The Therapy Relationship: Cutting Edge of our Work or Cliché – (or Both)?

A one day seminar with Professor Andrew Samuels


London, 24 January 2015 (Saturday)

10:00AM – 4:00PM
Ambassadors Bloomsbury,12 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HX 

Across modalities and therapeutic approaches, the relationship between the therapist and client has been considered absolutely central to effective therapy. It has also been usually assumed that while the therapist is ready, willing and able to enter the therapeutic alliance, it is the client who has to struggle against his / her own complexes to do so. But is this a fair depiction of the situation? Similarly, the analysis of transference and countertransference has often been regarded as the key element in psychoanalytic and psychodynamic approaches. What if these assumptions also need a close critical review, and in making such assumptions we are ignoring the myriad of relationships and encounters that take place outside the session, in everyday life and in society?


At this contrarian and unique seminar, which will resonate with psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists across modalities, Professor Samuels questions our cherished ideas and subjects our values to scrutiny – all with the  aim of deepening our understanding and enhancing the efficacy of our therapeutic work.


Drawing on his extensive experience with psychoanalytic, humanistic and post-Jungian approaches, and with the aid of illustrative examples, Professor Samuels first explains how we are just beginning to discover the active role a client plays in the relationship. He introduces the concept of ‘the activist client‘ – explaining how the client’s trajectory of growth is not just internal or relational, but also ‘outward‘ and how the client is often engaged with external political and social issues when interacting with the therapist. With the therapist’s role in the therapeutic alliance in mind, he then also looks closely at the wounds and vulnerabilities of the therapists (wounded healers?) and their motivations for taking up this work.
Professor Andrew Samuels has, for 40 years, been evolving a unique blend of post-Jungian, relational psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches to therapy work, ideally positioning him to discuss a wide variety of clinical philosophies. He is recognized internationally as a leading commentator from a psychotherapeutic perspective on political and social problems. His work on the father, sexuality, spirituality, and transference-countertransference has also been widely appreciated. He is a Founder Board Member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, past chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (2009-2012), Co-founder of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, and also of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy. He is Professor of Analytical Psychology at Essex University and holds visiting chairs at New York, London, Roehampton and Macau Universities.
His many books have been translated into 19 languages, including Jung and the Post-Jungians (Routledge, 1985); A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis (Routledge, 1986); The Father (Routledge, 1986); The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality and the Father (Routledge, 1989);Psychopathology (Karnac, 1989); The Political Psyche (Routledge, 1993);Politics on the Couch (Karnac, 2001); Persons, Passions, Psychotherapy Politics (Routledge, 2014); and – of specific relevance to the seminar –Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and Reappraisals (edited with Del Loewenthal, Routledge, 2014). A number of his articles, lectures and videos are available on his 


Seminar Schedule


10:00AM: Session 1:

One therapy relationship or many?

Presentation + an experiential exercise


In this first session, Professor Samuels uses music, movement and props as part of an experiential exercise to illustrate:


  • The simultaneity of different aspects of the therapy relationship and how we can recognize this
  • Duelling Banjos‘ – how the therapy relationship is a conversation as well as a duel and how there are multiple threads of conversation with the outside world
  • The co-creation of the therapy relationship
  • Working with the activist client


11:30AM: Coffee Break


11:45AM: Session 2: The therapeutic alliance: understanding our motivations as therapists


In this session, we look in depth at the therapeutic alliance from the therapist’s perspective. Specifically, we discuss:


  • Is it always the case that the client is struggling to get into the therapeutic alliance where they will find the therapist waiting already, prepared to welcome them in?
  • How do we comprehend therapeutic alliances that fail because of the therapist’s own problems?
  • Is the idea of the ‘wounded healer‘ of relevance here?
  • Exploring the wounds that may have driven us into this work


1:00PM: Lunch (a light lunch is provided as part of the seminar)


2:00PM: Session 3: Problems with the ideas of transference and countertransference


Extending the ideas of the previous two sessions, we then take a closer look at the commonly held comprehension of transference and countertransference to discuss:


  • Critiques of transference and countertransference from social, ecological and systemic perspectives
  • Different images and metaphors that illuminate therapeutic interaction
  • The possibilities of integrating ways of working with transference and countertransference and relational approaches


3:00PM: Coffee Break


3:15PM: Session 4: Plenary & Review


Attendees will be invited to share their experience of the experiential exercise and discuss any issues outstanding from the previous sessions. We also summarize our learnings and discuss:


  • Integrating the approaches discussed during the day
  • Allowing for the impacts of issues of diversity and equality on the therapy relationship


4:00PM: Close




questions about the seminar? Call us at: + 44 20 3290 5622 or write