ISTDP-UK hosted a weekend conference and workshop in Oxford during June. This event was a landmark conference in being entirely presented by practitioners and members based in the UK.  The conference, masterminded and organized by Mimi Kester and Mo Percival was held at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford. Among the delegates were David Malan and his wife Jennie who have supported ISTDP-UK from its initiation.


The conference began with a clear and concise overview by Dr. Sharon Luana Lewis (Chartered Clinical Psychologist). The first video presentation by Dr. Ross Crowther Green (NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist ) brought the theory alive as the delegates witnessed the powerful application of ISTDP using the Attachment-based model of ISTDP (AB-ISTDP) pioneered by Dr Robert Neborsky and Josette ten Have-de LabiJe. Ross’ presentation demonstrated the importance of careful attention to the working alliance and an emphasis on taking time over the separation of ego from super-ego. He shared a video case study where this was attention to separation of ego and super-ego was combined with monitoring anxiety and being alert to defences that are under the domination of the super-ego, which enabled him to work through of the central dynamic sequence. The vignette showed how the client was able to usher in a new assertive and powerful personality that had been eclipsed by his passive compliance to his punitive super-ego.


Dr Gavin Farrell (Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist) gave a tour de force presentation on the neurobiology of the mind, reinforcing the scientific background and understanding of ISTDP and enabling us to see first hand the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways of anxiety in particular during a helpful clip of a mother/baby. Further video presentation by ISTDP-UK Chair, Alexandra Pokorny enabled us to witness the breakthrough of a client who had been imprisoned by a cruel super-ego and who reached a new place in her internal emotional life.


As always at our events, hard-work was combined with enjoyable play, as delegates of the conference were invited to on an evening activity that included a very jolly outing to a restaurant in Oxford and a little tour of the beautiful Worcester College.


The workshop on Sunday was run by Gavin and Ross and concentrated primarily on the role of Clarification; when a therapist confronts a clients self-defeating defence and helps them to understand why the defence is hurtful to him/herself. Delegates were taught how to help the patient put this in their own words to enhance patient learning. Working in a large group and then going into triads enabled the delegates to try out these interventions and to be helped and guided by the speakers. The feedback was outstanding, with comments indicating the training was ‘first class’, ‘inspiring’, ‘well-balanced’ and also that delegates felt contained and supported while practicing the skills. The committee would like to thank Ross and Gavin for their hard work and for conveying their knowledge of ISTDP theory and practice so clearly and elegantly.


It has been heartening to welcome new members into ISTDP-UK as a consequence of the week-end conference and work shop and to have more core group members sign up for the next training. The committee is very grateful to the speakers for making their presentations available to all delegates and to Dr. Leo Russell (Principal Clinical Psychologist) from the ISTDP-UK committee for his collation of research material that was included in the conference pack.