Conference: Do We Need a Critical Psychotherapy? Exploring Talking Therapies in Neoliberal Society

Speakers from different theoretical perspectives address questions about the provision of talking therapies in contemporary society, and how it affects therapeutic practice.

Talking Therapies in Neoliberal Society

Speakers from different theoretical perspectives address questions about the provision of talking therapies in contemporary society, and how it affects therapeutic practice.

  •  Is it important for psychotherapy to be ‘critical’ and socially engaged? 
  • Do psychotherapists do a disservice to their clients by not being so?
  • Do psychotherapy trainings discourage critical thought and promote an other-wordly sense of psychotherapy and the ‘inner world’?
  • What models of ‘mental illness’ and ‘mental health’ are appropriate for psychotherapy in the 21st century? Have mental health services and the ‘mental health agenda’ become part of the ideological mechanisms of neo-liberal society?

This conference will be of interest and benefit to anyone involved in psychotherapy today.

Session 1: Introduction

Del Loewenthal
Is there an unfortunate need for critical psychotherapy?

Del Loewenthal is Professor of Psychotherapy and Counselling, and Director of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at the University of Roehampton, where he also convenes Doctoral programmes. He is an analytic psychotherapist, chartered psychologist and photographer and is founding editor of the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling. He is chair of the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association and former founding chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy Research committee. Del also has small private practices in Wimbledon and Brighton. His most recent publications include Post-existentialism and the Psychological Therapies: Towards a Therapy without Foundations (2011), Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age (2013) and (with Andrew Samuels) Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and Reappraisals (2014).

Respondent: Julian Lousada

Julian Lousada is a Psychoanalyst (BPA) and Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council. He is the former Clinical Director of the Adult Department at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Session 2: What can we learn from critical psychology and critical psychiatry?

Ian Parker
Toward critical psychotherapy and counselling: what can we learn from critical psychology (and political economy)?

Ian Parker is Professor of Management in the School of Management at the University of Leicester, Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of Roehampton, Co-Director of the Discourse Unit ( and a practising psychoanalyst in Manchester. He is still a Marxist. He is a member of the collective that produces Asylum: Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry. His books include Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Revolutions in Subjectivity (Routledge, 2011), and six books in the series ‘Psychology after Critique’ (Routledge, 2015).

Hugh Middleton
The Medical Model: What is it, where did it come from and how long has it got?

Hugh Middleton is both an Associate Professor of the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham, and an NHS Consultant Psychiatrist. Some twenty years’ experience of contributing to NHS mental health services have fuelled criticism of their orthodoxies, and between 2000 and 2006 Hugh made specific contributions to mental health policy development and implementation through the work of NIMHE/CSIP. In more recent years he has been privileged to supervise several sociology PhDs considering “mental health” from social sciences and constructivist perspectives. He is co-chair of the UK Critical Psychiatry Network

Respondent: David Morgan

David Morgan is a consultant psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in the NHS and private practice. He is a training analyst/therapist and supervisor for the British Psychoanalytic Association and British Psychotherapy Foundation, and a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He provides consultation to the public and private sector, including organisations of a political and social nature, and is a regular speaker at conferences.

Session 3: External critiques

Adrian Cocking and Mari Ruti
When Love Is Not All We Want: Queers, Singles and the Therapeutic Cult of Relationality

Adrian Cocking is a psychotherapist currently practicing in Toronto, Ontario. He holds an M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and a B.A. from the University of Victoria. Adrian was the recipient of the 2013 Hallam Award of Excellence for his graduate work at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. His interests lie in working with marginalized populations, including the LGBTQ and Native communities.

Mari Ruti is professor of critical theory and of sexual diversity studies at the University of Toronto, where she teaches contemporary theory, psychoanalysis, continental philosophy, and feminist and queer theory. She is the author of Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life (2006); A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living (2009); The Summons of Love (2011); The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within (2012); The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living (2013); The Age of Scientific Sexism: How Evolutionary Psychology Promotes Gender Profiling and Fans the Battle of the Sexes (in press); and Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (in press). She has also published a trade book entitled The Case for Falling in Love: Why We Can’t Master the Madness of Love – and Why That’s the Best Part (2011).

Anastasios Gaitanidis
Critical theory and psychotherapy

Dr Anastasios Gaitanidis is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy and member of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education (RCTE) at the University of Roehampton, He is also a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist in private practice. He is a member of the Council of the Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and sits on the Editorial Board of Sitegeist – A Journal of Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. He has been a regular Manuscript Reviewer for several journals including the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (EJPC). He has published several articles on psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in peer-reviewed journals and he is the Editor of two books: Narcissism – A Critical Reader (2007) and The Male in Analysis – Psychoanalytic and Cultural Perspectives (2011).

Respondent: Julie Walsh

Julie Walsh is a founder and convenor of the Psychoanalysis Across the Disciplines network at the University of Warwick. She is the co-convenor of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology, Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Study Group, and she sits on the Steering Committee of the Association for Psychosocial Studies .

Session 4: Users’ and educators’ perspectives

Tom Cotton
Personal versus medical meanings in breakdown, treatment and recovery from ‘schizophrenia’

Tom Cotton is a psychotherapist and filmmaker with a special interest in phenomenology and the construction of narrative. Between 2010 and 2012 he managed a residential therapeutic community for clients with a ‘schizophrenia’ diagnosis. His doctoral research, carried out at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University, explores the psychotherapeutic experiences of people who have received a ‘schizophrenia’ diagnosis. He recently directed a half-hour documentary, There is a Fault in Reality, which explores three people’s experiences of ‘schizophrenia’

Jay Watts
Systemic means to subversive ends: maintaining the therapeutic space as a unique encounter

Dr Jay Watts is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist working from Systemic and Lacanian orientations. She is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, as well as being in full time private practice. Jay has held a number of senior academic and NHS posts, including leading Early Intervention in Psychosis and Integrative Psychotherapy Teams, heading research for a NHS trust, and developing teaching modules as Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at City University. Jay continues to teach on a number of Clinical and Counselling Psychology trainings, and has published widely. She is Practice Editor for the European Journal for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and is Foreign Correspondent for ‘Mad in America’.

Respondent: Rai Waddingham


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