Training Opportunity: The Internal World and the Process of Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach

A one-day workshop with Paul Renn hosted by nscience UK – 18 October 2014 (Saturday) – 10.00am – 4.00pm

Yorkshire Dance
3 St Peter’s Buildings
St Peter’s Square
Leeds LS9 8AH

To book online click on         

Event Details: In recent decades, there has been a paradigm shift in psychoanalysis from drive theory to a relational model. This has been paralleled by a new understanding of the mind or internal world and the process of change. In this workshop, which would be of value to psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counsellors, Paul Renn explores these developments from a multidisciplinary perspective.

In the morning session, Paul presents research from cognitive and developmental psychology, neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, and attachment. He contends that relational psychoanalysis is well-placed to incorporate the empirical findings emerging from related disciplines into a clinical model that integrates such data with the current emphasis on intersubjectivity, trauma, dissociation, attachment, mentalization, nonlinear dynamic systems theory, and mutual enactments. Specifically, Paul argues that an integrative contemporary approach can help us to understand the way in which our earliest relationships shape our personality and structure our internal world, and how these past relational experiences live on within us in silent, invisible ways, vitally influencing the emotional quality of our most intimate relationships in the present.

At the conclusion of the morning session, Paul presents his own clinical model, arguing that therapeutic change consists of a dual process and needs to proceed in both the explicit and implicit domains.

In the afternoon session, attendees break into small groups to discuss how their respective personal life experiences have influenced their professional ethos, preferred theoretical model and clinical approach. In this context, participants explore their own thinking about the internal world and process of change. Informed by Paul’s presentations in the morning session, attendees discuss how they might further develop their own personalized, integrative therapeutic model and effectively apply a multidisciplinary approach in understanding and working with their patients’ traumas and various difficulties in living.

About the speaker

Paul Renn is a UKCP accredited psychoanalytic psychotherapist, training therapist and supervisor in private practice in London. He has a background in the National Probation Service where he specialized in working with violent individuals and couples. He subsequently trained at the Centre for Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, recently renamed the Bowlby Centre.

Paul has presented papers at international conferences and devised and facilitated seminars and workshops on attachment and trauma, violent attachments, sexuality in the consulting room, memory, trauma and dissociation in psychotherapy, and on the internal world and the process of change. He is the author of a number of book chapters and journal articles published in the UK and translated for publication abroad. He is a member of the Forum for Independent Psychotherapists, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the International Attachment Network, the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry and is the author of The Silent Past and the Invisible Present: Memory, Trauma, and Representation in Psychotherapy (Routledge, 2012). For details, click here


9:45AM Registration

10:00AM: Session 1 – An Overview of Psychoanalytic Theories of the Internal World: In this first session, Paul summarizes the major ways that the mind or internal world has been conceptualized in psychoanalysis. Starting with Freud and moving through object relations theory to a contemporary relational perspective, he considers the way in which this paradigm shift has been paralleled by a new understanding of the representational world.

10.45AM: Session 2 – A Multidisciplinary Perspective on the Internal World: This session focuses on a multidisciplinary understanding of the development and constitution of the internal world. Informed by empirical research, it is increasingly accepted that external reality plays a key role in the formation of psychic structures, and that what is represented internally are cognitive-affective schemas or mental models of self-other relationships.

Paul sets out findings showing that adaptive responses to repetitive caregiving patterns in early life reinforce particular neural networks that form the neurological substrate of our representational models. These mental models, together with sets of non-conscious expectations about the behavior of others, are resistant to change and tend to persist into adulthood. Such inner world relational dynamics are indelibly imprinted in the systems of implicit/procedural memory and may be activated and enacted in interpersonal contexts that cue the retrieval of traumatic emotional memories.

Anticipating Session 3, Paul touches on the complex and multifaceted nature of the process of change, and of how our clinical practice can benefit from employing an integrative therapeutic model.

11:30AM: Coffee Break

11:45AM: Session 3 – An Integrative Relational Model: In this final session of the morning, Paul presents his own integrative, multidisciplinary therapeutic model, and shares the personal and professional experiences that have influenced his thinking about the process of change from a relational/attachment perspective. Whereas earlier clinical models emphasized a largely interpretative technique in the explicit, verbal/reflective domain, newer models focus on a nonverbal, affective understanding of communication in the implicit/enactive domain. Paul argues that therapeutic action consists of a dual process during which the therapist both enacts and reflects upon interaction between him- or herself and the patient. Given this, he contends that the process of change proceeds in both the explicit, verbal/reflective domain and the implicit/enactive domain of nonverbal affective communication. He illustrates theoretical points and the way in which research findings can helpfully inform our practice with a number of clinical scenarios.

1:00PM: Lunch (a light lunch is provided as part of the workshop)

2:00PM – Small Group Task: Developing an Integrative, Multidisciplinary Approach: The purpose of this small group exercise is fourfold. Firstly, in groups of 4 or 5, attendees discuss how their respective personal life experiences have influenced their professional ethos, preferred theoretical model and clinical approach. Secondly, they explore their own thinking about the internal world and process of change. Thirdly, participants share with one another the extent to which they may already have developed an integrative therapeutic model in their clinical practice. Fourthly, attendees discuss how such integration may be carried forward by incorporating relevant findings from related disciplines

3:15PM Coffee break 

3:30pm – Plenary: Attendees will be invited to share their experience of the small group task and discuss any issues outstanding from the morning session.

4:00PM Close