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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Psychotherapy is a Cultural Issue

The influence of Susie Orbach's work on theory, practice and values

Saturday 22 April 2017

This event celebrates Susie Orbach's outstanding contribution to psychotherapy, and brings together several of her colleagues to explore her work and its contemporary clinical and public relevance.

Orbach's first book, Fat is a Feminist Issue (1978), brought the problems of women's relationships to their bodies, the relationship between the intimate relationship between mother and daughter and the public and commercial environment. It was and remains a paradigm-shifting publication in several realms: eating and body problems, demystifying therapeutic ideas and resituating the importance of mothers in girl's psychology. She developed and expanded these ideas in Fat is a Feminist Issue II (1982), Hunger Strike (1986), On Eating (2002) and, more recently, Bodies (2009), in which she proposed a new theory of how we acquire a bodily sense of self.

With Luise Eichenbaum, she has also written several influential books on the dynamics of coupling and friendships and of the crucial role of dependency and its impact in intergenerational relationships, including What Do Women Want? (1983) and Understanding Women (1983). In Bittersweet (1986), the argue for the struggle for separated attachment. Not the denial of dependency but the recognition of how attachment and autonomy are interrelated necessities.

Much of Susie Orbach's work has focused on the construction of identity. She sees the false self as an overdevelopment (under parental pressure) of certain aspects of the self at the expense of others - of the full potential of the self - producing thereby an abiding distrust of what emerges spontaneously from the individual himself or herself. She has extended Winnicott's account of how environmental failure can lead to an inner splitting of mind and body so as to cover the idea of the False Body - a falsified sense of one's own body. Orbach sees the female false body in particular as built upon identifications with others, at the cost of an inner sense of authenticity and reliability. Breaking up a monolithic but false body-sense in the process of therapy could allow for the emergence of a range of authentic (even if often painful) body feelings in the patient.

The Impossibility of Sex (2005) was a new departure. It is a collection of imagined stories from therapy, written from the perspective of the therapist, which are interwoven with theory and a discussion of the key psychological concepts, as well as a frank discussion of the therapist's experience. Although these are imagined cases, they tell a truth about the daily struggles, ruminations and experience of being a therapist while showing the process of a therapt.

Her new book In Therapy (2016) is based on the Radio 4 series of the same name broadcast in 2016. The broadcasts were designed to show what the feel and tempo of a therapy are while the book unpacks the thinking and theory behind the therapist's interventions.

While campaigning on many fronts, Orbach had a column in The Guardian on emotions in public and private life. These have been compiled into two volumes: What's Really Going on Here (1994) and Towards Emotional Literacy (1999). She still writes for newspapers and magazines.


Sarah Benamer
Prior to training as a psychotherapist Sarah Benamer was a community worker, employed primarily as an independent advocate. She has worked extensively with those in crisis within the NHS psychiatric system, and with individuals in chronic pain, with long-term illness and severe physical disabilities. In addition to her therapeutic training she has an MA in Applied Anthropology and a professional Diploma in Youth and Community work... More >>

Jane Haberlin
Jane Haberlin trained with Arbours as a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and has worked at The Arbours Crisis Centre and The Women's Therapy Centre. She is a member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) and a founder member of The Relational School in London. She currently works as a therapist and supervisor in private practice... More >>

Professor Brett Kahr
Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health field for over thirty-five years. He is Senior Fellow at Tavistock Relationships at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London, and Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health. He also holds a Consultant post at The Bowlby Centre and he is also Consultant Psychotherapist at The Balint Consultancy... More >>

Dr Susie Orbach
Susie Orbach is a psychoanalyst and writer. She co-founded The Women's Therapy Centre in 1976 and The Women's Therapy Centre Institute, a training institute in New York, in 1981. Her books include Fat is a Feminist Issue, Hunger Strike, On Eating, What's Really Going on Here, Towards Emotional Literacy, The Impossibility of Sex and Bodies.. Her latest book In Therapy is from the highly regarded BBC Radio 4 series of the same name which drew 2 million listeners. She has a clinical practice seeing individuals and couples and is a member of The Balint Consultancy. She convenes the UK chapter of More >>

Professor Andrew Samuels
Andrew Samuels is Professor of Analytical Psychology at Essex and holds visiting chairs at New York, Roehampton, Macau and Goldsmiths, University of London. He works internationally as a political consultant. He is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology, in practice in London. He was the founder (with Judy Ryde) of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility and the founder consultant editor of Psychotherapy and Politics International... More >>

Valerie Sinason PhD
Valerie Sinason PhD, MACP, M Inst Psychoanal, FIPD is a poet, writer, child, adolescent and adult psychotherapist and adult psychoanalyst. She was Founder Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies until her retirement and remains a Consultant. She is President of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability (IPD) and Hon Consultant Psychotherapist at the University of Cape Town Child Guidance Clinic; Patron of the Dorchester Trust, Chair of Trustees of the First People Art Centre – Nieu Bethesda Arts Foundation... More >>

Kate White
Kate White was until recently Editor of the journal, Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis and is currently Series Editor of The John Bowlby Memorial Conference Monographs. She is also a training therapist, supervisor and teacher at The Bowlby Centre where she trained... More >>


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Self-funded: £130 (Sold out)
Self-funded x 2: £200 (Sold out)
Organisationally-funded: £200 (Sold out)
CPD Hours

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

6th Floor
Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road

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