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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Mirror Neurons, Embodied Empathy and the Boundaries of the Self
The art and science of deep therapeutic connection

Friday (eve) 10 and Saturday 11 January 2014

The relational trend in psychotherapy, which encourages the therapist to embrace a co-created process based on two subjectivities of equal importance, is a well-theorised paradigm. It is now widely accepted that a capacity for profoundly and empathically sharing another's self-states is essential for therapeutic change. However, what is less fully conceptualised is the role of the body in this state of understanding the other's experience.

In order to really comprehend this process we need a revised understanding of the concept of self, and a deeper understanding of how the connection between two selves is made. In this conference, the most recent understandings of 'intercorporeity' from mirror neuron research will be presented by Dr Vittorio Gallese, an award winning neuroscientist and co-author of forthcoming book, The Birth of Intersubjectivity: Psychodynamics, Neurobiology, and the Self, and we will examine how selves are changed via a deep level of resonance at a biological level.

A truly connected approach, in which the therapist introjects the other's self-states with compassion, can be extremely challenging at both a physical and emotional level especially when working with traumatised or shame-prone patients. In this conference two of our speakers will explore the therapeutic skills needed to cultivate such a sense of empathic embodied resonance when under pressure: Dr Jean Knox will elaborate a method of reciprocal shaping of the immediate central and emotional experience of the other. Dr Jon Sletvold, author of the forthcoming book, The Embodied Analyst - from Freud and Reich to Relationality, will explore the different layers of embodied empathy, from a sense of our own body, to imitation of the emotional body states of the other and, finally distinguishing the differences between self and other via the process of mentalisation.

The speakers will consider this capacity to reflect upon self-states and discuss mentalised insights. Empathy, it will be suggested, is not just the introjection of the other's self-state but the digesting and conceptualising of the visceral experience. This requires a new vocabulary in a new era of therapeutic theory that fully embraces the authority of the body.


Dr Jean Knox
Dr Jean Knox is a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst. She is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology, a Senior Member and Training Therapist of the British Association of Psychotherapists and Consultant Editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology. She has written and taught extensively on the relevance of attachment theory and developmental neuroscience to psychotherapy theory and practice. Her book Archetype, Attachment, Analysis: Jungian Psychology and the Emergent Mind was published in 2003. Her book 'Self-Agency in Psychotherapy: Attachment, Autonomy and Intimacy' was published in December 2010, in the WW Norton Interpersonal Neurobiology series. She is currently involved in a qualitative research project to explore how agency is expressed by both therapist and patient in transcripts of psychotherapy sessions. Read more...

Dr Vittorio Gallese
Vittorio Gallese, MD and neurologist, is Professor of Physiology at the Department of Neuroscience of the University of Parma, Italy. He is Coordinator of the PhD Program in Neuroscience. His research focuses on the cognitive role of the motor system and on an embodied account of social cognition. His major contribution is the discovery, together with his colleagues of Parma, of mirror neurons and the elaboration of a theoretical model of social cognition - Embodied Simulation Theory. He worked at the University of Lausanne, at the Nihon University of Tokyo, and at the University of California at Berkeley. He received the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology in 2007, the Doctor Honoris Causa from the Catholic University of Leuven in 2010, the Arnold Pfeffer Prize for Neuropsychoanalysis in 2010, the KOSMOS Professor Fellowship, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in 2013-14, the Musatti Award of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society in 2014. He recently co-authored with Massimo Ammaniti the book The Birth of Intersubjectivity: Psychodynamics, Neurobiology, and the Self. (Norton, 2014). Read more...

Dr Jon Sletvold
Jon Sletvold is a licensed specialist in clinical psychology and psychotherapy. He was founding Board Director and is currently Faculty, Training and Supervising Analyst at the Norwegian Character Analytic Institute. He is former chair of the Psychotherapy Speciality Board of the Norwegian Psychological Association. He is the co-editor of two previous books (in Norwegian), and the author of the recently published book: The Embodied Analyst - From Freud and Reich to Relationality. Routledge Taylor and Frances Group, January 2014. Read more...


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Please read our booking conditions before making your booking

  • Whole event: £160
  • Friday evening only: £50
  • Saturday only: £130
  • Whole event: £220
CPD Hours

Certificates of Attendance for 9 hours will be provided at the event

Grange Fitzrovia Hotel
20-28 Bolsover Street

18.30 Registration and drinks
19.30 Start
21.45 End

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
13.15 Lunch
17.30 End