Attachment as a Relational Construct A one-day workshop with Dr Ruth Schmidt Neven London, 6 October 2017 (Friday) 10:00am - 4:30pm
Designed to be of practical value to psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and family mental health practitioners, this workshop by Dr Ruth Schmidt Neven takes a unique look at Attachment – linking it to developmental stages throughout the life cycle of our clients and identifying how therapists can have a positive impact on cognitive processes. The workshop helps us comprehend how attachment as a relational construct expands over the lifespan and provides continuity between early childhood experiences, later development and adult life. The workshop starts by recognising that all behaviour has meaning, and is a communication. Within this context, positive infant-parent relationships have a transforming function that create the potential for mutuality, reciprocity and shared meaning, and thereby provide a continuing protective system through to adulthood. The absence of a ‘secure base’ and an ‘internal working model’ has an impact on: how children ‘speak’ their family through their behaviour, and how adults ‘speak’ their childhoods in the consulting room The workshop looks closely at the therapeutic challenges we face as practitioners when there is a breakdown in the attachment process. How do we link this and therapeutically address cognitive functioning, brain development and the perpetuation of trauma for the developing child? Through illustrative case vignettes, a video presentation and examples from her clinical work in UK & Australia, Dr Ruth Schmidt Neven helps both new practitioners and those with many years of experience to view Attachment in a relational and developmental perspective, bringing to life the opportunities we have in our therapeutic interactions. By the end of the workshop participants will: Gain familiarity with the conceptual framework of attachment which emphasises the interdependence of systems with respect to developmental imperatives, relational and meaning making interactions between and infant and caregiver, and what Bowlby has referred to ‘evolutionary adaptedness’ Have an understanding of some of the evidence base of attachment in particular - The Strange Situation Test and the Adult Attachment Interview Examine the role of attachment in promoting regulatory behaviour in the infant and young child, specifically with respect to developing opportunities for higher levels of cognitive processing, the acquisition of empathy and the controlling and balancing of emotions Gain insight into using an attachment and meaning making model in clinical work with children, parents and young people About the speaker Dr. Ruth Schmidt Neven is a child psychotherapist and clinical psychologist. She trained at the Tavistock Clinic in London and worked for many years in child and family mental health in the UK National Health Service. In the UK she was a pioneer in parent support and education and co-founder and director of the national organisation Exploring Parenthood. Ruth came to Australia to take up the inaugural position of Chief Child Psychotherapist at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She is now director of the Centre for Child and Family Development and is engaged in clinical work as well as extensive professional training throughout Australia and overseas. She has run her Foundation Course in Child and Family Development at the University of Cambridge Child Wellbeing Forum. Her workshop on Attachment Across the Life Cycle is run regularly for the Australian Psychological Society and last year at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. In 2014 Ruth ran a workshop for nscience on Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with Children, Parents and Young People. Ruth’s publications include Core Principles of Assessment and Therapeutic Communication with Children, Parents and Families (Routledge, 2010), Emotional Milestones: Development from birth to adulthood which was in continuous publication for nearly twenty years and Exploring Parenthood. She is principal author of Rethinking ADHD: An Illness of Our Time (Allen & Unwin 2000) which has been translated into Japanese. Her latest book in press to be published by Routledge is Time-Limited Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with Children, Parents and Young People: An Integrative Approach. Workshop Schedule 9:45AM: Registration 10:00AM: Session 1: The connecting thread The first session provides an overview of the topic at hand and looks at: the relationship and meaning making elements of the Attachment process What we can learn by comparing and contrasting the theory of Attachment and other models such as theories of temperament Through illustrative case examples we explore how the attachment process throws light on the way we can understand behaviour both in the child and the adult. 11:30AM Coffee Break 11:45AM: Session 3: the hub of the relational matrix In this session we explore: the role of attachment in brain development and how attachment is perceived as being ‘the hub of the relational matrix’ (Jennifer McIntosh) how the ‘internal working model’ described by John Bowlby depends on the parents’ capacity to help the infant and young child mediate the complexity of psychobiological transitions the capacity for ‘mindsight’ and ‘mentalising’ which can be viewed as successful outcomes of positive attachment The importance of the act of giving voice is discussed as a core organising principle of positive mental health, and in this context we refer to Colwyn Trevarthen’s work on ‘inter-subjectivity’ and the ‘proto conversation’ The session concludes with a video illustration. 1:00PM: Lunch 1:45PM: Session 4: The organising principle of co-regulation This session takes a developmental life cycle approach to separation, loss and trauma through understanding the role of critical periods of development. In particular we look at the organising principle of co-regulation, which leads to the capacity for self-regulation in the infant and young child. We examine the impact of chronic trauma on the brain and how psychosomatic and developmental stress play a part in the breakdown of regulatory processes and have an impact on health outcomes. We go on to identify the particular risk factors for the developing infant and young child and the different responses of boys and girls as described in the research of Bruce Perry. Finally, we examine the role of trauma in compromising the memory system, with particular reference to the symbolic/linguistic aspects of memory. This session will use illustrative case material from children who have experienced severe trauma. 3:45PM: Session 5: working with Adults and Couples In this session, we will refer in particular to the work of Dr. Christopher Clulow of the Tavistock Marital Studies Institute that highlights how each partner can act potentially as a secure base for the other and promote optimum functioning of the third element, namely the marriage or partnership itself. The session will conclude with a review of the learnings from the day 4:30PM: Close

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