Small Group Seminars & Consultation
with Members of Sydney & Melbourne Institutes for Psychoanalysis

SGS tulips Whitebackground

Small Group Seminars & Consultation
with Members of Sydney & Melbourne Institutes for Psychoanalysis

Small Group Seminars & Consultation (SGSC) explore the use of psychodynamic thinking in diverse areas, including clinical work with many types of patients (mother-infant, child, adolescent, couple, and adult work); clinical reading groups and pathways to training in short term psychodynamic psychotherapy; observational study groups and different types of small groups (inter-vision, and supervision) to facilitate the development of different perspectives.

Groups of 2-10 clinicians meet in person or via video-conference with a Member of Sydney or Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis

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)

Understanding mental health workplace dynamics and their impact on patients and staff: Hinshelwood, Menzies-Lyeth, Main & Jacques
(Mark Howard, Friday fortnightly 1.00 - 2.30pm, in Gordon and via videoconference, commencing 2018.)

A Fruitful Harvest – the work of Jeff Eaton
(Mark Howard, s Friday fortnightly 1.00 - 2.30pm;  Gordon and via videoconference)

 The Body & Psychoanalysis

“Ouch it hurts”: The body and psychoanalysis
(Sonia Wechsler, Wednesday, fortnightly, 2.00 - 3.15pm, Paddington 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 -11.30am, 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 - 7.40pm Roseville, Gordon and via videoconference.)

Psychoanalytic Gems in Clinical Practice
(Karyn Todes, Friday, fortnightly, 1.00 - 2.20pm, via video conference)

 Short Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

These seminars offer a pathway to training in short term treatment

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy
(Mark Howard, Thursday fortnightly 1.30 - 2:50pm, or, Friday fortnightly 1.00 - 2.30pm, Gordon, and via videoconference, starting 2018)

 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 - 2.00pm, Crows Nest)

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

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

Perinatal Work Group
(Sonia Wechsler, Friday, fortnightly, 11.00 - 12.15pm, Paddington and via videoconference.)

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

Observation Work
(Leonie Sullivan, Monday, weekly, 9.00 - 10.00am; St Leonards, other times by request)

Infant Observation
(Pam Shein, Tuesday, weekly, 10 - 11.30am, Edgecliff)

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

Clinical Supervision Group: “Working with internet basted treatments for individuals and groups”
(Leonie Sullivan, Mondays, weekly, 2.00 - 3.00pm, St Leonards)

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

Clinical Supervision Group: “Thinking about beginnings & endings”
(Leonie Sullivan, Friday, weekly, 1.40 - 2.40pm, St Leonards)

Balint Groups
(Leonie Sullivan, Wednesday, fortnightly, 1.00 - 2.40pm & Fridays 2.40 - 3.40pm
St Leonards; online groups Wednesdays & Fridays, other times available by request)

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

Inter-vision Discussion Group
(Mark Howard, Friday fortnightly 3.30 - 4.50am, Gordon and via videoconference.)

 Videoconference participation is available in many SGS groups if you have a recent model computer and an ADSL internet connection.

The Application Form can be downloaded from the link below:

For more information about SGSC contact Mark Howard:

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. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Leonie Sullivan: ‘Observation work’ 

Wilfred Bion spoke of all of us having limitations “to think while under fire”. It is my opinion that observation work can offer in an experiential way, an opportunity to develop one’s unique capacity in this regard. Wilfred Bion spoke of all of us having limitations “to think while under fire”. It is my opinion that observation work can offer in an experiential way, an opportunity to develop one’s unique capacity in this regard.
Psychoanalytic observation is unique among modes of psychological investigation. It is a process that includes introspection and empathy.

In this seminar students are required to observe weekly for an hour, a situation that is part of their routine work. This is then written up and discussed in the seminar group. 

This does not need to be direct clinical work but it can be. It is also valuable for those clinicians who are involved in working with families or running groups /who wish to understand more about the life of groups.
Students will be advised and supported about how to find a situation to observe. 
The focus of these seminars is on establishing and maintaining an observational stance, the setting and the frame.
As students bring detailed accounts of their work from their varied professional contexts, attention will be paid to the worker’s settings including the expectations and pressures of the institution in which they work. The experience of the workers own role and contracted tasks will also be considered.
The focus will also be on assisting students to use their own words to describe what they observe, without the use of professional jargon.

Past observations have taken place in children’s hospital wards, emergency departments, palliative care units, aged care facilities, psychiatric units &community mental health centers. Some students have chosen to observe groups rather than individuals. The model is based on the classic infant observation model and as such preparation and selection of the observation will be part of the seminar work.


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. Sonia Wechsler: 'Ouch it Hurts': The Body and Psychoanalysis

This is a seminar group suited to clinicians from many types of settings who are interested in the clinical issues involved when psychic pain is expressed via the body. The relationship between psychic pain and the physical will be explored using psychoanalytic ideas.  It is aimed to be a combination of clinical work and accessible readings to inform discussion and ideas. A diverse group of clinicians from all different fields are welcome and will allow cross disciplinary thinking and understanding. This seminar will be a collegial and creative space to explore and think together about physical and psychological symptoms from a psychoanalytic perspective. 

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.

4. 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.


1. 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.

2. 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. 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.

2. Louise Hird: Work Discussion Group
Available for supervision of work with adolescents and adults.

3. Sonia Wechsler: Perinatal Work Group

This is a seminar group suited to clinicians working with women in the perinatal period or wanting to begin work with mothers and babies. The group is aimed to integrate psychoanalytic ideas to assist and support the issues that arise within the perinatal period. The work environment with women in pregnancy and with young babies can be challenging and the aim of this group is a collegial group to think about the challenges specific to perinatal work. This would suit clinical psychologists, social workers, midwives, early childhood nurses, midwives, physiotherapists etc. 

4. 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.

5. 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. 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.

7. Karyn Todes: Psychoanaltic Gems in Clinical Practice

Reverie and imagination are building blocks of creative and analytic thinking. The therapist’s development of these capacities facilitates transmission to patients.  This seminar will discuss the use of the therapists’ internal experience to advance understanding of the child or adult patient in the consulting room.

8. Leonie Sullivan: Balint Groups

Different layers of transference and countertransference come to light as the group works on the case. Useful for working with patients with whom it is difficult to think or where there are ethical/ boundary or cross-cultural issues. The unconscious process in the consultations is focused on, particularly in the relationship between clinician and patient.

There is an emphasis on psychoanalytic listening and observation as well as making better use of oneself as a clinician. Balint Groups provide a supportive setting in which clinicians can pause to reflect on the many sides of what a consultation involves when observed and examined in detail.

The role of the leader is to facilitate the group forming in such a way, that there is an atmosphere of safety in which the group and the ensuing group dynamics promote a deeper understanding of the clinical material. Please note that notes are not used or taken during the discussion. 

It is suitable for anyone interested in presenting clinical work & finding out more about a Balint approach in thinking about making better use of themselves in their clinical work.

9. Leonie Sullivan: Clinical Supervision Group Thinking about  “Endings and Beginnings” & being receptive to what Bion called Emotional Turbulence

Students are encouraged to bring their own clinical work for group to discuss. Use will be made of the ending and beginning phase to explore and make use of Bion’s work. Reading material will be selected to suit the level of experience of group members and will arise from the clinical material. A pre knowledge of Bion’s work is not a requirement.



Videoconference participation is available in many SGS groups if you have a recent model computer and an ADSL internet connection.

For more information about videoconferencing:

The Application Form can be downloaded from the link below:

For more information about SGSC contact Mark Howard:

                                      Copyright © 2015  Sydney Institute for Psycho-Analysis