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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships

Vulnerability and Gang Life: Therapeutic Perspectives

With Dr Geraldine Akerman, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Feras Al-Bakri, Dr Richard Grove and Mary Haley

Saturday 2 February 2019 - London

This event is designed to introduce psychodynamic understanding of the complex emotional and attachment needs involved in the decision to join a gang - for example, the search for love, attachment, belonging, status and protection. We will also look at the dangerous reality that gang membership actually involves: complying to a rigid, undemocratic leadership hierarchy, exposure to drugs, alcohol and weapons, precocious sexual activity and life-threatening conflicts. Our speakers will talk about the types of young people who may be drawn into that culture and the toxic and highly organised psychosocial structures that maintain control of members.

Through discussion pieces on effective therapeutic interventions, we will learn about how gang members can be helped and rehabilitated, first, in a therapeutic offender institution where, with prison psychologists, they co-created a model for their own group therapy which was meaningful to them. Secondly, from the experience of community-based therapy at Kids Co, where the key ingredients needed to offer an effective care package for children and young people bound to gangs was developed over a period of 20 years.

The day will include discussion with people who have been in gangs so we can have the opportunity to hear about the needs that took them into that world, the risks and challenges of being a gang member and what kind of interventions would have been significant to them on their journey into and out of that culture. What has helped them? And what guidance can they give to practitioners working with the many young people at risk?


Dr Geraldine Akerman
Geraldine Akerman is a chartered and HCPC registered forensic psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She has worked for the prison service since 1999 assessing risk and providing treatment to men convicted of violent and sexual offences and with complex needs. She has been on the Executive Committee of the Division of Forensic Psychology since 2009 in various roles, most recently as the Conference Lead, and the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers Research committee, advising on research relevant to that organisation... More >>

Camila Batmanghelidjh
Camila Batmanghelidjh has spent over three decades working with vulnerable children and families. Having qualified as a psychotherapist in her early 20s, she has combined a wide range of therapeutic practices with practical interventions in depleted, urban neighbourhoods. She founded two children's charities offering therapeutic support: Place2Be, which continues to deliver counselling support in schools, and Kids Company which she worked at for two decades. Camila refuses to compromise because she believes that too many people serving vulnerable children have had to do this in order to ensure the survival of their organisations... More >>

Dr Richard Grove
Dr Richard Grove completed his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at University College London and specialised in adapting psychodynamic ideas to work with young people and adolescents. During his clinical training, he worked across multiple services and settings, and he was driven to explore why some people find it hard to access help and support. He used this time to discover how psychological theories can be adapted to produce creative and flexible ways of offering people help and challenging traditional ideas of 'hard to reach' groups... More >>

Mary Haley
Mary Haley is Head of Psychotherapy at HMP Grendon's Democratic Therapeutic Community. She has been a psychotherapist for over 14 years, and has spent much of that time working within prisons. Her main areas of interest are Personality Disorder and Attachment Theory, both areas being highly relevant for forensic populations. She has written chapters in books on the treatment of offenders using attachment within a prison setting... More >>


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Handouts and lunch included
Self-funded: £120
Self-funded x 2: £200
Organisationally-funded: £200
Under 25's: £70

CPD Hours

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

8 All Saints Street
N1 9RL

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