Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies – Uncovering Hidden Truths in Family Histories

Saturday 21 November 2020 - A Live Webinar

With Dr Françoise Davoine, Trudy Gold, Maya Lasker-Wallfisch, John Simmonds and Dr Reenee Singh

  • Includes a recording of the event with access for a year (14 days post the event)
  • Bookings close at 9.00am BST Wednesday 18 November

Many families have needed to shed a past identity in order to build new lives, especially those who have been subjected to social shame or exclusion. Often, unacceptable aspects of that family history are expunged from the family narrative; histories that are considered too painful to recount – either to protect the teller or listener – are deliberately or unconsciously hidden.




10:00 BST (05.00 EDT)
Dr Reenee Singh
Voicing the Unvoiced: Secrets and Systemic Family Psychotherapy
Much of our work as family and systemic psychotherapists comprises providing a safe space where untold, untellable stories can be told, and where differences and difficulties in family relationships can be voiced. Some of these secrets may have to do with miscarriages, terminations and still births, or children from previous relationships. Other, possibly more dangerous secrets, are about incest and sexual abuse. This presentation will explore how to work with secrets in systemic family psychotherapy, and how to appreciate the protective function that secrets might have, for example, when working with refugee, migrant and intercultural couples and families.


Dr Françoise Davoine
The Transmission of Family Secrets Through the Transference
In psychoanalysis, such transmission often occurs through a memory recorded by the body in the present time of the sessions. While appearing as a symptom, such as voices, visions, rage or withdrawal, the hidden or previously unknown memory emerges from an unspeakable place, manifesting in the transference as an attempt to reach another in order to be shared and spoken. Françoise will detail moments in clinical work where unpredictable “elements” triggered some entrenched parts of her own history leading to a greater knowledge of both her past and the past of her client. In her experience it is at the crossroad of the clinician’s story, the patient’s story and and history at large that secrets can become known.


John Simmonds
Integrating the Known and the Unknown into Adoption
Over the last century, adoption practice has moved from being a solution to the maintenance of moral and social order in society to a solution for children who cannot be cared for safely and appropriately by their birth parents or birth family. It has moved from a position where secrecy in the family about the child’s origins was dominant, to one where the complexity of the child’s early experiences needs to be incorporated into a more secure, settled and sensitive family life. But while these changes have come to acknowledge the importance for everybody in coming to understand their history, heritage and identity, the challenge in doing so has not gone away. This presentation will draw on evidence and experience over the past 100 years about these fundamental questions and what may be a future direction of travel in building on the best of what we know.

Group Discussion


Maya Lasker-Wallfisch with Trudy Gold
To Know or Not to Know
In this conversation, consultant psychotherapist Maya Lasker-Wallfisch and the historian and activist Trudy Gold will explore the questions: what is a secret?, when is it toxic?, and what are the social and psychological implications within a family where the family is divided into those that know and those that do not, whether on a conscious or a subconscious level? They will also address the “secret” as a defensive adaptation to the truth in the service of protection, and consider some of the developmental injury that can occur as a direct response to being excluded from the truth.

Group Discussion: Bringing it all Together



Handouts included:

Bookings close at 9.00am BST Wednesday 18 October

Confer member:
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Certificates of attendance for 5 hours will be provided


This is a live online webinar using Zoom software. Zoom is free to download and use.

For more information about Zoom click here.

To download Zoom free of charge click here.


10:00 BST (05.00 EDT) Start
10:10 Dr Reenee Singh
10.45 Break
11:00 Dr Françoise Davoine
11.45 Break
12.00 John Simmonds
12.45 Group Discussion
13.15 Break
14.15 Maya Lasker-Wallfisch with Trudy Gold
15.00 Group Discussion
15.30 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.