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Partner, Parent, Child – the many expected roles of a Therapist: Exploring boundaries in therapeutic practice: Video Course


Speaker: Dr Gwen Adshead

Product: Video Course
Price: £65

CPD Hours: 3

Video course packs, including all notes are available immediately on booking. The access links are part of your ticket. Online video access remains available for 1 year from the date you receive the video course.

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Since Freud started his talking technique with clients over 100 years ago, it has been recognised that unconscious dynamics can pull therapists out of their therapeutic role and into roles that may reflect a person or relationship of significance to the client’s past. Recent studies have also demonstrated how attachment patterns repeat across different relationships. Some clients may present as victims who are especially needy for affirmation and unconditional support, while others may present in more dismissing and avoidant ways, even to the point of denigrating the therapy that they have sought. Depending on the stage of the therapeutic relationship – therapists may find themselves being implicitly asked to play the role of parent, partner of child – sometimes all at the same time – creating a multitude of challenges for us as therapists.

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Full Course Information

At this intellectually stimulating and therapeutically oriented seminar, Dr Adshead draws on Attachment Theory tenets, transactional analysis and a relational comprehension of the therapeutic alliance to discuss:

  • When do such demands qualify as potential boundary violations and how we can best handle such situations
  • What shape or form such boundary trespasses can take, including boundary pushes, misdemeanours and violations
  • How therapist roles as peers, parents and partners manifest in clinical settings and the dynamics of these relationships
  • When such attachment stances on the part of the client have the power to generate a corresponding emotional response in the therapist, which may then result in actions that unconsciously replicate past dynamics in the client’s life
  • How attachment ‘fit’ between client and therapist may also make therapists thoughtful about the unconscious pull to re-enact past toxic patterns from their own lives in therapeutic relationships, with potentially harmful results for their work

Dr Adhead will use case examples, draw on published literature and also on her own experience of assessing health-care professionals who have breached professional boundaries. She will focus on the roles that the therapist is called on to play – the dynamics and pitfalls of these will be discussed and explained.

About the speaker

Dr Gwen Adshead is a Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. She trained at St George’s Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry and the Institute of Group Analysis.  She is trained as a group therapist and a Mindfulness-based cognitive therapist and has also trained in Mentalisation-based therapy. She worked for nearly twenty years as a Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital, running psychotherapeutic groups for offenders and working with staff around relational security and organisational dynamics. She is the co-editor of Clinical topics in Personality Disorder (with Dr Jay Sarkar) which was awarded first prize in the psychiatry Section of the BMA book awards 2013; and she also co-edited Personality Disorder: the Definitive Collection with Dr Caroline Jacob. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry (2013) and the Oxford Handbook of Medical Psychotherapy (2016). She is also the co-editor of Munchausens’s Syndrome by Proxy: Current issues in Assessment, Treatment and Research.

Gwen was visiting professor at Yale School of Psychiatry and Law in 2013; and also honoured with the President’s Medal for services to psychiatry that same year for her work on ethics in psychiatry. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by St George’s hospital in 2015; and was Gresham Professor of Psychiatry 2014-2017. She now works in a medium secure unit in Hampshire in a service for high-risk offenders with personality disorder; and in a women’s prison. Her new book: The Deluded Self: Narcissism and its Disorders is out now with nscience publishing house.


© nscience 2021 / 22

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