Embodying nuance in a polarised world - a practitioner's perspective

Eliat Aram, PhD. England.

CEO The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations; Chair, The Stuart Low Trust; member, supervisor and examiner, The Metanoia Institute, London, UK.

How we locate ourselves physically and psychically in our context and what informs us; why we do what we do and how we account for that – both in the sense of being accountable and in the telling of the story (authoring our experiences); exploring how to work in the unknown, in conditions of high turbulence, uncertainty and ambiguity - are lines of inquiry that matter to me.  Working with the dynamic of shame as an integral part of any potentially transformative learning process has been my quest and the tenet of my evolving thinking over the decades of my practice.

In these days where the dynamics of splitting, polarisation, dependency and lack of nuance are so ubiquitous, I am delighted to have been invited by Billy Desmond and Sinéad Kavanagh and have the opportunity to reflect on the challenge of re-introducing, re-minding ourselves and our bodies that human interactions require attention to nuance. Especially coming out of the pandemic period- where fear and protection were applied in blanket ways, often resulting in increased isolation and mental health problems; mental health professionals were struggling to maintain the boundary between me-not me – as the experience was too near, and have been inundated with referrals, so wanting to help and support, yet themselves – ourselves – suffering burnout and trauma.

The session will be dialogical and interactive where possible, you will be invited to share your own experience of your own or your clients in either small groups or plenary. Detailed design will become clear nearer the time.

Self in war conditions: how to survive, live and grow?

Larysa Didkovska, PhD. Ukraine

 As a process of creative adjustment, Self is very important in extreme situations, in particular during war. How we survive in war conditions, how we live with our current experience and how we use it for further personal growth – it all depends on the functions of our Self (Id, Ego, Personality). But what will be the impact of the war on Self – this is the question that we will try to explore in this lecture.


Peri Mackintosh (UK)

Habit feels right. Deviating from habit feels wrong - awkward.  

Doing what “feels right” frequently fronts the status quo. 

Diverging from habitual ways is often counter-intuitive.   

Countering the intuitive may be necessary for innovation.  That’s awkward.  


This workshop will awkwardly explore our experience of awkwardness and its implications for psychotherapy.

Conflict: When Contact Hurts

Peter Philippson, M.Sc., England.

'Home is where you hang your head' (Groucho Marx). Our most intimate relationships, with parents and children, with life partners, with neighbours, are where we are most open and vulnerable, physically, and emotionally. We always hurt those we love.


But in a pain-phobic culture, we can avoid the pain of intimacy by walling off our vulnerability, replacing intimacy with confluence or an image of intimacy, while our bodies desperately want to feel something, even pain.


The martial arts are about how to bring resolution where the contact is potentially dangerous, and there are ways of embodying that Gestalt Therapy can assimilate from them. I will speak about this and offer some group experiments.

Margherita Spagnuolo Lobb, PsyD (Italy):

"The Aesthetic Relational Knowing: a tool to provide a safe ground in therapeutic situations"

Online Lecture followed by a response and dialogue with Rich Hycner PhD (USA).  

This lecture by Margherita and reponse from Rich Hycner will happen live and online at the conference.  Participants will have an opportunity to interact with Margherita and Rich.   This online workshop is included in your conference fee - you do not need to book separately.  If you are unable to attend the conference in person, but would like to attend this online portion of the conference offering, you may do so by clicking here.