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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Hate, Threat and Unease in the Consulting Room
Working creatively with rupture in the therapeutic relationship
With Dr Noreen Giffney, Dr Ian Miller, Ann Murphy, Berna O'Brien

Saturday 20 January 2018 - Dublin

What do we do when our client feels hate towards us, or we feel threatened by them? The therapeutic encounter provides a landscape for all human experience to be felt and known about, including experiences of hate and anger. This conference seeks to explore the dynamics at play when these challenging encounters threaten the stability of the therapeutic relationship. There are a number of reasons why a therapy relationship might run into trouble, for example, therapeutic incompetence or the patient's unreadiness for the process. However, psychoanalytic theory has allowed for another strong candidate for a breakdown in the therapeutic alliance (and paradoxically the turning point when therapy really begins) - the enactment. Conceptualised as an acted-out demonstration of self-and-other states that is expressed through behaviour rather than conscious communication, angry enactments offer a privileged view of a person's relational history. By invoking an interaction with the therapist that replicates elements of a childhood drama, the patient is able to display unconscious fears, hostilities and conflicts that cannot otherwise be expressed, and allow them to breathe in the therapeutic space.

Aggression will induce powerful countertransference responses, especially when the therapist finds his/herself standing in the place of an abusive parent or hurt child; the more traumatised the patient, the more highly charged and affectively-potent these are likely to be. These intra-psychic dynamics will inevitably arouse deep conflicts in both partners in the therapy but, although disruptive, breakdowns can be viewed positively. They may be welcomed as a direct route to the unconscious that offers the therapeutic pair a chance both to discover the patient's underlying experiences of the other in relationship and to re-work the outcome. Do come along and join the discussion.


Dr Noreen Giffney
Dr Noreen Giffney is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in private practice and a Lecturer in Counselling at the University of Ulster. She is a fully-accredited member of the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP) and the Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP). She is committed to delivering training and further professional development training to clinical practitioners interested in incorporating psychoanalytic and psychodynamic clinical concepts into their work. More >>

Dr Ian Miller
Dr Ian Miller is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Dublin. Over 40 years of clinical practice, he has published 18 articles and three books on psychoanalytic topics including Defining Psychoanalysis: Achieving a Vernacular Expression (Karnac, 2016). His paper, "Reading Beckett in the Context of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Literary Bridge Between One Person and Two Person Psychology" received a "Commendation" from the British Journal of Psychotherapy for the 2016 Rozsika Parker Prize on creative links between the arts and clinical practice. More >>

Ann Murphy
Ann Murphy is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and visual artist. She was a founder and Director of the MSc in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at Trinity College Dublin. She lectures on psychoanalysis, particularly Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, on post-graduate courses at Trinity College Dublin and St Vincent's University Hospital Dublin, and is a training analyst and clinical supervisor. She has a private practice in Dublin. More >>

Berna O'Brien
Berna O' Brien MSc., MBPsS, MIFPP, MICP, is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in Dublin. Berna has a background in psychology, philosophy and general nursing. She is a training psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a clinical supervisor. Berna lectures on the M. Phil. in psychoanalytic studies and the MSc in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at Trinity College Dublin. Berna's areas of special interest are: psychosomatic illness, the ongoing development of the therapist and the training of future therapists in professional psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Berna is a former board member of the Irish Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and former Director of its professional training. More >>


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Please read our booking conditions before making your booking

Self-funded: £120
Self-funded x 2: £200
Self-funded x 2: £150 (PSI, IACP, IAHIP and ICP members)
Organisationally-funded: £200
CPD Hours

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

The Jonathan Swift Theatre
Arts Building 1st Floor
Trinity College
College Green

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:30 Tea
17:00 End