Understanding and Working with Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind

A one-day workshop with Marcus West

110.00 Add to Cart

When: 27 May, 2017

Where: Wood Quay Venue, Wood Quay, Dublin 8

This practical workshop will explore how advances in our understanding of trauma, and early relational trauma in particular, throws vital light on some of the areas with which psychoanalysis has traditionally struggled – particularly in narcissistic and borderline presentations. Despite years of antipathy, psychoanalysis and trauma theory both need and complement each other.

The workshop, which will be especially relevant for psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, and psychotherapy/psychology students, will assist practitioners to understand the underlying dynamics behind clients’ apparently destructive ways of relating, beliefs, and affective-somatic reactions. We will explore the primitive roots of experiences such as nihilism, despair, regression, suicidal impulse, anxiety, and murderousness. A main focus of the day will be on how the patterns associated with early relational trauma – frequently of an unbearable, conflictual or ‘impossible’ nature – emerge in the consulting room and how they can be worked with more safely and effectively. An exploration of Jung’s concept of the Complex will be central to this understanding.

A second thread for the day will be exploring the way these early relational patterns are co-constructed between therapist and client, and how and why the therapist can be deeply affected by and drawn into the dynamics. We will examine the kinds of pressures on the therapist that can lead to impasse or breakdown of the therapy, and how these can be worked through, particularly issues around idealisation, retraumatisation, the erotic transference & self-disclosure. The therapist’s personality and attitudes play a significant role in the course and outcome of the therapy, thus requiring the therapist to become more aware of their own primitive reactions and experiences within the frame of early relational trauma.

Recent advances in trauma therapy, relational (psychoanalytic) theory, infant development theory and attachment theory will be explored and there will be an opportunity for participants to explore and discuss their own clinical material.

Structure of the day

Each section of the workshop will involve lecturing, with the primary focus on clinical work, as well as a chance to personalise the discussion through further exploration in pairs or small groups.

Who should attend?

Psychotherapists, counsellors, students, psychologists and psychiatrists working psychotherapeutically with complex ‘borderline’ presentations and early relational trauma.

The workshop will help practitioners understand:

  • The link between early relational trauma and narcissistic and borderline presentations
  • The effect of trauma on the psyche-soma: primitive defensive responses, dissociation, the disruption of ego-functioning, and complex PTSD – from Janet, Winnicott and Fonaghy to van der Kolk, Shapiro (EMDR), and Porges (Polyvagel Theory)
  • The dynamics of the traumatic complex (Jung) as a central means of understanding and key to working with early relational trauma and borderline states of mind
  • How to work safely and effectively with our most distressed and challenging clients: re-traumatisation, idealisation and the window of tolerance
  • That accompanying a client through what is unbearable (‘into the darkest places’) requires a significant journey for the therapist and the need for a clear understanding of the process (particularly the co-construction of early relational dynamics) as well as an appreciation of the considerable pressures these dynamics place on the therapist (and the significance and meaning of those pressures)


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The Mysterious Connexion: Projective Identification and Enactment in Process Work

A Two-Day Workshop with Dr. Heward Wilkinson

When: 1-2 July, 2017

Where: The River Lee Hotel, Western Road, Cork

180.00 Add to Cart

Projective Identification – the other side of its mirror is Counter-Transference! – is a mode of communication, found far beyond process work in therapy. It is alive and well in vast human communication processes, families, groups, and collective situations. Therapy process work is a uniquely powerful mode by which to tap into it. It is not merely the raw reactiveness of either therapist or client, but more, – profound interactive communication.

Dr Heward Wilkinson

And, as, in Eliot’s phrase, the ‘tentacular roots, reaching down to the deepest terrors and desires’ – and shames – of its underneath reachings, are expressed in process and in replications, we grasp that, – not merely various forms of ‘acting-out’ or ‘acting-in’, – but all therapy process modes, mentalised and/or embodied, are a seamless shot silk tapestry of Enactment. Enactment process actually defines and underpins the therapy processes of the narrative-relational therapies. Enactment is not simply regressive or defensive, but the all-pervasive medium of the work, rising to poetic epiphany. In and upon that rich medium, Projective Identifications play out subtly at all the levels – above, below, and in-between.

Both Projective Identification and Enactment are commonly oversimplified, even shrivelled down to reductive guises. But, they are both realities, – and powerful metaphors amongst many metaphors. We’ll seek to explore them together, in this workshop, in all their richness and many-sidedness, – mainly experientially, but against a modest background of theory, – and find out how taking them in in their deeper aspects alters our clinical work.

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180.00 Add to Cart