Jan. 2018: INTEGRA CPD Events for 2018
Key Issue: Allan Schore's paradigm shift

          Finally: the long-awaited 2-person psychology
           paradigm shift in neuroscience - Allan Schore:

        "The growth-promoting role of mutual regressions
                                       in deep psychotherapy"

Dear <<First Name>>,

Here's our New Year's newsletter, with ...
  • updates on forthcoming CPD workshops and events in 2018
  • KEY ISSUE: review of Allan Schore's presentation from September 2017 - PART 1
  • Oxfordshire Project News (OTS) - a multi-modality community of therapists aiming to create a blueprint for a future Mental Health System (includes info about our new Oxford Therapy Centre and the events we are offering)
  • information about Michael's teaching in Pakistan (a new intermediate course on psychotherapy integration)
  • recommendations of online resources: links to free audio recordings of couple sessions with Esther Perel and a range of free videos from The Relational Implicit Project

Report and review of Allan Schore's recent presentation: "The growth-promoting role of mutual regressions in deep psychotherapy" - PART 1

I am including in this newsletter the first part of a detailed report and review of Allan Schore's presentation from September 2017, entitled "The growth-promoting role of mutual regressions in deep psychotherapy", because Allan had offered to present his latest thinking, and I think he fulfilled his promise.

In a nutshell and to whet your appetite, Schore is now beginning to present two-person psychology at the mind-brain-body interface (as he calls it). Most of you know that I have been busy with developing a systemic-holistic bodymind phenomenology of the therapeutic relationship, and Schore's model is converging towards that (especially around the notion of spontaneity, rather than deliberate therapeutic strategising), so it's worth presenting.

Allan is now systematically combining two paradigm shifts, to lay the theoretical foundations for a 'deep' psychotherapy of the future:
1. the neuroscience-inspired reversal from left-hemisphere (LH) cognitive dominance to the valuation of right-hemisphere affective supremacy (RH) and - as he calls it: the mind-brain-body interface
2. the consequent re-vision of all one-person psychology ideas and their re-conceptualisation into two-person psychology formulations (e.g. regression, as in the title of his presentation).  

Oxfordshire Project News (OTS) - a multi-modality community of therapists working towards a pluralistic AND coherent field of psychological therapies

In this newsletter I am sharing with you some extended thoughts on our thriving project here in Oxfordshire, where we are building a multi-modality community of psychological therapists, aiming to offer the general public a one-stop access point towards a comprehensive service, where a pluralistic and coherent network of therapists work together to put the client's needs first. We are hoping that in some way this can become a blueprint and a pilot project for a mental health system of the future. Although many of you live too far away from Oxford to be directly involved, the reason I am sharing this with you is because our project may inspire you to build similar networks elsewhere.  

CPD Events coming up

As usual, there are a variety of CPD events planned, in London, Exeter and Oxford - you can find a complete listing on the INTEGRA website.

I would like to draw your attention to three particular events, coming up soon:

BOOK NOW: 27 & 28 Jan. 2018, Exeter: An Embodied Integration of Trauma Therapy Approaches with Morit Heitzler
This open CPD weekend with Nick Totton and Michael is an ideal introduction to our work, as it's the only one we are running together THIS YEAR, and one of only a few open events currently planned (most others are part of ongoing groups).

24 Feb 2018, Brighton: 1-day Conference: "The body speaks – embodied conversations in psychotherapy" with Margaret Landale, Ewa Robertson and Michael Soth
This open CPD weekend with Nick Totton and Michael is an ideal introduction to our work, as it's the only one we are running together THIS YEAR, and one of only a few open events currently planned (most others are part of ongoing groups).

BOOK SOON: 17 & 18 Mar 2018, Exeter: Embodied-Relational Psychotherapy - CPD Training Weekend with Nick Totton and Michael Soth
This open CPD weekend with Nick Totton and Michael is an ideal introduction to our work, as it's the only one we are running together THIS YEAR, and one of only a few open events currently planned (most others are part of ongoing groups).

As usual, your questions and comments are welcome.

We look forward to hearing from you.
You can contact us on:


In this Newsletter:

NB: apparently, the links in this Table of Contents do not work in all email programmes - just use link in the top right corner of the email to open it in your browser (or click here)  

Forthcoming CPD Events:

  1. 27 & 28 Jan: Exeter: Integrative Trauma Therapy – weekend workshop with Morit Heitzler

  2. 24 Feb: Brighton: Conference "The body speaks – embodied conversations in psychotherapy"

  3. 17 & 18 Mar: Exeter: Nick Totton & Michael Soth: Embodied-Relational Weekend

  4. 23 & 24 & 25 Mar: Athens: The transformative potential of 2-chair work and its pitfalls

  5. 24 Apr: Oxford: OTS - What do we mean by ‘relational’?

  6. 12 May: Oxford: International Coaching Supervision Conference

  7. 13 May: London: TRS: What do we mean by 'relational'?

  8. 17 Jun: Bristol: Relational dynamics in body-oriented psychotherapy

Places available in Ongoing Groups:

  1. from Jan '18: Bristol: Small Supervision Group - monthly Tuesdays 13:30 - 15:30

  2. from Jan '18: Oxford: Adv. Prof. Development Group - bi-monthly Tuesdays 10:00 - 16:30

  3. from Jan '18: London: Adv. Prof. Development Group - bi-monthly Tuesdays 10:15 - 16:45

News and other topics:

  1. Report & Review:: Allan Schore: "Mutual regressions in deep psychotherapy"

  2. Project News - Oxford: New OTS Oxford Therapy Centre to open soon

  3. Psychotherapy Integration Course:: Michael's Teaching Tour Pakistan 2018

  4. Other Conferences: UK Supervision, IARPP, SEPI

  5. Recommendation: Esther Perel - free audio on couple work

  6. Recommendation: The Relational Implicit Project - free video: interviews

  7. INTEGRA News: Training for Group Therapists, Group Facilitators & Organisational Leaders

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INTEGRA CPD Courses and Events 2018

Find calendar with listing of all planned courses and events online.

 Download all events as iCal-file
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or subscribe to the calendar online
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Forthcoming CPD Events

An Embodied Integration of Trauma Therapy Approaches
Exeter: 27 & 28 January 2018

A CPD Training Weekend with Morit Heitzler

Venue: The Wheelhouse, Colwell Barton, Offwell, Nr Honiton EX14 9SR
Times: Sat.: 10:00 – 17:00 & Sun.: 10:00 – 16:30

If some of your trauma clients show resistance, manifest stuckness or get caught in hidden dissociation or re-traumatisation dynamics, or you encounter unexpected ruptures, impasses or enactments, this weekend is for you.
This weekend is designed for practising counsellors and therapists who have some previous training and experience with trauma work. It is best described as an 'intermediate' workshop, for therapists who have completed basic training in one of the modern trauma therapies: Somatic Trauma Therapy (Babette Rothschild), Somatic Experiencing (Peter Levine), Sensorimotor Therapy (Pat Ogden), EMDR, EFT etc.

Is this workshop for me?

If you have trained and have been practising such trauma therapies for a while, you are likely to have encountered clients with varying degrees of receptivity, producing a mixture of results and creating a variety of problems. You may also have questions regarding the application of theory to practice. Many of these problems and questions can usefully be addressed through an integration of trauma therapies, each of which have their special strengths and weaknesses.

1-day Conference: "The body speaks –
embodied conversations in psychotherapy"
Brighton: 24 Feb 2018

Venue: Brighthelm Centre, North Road near Brighton Station, Brighton BN1 1YD
Times: Sat. 24 Feb 2018: 10:00 - 16:30

Organised by Brighton Therapy Partnership

For all Enquiries & Booking

The rise of body-oriented approaches to psychotherapy has seen the discipline shift from being the kooky poor relation of psychoanalysis in the 1970s and 1980s to a vital component in the therapeutic understanding of all therapists over the course of the last 20 years or so.
An increased understanding and appreciation of neuroscience alongside the development of effective approaches to treating trauma have shown that being able to work effectively with embodied presentations and communications will increase our effectiveness as therapists and offer greater and safer choices for our clients and patients, particularly for those who are struggling with traumatic experiences or somatic symptoms.

In this one-day conference with three leading experts in the field of body-mind psychotherapy - Margaret Landale, Ewa Robertson, and Michael Soth - we will explore ways in which to attune to the embodied presence of both ourselves and our clients and how to facilitate body-mind communication and dialogue. There will be particular attention paid in our final presentation of the day to the skills required by non-body psychotherapists who might wish to respond to embodied moments that occur in the process of talking therapy. A Q&A Panel Discussion will round off the day.

“Techniques for expanding talking therapy into body-mind process
Even the best therapeutic intervention can only be as good as the client’s receptivity to it, and that is not mainly a left-brain issue. Whether a therapist’s words ‘land’ in the client is not only a question of their content and meaning. Whether or not a therapist’s response is being received gets determined, largely pre-reflexively, by the client’s whole body-mind system, and that depends interpersonally on the ‘felt sense’ of the working alliance. Readiness for change (i.e. neuroplasticity) occurs at the edge of the window of tolerance (which Michael will introduce as having both intra-psychic and intersubjective dimensions). Practically, this often boils down to charged moments of heightened affect when the working alliance is in crisis.

As a therapist, how do you ‘catch’ and make use of these moments that are characterised by spontaneous body-mind processes, which occur between client and therapist before, alongside and in spite of left-brain reflections and words?

In this presentation Michael will focus on the principles of embodied-relational practice mostly in terms of embodied ways of being and working in those critical moments that arise spontaneously as part of the normal talking interaction between client and therapist. Rather than grafting new ‘body techniques’ onto their existing style and practice, the aim of this presentation is to help therapists to become more deeply embodied in moments of crisis and to craft spontaneously and creatively embodying interventions from within enactments.

Embodied-Relational Psychotherapy - a special CPD weekend
Exeter: 17 & 18 Mar 2018

A CPD Training Weekend with Nick Totton and Michael Soth

Venue: The Wheelhouse, Colwell Barton, Offwell, Nr Honiton EX14 9SR
Times: Sat.: 10:00 – 17:00 & Sun.: 10:00 – 16:30

This weekend, part of an ongoing group series of weekend workshops designed for counsellors and psychotherapists from across the approaches, is an opportunity to work with and learn from two of the most experienced trainers at the forefront of bringing embodiment into psychotherapy.

Rather than grafting the body onto established practice as one more eclectic technique, Nick and Michael have been working towards a non-dualistic embodied way of being and relating in the therapeutic relationship. This weekend can be attended on its own or as an introduction to this annually repeating series of CPD training weekends.

These weekends and their ongoing format provide an ideal container for your continuing professional development, rooted in your own embodied process.

For full details regarding this unique venture in Britain's Southwest, see the dedicated page on our website: Exeter: Body-oriented CPD Weekend Group 2018.

It is likely that the group will continue in 2019 with another series of four weekends.

The Transformative Potential of 2-chair Work and its Pitfalls
Athens, Greece : 23 & 24 & 25 Mar 2018

A long CPD Training Weekend with Michael Soth

Venue: Athens, Greece
Times: Fri: 14.30 – 20.30 & Sat: 10:00 – 17:00 & Sun: 10:00 – 16:30

Anticipating the recurrent pitfalls of the 2-chair technique and making therapeutic and transformational use of them When it comes to shifting the focus of therapeutic interaction from 'talking about' to 'exploring the experience', there are few techniques more useful than 'empty-chair' or 'two-chair' work (this applies to supervision as well as therapy). However, when therapists risk using the technique, it often does not produce the intended or intuited results. Having started with what seemed like a burning, vibrant issue, the spark gets lost, and the interaction ‘goes flat’ or starts going round in circles.

From many years of using the technique myself, as well as supervising it, I have concluded there are some built-in recurring pitfalls which we can anticipate and prepare for; when understood and addressed, these pitfalls can actually enhance our use of the technique and make it more elegant and effective.

This weekend workshop follows on from the previous day's workshop (on the Friday), to help therapists deepen their use of 2-chair work. These two CPD days are designed to engender both detailed knowledge and skill as well as confidence, whatever level of experience you are currently bringing to this type of work. I am expecting that in terms of the nitty-gritty detail of technique (what you actually do and say as a therapist and how and in what sequence), these days will be amongst the most specific and useful you will ever do. In terms of this particular technique, it's as close to a 'recipe book' or ‘manual’ of therapeutic intervention as is feasible when what we are really interested in is the aliveness and spontaneity of the client-therapist interaction.

For more detailed information about the background, format and content of the weekend workshop, download the leaflet.

What do we mean by ‘relational’?
Oxford: 24 April 2018

An experiential theoretical CPD Day with Michael Soth

Venue: OTS Oxford Therapy Centre, 144 Oxford Road, Oxford
Times: 10.00 - 17.30

What do we mean by 'relational'?

Over the last 15 years or so, relational perspectives have had a significant impact across the fields of psychotherapy. However, the wider its increasing influence has spread, the less clear it has become what we actually mean by ‘relational’. The default common denominator would be the recognition that in therapy it's the relationship between client and therapist that matters, and that the quality of that relationship is a significant indicator of outcome.

International Coaching Supervision Conference:
Keynote by Michael
Oxford: Sat. 12 May 2018

‘The 12 emotional labours of the supervisor’

Venue: Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus, Oxford OX3 0BP
Times: Keynote 9.00 - 10.30 (Conference: 9.00 - 16.30)


What do we mean by ‘relational’?
London: 13 May 2018

An experiential theoretical Relational School Study Day with Michael Soth

Venue: Stillpoint London, 23 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AA
Times: 10.00 - 16.30

What do we mean by 'relational'?

Over the last 15 years or so, relational perspectives have had a significant impact across the fields of psychotherapy. However, the wider its increasing influence has spread, the less clear it has become what we actually mean by ‘relational’. The default common denominator would be the recognition that in therapy it's the relationship between client and therapist that matters, and that the quality of that relationship is a significant indicator of outcome.

However, whilst there is quite a lot of agreement that the therapeutic relationship matters, this apparent consensus breaks down at the first hurdle: there is no such level of agreement as to what actually constitutes quality of relationship. On the contrary: there is a tendency for the traditional approaches to define ‘therapeutic relating’ predominantly within their own frame of reference, taking their own paradigm of relating for granted. It is, therefore, not generally accepted that 100 years of psychotherapy have given us a diversity of distinct notions of what kind of relating is to be considered ‘therapeutic’. The common ground of ‘relationality’ is a negative distinction from classical one-person psychology and ‘medical model’ non-relationality, but beyond that it is unclear whether relating means in Gomez’s terms being ‘alongside’ as an ally or ‘opposite’ as a relational other. And then what kind of other: positive, nurturing and reparative or authentic/dialogical or transferential other? And in amongst all that, what happens with the ‘bad’ object, and who relates to it how?

A multiplicity of diverse, contradictory and complementary relational spaces
Unless we take into account these different and contradictory notions of relatedness - or in the terms of Petruska Clarkson’s seminal contribution from the early 1990's: the different relational modalities we now find in existence across the field - what we mean by ‘relational’ will remain confused and confusing. It clearly means very different things to different therapists, without - however - these differences being sufficiently acknowledged or investigated.

The therapist's internal conflict - processing the countertransference in terms of tensions and pulls between different relational modalities
Understanding how the therapist's internal conflict relates to the client's inner world - in psychoanalytic terms: processing the countertransference and how it interlocks with the transference - can be profoundly helped by understanding how the therapist is being pulled between equally valid, but contradictory and conflicting relational modalities. This understanding, i.e. how the therapist is internally affected by the intersubjective dynamic, turns Petruska Clarkson's theory of relational modalities from an abstract tool of psychotherapy integration into a clinically useful tool moment-to-moment.

This is the essence of Michael's "Diamond Model of the relational therapeutic space": seeing the relational modalities not as some range of helpful stances which the therapist consciously chooses between (one at a time), but considering all the modalities as going on all the time (as a dynamic, systemic whole). The conflicts and pulls between different relational modalities can then be reflected upon and engaged in as manifestations (and enactments) of the unconscious co-constructed dynamic.

The essential conflict: object-relating versus inter(subject)-relating
This day will be an introduction to Michael's diamond model. His starting point will be the perennial and underlying tension (and often: polarisation) between object-relating and inter(subject)-relating in the therapeutic space: the tension between 'using' each other as objects on the one hand (I-it relating, which much of the humanistic field is biased against because of its objectifying and exploitative connotations, but which Winnicott has a lot of positive and developmental things to say about) and subject-subject relating (mutual recognition or I-I relating, as advocated by the humanistic and modern psychoanalytic traditions). When we can validate both as potentially transformative and necessary ingredients in the therapeutic space, and recognise the tension between them as essential to the therapeutic endeavour (a tension not to be reduced, resolved or short-circuited ideologically, but to be entered into in each unique client-therapist relationship), a multiplicity of relational spaces – contradictory and complementary, forming a complex dynamic whole – can be seen to arise from that tension. Michael proposes his ‘diamond model’ as a map that can help therapists process their conflicted (countertransference) experience when involved in layers of multiple enactment.

About the Tutor
Michael is a TRS (The Relational School) member and has drawn from Martha Stark’s seminal 1999 book Modes of Therapeutic Action, Lavinia Gomez’s work on object relations and the tension between humanistic and psychoanalytic traditions as well as Petruska Clarkson’s 5 modalities of therapeutic relating to develop a broad-spectrum integration of therapeutic traditions as part of the relational project. For this study day Michael will present and explore with us his particular journey since his own experience of a ‘relational turn’ in the mid-1990s.

Relational dynamics in body-oriented psychotherapy
Bristol: 17 June 2018

Association of Core Process Psychotherapy:
An experiential CPD Day with Michael Soth

Venue: The Quaker Meeting House, Champion Square, Bristol BS2 9DB
Times: 9.30 - 16.30

This workshop is an ideal opportunity for an introduction to Michael’s work, and specifically how he approaches the integration of the paradigm clash between the humanistic and psychodynamic traditions. It is an affordable workshop on a crucial topic, as many integrative therapists struggle to integrate these paradigms rather than oscillate between them, both in their work and in supervision.

There are still a few places (at this time: about 6) left on this workshop, which was initiated by the Association for Core Process Psychotherapy. Most participants, therefore, will be Core Process therapists, which will give the day an emphasis on the body-mind and psychosomatic connection, and how attention to the two bodies in the therapeutic relationship (or better: the two ‘bodyminds’) can provide the experiential foundation for the integration of paradigms. In the lineage of Body Psychotherapy, we come across a set of diverse and to some extent confusing and contradictory assumptions as to what we mean by therapeutic relating and the therapeutic relationship. On the whole, the whole range of body-oriented work as practised today clearly belongs to the humanistic tradition, with its emphasis on authentic/dialogical and empathic/reparative relating. This sits alongside influences from the psychoanalytic tradition, notably the work of Reich and his ideas about working with transference, as well as his quasi-medical and scientific attitude to treatment (which he shared with Freud). These different paradigms of relating are quite difficult to integrate and bring together, as they are based on polarised attitudes and stances in terms of one-person and two-person psychologies. 
That raises the question as to what we mean by being ‘relational', especially in recent years, when that notion has become increasingly fashionable, and is in danger of becoming diluted. As psychotherapists working in the body-oriented traditions, we have the potential to bring a more substantial, embodied and complex notion of relating to the talking therapies. 
This workshop is an opportunity to explore your own experience of the tensions between the polarised humanistic and psychoanalytic traditions, and how you integrate them. This tension hinges around the essential conflict between ‘authentic relating’ and 'working with the transference' - two principles which many of us find equally valid and want to equally do justice to in our work.
It has been understood and acknowledged for decades that any direct and directive work with the body, especially if it includes touch, intensifies the transference. However, psychoanalysts have contested that by using directive body-oriented interventions, body-oriented therapists are minimising and sidestepping the transference. In fact, all therapies that are relying exclusively on an empathic, attuned, heartfelt connection are open to that psychoanalytic challenge (keeping things too cosy, encouraging regression or over-dependency, avoiding the negative transference) and to the question of whether this is in the client's best interests. 
When our intention is to work with the client’s ‘character’, i.e. with all the embodied levels of developmental injury, across the whole bodymind, how do these different traditions and paradigms of relating get in each other's way or complement each other and how might they create an integrative synergy?
Places available in Ongoing Groups

Small Supervision Groups (4 participants)
Bristol: monthly Tuesdays

2-hour integrative supervision groups
for therapists from across the modalities

Maximum 4 participants - 3 places available from Jan. 2018
Venue: Fulcrum House in Bristol
Times: meeting monthly on Tuesdays 13.30-15.30

Purpose and scope of group
These groups have been running for the last 6 years, and there is a consistent core of participants, but some re-arrangements have meant that 3 places are now becoming available (in Group 2) from January 2018. These small supervision groups run on a regular monthly basis at Fulcrum House in Bristol. There are three groups with 4 participants each during each Tuesday (11.20-13.20; 13.30-15.30; 15.45-17.45). From January 2018 there are 3 places available in the second group (13.30-15.30) - please contact Michael for details. The cost is £55 for each 2-hour group. The monthly frequency of these groups means they are not really a replacement for ongoing regular supervision, but are being used by participants as part of their continuing professional development, to deepen and enhance their practice. The diversity of modalities, orientations and styles provides a rich learning environment.

Format and ways of working
Michael's supervision style is integrative, so therapists from all modalities and orientations are welcome, and will find plenty of opportunities to learn from the diversity within the group. Michael pays attention to parallel process on all levels (see his presentation on 'Fractal Self' at CONFER for how he has extended the notion of 'parallel process', for the purposes of supervision, as well as an organising principle for therapy generally), including how the client-therapist dynamic is picked up by the group and reflected within it. He is welcoming of experiential exploration of 'charged moments', via roleplay, within participants' need and willingness for exposure in the group.
He will focus on speaking in the language of each supervisee's approach, but an exploration of transference-countertransference dynamics is likely to be included, unless a supervisee explicitly declines this. In his approach to supervision, Michael pays attention to the embodied, non-verbal communications and unconscious processes, how they oscillate between working alliance and enactment, and how the therapist's habitual stance/position becomes involved in these conflicts and tensions. Whilst the exploration of the therapist's relational entanglement is an important aspect of the supervision, the focus is on the deepening of the client's process, and the therapist's continuing learning process. Michael believes that by embracing whole-heartedly the difficulties, paradoxes, shadow aspects and complexities of the therapeutic process, therapists stand the best chance of doing justice to their clients, as well as their own authority, effectiveness and satisfaction as a practitioner.  

With 4 participants the fee per 2-hour group is £55.
The scheduled dates for the remainder of the academic year 2017/2018 are:
16 Jan 2018; 20 Feb 2018; 20 Mar 2018; 24 Apr 2018; 15 May 2018; 19 Jun 2018; 17 Jul 2018
If you are interested in joining this group, an interview with Michael is required. You can contact him on: or 07929208217. Please enquire soon if you are interested in joining.

Advanced Personal-Professional Group for Experienced Therapists
Oxford: bi-monthly Tuesdays

An integrative, experiential supervision-based CPD group for experienced therapists (10+ years)

Maximum 7 participants - one or two places available from March 2018
Venue: 14 Hawthorn Close, Oxford OX2 9DY
Times: Meeting bi-monthly on Tuesdays in West Oxford - 10:00 - 16:30

Purpose and scope of group
This advanced group is open to experienced counsellors and psychotherapists from different therapeutic approaches, orientations and trainings. It is an ongoing integrative group, meeting 6 times per year, and it has been running since 2012 in varying configurations and with various members.

There is an established group dynamic and cohesion, and as new participants you, me and the existing group would have to work with how you would fit into that to develop a new shape and a new group.
Three participants have been with the group since the beginning (all three are experienced TA therapists). Two embodied-relational therapists joined a couple of years ago. Other members have been from various modalities, including Gestalt, transpersonal, Core Process. We are looking for one or two more participants. Currently we have one man and four women, so new male participants are especially welcome.
Format and ways of working
The idea is for the work of the group to be grounded in clinical experience and to have a solid supervision element, but to include additional reflections and theoretical input arising from the process - this will be from an integral-relational perspective, but always stay relevant and applicable to your own style and modality. Working with the general notion of the 'reflective practitioner', we will try to integrate individual and group process as well as experiential and theoretical learning and clinical reflection.

I will attempt to make explicit and accessible some of my internal process and working models as a supervisor and group facilitator, including handouts and references, depending on your individual learning needs and development goals as a person and as a therapist.
The times are established and fixed (bi-monthly Tuesdays 10.00 – 16.30 in West Oxford), but apart from that the group is open to the needs and interests of further participants. Depending on the final number of participants, the cost will be between £90 and a maximum £110.

The scheduled dates for the remainder of the academic year 2017/2018 are:
6 Mar 2018; 17 Apr 2018; 22 May 2018; 3 Jul 2018

Advanced Small Supervision Group for Experienced Therapists
London: bi-monthly Tuesdays

An integrative, experiential supervision group for therapists with considerable post-qualification experience (12+ years)

Maximum 7 participants - one or two places available from Jan. 2018
Venue: Terapia Centre, The Bothy, 17A East End Road, London N3 3QE
Times: meeting bi-monthly on Tuesdays 10:15 - 16:45

This is an ongoing integrative group, which has been running since 2014, meeting 6 times per year, in varying configurations and with various members. One or two places are available from January 2018
There is obviously an established group dynamic and cohesion, and new participants would have to work with how they fit into that to develop a new shape and group.
This group is open to experienced therapists from across the modalities who have been working for at least 12 years. It currently has 5 members; the maximum group size is 7 participants, so from 2018 there are one or two more places available in this group. Currently we have one man and four women, so new male participants are especially welcome.
Format and ways of working
All of the current participants also work as supervisors, tutors or teachers alongside their private practice and share a perspective that draws from both humanistic and psychoanalytic traditions. The group has an integrative cross- and multi-modality framework and has developed a supervision style that emphasises reflections on the manifestations of transference and countertransference via enactments.
If you are an experienced practitioner and have a curiosity and interest in relational ways of working as well as psychotherapy integration, stretching beyond the therapeutic approach you originally trained in, then this may be a good group for your further development.
As with all supervisory/learning work, there is an overlap between personal and professional development, and Michael and the group have been working to find a good balance between the two. The group has evolved a culture of sharing our work in an experiential way, through role play and two-chair work alongside traditional presentation and discussion. You would need to be comfortable in sharing yourself in such a group supervision format with an emphasis on experiential learning, which naturally opens up the opportunity to discuss therapeutic perspectives, theory and practice across the modalities.
Several participants, as well as Michael, have an interest in embodied ways of working and are bringing that to the group.
With 6 participants the fee per day is £110, plus £16 per person for the room we are renting.
With 7 participants the fee per day is £100, plus £15 per person for the room we are renting.
The scheduled dates for the remainder of the academic year 2017/2018 are:
30 Jan 2018; 13 Mar 2018; 8 May 2018; 26 Jun 2018
If you are interested in joining this group, an interview with Michael is required. You can contact him on: or 07929208217. Please enquire soon if you are interested in joining.

News and other topics

Finally: the paradigm shift in neuroscience
towards 'two-person psychology'


Report and Review on Allan Schore's recent presentation:
'The growth-promoting role of mutual regressions
in deep psychotherapy'

The most recent advances interpersonal neurobiology

For several decades, Allan Schore has been known as an interdisciplinary giant, bringing together neuroscience and the affective cognitive sciences with psychoanalysis as well as developmental psychology and attachment theory. Last September he promised to offer his latest thinking, and I think he delivered on that promise. In this evening, I will present a summary of his latest formulation which includes a new appreciation of spontaneous regression and a new and comprehensive neuropsychological model of dissociative and repressive defences. I will present and critically review the model he presented in September 2017.

On 23 September 2017 I attended the CPD day (6-hour PowerPoint lecture) "On the growth-promoting role of mutual regressions in deep psychotherapy" (organised by nscience in London) because Schore was promising to offer his latest thinking, and I think he delivered on that promise.
For those of you not familiar with his work, Schore has been working as an interdisciplinary giant, bringing together psychoanalysis, neuroscience and the affective cognitive sciences, as well as developmental psychology and attachment theory. In his famous trilogy of books:
•                Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1 edition 1994)
•                Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self (WW Norton & Company, 2003).
•                Affect Regulation and Repair of the Self (WW Norton & Company, 2003)
and numerous articles and chapters, he has documented the significant advances that have been made in our understanding of early human development and in the application of this developmental information to models of psychopathogenesis and psychotherapy. His Regulation Theory, grounded in developmental neuroscience and developmental psychoanalysis, focuses on the origin, psychopathogenesis, and psychotherapeutic treatment of the early forming subjective implicit self. His contributions appear in multiple disciplines, including developmental neuroscience, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, attachment theory, trauma studies, behavioral biology, clinical psychology, and clinical social work. His groundbreaking integration of neuroscience with attachment theory has lead to his description as "the American Bowlby" and with psychoanalysis as "the world's leading expert in neuropsychoanalysis.
Others before me have pointed out the irony of how he tends to deliver his teaching on these kinds of events: it boggles the mind how the greatest champion of right-brain-to-right-brain attunement can spend 6 straight hours talking from his left brain at yours, reading out his PowerPoint notes (of which you are given a hard-copy to help you keep up), extolling the virtues of right-brain spontaneity and reverie, imagining that this constitutes optimum engagement and learning for the audience.
But that doesn't take anything away from the intellectual and interdisciplinary substance he was trying to get across. Except for some detailed neuro-biochemistry after lunch which went over my head, he did get most of it across to me (although from talking to other participants, it looks like I was a bit of an exception – others people’s left brains had apparently checked out much earlier in the day).
The main purpose of this report is to share this substance with you, whilst offering you also some kind of critique as we go along.

Allan Schore’s influences

It's not so easy to find biographical detail regarding Schore's training or his own experience of analysis or analytic training, so I am not sure how they shaped his way of being as a therapist. The strongest influences - always in the background of Schore's thinking - seem to be attachment theory and the self psychology tradition within psychoanalysis (the titles of his first books followed Kohut's on the origin, disturbances and repair of the self). In terms of neurobiology he is, of course, an interdisciplinary giant, drawing on a wide range of neuroscientists, but high-profile in the lecture were references to Ian McGilchrist's book 'The Master and his Emissary'.
Bringing together infant studies, attachment and the intersubjectivity of early development with affective neuroscience is what Schore is famous for, leading to the crucial recognition that the development of the child's brain (right down into the detail of anatomy and brain chemistry) and mind are dependent on the early emotional environment and attachment relationships. Being involved in the painstaking nitty-gritty of the actual scientific research, he has been instrumental in milking the neuroscience towards that insight and putting it on the map, which has then been popularised by many others (e.g. Sue Gerhardt "Why Love Matters").
He has also made crucial contributions to drawing the parallels between attachment in early development and the equivalent dynamics between client and therapist, manifesting in his statement that therapy is mainly about ‘right-brain-to-right-brain’ attunement. These days, throughout the psychotherapeutic field, we take these parallels for granted (sometimes, arguably, too much, to the point of oversimplification), and it's easy to forget just how significant an influence these neuroscientific validations of traditional therapeutic intuitions have been.
Whereas in his earlier writing Schore seemed to be quite wedded to psychoanalytic technique (with interpretation, however, always embedded in and dependent upon the primacy of the empathic attunement), in this lecture I was surprised by the breadth of authors that he quoted from, drawing strongly also from Jungian analysts (e.g. Kalsched, Ullanov), especially in his clinical vignettes. So, overall, there was a refreshing integrative atmosphere to his wide-ranging influences.
When you study Schore’s writings in sequence, it is apparent that his shift towards two-person psychology and the notion of enactment is much to more recent. I gather he was influenced by being part of an interdisciplinary study group that included Philip Bromberg (who is, of course, one of the elders in relational psychoanalysis). As we will see, a good chunk of my critique hinges around Schore’s notion of enactment, and what appears to me an unacknowledged, un-integrated and confusing co-existence of clashing paradigms, mainly between ‘one-and-a-half-person psychology’ assumptions to do with the regulation, and ‘two-person psychology’ notions around enactment.

What role for the body-oriented tradition?

The person who would have been most delighted with Schore's lecture is probably Wilhelm Reich, except - as has happened throughout Reich's life and since his death - he was not mentioned and was not on the radar. But just about all the themes that occupied Reich and to which he made significant contributions were being (re-)discovered by Schore: intensive affect (i.e. the distinction between social feelings and raw emotion – in Schore’s terms: between the RH and the primitive brain stem), repression, character, defences, regression - Schore formulated them as crucial to the process of deep psychotherapy (i.e. transforming deeply embedded attachment and character styles). It's unfortunate that Schore is not familiar with the Reichian and post-Reichian tradition – I specifically went up to him and asked him about that; he has, of course, heard about Reich, but doesn't seem to recognise just how significant the body-oriented tradition could be to just about everything he touched upon in this lecture, especially in terms of translating Schore's propositions and model into actual therapeutic practice.
There are three major ways in which the body-oriented community of practitioners has developed skills and understandings that can contribute to that fairly urgent task of application in practice:
• the therapist's  embodied  presence and self awareness  as bodymind process (i.e.  a detailed and differentiated body awareness underpinning 'implicit relational knowing')
• a whole host of techniques and interventions that facilitate  what Schore is proposing as priorities: a de-emphasising of LH, an deliberate invitation of RH, and most importantly active techniques for bringing the raw affect of the brainstem into awareness and into the contact
• a developing understanding of enactment as bodymind process (most of you reading this will appreciate that I've been preoccupied with this point for 20 years now,  and as I have only published one very condensed indication of this, it's not entirely surprising that it hasn't acquired the status of common knowledge).
The problem with bringing back Reich is the same as bringing back the transformative potential of regression generally: Reich - like many of the psychoanalysts that Schore draws from historically in his re-valuing of regression - was firmly embedded in a ‘one-person psychology’ perspective. So whilst there is some sense that we are re-inventing the wheel, any new wheel based upon traditional principles is indeed in need of being revised and re-visioned through a two-person psychology lens.
Coming from the US, Schore equates body psychotherapy with Somatic Psychology, as it’s known there, first and foremost represented by Pat Ogden (who I think was part of the same study group with Philip Bromberg,  which - as far as I know - is where she acquired an interest in enactment, too; for the last few years she has made comments about enactment being the cutting-edge of innovation). It appears that the embodied-relational tradition, as we have developed it here in the UK,  has not made an impact and is not being widely recognised in the US yet.
So one of my underlying contentions in writing this review is that there is a small section of the embodied-relational community which has developed a way of working which is in line with Schore's  abstract principles and propositions already. One of the main questions from the audience was: whilst we see the rationale for the kind of therapy that involves mutual regression in enactment,  we don't see any training that prepares us for it -  how do you help students and therapists learn this way of practising therapy?
I will stick my neck out and venture to say that it isn't via listening to PowerPoint presentations. Because of the fleeting subliminal nature of  ‘right-brain-to-right-brain’ communication, it certainly requires experiential training. It obviously also requires here-and-now attention to the therapist's own internal bodymind process, and their own woundedness as well as their characterological defences.
As soon as you neatly compartmentalise training into theoretical seminars and experiential process,  every student's characterological defence has already adjusted to the training format, and found ways of manouvering the training in a way which avoids their own wounds manifesting. We need to find ways of learning that allow attention to the student’s habitual position as a therapist and how they unconsciously construct the therapeutic space (this also is a bodymind process). So if we want to include attention to spontaneous bodymind process, there is no way around live sessions in the training context. In order to maximise the action and reflection cycles for the therapist in the learning process, and to catch enactment dynamics whilst they are building up, live sessions probably need to be interrupted by judicious breaks for shared reflection,  where the therapist can receive on-the-hoof supervision and then go back into the session.

A two-person psychology at the
spontaneous mind-brain-body interface

In a nutshell, Schore is systematically combining two paradigm shifts, to lay the theoretical foundations for a 'deep' psychotherapy of the future:
1. the neuroscience-inspired reversal from left-hemisphere (LH) cognitive dominance to the valuation of right-hemisphere affective supremacy (RH) and - as he calls it: the mind-brain-body interface
2. the consequent re-vision of all one-person psychology ideas and their re-conceptualisation into two-person psychology formulations
Once a towering interdisciplinary and scientifically-oriented mind like Schore’s has got hold of a new paradigm, it is well capable of consequently applying and transferring its principles across the whole domain. There are any number of therapeutic ideas and concepts which go back to the days of classical psychoanalysis, and which therefore originated within a taken-for-granted ‘one-person psychology’ paradigm. All of these ideas, with the kernels of wisdom and validity they contain, are candidates for wholesale re-visioning and reformulation. What intersubjectivists call the Cartesian 'myth of the isolated mind' has spawned countless foundational ideas in psychology, all of which need revisiting through a two-person perspective – a project which on an abstract level is well underway, and Schore’s new thinking represents another leap in that direction. As we will see, it’s the application to practice that requires a lot more attention still.

The double-edged sword of regression and
its possible therapeutic action

The key idea being revisited for this particular day with Schore was regression. In the olden days, this was clearly a one-person psychology notion, and indeed a pejorative one because regression was classified as a defence. But even then, from the beginning it was understood as containing both dangers and therapeutic potential. Freud already used the phrase "reculer pour mieux sauter" (to draw back in order to make a better jump), recognising that regression could serve therapeutic progression (or in Kris's later, but better-known phrase "regression in the service of the ego" which is a questionable conception in my opinion). Schore spent quite a good chunk of his presentation initially on the history of regression, spelling out its ambiguous nature, but overall re-validating it as an essential ingredient in 'deep' psychotherapy. This fits in with his overall policy of reversing the culturally dominant left-brain over right-brain supremacy, and in his presentation (using Freud's original abbreviations CS for conscious system and UCS for unconscious) he says:
"Regression as the act of going back; a return to the place of origin, including early right-brain emotional development and the origin of the self; regression from LH conscious analytical mind to RH unconscious mind and bodily-based emotions, from verbal LH secondary process to non-verbal RH primary process cognition; from later-forming CS left-brain-to-left-brain verbal communication versus early forming UCS right-brain-to-right-brain non-verbal communication."
Part of my critique would be the oversimplifying idealisation which occasionally comes across in lumping everything therapeutically good with the right brain, and everything emotionally questionable with the left brain. But an important point (which we also need to get back to in more detail), is a relatively new addition to his model: the idea of neurobiological regressions not only between (left and right) but also within cerebral hemispheres. This is finally beginning to do justice to what body-oriented therapists have been saying for decades (although not in as sophisticated and scientifically validated ways) - he quotes Lehtonen (2006): "The classical approach in psychoanalysis, while centering on metaphoric and symbolic work within fully developed psychoanalytic object relations, has not traditionally included in this work the meaning of the body and the earliest layers of the personality, due to their preverbal and unconscious nature."
In the course of discussing the history of regression within psychoanalysis, he, of course, draws on Michael Balint's (1968) seminal work and his distinction between malign and benign regression (a distinction that we would need to question in its categorical and apparently neat divisive stance). But we need to give Schore credit for sticking his neck out and comprehensively validating regression as a possible new beginning and an essential ingredient (i.e. a potential turning point) in the therapeutic process.

Mutual regression and the wounded healer
as the home ground of therapy

But what is revolutionary beyond his attempt to bring regression in from the cold, is his unashamed and unambiguous declaration of it as a mutual process. In my language, I would usually refer to that principle as the therapist's embracing of the wounded healer archetype, but because Schore formulates mutual regression as part and parcel of therapeutic enactment, his affirmation of regression goes way beyond principle into the nitty-gritty of the therapeutic interaction. The idea that the therapist's regressed state, the therapist's wounded subjectivity, is not only a valid ingredient in the therapeutic position, but actually necessary for therapy to work, is groundbreaking.
In my opinion, this was Schore blazing a trail in the therapeutic jungle, especially vis-à-vis the perennial notion of ‘treatment’, and why I had been attracted immediately to the title of the day. Any therapist who can surrender to their own regressive states in service of the therapeutic process has effectively deconstructed the dualistic doctor-patient split and transcended an exclusively treatment-oriented paradigm.
As far as I'm concerned, Schore’s formulation finally puts the therapeutic horse before the cart, turns the uprooted tree of therapy into its natural position by putting its roots firmly into the ground, and finally gives therapy a place to stand in its home territory of subjectivity. In my opinion, therefore, this formulation of Schore's deserves spreading far and wide throughout the field - whatever we mean by 'relational' therapy, this is a central and foundational idea and it gains substance, validation and credibility from Schore's authority.

Iatrogenic effects of
traditional, left-brain dominated, theory-led psychotherapy

Schore did not present the idea of mutual regression as a desirable optional add-on to ‘deep’ therapy. It is an essential feature without which therapists cannot do justice to what they are supposedly offering. Without it they cannot deliver what clients - and what they themselves - expect them to deliver. If mutual regression is not understood, appreciated, embraced and actively worked with, what are we left with?
We are left with either superficial therapy of the reassuring, symptom reducing kind. Or we are left with the actively harmful, counter-therapeutic effects of the therapist’s own repressive and dissociative defences, enshrined in their habitual therapeutic position.
Schore talked quite vehemently about the iatrogenic effect of traditional one-person psychology interventions, which he formulated quite clearly as the therapist's counter-resistance (although he didn't use that term). He is exhorting therapists to drop their LH investment, and regress and surrender into the receptivity of the RH which then becomes a communication channel for picking up the client's dissociated unbearable affects.
He made repeated, passionate statements unambiguously criticising - in his terms: the left-hemisphere (LH) dominated - assumptions of traditional psychotherapy. He doesn't quite say so in simple, straightforward language, but if I translate it, I would summarise the gist as: in their therapeutic and human presence, the therapist needs be able to inhabit as well as model non-defensive authenticity. Any investment or clinging to any therapeutic persona or identity mainly rooted in cognitive or intellectuallising left-brain bias - or role-bound habitual defensiveness - is counter-therapeutic.
He implied that he sees just about most of CBT as hopelessly lost in LH domination, and therefore, as far as deep psychotherapy is concerned, somewhere between useless, misleading and dangerous (these are my words, translating his implicit message).
But he explicitly applied his critique also to much of traditional psychoanalysis (of the interpreting ‘one-person psychology’ kind). So the upshot is: in order to reach the client's unconscious experience beyond their repressive and dissociative defences, and make any impact on early attachment styles and character patterns, the therapist needs to let go of - in Schore's terms - their own LH bias and defensiveness, and needs to be capable of surrendering into RH 'presence' - 'being' as well as 'doing'.


1.      If you do not want to invest in buying the three books, there are various papers of his available on the internet, which give good summaries and overviews:
For the body psychotherapists, there is also a very comprehensive commentary on Schore’s work by David Boadella, comparing and contrasting it with Biosynthesis: “Affect, attachment and attunement - thoughts inspired in dialogue with the 3-volume work of Schore”
2.      Just to clarify it upfront:  I am not criticising the coexistence of different paradigms. I'm not advocating that all traditional ‘one-person psychology’ be superseded by 'proper' ‘two-person psychology’ -  on the contrary: I have long argued for an integration of these modes, popularised through the seminal book by Stark. To me, relationality requires an appreciation of how the different modes not only come and go and interweave, but how they are simultaneously present and conflicted, pulling the therapist in contradictory directions which reflect the client's internal conflicts.  This is not to deny that usually the therapist's own conflicts, woundedness and subjectivity are also involved.  But I am arguing that these conflicts and dilemmas appear in the countertransference, even when the therapist's own conflicts are not actively constellated.
3.      and indeed, the first question from the audience, in those short spells when questions were allowed and possible, was regarding the integration of the hemispheres for optimal healthy functioning, rather than a reversal of the current dominance. I did not think this question was ever fully addressed, so for me the anti-left and pro-right bias lingered throughout the day - a point we need to come back to later
4.      However, there seemed to be an inherent contradiction in his presentation: whilst criticising the LH-dominant implications of classical psychoanalysis, most of his quotations substantiating the positive potential of regression (Reik, Kris, Loewald, etc, but with repeated mentions of Carl Rogers as one of the greatest psychologists of the 20th century) came from the same period of psychoanalysis which he was criticising. This is not as grave a contradiction as it might at first seem: we can find throughout the canon of psychoanalytic writing early intuitions of modern convictions and corroboration of just about every point we care to make. But as we shall see later, the contradiction is not without some substance.
5.      What he didn't say is that those iatrogenic reactions by the therapist are one manifestation of the enactment, which - if caught and attended to - can be traced back to the therapist's defence against their own regression (as part of the mutual regression). It is not defensive reactions on the therapist’s part per se that are iatrogenic, but whether these reactions are attended to and processed by the therapist as enactments. So a more sophisticated appreciation of enactment would lead to a more differentiated analysis of iatrogenic reactions in the therapist, a point we will have to come back to later. It is only when such defensive reactions are habitually structured into the therapist's position, and taken for granted as normal and therefore unavailable for reflection as enactments, that we can call them definitively iatrogenic (my assumption is that Schore was using the term in that sense and context).
To be continued next newsletter ...

Oxford Project News - OTS Oxford Therapy Centre to open soon

For the last three years we have been building a multi-modality community of therapists in Oxfordshire, based on the recognition that the there are very limited options for the general public seeking help through the psychological therapies. 

Our new Centre will be open from the end of January 2018,  and we are beginning to organise a variety of open evenings and events for the general public. You can find a list of the planned topics here:

8 Open Evenings for the general public: A series of talks (conversations as well as question and answer sessions) to help you find your way through the maze of the psychological therapies.

4 Workshops for couples: A series of workshops designed to give space to you as a couple. We invite you to invest in your relationship.

For further information, visit the OTS Oxford website.

The multi-layered pervasive problems of the Mental Health System

The most significant and recurring conclusion of various Mental Health Task Forces over recent years is that we need to increase patient choice, right next to the other issue: increased funding. However valid, unarguable and urgent the need is for funding after years of austerity,  in our opinion no amount of more money pumped into the current mental health system is going to make much difference. If  you listen to service users, it appears the mental health system is largely broken and considered not fit for purpose; the only reason the feedback isn't more damning is because people don't know whether anything else or better could be  conceivable and available.

There are many reasons why the current system does not deliver: one way of  identifying the problems is to look at it consequently from the client's point of view.  We then find that the way the therapeutic professions are organised is according to their own concerns and categories, using their own jargon and their own criteria for distinguishing themselves from each other.  All of these notions and ideas are abstract and a very long way away from the pressing concerns of a layperson looking for therapy.

Looking from the client's point of view

In one of our planned Open Evenings (which I will be offering in the new Oxford Centre) I will be following exactly that line of thinking: starting with the professional titles and disciplines of the field,  which are a complete mystery to  most people. Few members of the general public understand the differences between psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, counsellors and coaches.  And when it comes to distinguishing counselling and psychotherapy, the profession itself is utterly confused. That confusion was not helped by the British Association for Counselling (then BAC) about 15 years ago extending their remit to include and appropriate psychotherapy, further confusing what was already a confused issue.  
One layer beneath the competing and confusing disciplines we then find the traditionally competing therapeutic approaches and their various paradigms.  These realms are entirely irrelevant to the average client. The more we leave behind  the concerns of professional identities, the more we need to focus on the reality of people's lives and  at what stage and for what reasons and precipitated by which kind of crises they are actually reaching out for psychological therapy.  The question then immediately becomes:  can a temporary short-term intervention deal with the current issue,  or is it just the surface manifestation of lifelong characterological struggles?  But even if we could neatly decide that it is, there are then all kinds of questions as to whether the person is in a position to engage in the kind of therapy that can actually address the deeper issues.  Rather than exploiting the client's ambiguity and conflict,  ideally the field of psychological therapy works together to take the client on a journey,  within the reality of their lives, their capacities and resources.

Currently, the mental health system and the psychological therapies are a long way away from being able to cooperatively address the client's complex  and conflictual needs.

Oxfordshire Therapy and Self-development (OTS)

Oxfordshire Therapy and Self-development (OTS) was set up to address the pervasive multi-layered underlying problems of the mental health system,  starting from the point of view of the general public and service users. Patient choice is limited by the psychological therapies being segregated into three major silos offering very different -  and very unconnected - services:  NHS, the charity sector (which includes religious organisations), and the private sector.

How to feel confident about making referrals to the  psychological therapies?

Our starting point in founding OTS was the question: how would you go about referring somebody you really cared about?  If you wanted a relative or close friends to end up with what for them would be the most suitable psychological therapy they can find in the region, what suggestions would you make?
We realised that restricting the choice to one of the three great silos would be very limiting and unsatisfactory:  

 1. in the NHS, waiting lists would be very long and the eventual therapy would be within the dominant monoculture of CBT, with very little other options even being considered, let alone available (unless you live within the catchment area of a particular organisation or service)

 2.  in the charity sector,  you would be restricted predominantly to various forms of counselling.  This is invaluable in supporting many people through various life transitions and crises.  Many charities are performing a sterling job plugging the holes in the NHS system, but they are also struggling with limited resources which in simple terms usually translates into limited numbers of sessions.  But there are necessarily serious limitations in terms of the range and depth of therapies on offer,  and next to no criteria for matching clients to therapy or therapist.  The long-standing clashes between humanistic and psychodynamic forms of counselling are not entirely laid to rest, so the most likely scenario on average is referral to some form of generic and possibly integrative counselling. If a prospective client  has no help, information or resources for making a more specific selection, then such a random referral is as good as anything else,  and probably a whole lot more affordable.  However, whilst there are many experienced counsellors working in the charity sector,  the average referral probably doesn't come anywhere near what ideally we mean by patient choice (certainly not anywhere near the degree of specifically tailored high quality  treatment choice that  any of us would expect in the rest of the medical system).

 3.  as long as you have money, in the private sector the world is your oyster and just about anything is available in the modern Internet bazaar; but how would anybody find amongst the endless choices what would actually be most likely to work for them?  The comparison to television channels imposes itself.  Anybody left to their own devices could easily spend a year and at a conservative reckoning 40x60= £2,400  just shopping around for a few months (because you would have to give every therapist several months before making up your mind), before they might find a suitable therapist to commit to.  Historically, the private sector has been riven with fragmentation, competition and contradictory approaches,  many of them making all kinds of claims for the superiority of their particular theory and technique. Although over the last 30 years this tendency has lessened due to the integrative movement, to a member of the general public more than 400 approaches on offer is still an overwhelming scenario.  The standard therapist website makes all kinds of claims as to what 'conditions' can be successfully treated -  to a layperson this can be profoundly misleading,  creating the impression that the therapist is trained in all kinds of specific therapies for specific diagnoses.  Little does the prospective client know that they're going to get the same 'treatment' regardless of which particular diagnosis they enter through  as an initial presenting problem.

What is 'quality' of relationship?

But the problems with patient choice in the private sector go much deeper  than an overwhelming smorgasbord of different approaches: the profession itself has been admitting for decades that the therapist's theory and approach are not the crucial determinants in terms of how helpful it's going to be (what in the therapy research community is called the 'dodo bird verdict':  ALL  therapeutic approaches - as they come down to us from the mid-20th century - do work to some extent haphazardly some of the time with some of the people well enough;  so all are winners and all must have prizes).  In the UK, the most well known manifestation of this message was Mick Cooper's publication of  "The facts are friendly ...",  meaning that  all the various forms of counselling and therapy are backed up by  scientific research with the conclusion that they DO work.  So comparing and contrasting therapists by their approach is a little bit like deciding which car is going to go fastest by its colour -  it's got very little to do with it. What IS understood regarding the outcomes of therapy is that it depends on the quality of the relationship between client and therapist.
However, the field has struggled to define quality of the relationship in any meaningful way. If you're trying to make a good recommendation for a friend,  the last thing you want to rely on are superficial clichés  of therapy,  which are going to be misleading and unhelpful.

How to match clients to therapists?

Whilst it is difficult to abstractly define quality of relationship, fortunately in real life it is possible to successfully match clients to therapists. Some of us as founding members of OTS  have had years of practice, turning 1-hour assessment and referral sessions into recommendations which appear to stick. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the success rate of such matching far outweighs any other haphazard route (unfortunately this is not scientifically researched and documented, so we would say so, wouldn't we? -  however, with about 60 years of experience between us maybe we are entitled to such an unscientific claim?).

It's important to take into account that in most counselling services no attempt at matching occurs - an enquiry would just be referred to the next available therapist (possibly -  if you are lucky - matched by some significant criterion like race or sexual orientation).  So rather than taking into account only a couple of variables plus, say, the therapist's approach, falls a long way short of the kind of intuitive matching between client and therapist that we have been trying to practice and have in mind for therapy services of the future. In making  recommendations we are aiming at relying on tens of variables,  not all of them external and many of them not left-brain researchable.  
One example for such a crucial, bt elusive criterion: in order to make the matching work both ways, the referrer would need to rely on an intimate and personal understanding of the therapist, both as a professional as well as a person and their own journey into and within the profession -  in simple terms, our understanding of the therapist as wounded healer.  The controversial implication of this is that we might refer a client to a therapist precisely because we know they share a common psychological wound, which has given the therapist deep personal-professional understanding of a particular issue, regardless of other, more external, therapist variables.  We would struggle to explain this  both in commonsense and academic terms, but  the fact is that many experienced therapists recognise it  as a significant factor in quality of relationship between client and therapist.
In order to make this kind of personal-psychological matching even remotely possible, we need to form a community of practitioners where we know each other intimately  and openly enough to have that kind of understanding of each other.

Our vision for OTS

We have been building this kind of community of therapists over the last three years in Oxfordshire, and it now includes  about 30 qualified therapists from across the approaches and about 10 therapists in training on placement.  
The idea is to be able to provide for the general public a one-stop shop for the psychological therapies and mental health.  To begin with, we are already providing a referral service to a broad spectrum of therapeutic approaches represented amongst our community of therapists,  but we are aiming at much more than that:  our vision is to provide a wide range of  therapeutic disciplines, psychological education as well as therapy formats, specifically including group therapy (which is much less prominent in the public domain than it used to be and deserves to be).  
The eventual vision is that if any member of the public comes to us with a need for any kind of self-development,  psychological therapy or mental health service , we can offer them a journey through a variety of therapeutic options, as they keep developing and their needs change. For some people, they might want to start off in individual therapy and later move on to family therapy or a specific therapy group e.g. addiction. For others, they might want to attend a few educational talks or a one-day workshop first, to acquaint themselves with the field of the psychological therapies to begin with.
Our vision for OTS is that we will be able to provide many of the services ourselves through a growing community of practitioners,  or that we are sufficiently well connected with the NHS  and charity sectors to be able to make informed recommendations.

When we were initially formulating our vision for OTS, Justin and Michael gave a presentation to the Oxford Psychotherapy Society, outlining some of these ideas - you can find the presentation here.

Our charitable aims and the question of affordability

Ideally the NHS should be developing and maintaining something like OTS, but as they haven't, and are unlikely to do so any time soon, we have taken it upon ourselves - as a charitable hobby - to develop such a service and organisation.
Because all therapists pay an ongoing referral fee of 10%,  some people have formed the impression that OTS is a moneymaking exercise,  as they seem to be confusing our setup with a number of other counselling directories and referral services. We are handling  and processing these referral fees very differently, in a more charitable and communal way:  for a start, half of the 10% go to the person having made the referral into OTS (this could be anybody affiliated with OTS, including OTS members).  The remaining 5% go into the communal 'kitty', to cover shared expenses.
The same applies to any internal payments, for example to any tutors running training events: the fees for these are not only extraordinarily low to make these events affordable, 10% of any tutor fees are also paid into the communal account.  
So whilst the organisational structure of OTS is not a co-op of therapists, it is based on principles of social and community enterprises. Over the next couple of years, the aim is to found a charity which will provide subsidised group therapy in Oxfordshire.


Michael’s Teaching Tour Pakistan 2018

TherapyWorks Level V Diploma - Psychotherapy Integration

Who is the course for?
This intermediate course is designed for practising counsellors and therapists, who have been working for a few years, to help you develop your own therapeutic style and identity and find your place within the wider field of counselling and psychotherapy (and the psychological therapies in general).

The aim of the course is to work towards a comprehensive map of the field and develop a relational meta-position that integrates the whole broad range of approaches. This can help us evolve beyond a merely eclectic stance which picks and chooses pragmatically or randomly from the smorgasbord of traditional approaches, to one that provides a rhyme and reason for how we navigate the complex and confusing multitude of approaches.

Broad-spectrum integration of approaches (without minimising contradictions)
By aiming at broad-spectrum psychotherapy integration, the aim is to support you in developing a therapeutic position that can draw flexibly from the whole range and diversity of approaches. Usually such an integrative project tends to minimise the significant extent to which the different approaches are not just similar or complementary to each other, but are also confusingly contradictory. However, we will try to work towards an integrative understanding without minimising or circumventing the contradictions between the approaches.

Integration beyond theories and techniques
The basic principle of the course will be a shift away from the attempt to integrate the theories and techniques of traditional approaches and towards an integration of ‘relational modalities’, using a variety of models to clarify what we mean by ‘relational modalities’ (or different kinds of therapeutic relatedness, or simpler: different ‘relational spaces’).

Recognising gifts and shadow aspects of each traditional approach
We are not aiming at an integration that mixes and combines two (or a few) different traditional approaches. In this module we are aiming at a broad-spectrum integration, attempting to draw out of each of the traditional approaches and paradigms its special gifts, wisdoms and sensibilities (whilst recognising also its shadow aspects). Beyond that, we will be working on the assumption that even the contradictions and challenges between the approaches can become valid and meaningful information in the therapeutic position.

Integrating the main branches of the psychological therapies (humanistic vs psychodynamic vs CBT)
On the most basic level, we will want to validate and integrate humanistic, psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioural traditions (as well as those that are more difficult to classify, i.e. systemic, existential, transpersonal and modern hybrid approaches) as the main branches of the therapeutic field, recognising that these traditions are underpinned by paradigm clashes between them (specifically: paradigm clashes that are not reconcilable on the level of theory and technique, nor meta-psychology).

Integration on the basis of diverse relational spaces
This module is based on the recognition that on a level deeper than theory and technique the contradictions between paradigms are rooted in different relational positions or stances and the contradictions and tensions between those.

A significant foundation of the course will be an enquiry into the processes - conscious and unconscious - that shape a therapist's relational position in response to a particular client. In order to investigate these processes, we will be drawing on traditional psychodynamic understandings of transference and countertransference, but we will also have to significantly go beyond this terminology and theoretical framework, by integrating ‘one-person-’ and ‘two-person psychologies’ (using the model by Martha Stark), modern relational perspectives as well as bodymind models of the therapeutic relationship.

Integrating different kinds of therapeutic relatedness (Gomez, Stark & Clarkson)
In reflecting on the therapist’s internal process within and in response to relational dynamics, we will also be distinguishing the therapist’s habitual stance and countertransference from situational countertransference, and will be integrating Petruska Clarkson's model of a multiplicity of relational modalities. Michael has developed the Clarkson model further and integrated it with Gomez’s critique of integration as well as Stark’s model – he calls this integration his ‘diamond model’.

Developing your own style and integration
This ‘diamond model’ is meant to be a comprehensive ‘meta-model’ and should give you a good foundation for integrating a wide range of therapeutic approaches, whatever their particular theories and techniques, helping you develop your own blend of theories and ways of working and your own style of being a therapist.

The four 7-day modules of the course will be taught in Karachi, Pakistan by Michael Soth and Jan Mojsa. Find more information. For all further details, including booking, please contact TherapyWorks Pakistan.

Other Events and Conferences

7 Apr 2018: Birmingham: Supervision Conference UK

Supervision: Balance in an Unstable World?

Venue: Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, 1046 Bristol Road, Birmingham, B29 6LJ
More information ...

14 - 17 June 2018: New York: IARPP 2018 NYC

Hope and Dread: Therapists and Patients in an Uncertain World

Venue: The Roosevelt Hotel, 45th Street, New York, USA
More information ...

31 May - 2 June 2018: New York: SEPI XXXIV Annual Meeting

Drawing on Multiple Theories and Methods to Enhance the Integration of Psychotherapy Practice and Research

Venue: Marriott Downtown (Battery Park), New York, USA
More information ...


Couple Sessions with
Esther Perel

Free audio: Where shall we begin?

"Real couples. Candid conversations. Surprising truths."
"In this new series, listen in as the foremost authority on modern love Esther Perel meets with real couples—and their stories become your stories. Full series to release as a podcast this October."

The first few episodes were released free, and I listened to them some months ago. I can highly recommend them for anybody interested in couples and couple therapy. As it says in the strapline for the series, these are audio recordings of real couple sessions, but they are not simply one long recording of whole sessions. They are edited and cut into accessible chunks with Esther's commentary in between, which makes it very easy to follow the flow of the issue, and how she thinks about it and works with it.

I don't think the original free offer is still available on, but I have been able to find these episodes free, here.



On the horizon: Training for Group Therapists, Group Facilitators & Organisational Leaders

In the last newsletter I had announced  that  this time I would be giving further detailed information about plans for an integrative, integral group facilitation training.  We have a number of people interested, from Oxfordshire, but also from other parts of the UK and even abroad.  

I will not be able to run this kind of training by myself, so it will take me some more time to get other tutors involved and put a programme together.  But as I  indicated last time, there will probably be some taster workshops to begin with,  probably in the autumn of 2018.  But ultimately we are aiming at a substantial training,  maybe with a certificate and a later diploma stage, to keep it manageable in terms of the commitment and investment required.  

I'm hoping that we can start that kind of training in 2019 -  it will probably end up being a weekend in Oxford on a roughly monthly basis (if that's the case then the venue will definitely be the new Oxford Therapy Centre). More about this  later in the spring or early summer.


The Relational Implicit Project

Free video interviews with body-oriented therapists and thinkers

"The Relational Implicit Project is a colla-borative process, nourished by many conversations, such as the ones on this site and other venues. This project is edited by Serge Prengel."

See also the Somatic Perspectives group on LinkedIn.

Recent Feedback

'I just wanted to let you know the impact of that work for me and to say ‘thank you’ really… two words that barely express how I value that our paths have crossed and that I have had the opportunity to work and train with you at this stage of my life’s journey.'


'I found it extremely interesting. thought-provoking, confidence-building and - importantly - fun.'


'I have had an unprecented number of emails from our members, saying how much they enjoyed it.'

'I am aware how extremely important this time has been for me professionally and personally, and I have a sense of a breakthrough. I have experienced since a stream of realisations that led me to feel more grounded in myself and aware of what I do habitually and what else is possible. It is a fantastic feeling, difficult to describe in more detail than that.'

'I found your approach to teaching and leading really inspiring, ...'


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