy Dryden is Emeritus Professor of Psychotherapeutic Studies at Goldsmiths University of London. He works part-time in independent practice of therapy and coaching/

Tuesday 16th May

Lecture by Paul Atkinson: Heart and soul in the grip of neoliberalism.

Can we psychotherapists take responsibility for our contribution to the slow death of the welfare state and the post-war social contract? In 1981, in a Sunday Times interview with Ronald Butt, Margaret Thatcher captured the spirit of the emergent zeitgeist when she said: ‘Economics are the method: the object is to change the soul’. We are now in the fourth decade of a period in which markets, and in particular financial markets, are supposed to mediate social, psychological and relational values – the kind of values we therapists profess. Significantly, psychological life and mental health are growing concerns for the management of neoliberal market economies, as we have seen in the marriage of state therapy and cognitive behavioural psychology. With workfare replacing welfare, IAPT teams co-locating in Job Centres, and the psycho-compulsion of benefit claimants with mental health problems becoming a norm, groups of therapists, mental health activists and benefits campaigners have begun to campaign together to oppose the collusion of the psy professions and mental health charities with punitive DWP policies. I will talk about how these campaigns have been developing, and ask the audience for their own thoughts and experience of psychotherapy’s contribution to the neoliberal project.

Paul Atkinson has worked as a psychotherapist for more than thirty years, mainly in private practice in London. He was a political activist during the 1970s and made a passage to psychoanalysis though Jung’s concept of the Self. He has chaired two psychoanalytic training organisations. In recent years, he has returned to campaigning politics – opposing state regulation of psychotherapy and counselling, supporting activists and organising psypolitical events at Occupy St Paul’s, campaigning for the NHS in East London, running men’s therapy groups, and working with mental health activists against psycho-compulsion through DWP ‘work cure’ policies. He is a founder member of the Free Psychotherapy Network, and a member of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and Psychotherapy and Counselling for Social Responsibility.

Tuesday 25th April 2017 The impact of digital technology on the practice of psychotherapy

This is a fee paying event. Book early to avoid disappointment. £6 via meet up and £8 on the door.

Lecture by Linda Cundy Psychotherapist In this lecture Linda will explore the two topics below. 1. The impact of digital technology on the practice of psychotherapy (websites for publicity, referrals via email or text, contact between sessions, mobile devices in sessions etc)

2. The use of Skype / video conferencing for therapy. Is it ever ok? What can and can’t be achieved? How our therapeutic approaches influence decisions, and my take on an attachment perspective.

Our next lecture Tuesday 21st March 7pm

This is a fee paying event, please book early to avoid disappointment as our events are booking up fast.

From biology to philosophy; Neuroscience and the practice of psychotherapy.

A talk by Dr Pavlos Filippopoulos A discussion of the basis of philosophical assumptions of psychotherapy together with a history of philosophy will be discussed. With the use of developmental theory and discussions around the relationship between body and self, Neuroscience principles will be explored and address the relationship between the paradigm and psychotherapy practice evaluating the use of either and how they develop currently amongst the trends of scientific enquiry and practice domain.

21st February lecture, 7pm

This event is now fully booked we are not taking any more bookings.

How might we adapt psychotherapy techniques to work with psychotic states?

Many if not most of us work with people who hear voices, experience persuasive delusions, or bizarre insisting sensual experiences. Such work can be the most enriching and inspiring work as a clinician – but also the most terrifying. An increasing number of service users talk of being triggered by psychotherapy, reporting that techniques such as interpretation can feel attacking and cause a decompensation. As a result many clinicians are scared of psychosis, a fear that contaminates the therapy space and blocks the possibility of a working through. In this seminar, I would like us to discuss how techniques might be modified to be most useful to clients experiencing psychotic self-states. And how this shifting of power dynamics can inspire our overall practice.

Dr Jay Watts is a psychotherapist, clinical psychologist and activist based in London. Jay spent 15 years working in the NHS including leading an Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, a large Integrative Therapy Service and a Family Interventions Project. She later worked as Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at City University, and is currently Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. Jay is on the editorial boards of the European Journal for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Transformations and Self & Society. She writes regularly for national newspapers as well as the academic press. However, her clinical work and the activism it inspires is always first and foremost. Jay tweets as @Shrink_at_Large in a small attempt to help complicate public discourse about mental health, and situate psychotherapy.