The Freud Museum

Events Archive

20 May 2006
10:30am - 6pm


European Conference

at Roehampton University

A European conference to examine contemporary issues in psychotherapy and therapeutic education.

10.45 - 11.00am
Welcome and Introduction
Del Loewenthal (Roehampton University)

11.00 - 12.00pm
Elisabeth Roudinesco (Psychoanalytic historian, France)
The Training of Therapists and Psychoanalysts in France

12.15 - 1.15pm
Jürgen Hardt (Psychoanalyst, Germany)
The Training of Therapists and Psychoanalysts in Germany

2.15 - 3.45pm
Presentations and debate on the theme:
To what extent is personal therapeutic experience and external
validation essential in therapeutic training?
David Tuckett (British Psychoanalytical Society and UCL)
Darian Leader (Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research)

4.15 - 5.15
Responses to the debate from members of the following organisations:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, British Psychoanalytic Council, British Psychological Society, College of Psychoanalysts, Independent Practitioners Network, and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

5.15 - 6.00pm
Plenary discussion

Conference Report

This conference was organized with the Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University and its director, Professor Del Loewenthal. The theme of the conference emerged after many weeks of discussion; or rather I should say the theme was distilled from the myriad possibilities that arise when one considers the conjunction of 'psychoanalysis' and 'education'. It was decided to concentrate on the question of 'therapeutic training'. After the wide-ranging exploration of Freud's impact on modern culture in the Freud Today conference, it was fitting to turn our attention to the continuing influence of Freud on the psychotherapy profession itself. In his introductory presentation, Professor Loewenthal pointed out the obvious but easily overlooked fact that we would not have 'talking therapies' without Freud.
Yet the other obvious fact is that therapeutic training after Freud offers a plethora of types, that standards are not clear cut, that protocols differ, that psychotherapy is under-resourced and under-valued in health care, and that calls for government regulation threaten to undermine some of the basic tenets of therapeutic practice. Del set the scene by opening up a number of pertinent questions: What is the nature of therapeutic knowledge? Are there significant differences in training processes? What is the place of personal therapy? What is the relation between theories, practices and trainings? How do we know when a trainee is ready? In short - what works for whom?
The question of 'validation' is at the heart of these issues, and that was the concept around which Darian Leader and David Tuckett were asked to debate. If the thorny old issue of the 'scientific status' of psychoanalysis is something of a red herring, suggested Darian Leader, psychoanalysis still has to justify its theories and methods, and, given the diversity of approaches, provide sustained dialogue between different analytic schools. Darian regretted that Ego psychologists never replied to Lacan's critique, a circumstance that might be seen as a dereliction of scientific 'duty' (or at least good manners!). In a lucid powerpoint presentation David Tuckett presented some of what he considered to be the sine qua non of being a 'psychoanalyst' - acceptance of the Freudian unconscious, a personal analysis, ongoing supervision and so on. "To my mind" he argued "psychoanalysis involves a specific set of theories of mind and of mental processes as well as a particular method of work, derived from Freud". I suspect that few psychoanalysts would disagree with such propositions - but they might continue to disagree with each other! A European perspective on these issues was provided by Jürgen Hardt from Germany (who reminded us that the use of psychoanalysis in treatment is only one of its applications) and the French historian of psychoanalysis Elisabeth Roudinesco (who lamented the reductionism of current therapeutic practice and the narrowing intellectual focus of the analytic societies).
In the afternoon the conference brought together representatives from the leading psychotherapy umbrella organizations in the UK to respond to the morning's debate and to air differences and discuss their common interests. These issues touch on the very core of the psychotherapist's and psychoanalyst's identity, as well as the institutional framework which supports them, so it would not have been surprising if strong emotions were roused. Having anticipated blood on the carpet before the event I was pleasantly surprised to see participants seriously trying to understand each other's point of view and to avoid undue partisanship. It is clear, as Michael Rustin pointed out in his review of the conference, that different therapeutic trainings have developed their approaches as a result of many factors (social, historical and accidental) including, most pertinently, the role played by differing client needs. The whole of this important event (including reviews by James Davies and Mike Rustin) has been published in a special issue of the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling Volume 8, Number 4 December 2006. We would like to thank Routledge Books and Roehampton University for their financial support, and especially Prof Del Loewenthal for his efforts and expertise in bringing it all together.

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