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Unconscious Relational Patterns, Cumulative Neglect, and Therapeutic Involvement

An online training workshop over 2 evenings

Speaker: Dr Richard G. Erskine

Date: 14 & 15 May 2021, Friday & Saturday
Location: Online streaming only (
all our webinar tickets now include complimentary access to a recorded version for 30 days)
Times: 5:00pm to 8:00pm, London, UK time on both days
CPD hours: 6

Individual ticket price per delegate for online streaming of the event: £135

Video recording per course pack: £134.99

Buy more than one ticket to receive our ‘bring a friend’ 5% discount on your entire order.

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Unconscious systems of psychological organisation and self-regulation are developed by our clients as a consequence of cumulative failures in significant, dependent relationships. Unconscious relational patterns may be ‘perceived’ by the client as physiological tensions, incomprehensible affects, longings and repulsions. In this context, the therapist’s sensitivity to and understanding of unconscious experiential conclusions, and the unique relational nature of therapeutic involvement is essential for an in-depth therapy of archaic relational patterns, current relational disturbances and fixated systems of psychological organisation.

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Full Course Information

At this unique and practical training workshop, Dr Richard Erskine draws on an integrative therapeutic approach that encompasses the primary dimensions of human functioning: cognitive, behavioural, affective and physiological, each within a relational system; that allows us as therapists in helping the client to assimilate and harmonise the contents of his or her ego states, relax the defence mechanisms, relinquish the life script, and reengage the world with full contact. It is the process of making whole: taking disowned, unaware, unresolved aspects of the ego and making them part of the cohesive self.

Through lecture, case vignettes and clinical discussions, the workshop emphasises how early attachments are formed through physiological survival reactions, implicit conclusions, explicit decisions, and introjections at various stages in the process of development; and elucidates:

  • How early physiological, affective and interpersonal experiences may inhibit the client’s intrapsychic processes, health and relationships
  • The distinctions in our therapeutic approach based on Attachment styles and patterns
  • The developmental impact of cumulative neglect and relational traumas
  • The relationship of Attachment to unconscious processes and the formation of Life Scripts

The workshop posits that for effective in-depth therapy, it is essential that therapists understand the significance of internal working models; procedural, sub-symbolic and implicit memory; and the unconscious impact of cumulative neglect. Such an understanding requires taking into account many views of human functioning: psychodynamic, client-centred, behaviourist, family therapy, Gestalt therapy, neo-Reichian, object relations theories, psychoanalytic self-psychology and transactional analysis. Drawing on an integrative theme, Dr Erskine helps us comprehend psychotherapeutic interventions that are:

  • based on research-validated knowledge of normal developmental processes
  • and the theories describing the self-protective defensive processes used when there are interruptions in normal development

About the speaker

Richard G. Erskine, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and Training Director of the Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy (New York City and Vancouver).  Originally trained in client-centered child therapy, Dr Erskine also studied Gestalt therapy with both Fritz and Laura Perls.  He is a certified clinical Transactional Analyst and a Licensed Psychoanalyst who has specialized in psychoanalytic self-psychology and object-relations theory.  His work is an integration of these concepts and more than forty years of clinical experience, which has included working with disturbed children, inmates in a maximum security prison, borderline and narcissistic clients, post-traumatic stress and dissociative identity disorders.  Recently his research and clinical practice have focused on the treatment of the schizoid process and on the psychotherapy of obsession.

He is the author of several books and scores of articles on psychotherapy theory and methods.  His best-selling book (with Jan Moursund and Rebecca Trautmann) is “Beyond Empathy: A Therapy of Contact-in-Relationship” (1999, Brunner/Mazel) and most recently, in 2015, he has published “Relational Patterns, Therapeutic Presence” (Karnac).

Workshop Schedule

Session 1.  An introduction to Unconscious Relational Patterns

In this first session we learn how Life Scripts are unconsciously formed by infants, young children and even adolescents and adults as a creative strategy for coping with disruption in relationships that repeatedly fail to satisfy crucial developmental and relational needs. The unconscious organising patterns that compose a life script are often based on the quality of the infant / caregiver relationship. These early models are then reinforced and elaborated during a number of developmental ages to form the life script.

Session 2: The developmental impact of cumulative neglect and the linkages with Attachment

Bowlby wrote about the unconscious relational patterns and described the biological imperative of prolonged physical and affective bonding in the creation of a visceral core from which all experiences of self and others emerge. Building on our understanding from session 1, we explore how the therapist’s attunement provides the client with the security of affect-regulating transactions. Such affect regulation is the within a sensitive, caring relationship rather than in the client’s archaic attempts at self-regulation through clinging and over-adaptation, physical and emotional distancing, emotional confusion and fragmentation or social façade and emotional withdrawal.

Session 3: Case Vignettes and Examples

Session 4: Therapeutic Approaches

In this final session we will examine how our therapeutic focus can rely on the primary dimensions of cognitive, behavioural, affective and physiological, each within a relational system.

We comprehend how ‘Script Cure’ involves an internal reorganisation and new integration of affective and cognitive structures, the undoing of physiological retroflections, the decommissioning of introjections and the conscious choosing of behaviour that is meaningful and appropriate in the current relationship or task rather than being determined by compulsion or fear of archaic coping reactions.

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