Working with Infidelity in Couples: Developmental and Destructive Dynamics A one-day workshop with Susanna Abse London, 14 June 2019 (Friday) 10:00am - 4:00pm
More than 40% of spouses admit to having cheated on their partner, yet fidelity remains a powerful ideal within relationships and an affair is often experienced as a catastrophic event which can be challenging not only for the couple, but also for the therapist. In working with affairs how does the therapist manage the powerful feelings of shock and moral judgement that are aroused both between the couple and in the therapist? Can affairs ever be understood as servicing a developmental purpose? Are some betrayals shared enactments that can be understood as attempts to reset a relationship? How does the therapist understand the nature and meaning of an affair and the unconscious phantasies that are attached to the ideal of fidelity whilst helping a couple struggle with the reality of relational disappointment? And how do therapists help couples through this relational storm? This practical and interactive seminar, relevant to psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors will help practitioners to: Learn about societal attitudes to affairs Understand different kinds of affairs and their underlying meanings and purpose Explore our conscious and unconscious attitudes to infidelity Understand some of the underlying relational causes of affairs Gain an introduction to psychoanalytic concepts relevant to couples who have been unfaithful Explore the practitioner’s anxieties about managing the boundaries of therapy where affairs are a feature Provide a framework for containment for couples who are in crisis Understand how affairs can offer developmental opportunities Find ways to support couples to manage their feelings better Help couples mourn and recover trust Susanna will not only present material based on published evidence; but also, use group discussion and clinical case studies as part of the workshop. Participants are welcome to bring vignettes of clinical material that can be shared and discussed within the normal boundaries of confidentiality.
Workshop Schedule 10:00AM: Session 1: Affairs – Attitudes and Prejudices In the first session we explore: How common are affairs – some statistics Our attitudes to fidelity and infidelity and how this might impact on our work Gender and affairs Brief introduction to relevant psychoanalytic concepts of couple relating 11:30AM: Coffee Break 12:00 noon: Session 2: The storm and the calm – managing affairs in therapy Managing crisis and affect in the consulting room Managing boundaries in the context of uncertainty and chaos Containment as a concept The therapist’s anxieties and the counter-transference experience 1:00PM: Lunch Break (a light lunch is provided as part of the seminar) 2:00PM: Session 3: A Typology of Affairs and what happens next How do affairs differ – clinical vignettes and exploration Recovering from affairs and attachment style Mourning and separation 4:00PM: Close About the speaker Susanna Abse is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, executive coach and organisational consultant. She has worked in private practice with couples, parents and individuals since 1991. She was CEO of the charity Tavistock Relationships from 2006 until 2016. She is chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council. Susanna is a Fellow of The Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology and a Fellow of the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington. She is a Member of the Editorial Board of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, and Series Co-Editor of “The Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis” for Karnac Books. She was a member of the policy commission, “Closing the Mental Health Care Treatment Gap” for the University of Birmingham, examining the wider social determinants of mental illness between 2016-2018. She has published widely on couple therapy and parenting, and two of her publications relevant to this seminar are: Abse, S. (2018) Anxieties and Defences: A clinical commentary in Couple Stories: Applications of psychoanalytic ideas in thinking about couple interaction, Eds. Novakovic, A. and Reid, M. London: Routledge Abse, S. (2014) Intimacy: The Long and Winding Road Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy: Foundations of Theory and Practice, Karnac Books, London

Continuing professional development through seminars, workshops and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists.