Trauma, Dissociation & Resilience: a talk by Dr Aida Alayarian, Clinical Director of the Refugee Therapy Centre

Dissociation is an important concept in psychoanalysis which has been lost. Aida examines the contributions of psychoanalysis, emphasising the act of ‘dissociation’ (both healthy and unhealthy), with specific attention to the internalisation of the m/other/object as the ‘listening other’, and the dissociated part/s that may result in an over idealised yet feared object. Her main discussion focuses on how patients in therapy become able to transform fears into ‘psychic space’ and breaking away from vulnerability, by developing a better ‘sense of self’, as the result of having the therapists as the ‘listening other’. Aida consider the central theory of psychoanalysis as a form of treatment that enhances ‘resilience’ in relation in working with patients who have experienced trauma, by the mean of assessing relationship change in transference as an objective method of determining patience psychical alteration. In her book ‘Trauma, Torture and Dissociations: a Psychoanalytic View’, Aida provides a theoretical review of analytic thinking on trauma that will enrich practitioners from all approaches, as well as looking into the specific features that might identify those who would respond to such treatment.

Aida fotoDr Aida Alayarian MD BSc MSc DocSc PhD has been the Clinical Director and Chief Executive of the Refugee Therapy Centre since its inception in 1999. She has over thirty years of clinical and managerial experience, as well as campaigning for human rights (i.e. against torture, women’s rights and the protection of children). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and is on the executive of the College of Psychoanalysis and Jungian Analysis of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

She has published extensively in the area of human rights, trauma and intercultural psychoanalytic psychotherapy, including Resilience, Creativity and Psychoanalysis: The Work of the Refugee Therapy Centre (2007); Psychological Consequences of Denial: The Armenian Genocide (2008); Torture, Trauma and Dissociation: A Psychoanalytic View (2011), The Handbook of Working with Trauma, Children and Torture (UKCP series 2014 in print).

Her publications have been informed by her work over the past 30 years with refugees and others whose basic human rights have been violated, identifying fundamental differences in how people react to trauma. Pursuing her primary question when working with people who have endured human right violation and atrocities — ‘What are the traits in the unconscious of the personality which enable some people to be resilient to the experience and lead fulfilling lives and others collapse psychologically?’—Dr Alayarian has explored the relationships between vulnerability and resilience and their roots in childhood experience. Her most recent published works have focused on what she terms ‘healthy dissociation’, the process by which traumatised individuals are able to dissociate from their traumata therefore leaving their worlds more or less intact.

Socratic dialogue in philosophy, coaching & psychotherapy a talk by Angella Hodgson on Tuesday 20th. January 2015

Angella Hodgson is an independent trainer and management consultant specialising in Socratic Dialogue facilitation, executive coaching and leadership & management training.  She  has over 15 years experience working in the public, private and not for profit sectors both in the UK and in Norway and the Czech Republic. Angella has worked within the education and training sector as both a practioner and a manager. She is also a trustee for the Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy and regularly facilitates Socratic Dialogues in both the U.K. and Germany.Angella writes this about her presentation “There is a basic assumption behind the practice of Socratic Dialogue, namely that it is worth our while to talk about the most important things, about how we ought to live.” Fernando Leal, in Saran & Neisser ( 2004), Enquiring Minds, Trentham Books (p. 123)

Socratic dialogue is a formal method by which a small group (5-15 people), facilitated by a Socratic Dialogue trained facilitator, works together to find answers to ethical, epistemological and mathematical questions (e.g. “What is happiness?”, “What is integrity?”, “Can conflict be fruitful?”, etc.) Socratic Dialogue is not a debate, but is rigorous and supports the development of one’s own critical thinking skills.

Participants require no prior philosophical, provided they are motivated to try the method, are willing to contribute their honest thoughts, express honest doubts, and listen actively to those of others.

The endeavour of the group is towards mutual understanding, with a view to reach a ‘real’ consensus.    In contrast to many other group situations, the virtues of patience, tolerance, attentiveness, thoughtfulness and civility prevail. There is also time for emotion to ebb and flow, to wax and wane in the context of larger group dynamics. As the participants in a Socratic dialogue engage in its process, they begin to realise it is a cooperative search towards truth, which can then be tested against other situations to analyse when truths are not just subjective but may be universal.

What might psychotherapists learn from the practice of Socratic dialogue?  What are the points of contact between Socratic dialogue in educational and training settings, coaching and philosophical consultancy, and the practice of individual or group psychotherapy?  The Society of Psychotherapy invites you to listen, consider, and contribute.