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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Enactments: are these to be welcomed or avoided?

Saturday 24 September 2016

There are a number of reasons why a therapy relationship might run into trouble, for example, therapeutic incompetence or the patient's unreadiness for the process. However, relational theory has allowed for another strong candidate for a breakdown in the therapeutic alliance (and paradoxically the turning point when therapy really begins) - the enactment. Conceptualised as an acted-out demonstration of self-and-other states that is expressed through behaviour rather than conscious communication, enactments offer a privileged view of a person's relational history. By invoking an interaction with the therapist that replicates elements of a childhood drama, the patient is able to display unconscious fears, desires and conflicts that cannot otherwise be expressed and allow them to breathe in the therapeutic space. Whether resolved or not these time-lapsed relational configurations are thought to be inevitable and unavoidable.

Enactments will induce powerful countertransference responses, especially when the therapist finds herself standing in the place of an abusive parent or hurt child; the more traumatised the patient, the more highly charged and affectively-potent these are likely to be. These intra-psychic dynamics will inevitably arouse deep conflicts in both partners in the therapy but, although disruptive, enactments can be viewed positively. They may be welcomed as a direct route to the unconscious that offers the therapeutic pair a chance both to discover the patient's underlying experiences of the other in relationship and to re-work the outcome. Do come along and join the discussion.


Dr Anne-Marie Daly
Anne-Marie trained as a Clinical Psychologist, completing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in Oxford in 2008. She has worked in the NHS for the past 10 years and specialised in psychotherapy within adult mental health outpatient settings throughout clinical training and post qualification. She is currently Deputy Head Of Counselling at Oxford University Counselling Service, supporting the psychological needs of 3rd Level Students attending the University of Oxford. She also works part-time in a Private Psychotherapy Practice, Headington Psychotherapy (, in Oxford. She has a special interest in the factors involved in the process of therapy (e.g. resolving ruptures in therapy; see link to paper below), using models of brief dynamic psychotherapy, emotion focused therapy, mindfulness and the psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. More >>

Dr Helena Hargaden
Helena Hargaden has developed a relational approach to psychotherapy and supervision influenced by Jungian, psychoanalytic and humanistic perspectives. She has been widely published and translated into a number of other languages and is known in particular for her award winning work on 'Transactional Analysis: A Relational Perspective', with her co author Charlotte Sills. She is interested in how the relational approach works with unconscious enactments both in therapy and supervision settings. She will be drawing on material from her latest book, 'The Art of Relational Supervision' to think about the ubiquity of enactments in the therapeutic encounter and how they reveal themselves in relational group supervision. More >>

Dr James Macdonald
James is an experienced clinical psychologist specialising in psychotherapy. He is a former Academic Tutor on the Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford and he continues to teach there as a Visiting Tutor on resolving ruptures, feedback informed therapy and psychotherapy research. He has completed a PhD prior to training as a clinical psychologist and now supervises doctoral research on therapeutic processes. More >>

Professor Alistair Ross
Alistair Ross is a psychodynamic therapist, supervisor, and trainer based at Oxford University. He is an Associate Professor – Psychotherapy, Director of Psychodynamic Studies, and Dean of Kellogg College, Oxford. He is a senior accredited therapist and supervisor with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and was Chair of BACP’s Professional Ethics and Quality Standards Committee, and BACP’s Expert Ethics Reference Group (2010-2015). He has also trained as a Psychodynamic Interpersonal Therapist and a Dynamic Interpersonal Therapist. More >>

Michael Soth
Michael Soth is an integral-relational Body Psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor (UKCP), with more than 30 years' experience of practising and teaching from an integrative perspective. Drawing on concepts, values and ways of working from a broad-spectrum range of psychotherapeutic approaches across both psychoanalytic and humanistic traditions, he is interested in the therapeutic relationship as a bodymind process between two people who are both wounded and whole. He has written numerous articles and several book chapters and is a frequent presenter at conferences. More >>


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Self-funded: £130
Self-funded x 2: £190
Self-funded (with the online module Advances in Relational Psychotherapy): £200
Organisationally-funded: £220

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event

Tavistock Centre
120 Belsize Lane

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:30 Tea
17:00 End