Stunted emotions. Lecture by Dr. Sam Brown today, 22nd. January 2013 at 7pm

This seminar will explore the notion of stunted emotionality, in which the processing of emotional feedback is compromised. These people (normally men!) score low on measures of emotional intelligence, and tend to misattribute or somatise their emotions. The difficulty with identifying or differentiating emotions impairs their ability to cope with stress, yet they are very challenging clients in therapy due to the lack of emotional insight. They also show little progress on the hidden emotional level due to their failure to form therapeutic relationships.

The trait is known in psychiatry as alexithymia, and it is manifested to some degree in around 10% of the normal population, with a much higher concentration amongst certain clinical groups. Although there is a large body of research into alexithymia, it is not well
known amongst practitioners, and cases tend to misinterpreted according to different therapeutic paradigms as e.g. repression, dissociation, intellectualisation, or personality disorders. However, misinterpreting a cognitive deficit as a psychological defence can provoke serious personal problems, which in turn exacerbate presenting symptoms.

Studies have shown significant correlations with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, medically unexplained symptoms, chronic pain, PTSD, autism spectrum disorders and many other psychological and medical complaints. Recent factor analysis of questionnaire data has revealed an underlying differentiation between types, which may account for the vast splurge of contradictory research findings. Furthermore, neuroscientific
models suggest that the emotion processing system can be compromised in numerous ways by developmental abnormalities, severe trauma or physical injury, with very different implications for individual psychologies.

The failure of alexithymics to respond to therapy has prompted some clinicians to concede that they are untreatable, recommending symptom relief and coping strategies. However, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may help to reduce levels of alexithymia and associated complaints, by encouraging people to engage the affective dimension of their somatic sensations, and assimilate the feeling function into their mode of being.

David Pink, Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy speaking about the future of psychotherapy regulation.

David Pink will be giving the next Society presentation, on Tuesday 4th. December 2012. David has previously worked as a policy advisor at the Department of Health, as audit programme director at the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, and Chief Executive of the Long-term Conditions alliance and then of National Voices, acting on behalf of more than 180 service users orgamizations.
David has been closely involved with the recent debates about psychotherapy regulation, which have been long and often acrimonious. The outcome will have a substantial effect on anyone practising psychotherapy, and especially those for whom UKCP is their main or only regulatory body.
David will bring us to date with the relations between UKCP, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the Health and Care Professions Council, and the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.

‘Emotional connection in therapy: clients’ and therapists’ experiences’ lecture by Dr. Rosemary Lodge, 13th. November 2012

Rosemary is a counselling psychologist, and deputy course leader for the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at NSPC. She says this about her presentation: ‘I will talk about the findings of my recent research into emotional connection in therapy. This research showed that within the therapeutic relationship there was both a manifest and a hidden emotional level and that emotional connection was linked to client change at both levels. However, healing of the client’s deepest hurts took place on the hidden level. On this level there was also an emotional matching between client and therapist. The research provides support for the idea that ‘being with’ clients may be more therapeutic than ‘doing to’ clients, and that the healing mechanisms within therapy may be beyond our control.’

Lecture on 23rd. October by Anthony Stadlen

“Half-Heard Voices: The Human Reality Behind the Great Case Studies of Psychotherapy”

This is the title of our next talk at 7pm on Tuesday 23rd. October, by Anthony Stadlen. Anthony Stadlen has asked us to say this about himself and the topic of his lecture:

“Anthony Stadlen is an existential and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, supervisor, researcher, teacher, and convenor and principal conductor of the Inner Circle Seminars. Since 1979 he has undertaken historical research on some of the great canonical case studies of psychotherapy — Freudian, Jungian, daseinsanalytic and existential. His reason for devoting his life to this research was to find fundamental principles on which psychotherapists’ work, including his own, could be based. Einstein said that to understand and evaluate the work of physicists one should attend not to what they say but to what they do. Freud, independently, said the same for the work of psychoanalysts, specifying case studies, not theories, as the evidence which an enquirer should examine. Stadlen took Freud’s recommendation seriously, applying it to Freud’s own paradigmatic case studies as well as to those of Binswanger, Klein, Layard, Fordham, Boss, Laing and Esterson. In tonight’s talk, he will describe how his historical detective work to trace the real subjects of these case studies, their families and social milieux, led him to unsettling findings. While some of these so-called “therapists” appear to have helped some of their so-called “patients”, this was often despite rather than because of the therapist’s theories. In other cases, the therapist’s theories so distorted his or her perception of human reality as to offer a paradigm of how not to relate to a client. It became questionable whether there is – or ever could be — a body of “theory” which psychotherapists can “apply” to their own practice. Theory in the original sense means contemplation of practice. Practice comes first. The writings, and even some of the theories, of the great psychotherapists can deepen one’s understanding, but can they, strictly speaking, be “applied”?”

Location and timing of lectures

The Society, founded in 1998, sponsors lectures and seminars on all aspects of psychotherapy.  They normally take place at 7pm on the third Tuesday of each month during the academic year (October to July), in the Existential Academy at 61-63 Fortune Green Road, London NW6 1DR. £6 entry fee for if pre-booked via Meetup, or £8 payable at the door. All friends of psychotherapy welcome!

Charlotte MacGregor comments on Dr. Meg Barker’s talk: “Rewriting the Rules of Relationships”

Dr. Meg Barker took us on a fascinating journey that began with an exploration of some of the problems with the Old Rules of relationships, highlighted some New Rules and asked what a less rule-based world of relationships would look like.
The Old Rules. To some extent we are probably all familiar with some of the Old Rules, which are based on heterosexual, monogamous relationships: the idea that the norm is largely straight and aiming headlong automatically into a one-on-one status quo. Although Meg highlighted this as the Old Rules it was clear that they form the foundations of many present assumptions around what being a success in the relationship stakes is all about. They are based on gender inequalities, an obvious issue, and the discourse around objects and possessions is a transparent flaw. The Old Rules also create a gap between lack and desire, on an individual level and on a social level, for people, or groups of people, that do not feel they either want to or do not fall into the boundaries of these rules.
Uncertain Times. The Old Rules have been around for a while and to some extent their proponents might refer to the stability they provide in their defence. However, we are living in times where there is less degree of automatic progression along a linear relationship trajectory between birth and death. Meg highlighted how this results in uncertainty, that the existential tension between freedom and belonging is being played out in relationships.
New Rules? So what might an alternative look like? Meg described rules that already exist that fall outside of the status quo space, including swinging, open relationships and polyamory. However, these rules are still based around ideas of hetero-normativity and often they split sex from love and other relationships. The New Rules are still negotiated from a position of searching for a degree of certainty, rather than embracing uncertainty.
Beyond Constraints It is to a world beyond demarcated role definitions and functions that Meg beckoned our thinking, relationships with fewer borders or sense of enclosure, with multiple loves based on meeting different mutual purposes but with no sense of ownership or restriction and no requirement for enduring commitment. Whether such an attitude can be maintained or is desirable was questioned by some in the audience, who wondered about issues of jealousy and stability. Whether we can have ‘expectation-free’ relationships was also discussed and whether having some level of expectation was indeed helpful was also considered. As Meg agreed, these issues remain areas for further deliberation and I am sure that we all took away our own particular areas for further reflection.

Membership application form

If you are interested in becoming a member, please complete this form and return it to the administrator of the Society of Psychotherapists.  We welcome counsellors, psychotherapists, and anyone interested in those fields, of whatever modality or persuasion.

Society of Psychotherapy

Membership Form  2011/2012





Email address: —————————————————————————–

Please tick whichever of the circles apply to you:

Psychotherapist                     o                                                 Trainee      o

Counsellor                              o

Psychologist                          o

Other (please state)

How did you hear about the Society of Psychotherapy?

Do you have any ideas for talks/seminars you would like to attend?

To join please print and fill in this form, enclosing a cheque for £10, made payable to the Society of Psychotherapy and return to:

Digby Tantam,

Chair and Membership secretary

Society of Psychotherapy


254-256 Belsize Road

London NW6 4BT

Membership will allow you reduced fee entrance to Society events.

Please note that the membership year runs from 1st. October to 30th. September

Minutes of the 2011 AGM

Annual General Meeting

18th. March 2011

Held at the premises of NSPC LTD, 254-5 Belsize Road, NW6 4BT

Present: Digby Tantam (chair) Emmy Van Deurzen, Mike Hall , Helen Eckersley, Hugh Knopf (mins)

The meeting was delayed for 30 minutes because a quorum was not present at the advertised start time of 5.30

After some initial discussion and reminders of what the society was created for there was a formal welcome from the chair, Professor Digby Tantam. Acknowledging that the society had need of re-stimulus and agreeing that a re-invigoration of its primary purpose, to encourage and support dialogue across the many worlds of psychotherapy was now due the meeting moved to the business of the agenda.

Report from the honorary treasurer:

The society offered 3 talks last year and made a profit on 2 and a loss on the other. Overall surplus of £23 on previous year and balance was £695.23. The overall aim was to break even and this has been achieved but there was a feeling that the society could be more ambitious and seek to raise greater funds and extend its objectives. New signatories need agreeing (new chair-see below) as Mike is signing off.

Election of officers:

a) Honorary chair: Digby Tantam proposed by Emmy Van Deurzen and seconded by Mike Hall. Not opposed: Digby Tantam duly elected chair.
b) Honorary treasurer: Helen Eckersley: proposed by Mike Hall, seconded by Emmy. Not opposed, duly elected honorary treasurer
c) Honorary Secretary: Hugh Knopf, proposed by Digby Tantam, seconded by Emmy Van Deurzen. Not opposed, duly elected honorary treasurer

Propositions to be put to the vote:

a) Meetings to be held at NSPC until further notice: proposed and seconded, not opposed, upheld.
b) Administrative support to society should be provided by the chair with no expense to the society: proposed and seconded, not opposed, upheld, but chair to negotiate agreement with NSPC staff. The treasurer suggested that any unreasonable expenses to NSPC could be sought through the Sociaties funds
c) That the membership list held by SoP is made available to the NSPC passed with the following amendment that the consent of each member on the list is obtained before correspondence is sent to them that is not from the society itself. It was pointed out that the society is not registered with the data protection register but would gather this being linked to NSPC
d) That the office of chair and programmes organiser be temporarily combined. Proposed and seconded, passed unopposed.


Digby Tantam said that the website ( is now hosted on a dedicated server at no cost to the society.
Date of next AGM: 23rd March 2012: at 6:00pm

The AGM was followed by a stimulating presentation from Professor Digby Tantam on Wellbeing and Psychotherapy: What the Government can learn from
existential psychotherapy.