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Tavistock Relationships’ Anniversary Conference includes leading figures from psychotherapy, health, social policy, literature, and media



‘Tavistock Relationships’: “leading experts in couple psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the UK and maybe even the world,” the words of Professor Brett Kahr, as he guided delegates through the history of the organisation, at this special anniversary conference.  An audience of over 200 gathered to hear about the wide range of work of the organisation as over 70 years it has advanced the field of couple psychotherapy.

The day saw a wide range of presentations, guided by Professor Nick Pearce, Chair of Trustees.

It started with an introduction from Andrew Balfour, Chief Executive, on the theme of ‘Marrying Policy and Practice’.

This lead into a powerful speech by Professor Paul Burstow, Chair of  the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, and professor of mental health at the University of Birmingham, about his role leading the reporting on behalf of the Mental Health Policy Commission. The final report Investing in a Resilient Generation has highlighted the wide funding and treatment gap between physical and mental health treatment on the NHS and how we might look at bridging it. 

Baroness Claire Tyler, a former CEO of Relate and peer in the House of Lords gave a presentation on the history of relationship support and public policy. 

Our guests from University of California, Berkeley, Professor Philip Cowan & Professor Carolyn Pape Cowan talked about the success of their long terms collaboration with Tavistock Relationships in their paper titled: 36 Years of International Collaboration: the Development of Parents as Partners in the UK.  This celebrated the tremendous success of their group work programme in the US and, as delivered by Tavistock Relationships as Parents as Partners, in the UK.

Author Lisa Appignanesi, in discussion with Susanna Abse, gave the audience a chance to look at relationships from a more personal perspective by reading from and talking about her book, Everyday Madness: a Writer’s Experience of Grief and Love.

After lunch, the conference moved on to Psychoanalytic psychotherapy in action.  Child psychotherapist Margaret Rustin and Susanna Rustin (a journalist), as mother and daughter, discussed the changing patterns of relationships across the generations, looking at the impact of relationships on children and exploring the challenges of modern society on the family unit.

This was followed by three presentations on developments in psychoanalytic work with couples, featuring Mary Morgan, Andrew Balfour and Stanley Ruszczynski. This featured some illuminating case material.  

There was a lot of audience excitement at the appearance of Louis Theroux. Fresh from his most recent TV series, Altered States, Louis talked with Andrew Balfour and the audience about why he works in the way he does and examined some of the similarities between his look at human relationships as a documentary filmmaker, and the work of couple therapists.

The day was rounded off with a panel and audience discussion,that includes Dr Renee Singh, Susanna Abse, Dr Christopher Clulow, Stanley Ruszczynski, Andrew Balfour, and Professor Nick Pearce (chair).

The speeches will be available for purchase shortly on Tavistock Relationships’ website