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From initial enquiry to first meeting and assessment
This event recording supports therapists to consider first moments of contact as full of helpful insights for ongoing clinical work, supporting the creation of the therapeutic alliance and a depth understanding from the start of the work. Theoretical perspectives include psychoanalytic, psychodynamic and attachment based views.
Embarking on the therapeutic journey marks a pivotal moment in the lives of both clients and therapists, where the trajectory of healing is shaped right from the initial interactions. The "First Sessions with New Clients” conference offered a space to consider the profound significance of these first moments of contact to enable engagement in the therapeutic relationship as well as ensuring the clients enduring participation in the unfolding process of therapy.
Linda Cundy's presentation, "In the Beginning: Attachment at the Start of Psychotherapy" offers a psychoanalytic-attachment based perspective. Linda suggests that keen awareness during the initial enquiry and assessment stages provides vital insights into clients' relational histories, their inner landscapes, and self-protective mechanisms. This perceptive grasp of core attachment patterns early on in the therapy acts as a compass, guiding the therapeutic process as it unfolds.
Charles Brown's contribution recognises the complexities of new beginnings within the landscape of online psychotherapy. Whilst accessibility and convenience of online work are benefits Charles brings in how this convenience may alter the dynamics of first contacts. Charles also considers the challenges such as technological hurdles, differences in digital literacy, the absence of non-verbal cues and counter-transference differences as hindrances to the therapy and areas for exploration.
Our third presentation by Zack Eleftheriadou links the experience of 'infant observation' to the beginning of clinical work with a new client. Our most existential anxieties can be evoked in new beginnings and the experience of infant observation can support clinicians to prepare for the initial stages of clinical work, to understand the need to create the conditions in which the process can begin.
The overall ‘aim’ of Attachment-informed psychoanalytic therapy is to facilitate development of Secure Attachment, and where we start from informs how we proceed and what we need to be alert to. Misattunement can scupper a therapy before it has properly established. From initial enquiry to first meeting and assessment, we pick up clues about new clients’ relational histories and internal worlds, their defences, and relationships with themselves. An informed hunch about clients’ core patterns of attachment can help to inform and guide the direction of the therapeutic work.
This presentation explores the key considerations that therapists and clients must address when beginning online psychotherapy. How online therapy increases accessibility, convenience, and flexibility for both clients and therapists and how this might impact the first contacts. Issues such as technological difficulties, potential disparities in internet access and digital literacy, and the absence of non-verbal cues will be thought about in the context of forestalling a therapy from getting going. Charles will consider new forms of countertransference, parapraxes (slips), and breakdowns in empathy enhanced by the online work. Finally he will offer some case examples from first sessions that demonstrate his thinking and offer some context for clinicians to take in to their own clinical practice.
This talk proposes that infant observation is a vital component of a psychotherapy course. Undergoing an infant observation requires a deep and lasting self-exploration process, which puts us in touch with powerful unconscious feelings, the ways we were parented and our most profound existential anxieties. Therefore, it is suggested that the process of beginning an infant observation is invaluable experiential learning, in preparation for the initial stages of clinical work with a new client. The challenge of creating a containing psychic space as an observer and the delicate task of transferring this to our clinical work will be explored.