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Calendar of Events2017-03-31T22:36:16+00:00

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Athens: Embodied perspectives on couples and couple work @ Vasilisis Sofia 51
Nov 17 @ 10:00 – Nov 18 @ 18:00
Athens: Embodied perspectives on couples and couple work @ Vasilisis Sofia 51 | Athens | Greece

A weekend workshop in Athens with Michael Soth (17 & 18 November 2018)

on extending your practice from individuals to couples

suitable for all counsellors and therapists from across all therapeutic approaches

Couple work presents many additional challenges beyond individual therapy, but this weekend will condense the essentials into accessible form, focusing especially on the advantages which an embodied and integrative therapeutic perspective can bring to couple work.

An embodied perspective can significantly enhance couple work, in all aspects of the process: in terms of the therapist’s perceptive skills, our understanding of the dynamic as well as powerful opportunities for intervention. The habitual patterns and vicious circles which couples struggle with are mainly triggered, communicated and perpetuated on non-verbal and pre-reflexive levels (as interpersonal neurobiology shows – see references).

For most couples, mutual projective identifications occur subliminally and are difficult to notice and bring into awareness, especially when the couple therapist traditionally relies on ‘talking therapy’ methods and interpretations.

An integrative approach allows the therapist a creative range of interventions – using techniques from Gestalt, constellations, process-oriented psychology to help the couple discover experientially both the roots of their patterns as well as new ways of relating.

Michael will propose a distinction of the field into 8 kinds of couple therapy, drawing on a wide variety of humanistic, interpersonal, neuro-biological, systemic, and psychoanalytic approaches, all of which can be useful and contribute to a more comprehensive integration.

Some of the topics we may address:

  • “Can Love Last?” (after the book by Stephen Mitchell) – the vulnerability of attachment and commitment
  • the promise of falling in love: the other will provide protection against woundedness
  • embodied awareness of each partner’s internal object relations
  • complex vicious cycles of child – idealised parent – bad parent - child
  • mutual projective identifications (how the partners ‘dream each other up’)
  • the systemic fit: who the partners represent in each other’s family system
  • the Jungian and transpersonal perspective: each partner can become the other’s guide towards individuation (which involves as a side-effect of the relationship the destroying of each other’s defences)
  • Esther Perel’s contributions to our understanding of infidelity and erotic desire

Michael Soth has been developing his version of Embodied Integrative Couple Work over the last 12 years, and has worked with a wide variety of couples. He is an integral-relational Body Psychotherapist, trainer and supervisor (UKCP), living in Oxford, UK. Over the last 32 years he has been teaching on a range of counselling and therapy training courses, alongside working as Training Director at the Chiron Centre for Body Psychotherapy.

Inheriting concepts, values and ways of working from both psychoanalytic and humanistic traditions, he is interested in the therapeutic relationship as a bodymind process between two people who are both wounded and whole.

In his work and teaching, he integrates an unusually wide range of psychotherapeutic approaches, working towards a broad-spectrum integration of all therapeutic modalities and approaches, each with their gifts, wisdoms and expertise as well as their shadow aspects, fallacies and areas of obliviousness.

Extracts from his published writing as well as hand-outs, blogs and summaries of presentations are available through his website for INTEGRA CPD:

Interview on couple work

In preparation for the CPD workshop on couple work in Athens, Michael is interviewed by a Greek colleague:

  • Michael, why do we need companionship? Is it an innate need or just something we learned from society and we are trying to reproduce it?
  • Are there some distinct stages that interpersonal relationships go through? If so, can you summarize them?
  • In the description of your seminar I read with surprise that “one of the purposes / side-effects of the relationship is to destroy each other’s defences”. Can you elaborate?
  • Michael, according to your experience, what are the reasons why many people prefer to stay in a existing relationship that doesn’t offer anything any more, rather than set a new course and go for a better relationship?
  • Many times I have wondered in my life: am I falling in love with the person that I see in front of me or the longings and expectations that this person is producing in me? Am I falling in love with the other or an imaginary part of myself? Is there a way to distinguish one case from the other?
  • Is love enough by itself to keep a relationship going?
  • In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that therapists and mental health professionals make when approaching couple therapy?
  • You talk about embodied couple therapy - what is that and how does it work? What does an embodied approach have to offer in addition to the talking therapies for couples?
  • Is learning about couple work useful only to couple therapists?

You can access the PDF with the interview here.

References for Couple Therapy

Stephen Mitchell (Relational Psychoanalysis): Can Love Last?

Esther Perel:

Mating in Captivity

The State Of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity

Esther Perel website

Esther Perel TED talk

James Hillman: see chapter ‘Abandonment in Marriage’ in Loose Ends: Primary Papers in Archetypal Psychology

A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy:

Stan Tatkin

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy:

Sue Johnson:

Imago Therapy:

Harville Hendrix, PhD: Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples

Couples Therapist Hedy Schleifer:

“Couples Therapist Hedy Schleifer, along with her husband Yumi Schleifer, are expert relationship coaches who lead workshops for couples, and trainings for therapists and organizations, transforming relationships worldwide.”

Psychoanalytic (Tavistock) perspectives on relationships

Stanley Ruszczynski

Psychotherapy With Couples: Theory and Practice at the Tavistock Institute of Marital Studies

Jungian perspectives on love

Robert A. Johnson

She: Understanding Feminine Psychology

He: Understanding Masculine Psychology

We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love

The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding The Wounded Feeling Function In Masculine And Feminine Psychology

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman

Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother's Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul

Jean Shinoda Bolen

Goddesses in Everywoman: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition: Powerful Archetypes in Women's Lives

Nathan Schwartz-Salant

Schwartz-Salant, N. (1998) The Mystery of Human Relationship: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self

Family Therapy

Virginia Satir:

(1991) The Satir Model: Family Therapy and Beyond (Science and Behavior Books)

(2008) Your Many Faces: The First Step to Being Loved (Celestial Arts)

Salvador Minuchin:

Mastering Family Therapy: Journeys of Growth and Transformation

The Craft of Family Therapy: Challenging Certainties

Family Constellations

Bert Hellinger:

Love's Hidden Symmetry: What Makes Love Work in Relationships - The Order of Love

OTS: The Client’s Conflict becomes the Therapist’s Conflict @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Jan 19 @ 10:00 – 17:00


How to spot it and what to do next - a step-by-step recipe book (for processing the therapist’s dilemmas)

Three things stood out from a recent OTS training workshop and the work we did in the small groups (as born out by some of the feedback):

  1. as therapists we don’t always know when we are in conflict;
  2. when we do know, we often hit a blank wall - what to do or how to understand what’s going on;
  3. in order to avoid the discomfort of the conflict, we take refuge in default therapeutic interventions, routine manoeuvres and habitual stances, i.e. mechanisms which dilute the necessary charge and tension in the relationship - in doing so, we abort the therapeutic process or precipitate ruptures in the alliance.

Some of the feedback was: ‘It is scary to feel like you don’t know what to do as a therapist, so it can be a relief to not know you are in conflict.’ (this is rather reminiscent of Bion’s statement: “In every consulting room there ought to be two rather frightened people.”)

Being aware of and acknowledging our internal (countertransference) conflict as therapists usually feels like we’re losing our therapeutic position and that we are failing. In order to avoid the inherent sense of feeling powerless and vulnerable, we resort to our ‘habitual position’ as therapists, trying to shore up our shaky therapeutic position.

One of the most common manoeuvres is to ask more questions of the client in the hope of 'eliciting further information' or ‘getting somewhere else’, where we can feel on safer ground. However, in doing so we then manage to fall into two further pitfalls:

  • by trying to ‘move on’ or ‘hold on’ to our therapeutic position, we give the implicit message to the client that we can’t bear their pain, and can’t sit in it with them;
  • because we are doing so defensively, prematurely and without awareness or preparation, our interventions precipitate us further into enactment: we fall down on one or the other side of our conflict, and fail to ‘hold’ the conflict, or to catch the rupture we are entangled in.

This training day will develop your capacity to be aware of your conflict as a therapist and learn to ‘sit in it’ without being overwhelmed by pressure, fear or shame. It then becomes more possible to extract the precious information which the therapist’s conflict contains about the relational dynamic and the client’s inner world.

Format of the day:

Lunch: As usual we will arrange a bring and share lunch in the week before the event.

How to Work when Therapy isn’t Working @ Brighton, East Sussex
Mar 2 @ 10:00 – 16:30

HelplessShakespearePerceiving and understanding 'enactment' in the therapeutic relationship

Over recent years the most exciting developments in our field have come via neuroscience, psychotherapy integration (i.e. cross-fertilisation between approaches) and the inclusion of the body. We now understand that whatever psychological wounds the client is bringing to us and into the consulting room, we will in some ways become involved and implicated with them in ways that go far beyond verbal interaction. The term ‘enactment’ is being used to describe the ways in which the therapist is - inevitably and necessarily - drawn into the client’s wounding, leading to impasses and breakdowns in the working alliance.
There is great therapeutic potential in these cycles of rupture and repair that occur in the client-therapist relationship, but much of it occurs subliminally. So if it occurs unconsciously, outside of awareness, how can we perceive and understand enactment and respond creatively from within it? Whilst there are a multitude of ways of ignoring, avoiding and counteracting enactment, there is also increasing understanding that it has deep transformative potential*.

This CPD workshop is dedicated to deepening our engagement with difficult dynamics in the therapeutic relationship, and to finding ways of accessing the therapeutic potential locked within them. It is open to all practising therapists, and suitable for practitioners from all modalities.

What you can expect to learn on the day …

  • perceive the ways in which the client’s wound enters the consulting room
  • register significant and charged moments in the relationship
  • understand these moments in the context of the ‘three kinds of contact'
  • collect in these moments bodymind information which would otherwise remain subliminal
  • collect in these moments images, fantasies, scenarios, narratives which deepen our engagement from within the enactment
  • link these moments to the client’s habitual relational patterns
  • process the charge and pressure impacting on the therapist
  • begin to consider interventions for relieving or intensifying the enactment pressure

* ‘Deep’ psychotherapy, according to Allan Schore, for example (i.e. therapy that addresses early developmental injury and attachment and character patterns) depends on apprehending, engaging in and transforming spontaneous enactments which occur in the interaction between client and therapist inspite of the client’s repressive and dissociative defences

Organisers: Brighton Therapy Partnership

This workshop is expertly organised by Shelley Holland from Brighton Therapy Partnership, who has been running an inspiring and well-attended CPD programme for many years now. You can find some feedback in response to previous workshops on Michael's tutor page there.


OTS Oxford: Embodiment & Touch @ OTS-Oxford Therapy Centre
Sep 29 @ 10:00 – 17:00


A 1-day CPD workshop exploring differentiated bodymind awareness of client, therapist and relationship

Details to follow soon ....

Format of the day:

Lunch: As usual we will arrange a bring and share lunch in the week before the event.