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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships

Insecure Attachment and Unexplained Illness

A therapist's map

With Dr Gwen Adshead, Professor Helen Payne and Professor David Peters

Saturday 21 April 2018 - London

At this one-day discussion, we will attempt to map out the association between insecure attachment experiences and medically unexplained symptoms. While theories about hypersensitivity, environmental impacts and post-viral conditions offer certain routes into understanding such conditions, on this occasion we are looking at disorganised attachment as a possible predisposing factor when these illnesses are intractable. We will also consider the impact of attachment on how the condition is managed by the patient. Gwen Adshead explains that, "Attachment style can buffer or increase the perceived stress of illness (either explained or unexplained) and can influence response to psychological interventions aimed at reducing medically unexplained symptoms. Attachment style may mediate between childhood abuse and adult somatisation."*

In considering the mechanisms underlying somatisation, and how it can be relieved, Gwen will be joined by Professor of Integrated Medicine at the University of Westminster, David Peters, who will consider the functions of co-regulation between mother and baby, and between therapist and patient, rooting this discussion in the biology of affect regulation. Professor Helen Payne from the University of Herts will offer an embodied therapeutic technique for shifting the experience of the symptom and enabling people suffering from MUS to live well. Together the three speakers will attempt to show links in the mind-body system with attachment, and how new insights can lead to helpful therapeutic approaches.

* BJPsych Advances May 2015, 21 (3) 167-174; DOI: 10.1192/apt.bp.114.013045



Dr Gwen Adshead
Dr Gwen Adshead has been a Consultant Psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital since 1998. She is a practising group psychotherapist and a Member of the Institute of Group Analysis. Dr Adshead has published over 100 papers on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Forensic Psychotherapy, and Ethics in Forensic Psychiatry in peer reviewed journals and chapters of books. Her current research interests include moral reasoning in psychopathy and the attachment characteristics of maltreating mothers... More >>

Professor Helen Payne
Professor Helen Payne, PhD; UKCP; Fellow ADMP Reg. pioneered an embodied psychotherapy (dance movement psychotherapy) in the UK leading the professional association, first post graduate accredited training, research and publications. She is trained in Laban Movement Analysis, Person-Centered Counselling, Group Analysis and Authentic Movement, works with children, adolescents and adults, conducts research, supervises PhDs, teaches and examines at doctorate level nationally/internationally... More >>

Professor David Peters
Professor David Peters is Clinical Director in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Westminster where he directs the Centre for Resilience. The Centre is researching ways of measuring resilience, researching it and improving it through biofeedback, mindfulness, positive emotion and self-care. More >>


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Handouts and lunch included
Self-funded: £130 (Sold out)
Self-funded x 2: £200 (Sold out)
Organisationally-funded: £200 (Sold out)

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event

8 All Saints Street
N1 9RL

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:30 Lunch break
16:30 End