Small Group Seminars & Consultation
with Members of Sydney & Melbourne Institutes for Psychoanalysis
See Seminar Descriptions after the timetable, below

SGS tulips Whitebackground

Small Group Seminars & Consltation (SGSC) is an approachable way of trying psychodynamic supervision in a group discussion of your clinical work with 2 - 6 clinicians and a Member of Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis (SIP).

Small Group Seminars & Consltation aims to provide an enjoyable space where you can learn from your own experience and share in the experiences of others. Groups run for about a year, and are held at various locations in Sydney to help clinicians fit SGSC into their working lives. SGSC is designed to be a self-contained professional development activity.

Small Group Seminars & Consultation - Application Form

Psychoanalytic Thinkers
These seminars explore the work of a particular analyst

Inside Lives: Psychoanalysis and the Growth of the Personality: by Margot Waddell.
(Kathryn Bays: Monday fortnightly 6.30 – 8.00pm by video conference or Monday 11.00 – 12.00 in Clifton Hill Melbourne)

A Fruitful Harvest – the work of Jeff Eaton
(Mark Howard, Thursday fortnightly 1:30 - 2:50 PM; Roseville and via videoconference)

(Leonie Sullivan, Friday 1:45 – 2:45 PM, St Leonards, and via videoconference)

Specialised Clinical Groups

These seminars aim to assist newcomers to psychodynamic ideas and recently qualified practitioners to apply psychodynamic ideas in their work

The Setting
(Pam Shein, Monday fortnightly, 10.15 – 11.30 AM, Edgecliff and via videoconference)

Starting Out for all mental health clinicians
(Kathryn Bays, Monday fortnightly, 6.30 - 8.00PM via videoconference)

From the Get Go for Clinical Psychologists 
(Mark Howard, first (and, on request, third) Wednesday of the month, 6.20 – 7:40 PM, Roseville, and via videoconference.)

Finding imagination in the clinical toolbox: its use and application when awakening the human spirit
(Karyn Todes,  Friday fortnightly, 1.00 – 2.20PM, video conference only)

An Analytic Position: learning to work with psychodynamic ideas.
(Mark Howard, Friday fortnightly 1.00 – 2.30PM via videoconference.)

Short Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

These seminars offer a pathway to training in short term treatment

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy.
(Mark Howard, Thursday fortnightly 1.30 - 2:50 PM, or, Friday fortnightly 1.00 – 2.30PM, Roseville, and via videoconference

Psychodynamic Explorations

These seminars broadly explore the application of psychodynamic ideas

A psychoanalytic exploration of Internet Forums
(Louise Hird, Thursday fortnightly, 12.50 – 2 PM, Pymble and via video conference)

Mother-infant, Child, Adolescent & Couples work

These seminars explore psychodynamic work with specific patient groups

Working with young children and their parents. 
(Jyotsna Field, Monday, weekly, 12.30 – 2.00 PM, Crows Nest)

Working with adolescents. 
(Louise Hird, Wednesday fortnightly, 2.00 - 3.20PM, Pymble and via video conference)

Analytically informed couples therapy. 
(Ken Israelstam, Wednesday fortnightly, 2.30 – 4.00 PM, Killara;  Term 2, 2017.)

Working with Mothers and Babies.
(Catherine Bailey & Louise Hird, Thursday, fortnightly, 1.00 - 2.00pm, Pymble and via videoconference.)

Observational  Studies

These seminars assist practitioners to develop observational skills that are very useful in all types of clinical work

Infant Observation
(Pam Shein, Tuesday, weekly, 10 – 11.30 AM, Edgecliff)

Infant Observation 
(Leonie Sullivan, Monday, weekly, 1.00 – 2.30 p.m., St Leonards; an alternative time and/or a video conference group could be formed.)

Young Child Observation
(Jyotsna Field, these seminars will begin in 2017 at a time to be decided with participants)

Work Discussion, Inter–vision, and Balint groups
 These seminars offer different types of group discussion to explore and expand on the meaning of difficulties in clinical and work settings

Work Discussion Group in Melbourne
(Kathryn Bays, Wednesday fortnightly, 12.15 - 1.45PM, Clifton Hill, Melbourne)

A Balint group.
(Leonie Sullivan, Thursday, weekly, 1.00 – 2.30 p.m., St Leonards)

Work Discussion Group
(Louise Hird, Friday weekly, 9.00 - 10.00AM, Pymble)

Inter-vision Discussion Group.
(Mark Howard, Friday fortnightly 3.30 – 4.50PM, Roseville and via videoconference.)

See above for times and dates

Jyotsna Field: The young child Observation

This course involves a weekly hour long observation of a young child, 3-5 possibly at a preschool or day care centre. This is usually a follow on from a two year Infant observation, to understand a young child's social development in addition to other developments. The group will be limited to 4 and each member will present their observation once every four weeks. The seminar will run for an hour and a half. The time is negotiable depending on members' availability. A reading list will also be available.It may be possible to join by Skype or Zoom.


1. Kathryn Bays: Inside Lives: Psychoanalysis and the Growth of the Personality: by Margot Waddell. A reading group for anyone interested in “an accessible introduction to contemporary psychoanalytic thought and….the elusive question of how the personality develops”

Margot Waddell’s book “Inside Lives” (2000), part of the Tavistock Clinic Series is an eloquent and accessible account of “clinical and theoretical work that has been most influential at the Tavistock Clinic”. It “follows the major developmental stages from infancy to old age” ..and “explores those vital aspects of experience which promote mental and emotional growth and those which impede it”. The group will read the book chapters each fortnight in readiness for group discussion and expansion of the ideas contained therein. This is an introductory level reading group.

2. Leonie Sullivan: Infant Observation Seminar (Available only by arrangement as a videoconferencing group)

The initial seminar for this group is a discussion of Esther Bick’s 1964 paper ‘Notes on infant observation in psycho-analytic training”, how to observe, the nature of early infantile anxiety, especially the baby’s fear of ‘falling to bits’, the impact of maternal anxiety and postnatal depression, and the significance of good observational capacities for future psychoanalytic work. Bick emphasized the gathering of data over time, the need to wait for meaning to emerge, and the observer’s responsibility to respect their role as learner and to behave with tact and reliability.

Bick’s ideas took shape at the same time as Wilfred Bion’s work on ‘A theory of thinking’ and these two explorations of the emotional and cognitive dimensions of the early mother-child relationship are complementary.

Participation in this Psychoanalytic infant observation seminar group will involve a weekly observation of an infant from birth.  (Over an agreed, one or two year period) These observations are undertaken in the home setting, for one hour per week. Each student is responsible for finding a baby to observe and a discussion of this, is part of the work of the seminar group. Observers will attend weekly seminars to discuss the practicalities of setting up an observation and to discuss the process of finding a baby.

Every observation is written down in detail as soon after the observation as possible. This can often take about an hour to complete. Members of the seminar group discuss their observations in small group seminars, which take place on a weekly basis. The weekly observations offer an opportunity to appreciate the mutual influence of the developing relationship between mother and baby, and father and siblings.

There are usually 3-5 people in a group so that each one is able to present regularly. This allows the group members to follow a number of babies and their families in depth. The presentations are de identified and group members agree to keep the material shared as confidential.

With the help of the seminar group, observers learn to try to stay in the role of the observer and become more aware of pulls to move out of that position. Along with developing sensitivity and precision in observation, the seminar group gives an experience of how to think freshly and inductively from observation, including trying to understand how the developing infant is making sense of their world.

3. Pam Shein: 'The Setting’ (Clinical Reading Group)

This group will benefit those who are working with adults, adolescents or children in a clinical, hospital, educational or health and welfare setting.
This group will meet to discuss the optimal setting to enable a therapeutic encounter to take place. The analytic setting includes both a mental and physical setting. Discussion will centre around how to set up your consulting room, and understanding how the physical setting and the mental stance of the therapist forms the foundation of the frame needed for a psychotherapy. These topics will help clinicians think about how clients make use of the setting to communicate their inner feelings. Participants are invited to present clinical material and literature will be provided.

This group will benefit those who are working with adults, adolescents or children in a clinical, hospital, educational or health and welfare setting.

4. Kathryn Bays:  ‘Starting out ’: a work discussion group for mental health clinicians of all disciplines who are starting out in clinical practise

‘Starting Out’.  Is a work discussion group for mental health clinicians of all disciplines working in a variety of settings who are in a ‘starting out’ phase of their career and who wish to think analytically about their clinical practise.  There will also be an initial focus on ‘starting out’ with patients – thinking about the very beginning of contact with patients and on what can be learnt from these initial contacts. Participants will be invited to bring their experiences and their clinical work for discussion with peers and the seminar leader in the group setting. Depending upon the needs of the group members there is also the opportunity for relevant literature to be provided and discussed.

5. Jyotsna Field: ‘Working with young children and their parents’ (Clinical Reading Group)

This group will offer an opportunity for clinicians already working with children to discuss their work. It will also be an introduction for those interested in developing their ability to work with children. There will also be readings and discussion on working with parents.
There will be readings provided from the latest literature from the Tavistock Child Psychotherapy Journals. The work of Child Psychotherapists including Anne Alvarez, Maria Rhode, Margaret Rustin and Suzanne Maiello will be discussed.


1, Pam Shein: Infant Observation
I am interested in offering an infant observation group to those clinicians who are wanting to observe a baby from birth and to join a group to think about the infant's development. Please let me know if you are interested. The seminars will begin in February 2017 at a time to be decided with participants.


1. Louise Hird: 'Working with Adolescents' (Clinical Group)

Working with adolescents can be challenging. These seminars will use various papers as a basis to address the difficulties of working with adolescents. The group will explore the adolescent experience of isolation. Group participants will be encouraged to bring their clinical work and experiences.

These seminars will be valuable for clinicians who are working with adolescents. They are also aimed at clinicians who might not yet be working with adolescents but who are interested in developing an understanding of psychodynamic approaches to adolescent work.

2. Ken Israelstam: ‘Analytically Informed Couples Therapy’ (Work Discussion Group)

My early couples and family work had its basis in the various models that I had integrated and internalised over the years i.e. structural, strategic and Milan etc. Although reasonably well equipped, I found myself turning to psychoanalytic theory and practice to increase my depth and understanding of this very complex work.
My aim in these seminars is to explore and illustrate the value of analytically informed couples therapy. My own and group members clinical material will form the basis of our explorations. Relevant literature will be used to help provide us with a conceptual basis.

This group will benefit those who work analytically with individuals, but wish to work with couples, and those who do work with couples, but wish to become more informed by analytic thinking and practice.

3. Mark Howard: ‘From the Get Go’ (Work Discussion Group)

These seminars are for registered and provisionally registered clinical psychologists, who are currently completing university clinical placements, are in the registrar program, or are in post qualification employment. It will help clinicians working in hospital-based services, community-health and/or private practice apply useful dynamic ideas in their day to day work.

The aim is to build upon your pre-existing skills in models such as CBT, DBT, ACT, schema therapy, narrative and family therapies, and psychodynamic approaches. The sessions will provide you with a few extra tools to address relational and contextual aspects of treatment - for example:

- How to use your own experience of the patient in the room to inform formulation, diagnosis, and treatment planning.
- How to talk to the patient who seems to be struggling with the assessment protocol you need to complete.
- How to work with patients who are resistant to engage in therapy or change.
- How to formulate patient difficulties within a psychodynamic frame.
- Practical skills to understand and address the underlying emotions and meaning behind what a patient is telling you.
- How to think about your place in the health system.
Sessions will take the form of informal group supervision. They will provide an open forum to discuss recent clinical experiences and obtain feedback from clinicians at a similar level of training and a seminar leader. No preparation is required to attend the groups.

Clinicians are encouraged to enrol for half a year (four - six seminars), or longer. This continuity will help a core group of clinicians to develop a syllabus of interest, but the seminars are also offered for occasional attendance to clinicians who would like an opportunity to try them.

Kathryn Bays: A work discussion group in Melbourne Wednesdays fortnightly in Clifton Hill. 12.15- 1.45.

Available for group supervision of clinicians working in a variety of mental health settings and who may work in a variety of ways who wish to learn or deepen their awareness of how analytic ideas can enrich their clinical thinking and inform their practise.



There will be a brief introduction to the model and ground rules, the rest of the time will be allocated to working on clinical material. (Participants are requested to attend all sessions)

A Balint Group approach can be particularly useful for exploration of the dynamics of cases where there may be dilemmas pertaining to boundary issues, ethical dilemmas or where there is something about a particular case that makes it difficult to think with a particular patient. In some instances there may be an actual enactment where it has not been possible for the clinician to provide an experience of mentalisation for the patient because they themselves have a “blind spot “.

In preparation for the group, each participant is being asked to think about a situation with a patient, where there has been something or some interaction that could benefit from a fresh perspective. Some situations discussed in the past, have involved the therapist feeling pressured to act or where there has been something that has led to an actual enactment. Other situations have been around fees, frequency of sessions, difficulty articulating a feeling, difficulty with remembering appointments, self-disclosure and tolerating /processing of intense or disturbing feelings.

As we will be forming a new group this pre group task is important. It is a tool to help people come together with an initial common task. (Which is bringing to mind, a current clinical situation where there is something that the clinician feels challenged by.) There will only be time for one or two people to present a dilemma each time and this will be decided on in the group. Please come with a dilemma. Note the presentation is from memory, without notes, forgetting, slips of the tongue will all become the work of the group. All clinical work needs to be de identified and the group discussion is confidential.

By paying careful attention to the setting of the frame for the group around the task. (Focusing on what may be happening in the relationship between patient and clinician), there is an implied agreement that, just as with psychoanalysis a solution is not the primary aim of the work but may arise as the depth of understanding the material develops. In a Balint Group this is likely, even after the group has ceased to meet, which is one reason why participants are requested not to question the presenter after the group is over. Hopefully in a different reflective space, the presenter will continue to process the experience in the group.

Some information about Balint groups

Balint work rests on the assumption that the unconscious mind is always at work in all of us, not just in our patients. As a consequence there is always more to learn, surprise and challenge us, so that our understanding of our work and ourselves is in a state of continual evolution. The focus is on understanding the interpersonal dynamics and or enactments of cases, both from the clinicians’ point of view and that of the patient. The British Psychoanalyst Enid Balint called this process the biphasic structure of empathy.

2. Mark Howard: A Fruitful Harvest - the work of Jeff Eaton. (Clinical Reading Group)

Jeff Eaton is a down to earth clinician who works with adults and children. His refreshing writing style provides an accessible and welcoming path into contemporary analytic ideas that include the work of Bion, the Kleinian tradition, and Frances Tustin, all linformed by his Buddhist practice. Eaton aims to help clinicians and patients to 'build a floor for experience’ on which to repair disrupted development, especially due to trauma or deprivation. Seminars will alternate between discussions of chapters in in Eaton’s book, ‘ A Fruitful Harvest’, and clinical presentations considered in the light of the readings. As well as its general application, this seminar series will be enriching for those clinicians who would like to attend the Australian Psychoanalytical Society’s Open Day on Saturday, October 14, at which Eaton will be the Keynote speaker.

3. Mark Howard: 'Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy' (Clinical Reading Group)

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT) is a new Short Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (STePP) that invites us to think about what works for whom, and when. This group provides an opportunity to read about and discuss DIT and other  STePPs used by many psychodynamic clinicians, in  one way or another, and sometimes quite informally.

Readings will include excerpts from Peter Hobson’s recent book, Brief Psychoanalytic Therapy in which he proposes a focussed but otherwise not greatly modified approach to short term psychodynamic work (16 sessions). Hobson's book is a useful resource to compare with DIT, a contemporary brief psychodynamic treatment for anxiety and depression that was developed by Alessandra Lemma, Mary Target, and Peter Fonagy.

DIT integrates elements of attachment, ‘mentalisation’, and object relations theory into a treatment of 16 weekly sessions that focus on a central pattern of relationship difficulty, formulated in the ‘interpersonal affective focus.’ In contrast to more ‘educative’ STePPs, DIT aims to facilitate the process of ‘mentalisation’ and emergent moments of understanding by use of the transference and countertransference.  

 These seminars are intended for clinicians already familiar with psychodynamic ways of working who want to develop their understanding of short term treatment modalities, and it would help clinicians enter a STePP training.

4. Louise Hird: ‘A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Internet Forums’

The internet and social media have come to play an important part in the lives of many of the patients presenting to us for treatment.  This seminar will explore how, on the one hand, these phenomena can foster further psychological development by allowing participants to play with ideas about relationship, identity, and even recovery. On the other hand, the sites and platforms of cyberspace can also facilitate psychic retreat  by promoting  escape from a reality that has become unbearable.
How do we meet our patients in trying to understand these cyberspace worlds and how they use them (e.g. sites which distribute internet pornography or which promote anorexia such as “Pro-Ana”)?  

This seminar will use various papers to explore how these sites can be viewed through concepts such as psychic isolation, identify, defiance and contagion. Participants will be encouraged to bring their clinical work and experience.

5. Catharine Bailey and Louise Hird: 'Working with Mothers and Babies'

These seminars will offer an opportunity for clinicians working in the area of perinatal health to discuss their work.  The seminars will use various papers to explore parent infant work. Group participants will be encouraged to bring their clinical work and experiences.
 These seminars will be valuable for health practitioners who are working with mothers and babies in a clinical, hospital, health or welfare setting.  They may also be of interest to clinicians in perinatal training programs interested in developing an understanding of psychodynamic approaches to parent/infant work.


1. Louise Hird: Work Discussion Group

Available for supervision of work with adolescents and adults.

2. Louise Hird: ‘Working with regional indigenous primary school students and their therapists.'

This group will offer an opportunity for therapists working with Aboriginal primary school children to discuss their work. The group will particularly focus on the issues of working with traumatized children and the impact on their therapists.

3. Karyn Todes: ‘Finding imagination in the clinical toolbox: its use and application when awakening the human spirit.’

This is a creative and experiential seminar that will stimulate the practitioner to journey into his or her own imagination in the service of trying to understand emotional life in the infant, child or adult.  

Discussion will center on how the fertile soil of the mind of a “mother”(therapist/observer) can act as an agent of change in clinical work.  A sequence of imaginative metaphors will unfold to illustrate in an “accessible” manner some central ideas sprouting out of the work of Wilfred Bion and others. Practitioners will further their understanding of the components that stimulate growth of the mind and by contrast restrict this growth in the consulting room.  

The aim of this seminar is to:

-  Discover how to use spontaneous mental images, sudden thoughts or feelings, to advance communication with a baby, child or adult
-  Explore ways of talking with the client/patient in an ordinary language (or without the use of any language) about the experiences relayed via these images. This emotional exchange with the practitioner can open up for a client/patient a deeper contact with themselves and their mind.
- Contemplate how the practitioner’s mind “touches” and gets “touched” by the client/patient. Thinking about this interface can elicit useful information about struggles a patient might have in relating to him or herself and to others.
- Stimulate new seeds of thought in the practitioner, which in turn get transmitted to the patient

The topic will extend participants’ understanding of some of the “in room” ingredients that facilitate the “expansion of the mind” in any setting where there is a human encounter.  This seminar is suited to any one engaging in short or long term work, with a background in human relations (For example, counselling, psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, art therapy, child care, infant or young child observation)

Reading material will be interspersed throughout the series in a manner that invites discussion and thought.

4. Mark Howard: 'An Analytic Position'

An ‘analytic position’ is a way of observing and thinking that is informed by the psychodynamic aspects of a clinical situation. This group will provide a good foundation for practitioners to develop an ‘analytic position’ that is useful in clinical settings as well as ‘non-clinical’ settings such as Mental Health Review Tribunals, public mental health facilities, NFP organisations, and dispute mediation services. The group will extend over 12 - 24 months with readings from Anne Alvarez, Alessandra Lemma, and Judith Mitrani. Seminars will alternate between a discussion of core ideas in a reading, and discussion of clinical material that will be considered in the light of the previous fortnight's reading. Child, adolescent or adult psychotherapy work, or material from mediation would be suitable for participants to present.

5. Leonie Sullivan: ‘Bion’ (Clinical Reading Group)

This term there will be a continuation of reading and clinical presentations as we further read and discuss Bion’s theory of thinking. Last term we were able to focus on the the K link that Bion privileged when considering emotions – “the drive towards knowing, curiosity, the ability to think amidst strong affect, is a central part of the containing process.” The group will draw on the original texts as well as using current source material, including Australian authors. In part this will determined by the clinical interest of participants.
This is an ongoing group where participation is both face to face and by Zoom (technical assistance available). Students are encouraged to bring their own clinical work for discussion of the reading material.

6. Mark Howard: Inter-vision Work Discussion Group

Work discussion groups provide an opportunity for clinicians to share their clinical work, and organisational or other difficulties in their work setting. The group considers any clinical material or organisational situation that is presented, and feedback from group members provides an inter-vision experience of multiple perspectives that highlight different aspects of the presenting clinician’s material. Inter-vision can be very helpful for providing new insights to help a clinician find a way forward in stuck or problematic situations.

                                      Copyright © 2015  Sydney Institute for Psycho-Analysis