From Feeding to the Counterfactual (M)other: From relational neuroscience to psychiatric and psychotherapeutic practice

Course overview

A Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust workshop, in collaboration with the Bloomsbury Neuroscience Group, and in association with the London Neuropsychoanalysis Group and the Psychotherapy Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

CPD 110 Image for 2021 Workshop

This one-day workshop will present recent developments in relational neuroscience which are of relevance to all psychiatrists and psychotherapists. We will describe three critical stages in the development of the self-other distinction. These stages mark a progression from a primary stage of homeostatic union between mothers and infants through an exploratory stage towards the development of what, in neuroscientific terms, is called the 'counterfactual other' – equivalent, in psychodynamic terms, to 'object constancy'. We will go on to talk about the consequences of disruptions in this developmental progression and how these disruptions can lead to a range of mental health problems in later life. We will also touch on possibilities for developing interventions specific to interoception and its mentalisation in social relations. We will present a case of psychotherapeutic and psychiatric work to illustrate some of these ideas and discuss implications for clinical practice. 

  1. Explore recent psychodynamic and neuroscientific findings relating to the development of the differentiated self and other – leading to a new model of psychosomatic development in infancy and early childhood.
  2. Understand the implications for normal psychological development and links between disordered development and later mental health problems.
  3. Learn about possibilities for developing psychotherapeutic interventions specific to interoception and its mentalisation in social relations.

This workshop is suitable for anyone working in the field of mental health treatments, particularly psychotherapists and psychiatrists, and anyone interested in child development and its links to later mental illness.

Dr Susan Mizen is a Jungian Analyst and Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy in Exeter. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She developed a psychotherapeutic day and outpatient programme in Exeter as an alternative to locked placements for patients with severe Personality Disorder. Her Relational Affective Model is an analytic, neuro-scientific approach to therapeutic work with this patient group. She is investigating the model in a neuroscience PhD at The University of Exeter. She was chair of the Psychotherapy Faculty Executive at the Royal College of Psychiatrists between 2014 and 2018 and is currently chair of the Talking Therapies Task Force. She continues working in private practice as an Analytical Psychologist. 

Katerina Fotopoulou, PhD, DPsych is a chartered counselling psychologist, UKCP accredited psychotherapist and Professor of Psychodynamic Neuroscience at University College London. She leads research on the mental-physical health interface, including the European Research Council programme grants BODILY SELF and METABODY ( Katerina has published more than 100 scientific articles and has received several awards for her research, including the Distinguished Young Scientist Award (2014) by the World Economic Forum and the prestigious Early Career Award of the International Neuropsychology Society (2016). She is the co-founder and Treasurer of the International Association for the Study of Affective Touch (IASAT), board member of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, the past Secretary of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society, and the editor of the volume: Fotopoulou, A., Conway, M.A., Pfaff, D. From the Couch to the Lab: Trends in Psychodynamic Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, 2012. 

Dr John Hook is a Consultant Medical Psychotherapist and Group Analyst now working in private practice having led psychotherapy services in the NHS for over 20 years. He chairs the London Neuropsychoanalytic Society Group which puts on regular teaching events at UCL and The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Along with Dr Mizen and Prof. Fotopouolou, he leads the Bloomsbury Neuroscience Group, a new venture, which aims to influence the training of psychiatrists and psychotherapists in relational neuroscience. 

This course will take place on Saturday 13 November 2021, from 9.45am - 4pm

9.45am    Introductions

Dr John Hook & Dr Susan Mizen

10.00am    The Development of the Self-Other Distinction

Prof. Aikaterina Fotopoulou

11.00am    Break
11.30am    Developmental Disruptions of the Self-Other Distinction and Psychopathology

Prof Aikaterina Fotopoulou and Dr Susan Mizen

12.30pm    Discussion
1.00pm    Lunch
1.45pm    Clinical presentation and discussion 

(incl. a 10 minute break)

Dr John Hook

3.45pm    Conclusions: Questions for future empirical research

Prof Aikaterina Fotopoulou and Dr Susan Mizen

4.00pm    Close

£175 (£140 concessionary rate for NPSA association members and Tavistock students/staff).

To apply please click on the green “APPLY” button on the left of your screen.

Certificate of attendance
Course length:
1 day
Admission status:
13 November 2021 09:45 to 16:00