10th Psychotherapy and Politics Conference: Dissent and Collusion

Where: NCVO,  Kings Cross,  London https://www.ncvo.org.uk/about-us/venue-hire/find-us

When: 11 May 2019 time: 09:30 AM - 05:00 PM

Saturday 11th May 2019       9.30 – 5.00

NCVO,  Kings Cross,  London



Queries:   beatrice@bmillar.com

Dissent and Collusion: therapy in an age of austerity

Although our professions are founded on a belief that people will find their own best ways forward in a trusting relationship, therapy itself is immersed in the dominant beliefs and attitudes of the cultures within which it  functions.

This conference will explore what these beliefs and attitudes may be and offer counter-narratives in an environment of curiosity and openness. In an era of increasing rigidity and conformity this is an opportunity to scrutinise, critique and develop what we offer clients, and why. 

Speakers   Jocelyn Chaplin, Dwight Turner, Seb Randall                Plus discussion groups, workshops and plenary.

Therapists and Equality      Jocelyn Chaplin

Therapists, like everybody else, are living in a world driven insane by the imbalances of late Capitalism. We are ruled by the prevailing paradigm of ruthless competition in which one person or group must win while another loses, one is superior while another is inferior. People are primarily valued as consumers rather than as human beings. The idea of endless economic growth at any cost, targets for everything and life as a series of ladders, pushes us ever upwards to some imagined rich heaven, with no counterbalancing.

We are faced with the disastrous results every day in our professional as well as personal lives. Depression is on the increase as some people find that more material wealth doesn’t make them happy. For others social and economic ‘failure’ is experienced as their personal fault.

Many of us feel frustrated by the limitations of the work we do, whether it’s private or public. All too often we are simply holding people in desperate situations largely created by the external structures of society. Or we are helping others through ‘quick fixes’ to return to ‘normality’ and be good consumers and workers.

Instead, we need to go to the very root of the paradigm/model that underlies it all and replace it with an alternative one. This means moving from hierarchy, competition and even aspiration to equality, co-operation and satisfaction. We all have both paradigms deeply embedded in our conscious and unconscious minds. Noticing the many complex, often subtle, hierarchies within and outside us, without shaming or blaming ourselves or others, is a start. Then we can promote the equality model as the heart of what we do. It can be in relationships with clients/people, as well as in our more overtly political activism outside.

Jocelyn Chaplin is a Feminist, Anarchist, Integrative Psychotherapist in Private Practice. She co-founded The Serpent Institute with John Rowan in 1989 to train therapists in both Humanistic and Psychodynamic approaches within a framework of Natural Spirituality. Her books include ‘Feminist Counselling in Action’, ‘Love in an Age of Uncertainty’ and ‘Deep Equality’.       www.serpentinstitute.com

Untouchable: Privilege, Supremacy and Shame in Counselling and Psychotherapy         Dwight Turner

Since its inception, the major thinkers within the world of Counselling and Psychotherapy have regularly emerged from positions of privilege.   More often than not, these great names, be they Freud, Jung, or Adler, were middle or upper class, white, heterosexual men. This also often meant that at varying times during its history our profession has itself medicalised and marginalised the other, be they women, gender minorities or of a different culture. This has led to a collective struggle for our differences to be seen and respected, actions which mimic society as a whole.

So, whilst the worlds of feminism, cultural and whiteness studies, and LGBTQ rights, to name a few, have often considered the positioning of privilege against the other, there has been little engagement within the counselling and psychotherapy mainstream as to what privilege actually is, how it creates and therefore oppresses the other, and how the difficult and often painful interaction of being othered for our clients appears within the consulting room.

Through the lenses of my own research and practice, this presentation considers how privilege has come into being, together with its deeper unconscious roots, before offering an exploration of how privilege and supremacy unconsciously form and interact within counselling and psychotherapy. This presentation then looks at how we can better recognise the inner oppressor within each of us, before offering a plea for counselling organisations to consider privilege studies as an integral aspect of their trainings, recognising that the decolonization and the decentralisation of the privileged then becomes a route towards greater engagement with the other both for ourselves as trainees and therefore for our future potential clients.

Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton

Psychotherapist and Supervisor in Private Practice

Lecturer at the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education (CCPE) in London


Pseudoscience and Psychotherapy – oppression by numbers                                Dr Seb Randall

The privileging of evidence-based interventions for the rationing of therapy and justification of novel ‘branded’ methods is a form of oppression meted out to increasing numbers of therapists and their clients under the guise of empirical science.

Conjuring an illusion of certainty through an emphasis on measurement at the expense of meaning by attempting to represent human experience numerically contradicts genuine scientific scholarship. The commodification of therapy through the ‘payment by results’ scheme within IAPT is an example of this naïve doctrine in practice. Further concerns are the range of psychometric ‘tools’ used to assess subjective states of mind by following the epistemological contours of outdated psychologistic scientisms.

In this presentation I will argue that once these philosophically incoherent protocols are accepted and established they become ends in themselves – numerical methodologies predominate, and any notion of the client as humanly embedded within their social circumstances fades. Distressed people’s experiences are reduced to numbers, and the therapist-client relationship is reduced to ‘criterion adherence’. Under these oppressive, dehumanising and non-negotiable training and working conditions, it is unsurprising that there are high levels of therapist burnout in some therapy sectors.

This research-based presentation will illustrate the ways in which pseudoscience can tear the heart out of therapy – and offer some proposals for resistance.

Dr Seb Randall, heterodox psychotherapist, lecturer, sociologist


£30 - £90

For more details contact: beatrice@bmillar.com