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Small Group Seminars & Consultation

for more information about the Seminars see below


Leonie Sullivan: 'Infant Observation.’
Monday, weekly, 1.00 - 2.30pm, St Leonards.
An alternative day and time may be arranged, and/or a videoconference group could be formed after an initial group meeting in person.

Pam Shein: 'Infant Observation.’
Tuesday, weekly, 10 - 11.30am, Edgecliff.

Jyotsna Field: ‘Young Child Observation.’
These seminars will begin in 2017 at a time to be decided with participants.
Ken Israelstam: ‘Analytically informed couples therapy.’
Wednesday fortnightly, 2.30 - 4.00pm, Killara; commences Term 2, 2017.

Louise Hird: ‘Working with regional indigenous primary school students and their therapists.’
Friday, fortnightly, 11.15am – 12.05pm, Pymble

Karyn Todes: ‘Finding imagination in the clinical toolbox: its use and application when awakening the human spirit.’
Friday fortnightly, 1.00 - 2.20pm, videoconference only; commencing 2017.


Jyotsna Field: ‘Working with young children and their parents.’
Monday, 12.30 - 2.00pm, weekly, Crows Nest

Mark Howard: ‘The work of Jeff Eaton – building a floor for experience.’
Thursday, (or Friday): Thursday 1.30 - 2.50pm, fortnightly, or Friday, 1.00 - 2.30pm, fortnightly; Roseville, and via videoconference, to commence in 2017.

Mark Howard: ‘Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy'
Thursday, (or Friday): Thursday 1.30 - 2.50pm, fortnightly, or Friday, 1.00 - 2.30pm, fortnightly; Roseville, and via videoconference to commence in 2017, according to interest.

 Pam Shein: 'The Setting.’
10.15 – 11.30am, fortnightly, in Edgecliff and via videoconference.

Louise Hird: 'Working with Adolescents.'
2.00 - 3.20pm, fortnightly, in Pymble, and via videoconference.
Mark Howard: ‘From the Get Go’ for Psychologists
6.20 - 7.40pm, first Wednesday of the month, (and reading seminars by request on the third Wednesday of the month), Roseville; and via videoconference.

Leonie Sullivan: A Balint group
1.00- 2.30pm, weekly, St Leonards.

Mark Howard: Work Discussion Group
1.40 - 2.50pm, fortnightly, Roseville, and via videoconference.
Louise Hird: Work Discussion Group
9.00 - 10.00am, weekly, Pymble.
Leonie Sullivan: ‘Bion.’
1.45 - 2.45pm, St Leonards, and via videoconference.

Mark Howard: Work Discussion Group
3.30 - 4.50pm 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, Roseville, and via videoconference.

SEMINAR DESCRIPTIONS - See above for times and dates

Jyotsna Field: The young child Observationj

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. 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.

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. 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 Mary Brady’s book, ‘The Body in Adolescence: Psychic Isolation and Physical Symptoms’, as a basis to address the difficulties of working with adolescents. The book explores the adolescent experience of isolation. Brady uses clinical material to illustrate how the therapist can understand and help adolescents whose difficulty with articulation may leave them vulnerable to breakdown into bodily symptoms such as cutting, bulimia and anorexia.

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. Group participants will be encouraged to bring their clinical work and experiences.
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.



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.


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: ‘The work of Jeff Eaton – building a floor for experience’ (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, informed 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. Eaton’s approach can be linked with Anne Alvarez’ ideas in ’The Thinking Heart’ which may be read following the Eaton seminars. 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.

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. Mark Howard: Work Discussion Group

Available for discussion of any clinical material or work-setting.

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: 'Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy' See seminar description in Thursday section above.

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.

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