Connect

Please fill out this form if you wish to connect with the Critical Psychotherapy Network. In so doing, you will be helping to build communities that support free speech in and about the consulting room. We welcome comments on how to progress the Society, and blogs or vlogs on issues around critical psychotherapy. We also encourage you to consider joining a CPSC or Local Group.

Welcome

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a place to speak freely. Psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and counsellors report that it is less and less possible to question organisational practice, fearful of overt or covert punishment. Academics in our universities fear for their jobs if they speak out. Most importantly, the therapeutic space itself has become subject to various insistences – what is sayable, what is hearable, what must be reported, what technique must look like. Neoliberalism, the rise in the audit culture, and the overregulation of therapy challenges such freedoms. So what do we do? We have, it seems, a few options:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Try and change the way in which NICE goes about producing its recommendations, including its language, challenge the composition of Guideline Development Groups and the use of Randomized Controlled Trials as a meaningful way of assessing psychotherapy.
  3. Take the advice of people who suggest we do not fight NICE and RCTs but attempt to ape CBT’s success with manualisation, and so on.
  4. Help stimulate very different potential cultural changes and critically develop our own work to help those who want to explore personal meaning; and for research, stick to case studies as well as collaborations and learnings from those outside our field.

We argue the fourth option is the only real one for the therapy professions.  We have, surely, a duty to preserve spaces where those suffering can come to talk freely. To date, we have published a book Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling and held our inaugural conference at the Freud Museum. The book and conference developed a critical psychotherapy manifesto and action plan. We have come together to form a Unit to build communities that will fight to preserve and build psychotherapy as a critical, open, sometimes subversive space. We believe the importance of a practice oriented to free speech trumps allegiance to any particular therapeutic modality, and welcome anyone with similar interests to come and join us. Will you?

Professor Del Loewenthal, Co-Chair, The Society for Critical Psychotherapy

. Del Athens 2015

Trainings

Fewer trainings focus on helping trainees develop skills to hear themselves and others. Network founders are currently involved in trainings in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, counselling psychology and clinical psychology with the aim of creating space for critical thinking.

The Network is also developing a Critical Psychotherapy Training programme. Del Loewenthal currently runs the Critical Existential-Analytic Psychotherapy and Counselling programme at Roehampton which may be of interest to some readers.

We welcome blog post submissions on critical thinking within therapy trainings, and ideas for how to develop more creative forms of transmission.

Inaugural conference audio

We held a conference to mark the launch of the book at the Freud Museum in June, 2015.

You can listen to the audio of the preview evening here The Many Faces of ‘Critical Psychotherapy’ featuring Professors Del Loewenthal, Michael Rustin and Andrew Samuels.

The audio of the conference is available in four parts.

1. INTRODUCTION

Do we need a Critical Psychotherapy? with Professor Del Loewenthal.

2. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM CRITICAL PSYCHOLOGY AND CRITICAL PSYCHIATRY

Toward critical psychotherapy and counselling: what can we learn from critical psychology (and political economy)? With Professor Ian Parker.

The Medical Model: What is it, where did it come from and how long has it got? with Dr Hugh Middelton

and a response from Dr David Morgan.

3. EXTERNAL CRITIQUES

When Love is Not All We Want: Queers, Singles and the Therapeutic Cult of Relationality with Dr Adrian Cocking

Critical theory and psychotherapy with Dr Anastasios Gaitanidis

and a response from Dr Julie Walsh

4. USER AND EDUCATORS PERSPECTIVES

Personal versus medical meanings in breakdown, treatment and recovery from ‘schizophrenia’ with Tom Cotton and Professor Del Loewenthal

Systemic means to subversive ends: maintaining the therapeutic space as a unique encounter with Dr Jay Watts

We welcome your feedback on the conference, whether you attended or have listened to the audios.

We are running a Dialectics of Critical Psychotherapy conference in 2015/16.

The Book

The Critical Psychotherapy Network arose as a consequence of a book – edited by Del – which bought a number of critical practitioners together. For those of you who are interested, the book is called Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling. It consists of the following chapters.

PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Talking Therapies, Culture, the State and Neo-liberalism: Is There a Need for Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling?; Del Loewenthal

PART II: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM CRITICAL PSYCHIATRY AND CRITICAL PSYCHOLOGY?
2. The Medical Model: What Is It, Where Did It Come from and How Long Has It Got?; Hugh Middleton
3. Toward Critical Psychotherapy and Counselling: What Can We Learn from Critical Psychology (and Political Economy)?; Ian Parker
4. The Neurobiological Turn in Therapeutic Treatment: Salvation or Devastation?; Kenneth J. Gergen

PART III: USERS’ PERSPECTIVES
5. Personal Versus Medical Meanings in Breakdown, Treatment and Recovery from ‘Schizophrenia’; Tom Cotton and Del Loewenthal

PART IV: CRITIQUES COMING MORE FROM OUTSIDE
6. Critical Theory and Psychotherapy; Anastasios Gaitanidis
7. When Love Is Not All We Want: Queers, Singles and the Therapeutic Cult of Relationality; Mari Ruti and Adrian Cocking
8. Relating to People as revolutionaries; Lois Holzman
9. Work in Contemporary Capitalism; Michael Rustin

PART V: CRITIQUES COMING MORE FROM INSIDE
10. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Therapy (but Were Afraid to Ask): Fragments of a Critical Psychotherapy; Andrew Samuels
11. Critical Priorities for the Psychotherapy and Counselling Community; Colin Feltham
12. The Deleuzian Project; Chris Oakley
13. Psychoanalysis and the Event of Resistance; Steven Groarke
14. Psychology, Psychotherapy – Coming to Our Senses?; Paul Moloney

PART VI: CRITIQUES OF TRAINING AND LEARNING
15. Contesting the Curriculum: Counsellor Education in a Postmodern and Medicalising Era; Tom Strong, Karen H. Ross, Konstantinos Chondros and Monica Sesma-Vazquez
16. Systemic Means to Subversive Ends: Maintaining the Therapeutic Space as a Unique Encounter; Jay Watts

PART VII: IS THERE AN UNFORTUNATE NEED FOR CRITICAL PSYCHOTHERAPY, PSCYHOANALYSIS AND COUNSELLING?
17. Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling for Oppressors and Oppressed: Sex, Violence and Ideology in Practice?; Del Loewenthal

Do send us feedback on the book if you so wish, either by email or commenting below. We think it’s an important start – but there is more to be done.

Loewenthal_Cover_small

The action plan

There are a number of actions that are central to the Network. We think it is crucial to:

  • We believe clients need the option to explore personal meaning the opportunity for which is increasingly being lost .
  • ‘The human soul comes before science and techology’. We must challenge ideologies that get in the way of this truth.
  • We think it crucial to remember that we are all capable of good and evil.
  • We must have therapeutic spaces available where we can explore how we constrict ourselves and others through our sexuality and violence,  morality and economic systems.
  • People may involve themselves in order to forget their troubles, but both psychotherapists and clients can manipulate this in a degenerate way.
  • We need multiple stories of suffering otherwise our minds and actions are colonised.
  • We must question received wisdoms of what a good therapy outcome looks like
  • We must attend to power inequalities, and disobey normal rules and conventions. To influence, we must talk in ways people understand not rarified jargon.
  • We believe that increased state regulation may give new capacities for resistance, and that the development of new talking spaces need not be called therapy.
  • We believe talking therapists can be as much the problem than the solution.
  • Politics can get replaced by scepticism and capitalism by modernity.

We are too caught up with individualism, pseudoscience and the language of medicine and clinical psychology. We need to refind and develop our own language.

These actions points are adapted from Del’s chapter in Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling but are very much a work in progress. Please add your comments below, and help us develop.

Diary

12th September 2015 and thereafter the second Saturday of the month – the first CPSC will be meeting in central London. Please email for details.

18th September 2015 – ‘More harm than good: confronting the psychiatric medication epidemic’ University of Roehampton, Whitelands College. RCTE/CREEA joint conference with the Council for Evidence based psychiatry. Speakers include :Dr Peter Breggin, Prof Peter Getzsche, Robert Whiteker and Prof John Abraham. Click here for more information.

8th October 2015 ‘Psychotherapy and Desistance from crime’ 5.00 – 6.00pm – Betty Bertrand (RCTE), Room G071, University of Roehampton, Whitelands College. Attendance free.

8th October 2015 ‘Desire, psychoanalysis and Plato’s Symposium’ – 6.00 for 6.30 to 8.00pm – Dr Onel Brooks (RCTE) (oom G001, University of Roehampton, Whitelands College. Attendance free.

5th November  ‘An introduction to Open Dialogue ‘ –  6.00  for  6.30  to  8.00pm –  Nick Putman (Open  Dialogue UK/Philadelphia Association), Room G001, University of Roehampton, Whitelands College. Attendance free.

3rd December – 6.00 for 6.30 to 8.00pm – Anne Cooke (Canterbury Christ ChurchUniversity) Editor of ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia’, A report by the Division of Clinical Psychology of the BPS (2014) ‘Why psychological therapists need to stop avoiding psychosis’ (Room G001). Attendance free.

5th December 2015 – “What future long-term and open-ended psychotherapy and counselling?’ Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association International Conference 2015 (in association with the RCTE) – 10.00am to 5.00pm To be held at the Kellogg College, University of Oxford, Oxford Speakers include: Dr Dorothea Huber (tbc), Prof Del Loewenthal, Julian Lousada,Prof Rolf Sandell (tbc), and Janet Weisz (UKCP). Click here for more information.

15th July 2017, Dialectics of Critical Psychotherapy conference, Central London. Please email us with basic details, a link and the date of any critical psychotherapy related activities you wish to add here.

Critical psychotherapy manifesto

One of the Network’s aims is to develop a manifesto for critical psychotherapy. We have traced out some ideas below building from the manifesto outlined in Critical Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling:

▪We must resist threats to providing a therapeutic, confidential space. It is our ethical duty to challenge these threats, but we can only do this if we support one another.

▪The training of talking therapists must include sociology, philosophy, anthropology, the arts and political economy. It must also develop trainees skills to observe and deconstruct ideologies (including our own).

▪We must not be seduced by methodologies that simply do not fit what we do. Instead we must find new ways of providing testimonial to ourselves, our colleagues and the public.

▪We must be wary of state interventions and psychiatric nosology which threaten pluralism, and the clients right to create a therapeutic space that works for them.

▪We must be able to work with our own and others sexuality and violence.

▪We need to recognise the cult of individualism can create suffering and overshadow the common good.

▪We need to work actively around and outside the consulting room to inform and challenge public policy and discourse. Thinking about this must be part of future trainings.

We are keen to hear your opinions and reactions to this manifesto, and help us develop it. Please do email us on criticalpsychotherapy@outlook.com or comment below.