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The COURSE: year by year

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The COURSE: year by year

Year 1

Years 1 and 2: broad aims

to provide a sound preparation for clinical practice as an Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist-in-Training (PiT).

  • to explore the origins of attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy and its integration with contemporary developments in psychoanalysis
  • to provide a secure introductory foundation and framework on which to build further layers of theory at greater depth and complexity
  • to explore the links between theory and clinical practice
  • to begin to prepare for working with uncertainty and the unknown, and to be able to hold the anxiety and tensions that are inevitable in clinical practice
  • to develop an awareness of the complexity of working with difference not only reflected in our work with individuals but also in groups, organisations and society

Introductory Seminars

These seminars take place in the first part of the first term and are led by the Course Tutor. They are designed to introduce students to the course, to each other, and to The Bowlby Centre.

Seminar programme 1 – Climates of Opinion

An exploration of the territory of psychoanalysis and the relational matrix – situating attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy in its context.

Seminar programme 2 – The Freudian Legacy in a Relational World

Freud and the beginnings of psychoanalysis placed in historical context and examined through the more critical lens of current attachment and relational theory focusing on his clinical concepts and case studies.

Seminar programme 3 – From Attachment Theory to Clinical Practice

Development of attachment theory and its clinical application.

Life Cycle Seminar- Infant Observation

The observation of an infant from birth to 18 months linked to theories of infant development and clinical application to work with adults.

Professional Development Seminars

A series of seminars exploring issues of building collegial relationships with The Centre and colleagues, including developing peer skills, sharing narratives and beginning to explore difference. Central to these seminars is an exploration of the core values of the organization  as they apply to learning and preparing to become psychotherapists in training.

Year 2

Years 1 and 2: broad aims

  • to explore the origins of attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy and its integration with contemporary developments in psychoanalysis
  • to provide a secure introductory foundation and framework on which to build further layers of theory at greater depth and complexity
  • to explore the links between theory and clinical practice
  • to begin to prepare for working with uncertainty and the unknown, and to be able to hold the anxiety and tensions that are inevitable in clinical practice
  • to develop an awareness of the complexity of working with difference not only reflected in our work with individuals but also in groups, organisations and society

Theoretical seminars – Psychoanalytic, Analytical, and Relational Theories

Introducing Psychoanalytic, Analytical, and Relational theories – from Klein to Mitchell through Fairbairn, Winnicott, Sullivan and Kohut as well as Jung – and their relevance in understanding individual development and consequent impact upon attachment relationships. These seminars are designed to give students a firm grounding in psychoanalytic and relational theories as they have developed from Melanie Klein through to American relational psychoanalysts of the present day. There is an emphasis on understanding the ways in which each theorist described the strategies adopted by the emerging human mind to deal with deprivation and trauma, and different approaches to clinical practice associated with each model. These ideas are linked back to the understanding of attachment theory developed in the first year.

Clinical seminars – Introduction to clinical work

These seminars build on the first year’s seminar “From attachment theory to clinical practice”.  The first term introduces the therapeutic process from the perspective of those contemporary relational theories congruent with The Centre’s understanding of therapy as a joint and co-operative venture. The seminars aim to provide students with an opportunity to:

  • think about the significance of making a space in their life for seeing clients whether in private practice or in a community placement option
  • link contemporary relational theory with clinical practice
  • explore our understanding of how therapeutic change can best be facilitated
  • learn from each other’s life, work and clinical experience
  • explore how we utilise our feelings while maintaining the integral asymmetry of the therapeutic relationship
  • begin to prepare to work with uncertainty and the unknown and to be able to hold the anxiety and tensions that are inevitable in clinical practice
  • create a space in which the anxiety in the beginning sessions and their sources for both psychotherapist and client can be explored

The subsequent 2 terms explore the impact of power and difference on the therapeutic encounter, the role and use of supervision as well as an exploration of the practicalities of beginning therapeutic relationships and issues of confidentiality.

Life Cycle Seminars- Infant Observation

Infant development continued from year 1. Integration of theory and the experience of observing; exploring relevance to clinical work with adults.

Professional Development Seminars

Exploring and developing personal and professional skills, including collegiality, preparing to take clients, work ethically and set up a practice.

Year 3

Year 3 and year 4: broad aims

  • consolidating and furthering the understanding of theory and its application to clinical practice
  • developing the skills and techniques needed in the clinical situation
  • learning from, and communicating about, clinical experience
  • developing increased confidence in the ability to work with the unknown and to hold anxiety and tensions
  • encouraging students to plan for their own professional development and communication with the wider psychotherapeutic community

Theoretical seminars – Affect, The Body, Gender and Sexuality

In this year the course will provide students with the opportunity to explore the complex and interwoven themes of Affects (Emotion and Feeling), the Body, Gender and Sexuality and their emergence in clinical work. Building on the infant observation, child and adolescent development seminars and work in the previous year on object relations and relational approaches, these seminars will deepen students’ understanding of the relationship between social experience and the human inner world of feeling and body awareness. Each seminar will consider the impact of difference on the theme under discussion. Students are invited to think about the impact of power and oppression on the development of the emotions, the body, gender and sexuality.

Clinical seminars – Affect, The Body, Gender and Sexuality

In relation to the overall theme of each term, the aims of this seminar are to:

  • Discuss the feelings, themes, problems and decisions that arise in clinical practice with people who have experienced trauma.
  • Share the experience with colleagues of beginning your clinical work with clients.
  • Explore the intricate and complex nature of transference and countertransference re-enactments in therapeutic relationships with people who have experienced trauma.
  • Provide a place for you to learn to present clinical work to peers and for an experienced tutor to aid general learning from different examples.
  • Have the opportunity to apply what you are learning in the theoretical and life cycle seminars to your current clinical work with clients.

Life Cycle Seminars – Childhood and Adolescence

An exploration of the themes and developmental issues of childhood and adolescence and relate these to clinical work with adults.

Professional Development Seminars

Exploring and developing skills relating to personal and professional development at this stage of taking on clients, working with and understanding difference in relation to the body; taking care of yourself and your body as a clinician and sustaining the capacity for self regulation.

Year 4

Year 3 and year 4: broad aims

  • consolidating and furthering the understanding of theory and its application to clinical practice
  • developing the skills and techniques needed in the clinical situation
  • learning from, and communicating about, clinical experience
  • developing increased confidence in the ability to work with the unknown and to hold anxiety and tensions
  • encouraging students to plan for their own professional development and communication with the wider psychotherapeutic community

Theoretical seminars – Trauma and dissociation and psychosis Terms 1 and 2

Term one builds on the themes of sexuality and gender of the previous term, exploring in particular the derailment of emerging sexuality and sense of self when traumatised by sexual abuse. This will include an exploration of memory and belief, severe trauma, multiple states of mind and the continuum of dissociation as a protection of the self, in order to further understand theory and practice in this field. The links with the work on trauma and relational approaches to the body will be made and there will be application of this theory and practice to work as Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists. 
The second term focuses on communication of anxiety and affect dysregulated states including psychosis and the interface with psychiatry.

Self designed programme Term 3

The final term is organised by the student group who are given a budget and responsibility to invite speakers of their choice. This is designed to enable the student group to explore issues of particular interest or areas not otherwise covered by the curriculum and to be a transition between the taught course and continuing professional development.

Clinical seminars

Continuing reflection on clinical experience and the exploration of the variety of difficulties and challenges encountered in the therapy relationship: looking at aspects of how to assess people referred for therapy.

Life Cycle seminars – Adulthood, Mid-life, Aging, and Dying

Adulthood, middle age, ageing; illness, death and dying, continued exploration of the interface between sexuality, the attachment world, and culture as well as the centrality of mourning in the life cycle.