Confer’s Annual Psychgeist Conference: Is Psychotherapy a Relationship or a Cure?
With speakers Shoshi Asheri, Dr Richard Gipps, Professor Dany Nobus and Dr Jay Watts
Recorded Saturday 21 September 2019
Last year we asked the thought-provoking question What is Normal? as the topic for our think-tank conference to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Somewhat beyond our expectations, the question generated some brilliant, fresh and new perspectives about the therapy process. And so we have posed another challenging question for our speakers to answer in this event: is psychotherapy a relationship or a cure?READ MORE...
Our aim is to explore the dichotomy between the medical model of assessment, treatment, and cure in contrast to its antithesis – a process of exploration between two people, one which focuses on the needs of one but in which each participant draws on their own subjectivities and histories.
Each speaker addresses the question through their own experiences of being in therapy, of being the therapist and of experiencing and witnessing change.
CPD – An optional certificate of attendance for up to 4.5 hours of CPD, based on completion of a multiple choice questionnaire, will be available soon.
Dr Richard Gipps
Psychotherapy as Internal Relation
Describing psychotherapy as a method of treatment is expedient in healthcare settings, but it would take a tin ear to not baulk at it as a characterisation of the therapeutic experience. To unpack our intuition that ‘treatment’ talk fails us, we may use Wittgenstein’s distinction between internal (constitutive) and external (two-part) relations. Psychotherapeutic work embodies, and develops the patient’s capacity to enter trustingly into, mutually implicating (i.e. internal) relations with others – whereas treatment goes on between merely externally related persons. Then again, psychotherapy is also in the business of helping patients separate out from others. This togetherness-in-difference has a name: it’s what we call ‘love’.
It’s Charged, it’s Liminal, it’s a ‘Now Moment’: Fluidifying Psychotherapy in ‘Post-Normal’ Times
In this talk Shoshi argues that we live in a liminal time, similar to what Daniel Stern might call a ‘now moment’. The safety of known norms, roles, rules and power structures underpinning our theories and practices need to be rattled. If our profession is to remain current and socially responsible, we need to inhabit the discomfort of this liminal space, reconsider existing structures of dominance in our training institutions and practices, and allow new, creative, unbidden possibilities to emerge.
What can amoebas having sex teach our profession about fluidifying binaries and challenging existing hierarchies? What can it teach us about the intersubjective field as an ecology of relationship, adventure and cure, yearning to interconnect and co-create?
Prof Dany Nobus
Why Analysis Isn’t Therapy, or the Perils of Healing
When Freud exchanged the hypno-cathartic method for a technique based on free association, he decided to call his procedure ‘analysis’ (literally: ‘loosening up’) rather than ‘therapy’. In this talk, Dany critically unfolds the significance and implications of this process of clinical de-composition in light of Freud’s psycho-geographical model of the human mind and his personal scepticism towards conventional approaches to healing. What will emerge is a conception of psychological treatment as an endlessly deferred ‘homecoming’, which allows for a certain degree of mental stability on account of what Harold Bloom has defined as a ratio of ‘apophrades’ – the ghosts of the past being given the freedom to share their creative powers with the inhabitants of the present.
Dr Jay Watts
Dangerous Talk in Dangerous Times
Those of us who consider therapy an adventure – a bold, risky, unknowable, undertaking – find ourselves increasingly unpopular in a world where certitude rules. This fantasy of certitude revolves, certainly within the NHS, around the idea of knowable outcomes and ‘cure’ crystallised in the discourse of evidence-based medicine. To create space to allow therapy to be the more radical, relational experience so many of us consider it to be involves politicking outside the consulting room to ensure the discussions are for the many not for the few.