Westmead Psychotherapy for Complex Traumatic Disorders – Semester 1 Review
The Westmead Psychotherapy for Complex Traumatic Disorders Group have been presenting weekly lectures for the benefit of students and clinicians. Owl Talks has been fortunate to be able to record these sessions and keep them in our data base so you can watch, re-watch and learn from this important content.
The list below highlights the presentations we have recorded and are available for your review and we hope you enjoy the content.
You can link to the lectures from the post, or find the dedicated page in our menu at Lectures>Recent Conferences>Westmead Think Tank 2019
This talk aims to show how Chaos Theory is intrinsic to The Conversational Model of Meares and Hobson, based as it is on the infinitely fluid Jamesian Self. Chaos Theory is a mathematical description of non-linear dynamics sensitive to small changes. These algorithms are now used, for example, to create various realistic appearing images of mountains, trees, creatures, in non-live cult movies. The mathematics representing its abstract technical terms such as ‘phase space’, ‘trajectory’, ‘attractor’, etc may be visualised and seen metaphorically as geometrical forms.
This outline aims to present a model of the large dynamic form of a Conversational Model therapy, and the smaller dynamics of its internal processes. Its sequential phases are: Catastrophe, Chaos, Emergence, Complexity and Self Fractal. Some of its key inner dynamics are recursiveness, iteration, bifurcation, trajectory, and smaller fractals which dynamically modify the large processes. I hope to sketch how this model may represent the flow of the large form of a Conversational therapy, formed from its cloud of tiny responses to ‘what is there.’
Transference and countertransference are important ideas in the history of psychoanalytic therapies.
Freud coined these terms in order to explain certain behaviours that emerge therapy.
The term transference was presumed to be the unconscious process that explained why patients behaved in certain repetitive ways towards the therapist, that the therapist assumed came from the past rather than the present. Initially countertransference was seen as the therapist’s unconscious response to the patient’s transference and an impediment to therapy.
Unfortunately these terms came to be used and abused in a variety of ways that lost track of the fact that these were assumptions or speculative explanations about clinical phenomena. They were treated by many as if they were the clinical phenomena themselves and not an explanation of the phenomena.
Much has changed since the 1950s and these traditional psychoanalytic notions have been deconstructed and reconstructed many times.
This talk will focus on a more sophisticated explanations of the phenomena previously covered by transference and countertransference.
Current psychoanalytic thinking considers these phenomena as emerging within a mutually influencing intersubjective relational matrix where conscious and unconscious processes collide and the therapist task is to formulate a relevant understanding of why certain behaviours emerge when they do.
The Conversational Model of Psychotherapy offers an alternative understanding and explanation of the phenomena that were previously covered by transference and countertransference. From this perspective countertransference is just another name for the therapist’s transference. This talk will highlight the importance of the therapist’s assumptions in the clinical process.
Most would agree that observation plays a crucial part of clinical work – particularly in the psychotherapies. But, what is it? What types of observation are there? Can one ever truly observe? In this lecture I will explore the notion of observation from several perspectives to point toward some of the difficulties and potentialities of observation. I will argue that observation is possible, albeit limited and that an observing mental state is central to psychotherapeutic work.
Relational trauma affects everyone, but in diverse ways. The earlier it starts in life, the longer it lasts, the more frequently it happens, and the more distrust it involves as in different types of trauma, the more damaging and long-lasting the effects will be. It also gives rise to complexity and confusion in the understanding of this complexity, which as psychotherapists we must seek to clarify.
This presentation will deal with Trauma Theory, types and effects of trauma, trauma as the basis of psychopathologies, and touch briefly on trauma-informed practice, that is absolutely necessary for resolution and recovery from the effects of traumatic life experiences.
I have more slides here than I can address in this session, so the entire set of slides will be made available for you to peruse at your leisure.
Freud predicted that at some point brain science would mature such that dynamic psychotherapy could re-join natural science. Some believe that this point has now been reached. In this lecture I will survey the burgeoning field of Affective Neuroscience with particular emphasis on the centrality of affect (feelings) to psychotherapy. Amongst others, I will explore the work of Jaak Panksepp and his research on affects and discuss how this feeling dimension is central to psychotherapy. This will hopefully stimulate lively engagement with what I believe will be an increasingly important field of research.
In ancient wisdom traditions it was always obvious that Mind and Body were interconnected. Furthermore many cultures throughout the world have never separated mind and body. However, the phenomenon of the non-physical mind affecting the physical body was not often allowed for in the Western scientific paradigm.
There is now a growth in the understanding that you cannot really separate mind and body. Scientists are beginning to understand that communication between your mind and body is far more significant than was once realized. Furthermore the principles of mind and body being interconnected can be applied in the language of science.
This presentation will address Breathing with Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback, an empirically validated intervention to help us understand one aspect of the mind / body connection, how it can assist traumatised people in their capacity to self-regulate i.e. bring their dysregulated nervous system back into balance, and how it can be integrated into psychotherapy. It draws on our understanding of the autonomic nervous system and The Polyvagal Theory.
Empowerment is often spoken about in relation to therapy for traumatic conditions. In traumatic states people tend to experience a sense of helplessness and a consequent sense of paralysis. Recovery is often measured in terms of the re-emergence of a sense of efficacy and the capacity to act. In therapeutic terms this involves the mobilization of self, enabling movement away from the position of passive victim.
Historically empowerment is a term that emerged in the context of social work in the USA in the 1980s before being taken up by the corporate community. It is probably used more in democratic societies which rely to a greater extent on individuals organizing themselves rather than on centralized power. In this talk the dialectic of power and empowerment is considered along with the therapeutic and personal process of empowerment.
The inner resource of creative associational thinking provides people with potential for reinvestment and reinvigoration. This is realized in the first place through communicative exchange in a trusting relationship. Developmentally one might consider the sequence, “No, I can’t”, “I think I can” and “I know I can” (with apologies to The Little Engine that Could).
Dr Tessa Philips practices as a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in Bondi Junction, NSW, Australia . She is on the faculty of the Sydney University Master of Medicine and Master of Science Psychotherapy Program and on the faculty of ANZAP. Tessa is a member of the Board of Directors of IARPP and is a council member of IAPSP. She has published papers locally and presented papers locally and internationally, and teaches and supervises. Her PhD thesis, Race, Place and Self, was awarded the Isi Liebler Prize at Deakin University. The Prize is awarded for the PhD thesis which best contributes to advancing knowledge of racial, religious or ethnic prejudice in any time or place, or advancing knowledge of multiculturalism and community relations in Australia.
Self is not a given. It is creatively grown in the space between people, in positive, contingent connected relationships that speak and move and flow and sing. It is also broken down by trauma and loss: in childhood, in adulthood, across the life span. It is one of the poles of the Conversational Model, trauma being the other. This week will examine both normal development and then some of the way disorganisations and restrictions are seen in the therapy room. We will also remind ourselves of the way bodies, brains and minds are connected and how self-dysregulation is the bane of well-being and a lively playful self is the boon. We are nonetheless amazingly resilient;we seek to live, not just survive: we will seek a way through…
The Conversational Model originally developed in response to the challenges presented to traditional psychoanalytic approaches by patients that were considered ‘unanalyzable’. It was amongst the first to emphasize the importance of relational trauma as a major unconscious influence on personal development, challenging the dominance of drive theory over much of the 20th Century. The CM also highlights the crucial importance of play and intimacy in the development of self and is one of few approaches to psychotherapy that have been substantively developed in Australia. The CM seeks to integrate therapeutic practice with understanding from many disciplines including psychiatry, neuroscience, psychoanalysis, linguistics, literature and philosophy. Few people have, through their teaching and writing, shown a greater capacity for integrative thinking than Russell Meares.