27 May, 2017 9:30 am - 4:30 pm Wood Quay Venue, Wood Quay, Dublin 8

A one-day seminar 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 impulses, 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.

9:00 am: Registration

9:30 am: Integrating trauma, relational and analytic theory and practice – the generalised picture.

11:00 am: Morning Break

11:15 am: Understanding and working with the traumatic complex in the therapeutic relationship – exploration of participants’ clinical material.

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm:  Lunch

2:00 pm: Clinical issues when working with unbearable states of mind – small group discussions.

3:15 pm: Afternoon Break

3:30 pm: Exploring the role of primitive reactions and patterns; further workshopping of participants’ clinical material.

4:30 pm: Close

Tea and coffee will be served at break times in the morning and afternoon.

Wood Quay Venue

Wood Quay Venue is located on Wood Quay in Dublin City Centre, in the Dublin City Council Offices. It is easily accessible by public transport. There are two car parks nearby, at Jury’s Hotel at Christchurch Place and Q Park on Usher’s Quay. There are a number of restaurants and cafes near the venue. Please download the map below for further details.


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 Fonagy to van der Kolk, Shapiro (EMDR), and Porges (Polyvagal 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)

Marcus West is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Analytical Psychology. He is also a trained EMDR practitioner. His latest book, Into the Darkest Places – Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind, was published by Karnac in 2016. He has written two previous books: Feeling, Being and the Sense of Self: A new perspective on identity, affect and narcissistic disorders (2007), and Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice (2011). He was joint winner of the Michael Fordham Prize in 2004, has written a number of papers, contributed chapters to books, and taught and lectured widely in this country and abroad. He works in private practice in Sussex.

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Understanding and Working with Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind 110.00

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