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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships


Working with threats to the couple relationship

With speakers Susanna Abse, Jane Haberlin and Dr Amita Sehgal

Saturday 20 January 2018 - London

09.30   Registration and coffee
10.00   Dr Amita Sehgal

The couple and the threatening third: working with betrayal in couples
This paper describes the process of couple therapy with two couples that used blame as the currency of exchange in their relationship. Both couples struggled with managing three-person relationships. The triangular setting of couple psychotherapy provoked and triggered primitive anxieties around exclusion, rejection and abandonment in both cases. I draw upon clinical work with two such couples to illustrate how one repeatedly collapsed the triangular space whereas the other gradually became more able to bear it. I refer to scientific evidence of the brain's ability to continue to change in response to new learning by generating new brain cells and fresh connections between them, throughout life. I suggest that the repetitive occurrence of new experiences within couple psychotherapy can generate new neural pathways thereby biologically influencing new ways of how partners might respond to each other. I conclude by highlighting the therapeutic potential of the framework within which couple psychotherapy takes place, a triangular configuration which offers a developmental opportunity for navigating primitive anxieties related to triangular relationships.
11.30   Coffee
12.00   Jane Haberlin

The Other Woman
In the immediate aftermath of the revelation of adultery, the Lover typically becomes the object of powerful projections. For the person betrayed they can be experienced as a sexual aggressor, a thief, the bringer of humiliation and a threat to security. For the one who has had the affair, whilst previously experienced as exciting, passionate and joyful the Lover may now become tasked with carrying disavowed responsibility and transformed into a seducer - the devil in disguise - as the Couple attempts to reform. The therapist enters this relational maelstrom as a new Other, also likely to provoke and draw powerful projections. Using clinical material, Jane Haberlin will explore how the therapist can use their experience of projective identification to illuminate the relational dynamics of the Couple in order to understand, contain and transform their projective processes.
13.30   Lunch (not included)
14.45   Discussion of morning presentations
15.00   Susanna Abse

Infidelity: Destruction and Development
More than forty percent of spouses admit to having cheated on their partner, yet fidelity remains a powerful ideal within relationships and an affair is often experienced as a catastrophic event. Realistic intimacy between a couple involves vulnerability and the risks associated with it, yet these risks are often denied via omnipotent phantasies of ideal oneness. Can there be real trust without recognition of the real possibility of betrayal? In working with affairs how does the therapist manage the powerful feelings of shock and moral judgement that are aroused both between the couple and in the therapist? Can affairs ever be understood as servicing a developmental purpose? Are some betrayals shared enactments that can be understood as attempts to reset a relationship? How does the therapist understand the nature and meaning of an affair and the unconscious phantasies that are attached to the ideal of fidelity whilst helping a couple struggle with the reality of relational disappointment?
16.30   Discussion
17.00   End

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Self-funded: £130
Self-funded x 2: £200
Organisationally-funded: £200

CPD Hours

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

Grange Fitzrovia Hotel
Bolsover Street

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:30 Lunch
16:30 Discussion
17:00 End