A lecture by Dr. Raj Persaud on Tuesday 17th. November “The secret of success in psychotherapy which CBT and psychiatry ignore at their peril”

Dr Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist who has worked at numerous prestigious institutions including The Bethlem Royal and Maudsley NHS Hospitals Trust in London and the Institute of Psychiatry plus the Institute of Neurology, University of London as well as Johns Hopkins Hospital in the USA. He is also well-known as a broadcaster and author of popular books about psychiatry, including ‘The Mind:  A Users Guide’ which was published in 2007 and reached the top ten best-seller list.

Recently he was elected Fellow of University College London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  He is patron or supporter of numerous mental health charities including OCD-UK, The Manic Depression Fellowship, Association of Post-Natal Illness, Childline, Action Aid and The Samaritans.

The Times Newspaper recently placed him as one of the Top Twenty Mental Health Gurus in the world.

He is now podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

“Music therapy with female offenders”: a Talk on Tuesday 20 October 2015 by Phoene Cave

Female offenders form 5% of the prison population in the UK and have very specific needs. 53% of women in prison report emotional, physical or sexual abuse in childhood and 31% have spent time in the care system.  Women in prison engage in self harm at a higher level then male offenders and are also subject to higher disciplinary procedures, possibly because women in prison are 5 times more likely to have a mental health concern than women in the general population.

Phoene Cave reports on her work a music therapist in a women’s prison. Sharing stories and songs from this challenging setting, she shows how the musical and creative process of music therapy helped many women in prison to gain self esteem and self confidence. For some women, this enabled them to “find their voice”, often leading them to engage successfully in further intervention inside the prison (such as educational or recovery programmes or psychotherapy).

Phoene Cave is an HCPC registered music therapist, vocal coach and community choir leader.  She is also a creative project manager and a CNHC registered shiatsu practitioner.  She has practised yoga for many years.  This combination of skills, together with an “interesting” life experience led to her working for nearly two years as a music therapist with female offenders.

“CBT therapists should include existential approaches”: a Talk on Tuesday 16th. June by Melvyn Flitman

Melvyn is a chartered accountant and company director, an IAPT therapy provider, trained in IPT and CBT, and a final year students at NSPC.

His talk is based on a survey  of 253 accredited practitioner psychologists and trained CBT therapist asking them about their satisfaction with CBT, their opinions about possible links with existential thinking and their views about adding an existential component to CBT

Josephine Davies will talk on “Neither Motherhood nor Otherhood: philosophy and ‘childfree’ women” on Tuesday 20th. April 2015. Talk preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the SoP at 6pm

Josephine Davies says this about her topic: Women are often considered primarily in terms of biology and fertility, resulting in many misconceptions and assumptions about those who choose not to become mothers.

This presentation is based upon Josephine’s doctoral research into the experiences of deliberately childfree women (yes, this problematic terminology will be discussed!)  Using existential philosophy, she argues for a more holistic view of allwomen that embraces the other dimensions of female existence, and brings to the fore the search for meaning that was found to be integral to the lives of her participants. It is hoped that a lively discussion will be generated concerning freedom and choice, meaning, responsibility, and how all of this impacts upon us as practitioners.

Josephine is an existential psychotherapist and coach in private practice. She is also a jazz musician and composer and runs workshops helping other musicians to re-learn the joy of creativity that so often becomes cramped by fear and competition.

Josephine’s talk is preceded by the:

Society of Psychotherapy Annual General Meeting

Existential Academy, 61-63 Fortune Green Road, London NW6 1DR

Tues 21 April 2015 at 6pm


  • Welcome from the Chair
  • Minutes of last AGM and matters arising
  • Chair’s report
  • Hon Treasurer’s report and presentation of accounts for 2014/15
  • Hon Secretary’s Report
  • Marketing Officer’s Report
  • Election of Executive Committee members
  • Any Other Business
  • Close of business meeting



What has psychotherapy to do with climate change? Talk by Judith Anderson on Tuesday 17th. March

judith andersonJudith Anderson is a founder member of Climate Psychology Alliance and is on its management committee. She chaired Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility for 7 years, and represented the Climate Change workgroup on UKCP’s Diversities Equality and Social Responsibilty Committee from its foundation. She works as a Jungian psychotherapist with individuals and couples and is interested in the integration of newer energy psychology techniques into practice. She writes this about her talk:

“UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon calls climate change ‘the greatest collective challenge we face as a human family’. What is the part that the psychological professions can play in response?  How can we face inevitable, significant changes to our way of life caused by this and other environmental problems? Continue reading “What has psychotherapy to do with climate change? Talk by Judith Anderson on Tuesday 17th. March”

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.



Sufism and Psychotherapy: Talk by Armin Danesh on 16 Dec 2014

Armin-DaneshArmin describes his topic as being “neither religious nor promotional. I aim to present my personal journey with Sufi philosophy, to bridge some Eastern ideas with what we are familiar with in the West, and to suggest what this way of life may have to offer. Many scholars regard the Sufi philosophy as an existential and ontological one. On the concept of anxiety – many Sufis believe they have the remedy for all psychological disorders. However, followers of this faith may develop their own disorders: those of inadequacy, stress, and setting up unrealistic goals, which deny their real self.”

Armin says of himself that “I was born in Iran and brought up within an enquiring environment. From early age, my Marxist Leninist father taught us his philosophy of an equal world for everyone. In my teens I followed various spiritual movements, including Sufism. From age 15, I formed a close connection with Sufis and their way of life; I studied their faith and practice, and became familiar with their various denominations. I studied the philosophy of the great Sufi poets Hafez and Rumi.” Armin has qualifications in child psychology, pharmaceutics and pharmacology, and human rights and social justice. He chairs and is a founder member of the Phoenix Aid centre where he also works as counsellor and supervisor. Armin is active in other charitable activities helping refugees, and distressed children and families. He also finds time to write poetry in Farsi, teach judo, and help his wife to bring up their two daughters and one son.

Working with domestic abuse in private practice: approaches and dilemmas. A talk by Ali Ross on 17th. June

Ali Ross is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, who works on the phoneline and advice line at Respect advising counsellors on how to respond when their clients raise issues about domestic abuse. He also works in the psycho-oncology counselling service at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital trust. He has previous experience of working with vulnerable children and young people in social care homes.