The Freud Museum

Events Archive

29 October 2011
9.30am - 5.00pm


Podcasts are available for this event on our iTunes page.


at the Anna Freud Centre, London NW3

Is it possible to have a 'psychotherapy without foundations'?

The publication of Post-Existentialism and the Psychological Therapies by Del Loewenthal and others (Karnac Books 2011), with its provocative subtitle ‘Towards a Therapy without Foundations’, raises intriguing questions about the essence of psychotherapy. Is it possible, or even necessary, to create a psychotherapy 'without foundations'?

This conference will explore the psychological therapies at the start of the twenty-first century. In contrast to the prevailing culture which has led to the dominance of theory-led approaches that are increasingly instrumentalised, what happens when we start by considering psychotherapy as a practice involving a meeting between two unique individuals? The conference will raise fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge in the psychological therapies and the implications for what might be meant by theory, research, ethics and indeed practice.


'On the very idea of a therapy without foundations' – Del Loewenthal

Respondent/Presenter - Robert Hinshelwood


‘Laing and the treatment is the way we treat people'– Tom Cotton

'Language, experience and misrepresentation: The case of Lola Voss' – Rhiannon Thomas

Respondent - Haya Oakley


'Researching the between as unknown: Post-phenomenology and reverie' – Julia Cayne

'On learning to work with someone with a label: Implications for practice, theory and research' – Dennis Greenwood

Respondent – Steven Groarke


'Wittgenstein and the implications for the training of psychotherapists' – John Heaton

'A training in post-existentialism – towards a therapy without foundations' - Del Loewenthal and Robert Snell

Respondent - Bice Benvenuto


Prof Del Loewenthal is Director of the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University. He is founding editor of the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling (Routledge) and former chair of the UKCP research committee. Publications include Critically Engaging CBT (co-edited with Richard House, 2010), Childhood, Wellbeing and a Therapeutic Ethos (co-edited with Richard House, 2009), Case Studies in Relational Research (2007), and Post-Modernism for Psychotherapists (co-authored with Robert Snell, 2003). He is also in private practice as a psychotherapist and counselling psychologist.

Prof Robert Hinshelwood is a Full Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society and Professor of Psychoanalysis at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex University. He is the former Clinical Director of the Cassel Hospital and is the author of many books, including What Happens in Groups (1987), A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought (1989-91) Clinical Klein (1993) Therapy or Coercion (1997), Thinking about Institutions (2001), and Suffering Insanity: Psychoanalytic Essays on Psychosis (2004)

Tom Cotton is a psychotherapist and film-maker with a special interest in phenomenology and the construction of narrative. His current research, carried out at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education at Roehampton University, explores whether psychotherapy is helpful or not for those who have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and he has recently directed a half-hour documentary There is a Fault in Reality, which explored three people’s experiences of ‘schizophrenia’.

Dr Rhiannon Thomas is a psychotherapeutic counsellor in private practice. She previously worked as a counsellor in a school for children diagnosed with learning and behavioural difficulties, and has completed a PhD at the Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, Roehampton University, on the experience of psychotherapy of mothers with children diagnosed as having a significant language delay.

Haya Oakley is a psychoanalyst in private practice who came to London in 1968. After a brief spell at the David Cooper 'anti-university' group she joined the Philadelphia Association where she worked for many years with R.D.Laing and colleagues training psychotherapists and working in 'therapeutic housholds'. In 1997 she left the Philadelphia Association and set up, with others The Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. She has been a member of The Guild of Psychotherapists for many years and is a founder member of The College of Psychoanalysts-UK. For over seventeen years Haya was actively involved with the politics of psychotherapy organisations and the issues surrounding State regulation of the 'impossible profession'.

Dr Julia Cayne is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the Department of Psychology, Roehampton University. Her PhD research investigated how psychotherapists learn about the unknown. She is also interested in phenomenological research through the use of reverie, and has a private practice offering psychotherapy and supervision in south-west England.

Dr Dennis Greenwood is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Roehampton University, and is currently chair of the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association. His research has focused on working therapeutically with people suffering from dementia.

Dr Phil Mollon is a psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and clinical psychologist. He has written extensively on shame, trauma, and the psychology of the self. Amongst his many books are The Fragile Self (1993), Releasing the Self: the Healing Legacy of Heinz Kohut (2001), Shame and Jealousy (2002) and The Unconscious (2001). Dr Mollon has worked in the British National Health Service for over 30 years, and has more recently developed the theory of Psychoanalytic Energy Psychology.

Dr Robert Snell is an analytic psychotherapist (London Centre for Psychotherapy) and also has a background in existential therapy. His first career was in art history. He is author of Theophile Gautier: A Romantic Critic of the Visual Arts (1982), and co-author, with Del Loewenthal of Postmodernism for Psychotherapists: A Critical Reader (2003)

John Heaton is in private practice in London as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He is a regular lecturer at Regent's College, London on the Advanced Diploma in Existential Psychotherapy programme, and also teaches regularly at Roehampton University, UK. He is a founder member of the Guild of Psychotherapists and was Director of Training in the Philadelphia Association in Hampstead for many years. He was editor of Journal for Existential Analysis for seven years and his publications include: The Eye: Phenomenology and Psychology of Function and Disorder (1968); Wittgenstein for Beginners (1994); Wittgenstein and Psychoanalysis (2000) and The Talking Cure: Wittgenstein’s Therapeutic Method for Psychotherapy (2010)

Bice Benvenuto is a founder member of CFAR (Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research) in London, author of Concerning the rites of psychoanalysis (Polity Press) and co-author with R. Kennedy of an introduction to the works of J. Lacan (Free Association Books ). She is the director of the Dolto Association and "Casa verde" in Rome.

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