International Association
of Relational Transactional Analysis
International Association
of Relational Transactional Analysis
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of Relational Transactional Analysis
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This is an archive of previous IARTA events, including conferences, workshops and reviews. This dates from October 2014 to February 2011

October 2014 Conference Report

A personal reflection on the 5th Annual IARTA conference by Silvia Baba Neal 

The IARTA conference has now established a reputation for persuading compelling and original voices advocating the inter-subjective/relational approach to address transactional analysts with a special interest in the two-person mode of therapeutic action.

This year, New York psychoanalyst Darlene Bergman Ehrenberg stepped onto the platform and shared her stories from the therapy room. As well as being a prolific writer (with published articles spanning five decades), who has brought to field of psychoanalysis a researcher’s drive to question theory and experiment, as well as a healthy dose of irreverence in relation to psychoanalytic dogma, Ms Bergman Ehrenberg is also a beautiful woman. The nature of her beauty brought to my mind the image of a snowflake: a lightness of being not weighed down by the underlying complexity. There was something very compelling about her charisma; she wins over her audience with deceptively simple but artful storytelling and grace.

I do not know how the rest of the audience felt, but ‘when I grow up’ I want to become a Darlene Bergman Ehrenberg. And now that I am done swooning, I also need to acknowledge that she found great conversation partners in a clinical panel consisting of Shoshi Asheri and Robert Downes (both from The Relational School), Helena Hargaden, and chair Charlotte Sills, who made insightful links between the presenter’s cases and theory, as they all engaged with a lively and curious audience.

As I transcribe my notes from the day the task of pinning down and summarizing feels slightly foolish, like I’m trying to shove snow in a bag and attempt to re-create a winter wonderland in my study. How can one therapist transplant another therapist’s choices in one’s own practice?

I think whenever a therapist communicates about the unique encounters within the walls of the therapy room (and in Darlene's case – trees in the park - as she is not afraid to go outside with her clients on a particularly lovely day), I imagine it must feel like carrying a very precious cargo across the border into the unknown territory of another therapist’s mind. A territory governed by different rules and different assumptions about what is a good intervention and what is ethical.

Darlene Bergman Ehrenberg seemed unperturbed by such concerns, spoke with quiet confidence about her work and was unafraid to share difficult encounters with compelling characters.

My understanding is that her approach is to stay with the moment of rupture and allow the client to access her vulnerability. She does not gloss over crossed transactions: “When you catch someone in the moment they start making the connections – it allows patients to see what they do and what effect they have on others.” She made clear her aim of paying attention to what doesn’t make sense – a bit like catching the ‘off’ notes in a melody and she has courage to say “I don’t know” and allow the client to provide the meaning: “I don’t see myself as providing interpretation – more asking questions”.

Talking about rupture and repair in the therapeutic encounter, Darlene had this to say: “I am not interested in the repair; I am interested in the rupture and what caused it. I’m fine with the distance. I don’t want to make it better. I want to know what’s wrong and how we got where we are.”

The message she is trying to get across is that “it is OK to look at what is not OK.” She added “It’s easy to hold a patient ; not so easy to hold a treatment. It’s easy to say ‘yes’ and go along with the patient’s push and pull. It’s harder to say: Wait a minute: what’s going on here?”

Darlene gave us permission to question, to learn from our clients, to find our own way rather than follow the crowd and she did this through clinical stories. I noticed how her speech was free of any technical language or therapeutic well-worn phrases. She confirmed that along the way she was given a lot of permission from important people in her life to think for herself, to not follow the crowds. Through her training in psychology she became familiar with the scientific method, which further inoculated her against the dogma of classical psychoanalysis.

At the end of the day I felt like I had had caught a glimpse of that very rare breed of bird called ‘freedom to practice’. Freedom is quietly confident. Freedom tells her story as it is and does not apologise for it. Freedom learns from the patient and is not corseted by dogma. Freedom does not try to mould others in her own image. Freedom says “I’m scared” when she is scared and freedom goes for a walk in the park when the weather is lovely. 

Darlene Bregman EhrenbergThe keynote speaker at the 2014 conference was Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg, Ph.D

To discuss clinical application, Darlene was joined by a panel including Charlotte Sills (Chair), Helena Hargaden, Shoshi Asheri and Robert Downes.

Darlene Bregman Ehrenberg, Ph.D., ABPP, is author of The Intimate Edge: Extending The Reach Of Psychoanalytic Interaction (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1992).  She is in private practice in New York City, is a Training and Supervising Analyst, and is on the teaching Faculty, at the William Alanson White Institute, New York City; Supervising analyst (Clinical Consultant) and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, at The New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis; Faculty, Mitchell Center for Psychoanalysis, New York City; Supervising analyst Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, California; as well as other institutes.  She is also on the Editorial Board of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Associate Editor, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, consulting editor, Psychoanalytic Inquiry) and is on the affiliate teaching faculty Erickson Institute Fellowship Program, Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  She lectures widely around the world and is currently working on two new books, one on intergenerational transmission of trauma, and the other focusing on issues of desire and therapeutic action.


Workshop REVIEW

The 'UnBelonging' - Relational Perspectives On Inter-Generational Trauma - When The Personal Is Professional

Saturday June 28th, 2014
One day workshop with Helena Hargaden and Maya Jacobs-Wallfisch 
Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Ealing, London

A Personal report on the workshop, by Carole Shadbolt:

I recently attended this excellent day, facilitated by Helena Hargaden, a founder member of IARTA and a Relational Psychotherapist, and Maya Jacobs-Wallfsich, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist.

In their introduction on the IARTA website they wrote; 

'In this workshop the presenters offer papers in which they explore the implications of trans-generational trauma, which is frequently inherited unconsciously. For many, inter-generational trauma remains unconscious, therefore unmetabolised, until it begins to emerge and impact personal life and, in turn, the therapy relationship, through coutertransferential responses, enactments and use of language.'

Helena and Maya had circulated two excellently informative papers ahead of the day. Itseemed to me their powerful writing laid the necessary groundwork for the day ahead. The saying "like begets like" comes to mind, and seemed to hold true for the experiential work that later emerged. Maya's personal testimony of the "wounds of history" encouraged and legitimised deep personal sharing and Helena’s complementary theoretical underpinning, essay and case study reminded me of the power of lightly-held and non-intrusive sharing of ideas and principles - i.e. theory. 

These theoretical underpinnings of working with trans-generational trauma from a relational perspective were; the importance of witness, of connecting with non verbalised processes, of decoding metaphor and unsymbolised material through countertransferences, and the necessity of an intersubjective 'third' in the recognition of unsymbolised trauma. They dealt movingly with the notion of 'presence of absence' and the layered complexity of loss, trauma and shame through dissociation and disavowed selves.

What we might have previously considered a marginal speciality subject (and ourselves as no experts), was revealed as a result of the facilitators' testimonies of their own cultural vulnerabilities and presence, as central to our personal and professional lives and selves. For example, Helena had written 'Maybe some of you feel that you have no personal experience of trans-generational trauma. But surely, this is not so?' 

Their belief (and mine too) in the importance of the therapist's acknowledgement, understanding and engagement with their own trauma, to have it become conscious, is, it became clear, a type of relational pre-requisite for genuine healing (mutual healing I suspect). This willingness to go beyond what Helena describes as, 'from what is known and surface to what is unknown and of depth' provides what she quotes Stollorow as describing as 'a relational home' to our clients who are carrying and haunted by trans-generational traumas, as one traumatised self finds recognition in another. 

They asked the question "How do we move from the trans-generational legacies of unconscious, unsymbolised psychic pain, to mentalisation?" As an answer, throughout the day, their personal warmth and unflinching, generous self-disclosures encouraged and demonstrated an undeniably felt, wholesome and genuine way forward in this work. (I might add that as a psychotherapist of advancing years and experience I can, these days, tell when I am in the presence of the "authentic"; my intuitive self knows the difference between that and quackery.)

We learned how to think about moving from unconscious, unsymbolised, culturally-dissociated dead selves, which were unnameable and therefore unmetabolised, through to an awareness and reclaiming of our own wounded and vulnerable traumatised selves.

From this place of the 'wounded healer' dynamic, we became aware of the process of moving from 'Victimhood' to providing a therapeutic 'intersubjective third' in the service of the clinical work. We did this, as a major component of the day, through large-group experiential exercises. The group was carefully and professionally held and the exercises were thoughtfully crafted to bring alive, and therefore to know, the type of deadness so ubiquitous in this type of process. 

From engagement and recognition of our symbolised losses and traumas, we gave them words and meanings, resurrected them and brought them to consciousness. I noticed they took on a vital urgency of their own to be heard and witnessed. We discovered that any personal process, unique as it was to the individual, carried with it the seeds of trauma which did indeed find 'a relational home' in other group members. In  this manner, the work done by one individual was done on behalf of the other group members.

So, this was an important day, for me personally and, I believe and hope, for IARTA. Important in the sense that this topic is one of the most painful and culturally central issues we need to attend to. Maya and Helena's excellent work contributes to that.

'The most important contribution we can make as therapists is to engage with our personal life-story and learn how to translate this into our professional work' Helena Hargaden, 2014 

IARTA  warmly thanks all members of this day, especially Helena and Maya.

Helena Hargaden (D.Psych, MSc., TSTA.,) currently works in Sussex in her private practice. She runs a weekly psychotherapy group and a monthly personal and professional development group for experienced clinicians. Currently she is editing a book on Relational Supervision. In collaboration with others she developed relational perspectives of TA and has been widely published and translated into a number of other languages. She has presented papers at many international conferences, most recently in Brazil and Italy, and been a Visiting Tutor both at home and abroad. Last year she co-founded The Forum for Trans-Generational Trauma which has been a major focus of interest in her own analysis and practice.

Maya Jacobs-Wallfisch is a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who trained at the Arbours Association in London. She has a particular interest in Trans-generational Trauma and works with people who have been affected by the Holocaust and other genocides. Her interest in trauma arises from her own subjective experience of being the daughter of a Shoah survivor. and the psychological and social implications that this has had on her life, most pertinently the experience of ‘un-belonging’, and the life long quest to feel and be accepted. She is committed to her work as the co-founder of The Forum For Trans-Generational Trauma which provides educational and clinical resources. Maya is in full time private practice in London, where she works with, individuals, couples and families.

Fourth Annual Conference, 12th October 2013, London 

IARTA was delighted to welcome the Keynote speaker for their 2013 annual conference, who was Dr Lew Aron.  Lew spoke about some of the topics from his latest book co-authored with Karen Starr entitled A Psychotherapy for the People. He focussed in particular on mutual vulnerability in the therapeutic relationship and the concept of thirdness as well as offering a fascinating overview of the history and development of relationality in psychoanalysis.

Lew AronThe keynote speaker was Dr. Lew Aron (pictured right). Dr.Aron has received the New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA) Distinguished Service Award and the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) Leadership Award. He holds a Diplomate in Psychoanalysis from the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and of the Academy of Psychoanalysis. 
Lew was one of the founders, and is an Associate Editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and is the series editor (with Adrienne Harris) of the Relational Perspectives Book Series, Routledge and is the Editor of the Psychoanalysis & Jewish Life Book Series, The Academic Press.  

Lew's second keynote, which took place after lunch, was followed by a panel discussion where Lew was joined by Carole Shadbolt, Ray Little, Andrew Samuels and Paul Kellett van Leer.  The pane was chaired by Charlotte Sills.  Panellists started by responding to the day's stimulating talks and then opened the discussion to the floor.

IARTA archive Lews second keynote


IARTA archive Lews second keynote 2

Pictured here are some of the conference delegates who took part in small group discussions and large group plenaries. Feedback from the day was very positive

conference delegates IARTA

Brian Fenton writes his personal reflection on the day:  

The annual IARTA conference was once again held at the NVCO in Kings Cross, London.  This venue, set by the water, is becoming a familiar scene for the Relational TA conference and has perhaps evolved as something of a tradition in itself.  The setting was complimented with fine food and as well as being an intellectually stimulating day, there was opportunity to both catch up with old friends and make some anew.  A warm welcome was received by conference delegates, with some coming from far and wide. 

The keynote speaker was Dr Lew Aron - an authority on relational psychoanalysis who read from his paper ‘Mutual Vulnerability: An Ethic of Clinical Practice'.

Lew’s speech focussed on the history and contextual development of Psychoanalysis, and how this tradition emerged on the margins of society. Not quite science and not quite art, Lew used the term ‘monster’ to capture the nature of the beast. In particular he spoke of the setting of Freud’s writings where anti-Semitism was rife in Europe and where Jewishness itself was seen by many to be less than human.  Within this context, circumcision situated Jewish men as lacking and not ‘quite’, which led to them being feminised, with all the attacks femininity entailed, such as being viewed as irrational, weak minded and vulnerable. Lew proposed one effect arising from the extreme vulnerability of being Jewish was the emergence of a tradition of psychoanalysis from a group of Jewish men led by Freud, which was that it was steeped in psychological defences that projected, displaced, and disavowed vulnerabilities into others (The patient). This left the all-knowing therapists being valued as male, endowed with the attributes of maleness such as being rational and strong. This was combined with an attempt by those within the field of psychoanalysis to align with hard science.

In particular Lew spoke of the effects of adopting a position which disavowed vulnerability on psychoanalysis as a discipline today in its struggle to incorporate a two person psychology. Two person has a central premise of intersubjectivity which inherently incorporates bi-directional effect. Accommodating his notion is a challenge to therapies in general, and to psychoanalysis in particular, as bi-directional effect includes notions of mutual vulnerability within the here-and-now therapeutic relatedness. As intersubjectivity is in essence, a term for a third subjectivity; one that is neither self nor other but exists between both, and is in a sense, a shared subjectivity, this leads to concepts of thirdness. Lew notes that this has the effect of loosening boundaries and signifies a shift away from value laden binaries towards a position of less certainty and what he terms ‘undecidable thirds’. 

At this point we broke into small groups in order to reflect on and digest the presented material and to formulate questions for Lew.  Among the themes that emerged in the group were those of practitioner vulnerability in relation to therapists being ill and working through, or not. This led into other factors such as social situation and choices. What came to my mind was Lord Nelson’s death. As he lay dying he is reported to have said ‘kiss me Hardy’ to his close compatriot Captain Hardy. These words have been a point of debate ever since. While it is accepted he said this, the discussion questions Nelson’s sexuality and whether or not he may have been gay. Relating this to notions of vulnerability and maleness this potentially illustrated an example of rather than a man simply express vulnerability, contextual norms push for him to be feminised (in more recent times at least) through dubious links with ill-informed notions of homosexuality. 

In the second part of Lew's keynote which took place after lunch, he delved further into the context of the genesis of psychoanalysis, and termed psychoanalysis itself a ‘holocaust survivor’- where a group of mainly male immigrants in New York, who originated from a very small geographic area in Vienna, sought to represent humanity within their theory. He proposed that with hindsight this approach has many shortcomings, citing one current effect of this being how difficult it can be for readers of psychoanalysis to find themselves in psychoanalytical writing. He pointed later of the difficulties of embracing a two person approach and for the need to rewrite everything from (I believe) a post-modern perspective, and noted the enormity of this task. Lew’s suggestion that Freud managed to omit contextual ant-Semitism from his dream interpretations was fascinating. In a sense Freud missed out the real fires raging around his clients, preferring to focus his attention on deeper processes originating from intra-psychic and drive based conflicts. This omitted the more obvious source of these dreams being here and now anxieties related to socio-political factors of the time.

Lew’s talk was then was followed by a panel discussion where he was joined by Carole Shadbolt, Ray Little, Andrew Samuels and Paul Kellett van Leer.  The panel was chaired by Charlotte Sills.  Panellists responded to the day's stimulating talks. Among the topics were themes of political vulnerability within the current economic crisis and what was suggested as disavowments of this vulnerability. The establishment in the form of the current government being described as well versed with the processes of disavowment at a personal level, through their having been raised within a culture of boarding school.  This disavowment it was proposed as potentially the root of seeming hatred of and the attacks on the most vulnerable people in our society; those who claim benefits and those who most need a strong NHS. Lew then pointed to therapy itself as being elitist, which led back to an earlier point that there are few if any working class people depicted in psychotherapy books. 

Near the end of the day the audience had a final opportunity to have a dialogue with Lew and the panel and at that point chairs were moved from rows into a circle which filled the room. Among the topics were the parallels between Berne’s life story and Freud’s, and there was discussion on the difficulties and discomfort of working with disability, in relation to vulnerability. There was also comment on the idea of free clinics and a 'therapy for the people' (the title of the book by Aron and Starr) which had originally been initiated by Freud. Then Lew raised a salient point on how it was only when psychoanalysis became associated with medical models that the scientific status that came with it seemed to trigger an inflexible psychoanalytical approach; perhaps in a misguided attempt to demonstrate experimental rigour.

The conference concluded with the fourth AGM where the steering group, and those IARTA members who stayed behind for the meeting, said a fond farewell (for now) to Ray Little, and welcomed in new members David Tisdel, Mica Douglas and myself. Aside the usual business the fine efforts made by the conference organisers Heather Fowlie, Carol Faulkner and Heidi Amey were acknowledged and appreciated.

Note. The above comments on Lew Aron’s speech are my interpretation and are not intended to be an accurate account.

Brian Fenton

July 14th 2013 - London workshop with Charlotte Sills (UK) and Jo Stuthridge (NZ)

ImageThis workshop, held in London and and at the EATA conference in Oslo, explored Berne’s ideas about games, alongside contemporary concepts like enactment. A pdf of the slides is available here.

Jo Stuthridge MSc, NZAP is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (Psychotherapy) and a registered psychotherapist in New Zealand. She maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Dunedin, and is director of the Physis Institute.  She has written numerous articles and chapters on aspects of psychotherapy, most recently Traversing the Fault Lines: Trauma and Enactment (TAJ October 2012), which was also the subject of her keynote speech at the 2011 IARTA Conference.  Jo is currently a co-editor for the Transactional Analysis Journal. 

Charlotte Sills MA, MSc (Psychotherapy), PGCE, Dip Systemic Integrative Psychotherapy, UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, TSTA (ITAA).  Charlotte is a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice and a member of faculty at Metanoia Institute and Ashridge Consulting. She is a qualified Transactional Analysis clinician and a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (Psychotherapy). She is the author of many publications in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, including An Introduction to Transactional Analysis with Phil Lapworth (Sage)  Transactional Analysis – A Relational Approach with Helena Hargaden (Routledge 2001) and Relational TA:  Principles in Practice, edited with Heather Fowlie (Karnac 2011). With Helena Hargaden she was awarded the Eric Berne Memorial Award in 2007. 

Jo and Charlotte are pictured below - enjoying a boat trip on Oslo's fjord on the opening day of the EATA conference.

Third IARTA Conference

3rd November 2012 at the NCVO

Social Identity and the Therapeutic Relationship


This years’ IARTA conference theme was psychotherapy as a political project. The conference took place at NCVO in a room overlooking a canal with colourful boats gently bobbing in the water. There was great coffee, a proper feast at lunchtime and plenty of opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones.

Judy Yellin

Judy 2 for web

Judy responds to questions


The first keynote lecture of the day was from Judy Yellin. Yellin, a lawyer, psychotherapist and a feminist thinker started from the question: What is the project of psychotherapy? Judy persuaded us that psychotherapy is a political project of liberation from internalized coercive systems. Therapists, Yellin believes, act as representatives of a new order. Successful therapy is achieving freedom from authoritarian internal working models. 

The therapist's discourse becomes an interpolation - an interruption of the prevailing internal injurious discourse a forceful stance against the totalitarianism of the internal structure of false beliefs and self-attributions handed down from parents. 

Interpolation comes from the latin words "inter"- between and "polare" - to drive away, to bang on the door. The operation of interpolation aims to go one step beyond empathy. The therapist becomes an invested agent, a participant with an agenda and not simply a self-object or mirror. 

What was striking about Judy’s presentation was her willingness to share with us her own struggle for freedom and the therapeutic work with client with a severe presentation: Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder. It was very moving to see the passion and dedication that pervades her work, her commitment and willingness to go all out for her client.

Lennox Thomas

Heather and Lennox

Heather Fowlie who facilitated the day, talking with Lennox

Lennox talked about working with clients who are traditionally seen as unsuitable for the psychoanalytic project. He presented the case of a client whom he believes is on the high-functioning autistic spectrum (Asperger’s). Lennox described himself as an un-orthodox psychoanalyst, in that he doesn’t believe in the supremacy of the analytic interpretation. He is interested in allowing the clients to make their own interpretations.

Lennox believes that the therapist’s behaviour and way of being is far more significant as it reflects his/her attitude towards the client. As far as Lennox is concerned, the idea of the therapist as a blank screen is absurd – or as he put it quite humorously – “So last year!”. The therapist cannot avoid being known by the client, as there are too many clues (race, dress, aesthetic choices, manner of speech) that are readily available for the client to take in and interpret.

Lennox spoke with considerable charm, wit and warmth and provoked us to go beyond the default “you are a victim” narrative when working with race. Lennox has promised to donate his essay to be made available on the “Resources” page of the IARTA website.

Group sessions

As is the now established tradition, after each lecture we retreated in small groups to “digest” the presented material. We realized that many of us had been attracted to this conference theme because or our own hidden or obvious differences.

The final discussion

Judy Lennox seated smiling

Judy and Lennox at the final plenary

 At the end of the day the audience had a final opportunity to have a dialogue with Lennox and Judy. The consensus was that working with difference leads us into an uncertain and even dangerous territory. It feels risky. Lennox suggested that it can be done in a gentle, sensitive manner, after all one can tackle an avalanche a spoonful at a time. The ability to play and to remain congruent is essential if we want to relate to our clients with integrity.

Silvia Baba Neal www.silviababaneal-psychotherapy.co.uk

IARTA thanks Heidi Amey and Carol Faulkner for their invaluable help in organising the conference and are delighted to welcome them as permanent members of the Conference and Events Committee

File22 copy 2

Heidi and Carol after a successful conference

 Second IARTA Conference 

Our second conference took place onthe 1st October 2011 in London and was a huge success. Seventy people gatheredat the NVCO in Kings Cross and unlike the previous conference, where it snowed,the weather this year was truly glorious. 

The theme of the conference was Inside Out:A relational transactional analysis approach to trauma. We were richlystimulated by presentations on trauma by Jo Stuthridge from New Zealand andJean Maquet from France. These were interspersed by clinical discussion groups.

Jo's presentation was called: Traversing theFault lines: A relational approach to the treatment of trauma.

She talked about the challenges we face astherapists as we set out to transform the experience of trauma, as we “traversethe fault lines in therapy” without falling into the abyss of traumaticrepetition. Using powerful client examples she talked about how in therapy,trauma emerges as transferential enactment that creates ruptures between clientand therapist.  She linked this to the metaphor of the abyss, which represents a collapse of reflective space.


Jo Stuthridge (left) and Jean Maquet (right) giving their presentations

Emma Haynes, a psychotherapy student at theMetanoia Institute, who is currently preparing for her CTA exams, gives her response to Jo’s presentation:

“I was struck by the photographs shown to us by Jo of her home town, Christchurch in New Zealand, in the aftermath of therecent earthquake with its parallel to trauma. The photograph of the fault linein the road, with the title of “Fracture in Relationship” was dramatic and highly evocative, as were the images of the damaged buildings. I had the sense, as I watched, of irreparable damage to Christchurch and its inhabitants, both physically, emotionally and psychologically. Jo linked this to the damage ofrelational trauma to the child and how this forms fault lines within the mind of the traumatised child, fracturing the ego almost like the way an egg shellfractures when cracked. 

Jo explained how in response to relationaltrauma, which is a gross violation of the self, a child gets stuck in a stateof unbearable affect and faced with this intolerable situation, cuts off part of self to survive – or in other words defends their sanity by dissociation. Jo explainedher belief that, in the treatment of trauma, enactment is both inevitable andnecessary, serving to bring the dissociated parts of the self into theconscious awareness of the client.

Using powerful client examples from her ownwork, she described and explained how she sees an enactment as an intersection between the two scripts of client and therapist, where the vulnerabilities ofeach become interlocked.

Whilst enactments can and inevitably doprovoke bad feelings of shame, betrayal, etc within both parties, they alsooffer an opportunity for healing. When the therapist is willing to reflect onthe mess that follows and find a way to communicate her understanding, what isimplicit is made available for explicit understanding.  Jo suggested thatshared understanding occurs with “an act of recognition” (a crossed transactionthat creates a disjuncture, disturbing the client’s script). Resolution of theenactment helps to form a bridge between tentative states of self. This processincreases the client’s capacity to contain internal conflict, for symbolisationand for expression of previously dissociated parts of the self, so that theycan be integrated”.

Another conference attender, Briony Nichols, a PTSTA also gives her views:

“Earthquakes and fracturing of the landscapebecame a key theme of Jo Stuthridge’s presentation, as she prepared for theconference in the context of the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. Shediscussed how trauma produces intrapsychic fracturing and dissociation. In thisway, a coherent self-narrative is sacrificed in order to maintain arelationship and prevent internal conflict. When these intrapsychic faultlinesare re-triggered, the trauma will emerge as a transferential enactment that canthreaten the therapeutic relationship. Jo presented case examples of her workwith these fractures – ‘traversing the faultlines’ in the interpersonal realm.In particular, she discussed the attention she pays to assaults on thetherapeutic frame, where thesents often emerge”.

Jean's presentation was entitled: How thetherapy of patients who were abused in childhood creates paradoxes in thetherapeutic relationship.

He talked about his work with survivors ofchild abuse and explained how he considers the therapeutic relationship to bethe main vehicle of therapeutic change.

Focusing on "relational paradoxes"he offered a framework for understanding and containing paradoxical experiencesin the therapist-patient relationship. Within this he considered fourdimensions: contact-working alliance, contract, emotions and countertransference and linked each of these to their role in helping a traumatisedclient to learn how to symbolize and to manage their shame.

Emma Haynes, also commented on Jean’spresentation.

Jean suggested that working with someone whohas been traumatised is similar to touching someone who has been burnt –contact hurts. In fact, he suggests that they have been burnt, psychologicallyburnt, and their fear of being burnt again creates many difficulties during thetreatment.

“As psychotherapists, we have to accept tolive this relationship in its paradoxical nature and not try to resolve theparadox ... but to (almost) let it resolve by itself.

Continuing the metaphor, he suggests thatto rebuild the psychic tissue that has been burnt, the traumatised clients needto re-learn how to symbolise. He defined symbolisatio as the psychicinternalisation of an object – which allows the baby to replace the mother witha comforting object when she is not there – something that is very difficultfor anyone who has been traumatised and who does not trust contact.

Jean believes that 'the frame' (the business contract in TA) provides a set of constants for the client and becomes thecontainer of the therapy process, supporting symbolisation. He suggested thatmost acting out in the therapeutic relationship, occurs around the frame,coming early; refusing to leave; forgetting payment; going over time; phoningthe therapist in between sessions etc. He believes that if the therapist canaccept challenges to the frame, without retaliation or collapse and use this asthe basis for meaning making with the client, then they will come to trust inthe constant and safe nature of the therapeutic relationship, viewing andinternalising the symbol of the frame (object) as something useful andcontaining for them”.

Jean used a very moving account of his workwith a traumatised client to illustrate his presentation.

Briony Nichols described how each of the- 

“… two hour-long presentations (one in themorning one in the afternoon), was followed by a short question and answersession then hour-long discussion groups. These small facilitated groups gaveus delegates time to discuss the presentations in the light of our own clinicalexperiences, integrating the learning and expanding on some of the themes thathad been presented. This made the conference a deeply reflective one, as therichness of the clinical and theoretical material evolved throughout the day”

The two presentations were separated by a wonderful and plentiful lunch, which many, taking advantage of themini heat wave, ate outside in the grounds of the NCVO. We finished with awell-attended AGM and overwhelming support for another conference next year. 

Videos of both presentations can be found onthe members area of the IARTA website at www.relationalta.com

IARTA's First One Day Conference - December 4th 2010

A report by Suzanne Boyd 

Our first one day conference took place on Saturday 4th December at the NCVO, Regent's Wharf, London, and it was a wonderful day! Despite major snowfall across the country in the previous week, almost all our delegates managed to attend and I think all agreed that the travel struggles that some experienced were well worth it.

After a warm welcome from one of our founders, Sue Eusden, the day began with an inspiring and moving keynote speech on Use of Self in Psychotherapy by Professor Diana Shmukler. Diana's speech, with some added new material, will be posted elsewhere on the website, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank her very much for her generosity in providing us with this. Diana's keynote was followed by a panel discussion elegantly chaired by Charlotte Sills. Brian Fenton, Heather Fowlie, Ray Little and Suhith Shivanath joined Charlotte and Diana and gave us their thoughtful reflections on the theme of Use of Self before the floor was opened up for more general discussion.

This was followed by a most delicious lunch and more opportunities for connecting with friends and colleagues and mulling over the theme of the morning.

After lunch the programme offered a choice of either two shorter or one longer workshops from a rich menu that included Suzanne Boyd, Keith Chinock and Carole Shadbolt discussing Relational Supervision, Helena Hargaden on Erotic Transference, Paul Kellet van Leer on the Apparatus of the Soul, Birgitta Heiller talking about the Abandoned Therapist, Ray Little discussing Therapist's Self Disclosure and Trudi Newton on Relational Learning. From the buzz of conversation at the tea break it seemed that people were enjoying a truly collaborative and collegial experience that was interactive and engaging on many levels.

The conference part of the day ended with a coming together for reflection, facilitated by Sue Eusden, and again there was a feeling of engagement and a sense that although we are primarily a web based organisation it had been important to have an opportunity for us to meet together in person.

The day finally ended with our first AGM where the founder members talked through what had happened and what had been done since our beginning a year before and an invitation was issued for members to become more involved in the running of things as we move forward.



On Sunday 3rd June 2012, IARTA were delighted to offer its qualified members the chance to attend a workshop with Donnel Stern

Workshop Title: Dissociation, Enactment, and Witnessing:  Theory.

A rich day of conversation with Donnel Stern in which he discussed his theory of unformulated experience (experiences we have not yet reflected upon and put into words) and the implication for clinical process and conceptions of unconscious conflict, phantasy, and interpretation.  

He discussed this in relation to the significance of enactment, using the definition of enactment as the interpersonalization of dissociation, and the significance of what he calls “witnessing” in life and the clinical process.  He compared his conception of dissociation and enactment with projective identification.

Donnel Stern, Ph.D. is Training and Supervising Analyst and member of the Faculty, at the William Alanson White Institue in New York City; and Adjunct Clinical Professor and Supervisor  at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is the Editor of a book series at Routledge, "Psychoanalysis in a New Key," which has 15 volumes in print and another 10 in various stages of preparation. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He is the author of Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis, published by The Analytic Press in 1997, and Partners in Thought: Working with Unformulated Experience, Dissociation, and Enactment, published by Routledge in 2010. He is the co-editor ofThe Handbook of Interpersonal Psychoanalysis (1995) and Pioneers of Interpersonal Psychoanalysis, (1995), both published by The Analytic Press;) and he is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. Her serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is Editor Emeritus of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Associate Editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and serves on the Editorial Boards of Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Psychoanalytic Psychology, and The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. In 2005, he received the First Biannual Award for Lifetime Achievement in Psychoanalyis, presented by Section V of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. He is in private practice in New York.

On July 14th 2013 there was a workshop on games and enactments with Jo Stuthridge and Charlotte Sills (see Events page for more details)

"Relational TA and Research" Webinar 7-13th Feb 2011

IARTA is pleased to announce their first webinar: "Relational TA and Research".

Running over a week, 7th - 13th Feb 2011, participants first downloaded and read a paper which explains different research methodologies and the philosophies behind them and then through e-mail with the webinar convenor Dr Biljana van Rijn and the other webinar participants, raised questions and discussed the implications that research has or could have for relational practice.

We welcome comments and feedback from particpants - as well as suggestions or requests for further webinars.


How to renew your membership

document iconA brief guide showing how to renew your IARTA Membership online.

Download the guide (pdf)

Date for Your Diary:

IARTA 10th Anniversary Conference

With Helena Hargaden & Bill Cornell

Friday 29th November 2019

Find out more
Keith Tudor and Graeme Summers
Co-Creative Transactional Analysis (2014)
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Edited by Heather Fowlie and Charlotte Sills
Relational Transactional Analysis - Principles in Practice (2011)
Read more
Helena Hargaden and Charlotte Sills
Transactional Analysis - A Relational Perspective (2002)
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