Events 2021 On Line

Below you will find a series of events where we will be exploring thought that addresses the social matrix in which lives are lived and therapeutic thought and practice occurs. Andrew Samuels has referred to this shift as the political turn. Lynne Layton speaks to Social Psychoanalysis and Donna Orange to the ethical turn. Dr. Jennifer Mullan challenges us to decolonize therapy. Kimberley Crenshaw offers the prism of  intersectionality through which to consider the interconnected nature of social constructions such as race, class, sexuality, disability and gender and we can use this prism to consider relational thought and practice.

We might describe this moment we are in as the intersectional turn where deeper and more rigorous thought and dialogue around race, class, privilege and racial capitalism are considered as part of the psychic and therapeutic landscape. What will future therapeutic practice, pedagogy and thought need to engage with if it is to unbuckle itself from the neoliberal project, to extend its inclusion of that which hasn’t been on the syllabus, to decolonise the curriculum and clinical practice? To grapple with anti-semitism and anti-Muslim manifestations in the field and in the consulting room.

This will be a series of events where intersectionality and the political turn will be considered in the company of a range of thinkers and practitioners. This programme will develop as events are organised.

Writing into COVID 19 – BLM Uprisings – Lockdown – The Now

“My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

The world as we knew it died recently. New worlds are being made right now, new ones attempted. This gathering on zoom will be an opportunity to come together and make a connection with the TRS membership through sharing pieces of writing: prose, poetry, lists, whatever takes your fancy- there is no formal requirement. You can bring either your words or words of others that speak to you and this moment, a moment that is made up of a complexity of interwoven human realities that are impacting on our lives, our practice and discourse regarding relational perspectives and practices.

The idea for this event was inspired by the LA Review of Books Quarantine Files. A group of thinkers were invited by Brad Evans to write into this COVID19 moment. Evans writes in the intro:

I couldn’t find the words to do justice to this unfolding tragedy, except to repeat the warnings from history and the need to be vigilant to its political effects. I now see my inertia was revealing of a deeper fear and a sense of foreboding: that of being alone, writing alone.

The gathering will provide an opportunity to bear witness to this complex moment that we are in as a practice of recognition – a key component of relational thought that Jessica Benjamin speaks to in her paper: Intersubjectivity, Thirdness, and Mutual Recognition.

Some recent pieces that might inspire:

Susie Orbach: Patterns of pain: what Covid-19 can teach us about how to be human.

Dionne Brand: On narrative, reckoning and the calculus of living and dying

Sinead Gleeson: Postcards from the Pandemic

Arundhati Roy: The pandemic is a portal

Hannah Black: New World Disorder

Room: A Sketchbook for Analytic Action

Date & time:  TBC 

Venue: Zoom Meeting – on registering you will receive a link the morning of the event.

Reserve your place here: TBC


“The exploration of this alternative mode of cognition, ideologically suppressed in ourselves, yet still a living force amidst large majorities…”   Sylvia Wynter (1976)

“I concede only that I know nothing. I can only insist persistently that these fugitive musings on the Blackness of it all, the Black feminism of it all, the queerness of it all, are in the interest of saying things that have long been said but saying them differently, in hopes that some of y’all might get on board with this stuff that’s been circulating for a while”. Fred Moten

Foluke Taylor and Robert Downes will be evoking:   ‘Other-Wise’.    

There has been a significant absence of study when it comes to the construct of race, embodied racialised trauma and what Resmaa Menakem calls ‘white body supremacy’.  So we evoke on going study as a personal and collective practice, as an ethical practice of more fully humanising and disrupting the therapeutic project.  The primary resource for much of what is gathered here is black feminisms.  To deal with race, racism and the lie of whiteness is to deal with trauma, embodied racialised trauma – so we come to this day mindful of black feminist ethics and practices of care, a recognition that we are always in the problem, ‘in the wake’ as Christina Sharpe describes it.

There is much talk of decolonising the curriculum these days. So what might that talk look like, sound like, be infused with if we are to practice and think and study ‘Other-Wise’?  If we take the technology of race and unravel from it and the ways it has shaped the landscape of psychotherapeutic thought, teaching and practice –  what might emerge if we truly engage with other modes of embodied cognition, wisdoms and practices beyond the usual suspects and traditions?  What might abolition look like in this field of thought and practice?

Drawing from their own particular carrier bags of theory and practice, (see Ursula Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Literature) Foluke and Robert will share some of what they have gathered to inform unravellings and reckonings from within the enclosure(s) of race. Working with a definition of race as ‘technology’* they introduce various other-wise technologies of thought and practice aimed at extending the reach, register, resonance and inclusivity of the therapeutic project.

(* Taken from Black Quantum Futurism: Space Time Collapse from Congo to the Carolinas). ​​​​​​​

Key Technologies: Black feminisms, critical theory, relational psychoanalytix, poetry, art, music, philosophy, abolition, the implicated subject, poesis, trouble, somatics, empire mind, study, the undercommons, the wake, haunting. 

You will be invited to participate via a range of practices and reflective exercises.  

Date & time:  TBC 

Venue:  Zoom

Reserve your place here:  Zoom

Foluke Taylor –  psychotherapist, writer, teacher, and parent. She seeks to create spaces where therapy, poetics, creative writing, and activism converge as interconnected experiments in being and living otherwise. She is deeply nourished by Black feminism and tries to live her life through its ethical guidance. Currently, she teaches on trauma at NAOS Institute, and on Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP) within the faculty of Applied Social and Organisational Sciences at the Metanoia Institute. Recent publications include a bio-mythography How the Hiding Seek (2018), and As Much Space as We Can Imagine: Black Presence in Counselling and Psychotherapy (2019). She has contributed a chapter to What is Normal? to be published by Confer in November 2020 and is currently completing a book on the development of a Black therapist’s praxis for PCCS Books.

Robert Downes – practices as a psychotherapist, supervisor, teacher and student engaged in critical psychological study and practice drawing from a range of traditions: queer theory, black studies, critical theory, intersectional feminisms, relational psychoanalysis, Marxism(s) alongside the spiritual teachings and practices of the Diamond Approach, the music of Björk & Badu alongside a 20 year long dialogue and extensive hedge school study with friend and colleague, Foluke Taylor.  Robert is currently chair of The Relational School.

2020 Events

Book Launch: Toward A Social Psychoanalysis

I have become convinced over time that what primarily keeps alive the claim in our field that psychic reality can be understood without reference to social location is precisely the race and class privilege enjoyed by the dominant social groups to which our theory makers generally belong

Lynne Layton

Book Launch and Conversation: Lynne Layton and Marianna Leavy-Sperounis will be talking about Towards a Social Psychoanalysis. The book is part of the Relational Perspectives Book Series from Routeledge and spans 20 years of Lynne’s work addressing the psychological and the therapeutic as political landscapes. Layton draws on relational and other analytic theories and practices to deepen our understanding of the conscious and unconscous psychic effects of neo-liberalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and much more.

Lynne and Marianna will be in conversation with TRS Chair Robert Downes and Foluke Taylor.

The book is available here ☞ Routeledge If you subscribe to Psychoanalytic Dialogues via IARPP you can access papers via the IARPP portal.

Date & time: – Sunday June 28th 3-5pm.
Venue: Zoom – a link will be sent the day of the event.
Reserve your place here:Tickets

White Psychosis and The Wake

You are invited to a screening of Eugene Nulman’s documentary, The Psychosis of Whiteness. The documentary is based on Kehinde Andrew’s paper The Psychosis of Whiteness and narrated by the author. 

This will be  followed by a panel response and time for collective reflection, drawing from the work of Christina Sharpe:  In the Wake – On Blackness and Being. 

The film sheds light on society’s perceptions of race and racism by exploring cinematic representations of the slave trade. This documentary takes an in-depth look at big budget films that focus on the transatlantic slave trade and, using a wealth of sources and interviews, it argues that these depictions are metaphoric hallucinations about race. Rather than blaming the powerful institutions that are responsible for slavery, these films rewrite history by praising those same institutions for abolishing the slave trade. Christina Sharpe states that ‘to be in the wake is to occupy and to be occupied by the continuous and changing present of slavery’s as yet unresolved unfolding’. This unresolved unfolding alongside metaphoric hallucinations about race continue to be neglected in our field and our practice as a whole.

The panel will respond to the issues raised by the film and the text as we consider the wake, racism and white psychosis in therapeutic practice, thinking and teaching.

The panelists:

Foluke Taylor – Counsellor/Psychotherapist and Writer

Dr Gail Lewis – Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and Sociologist, previous Programme Director of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck.

Robert Downes – TRS Chair, Psychotherapist.

Date: 16th Feb 2020.    Time: 2-5.30pm
Venue: Stillpoint Spaces London.

Reserving a place: please contact Jane at to reserve your place and to access instructions for making payment. £45 TRS members. £50 non-members. £35 students of counselling and psychotherapy.

There will be refreshments and some snacks.

Links to the pre-reading and videos are below.

Open Access version of  Kehinde Andrews article The Psychosis of Whiteness: the celluloid hallucinations of Amazing Graze and Belle (published in the Journal of Black Studies in 2016). The article inspired the making of the documentary.

Chapter of Christina Sharpe’s In The Wake On Blackness and Being. This first chapter describes the notion of the wake.

Christina Sharpe reading an excerpt from In The Wake No.1.

Christina Sharpe reading an excerpt from In The Wake No.2African American

African American philosopher, George Yancy, breaks down what is required of whiteness to unravel from the psychosis of whiteness.

Complicating the White Therapist 

an introductory study day

29 February 2020 at Stillpoint Spaces, London. 10-5pm

“White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviours such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviours, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium”   Robin DiAngelo

“We must prepare ourselves for—and even seek—difficult, threatening, unsettling, awkward and shame-inducing conversations”.   Anton Hart

The focus in many psychotherapy and counselling trainings has traditionally been on diversity and multicultural approaches to the therapeutic project.  The criticism of these approaches is that they make racism a little more palatable as something for people of colour to overcome rather than something for white people to deconstruct as part of a psychological and broader socio-political project. In this workshop the problem of racism and whiteness is returned to white therapeutic practitioners to deal with.  

In keeping the company of Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Frantz Fanon, Reni Eddo-Lodge,  Edward Said, Christina Sharpe, George Yancy, Sara Ahmed, Lynne Jacobs, Robin DiAngelo and many others we begin to disrupt and re-inform clinical thinking and practice in relation to the matrix of race in the therapeutic relationship with consideration to relational themes and theory. 

Students, clients and therapists of colour frequently encounter white fragility and its formidable defensiveness.  Whiteness has not been placed on  the ’couch’ for a thorough enough analysis thus limiting the therapeutic potential for personal and collective transformation whilst potentially harming the people who seek our support . Our trainings rarely equipped us with rigorous thinking and practices around race and whiteness, hence the need to develop the capacity to ‘mentalise whilst white’.  

I became interested in the kind of awkward conversations and explorations that white practitioners need to navigate the arena of race, the trauma of racism and the structures of whiteness as they manifest in the consulting room, classroom and beyond. One of the struggles I have noticed is the reluctance in many white practitioners is to be constructed as a ‘bad white object’. I think white fragility provides an entry point into unravelling from counter transference reactions that are informed by whiteness as an egoic structure that we are usually practiced in defending and propping up rather than undoing.  

Robin DiAngelo speaks to developing stamina and resilience for these awkward conversations and explorations.  George Yancy speaks to white people needing to ‘un-suture whiteness’ to become undone.   In this workshop we will look at a series of practices and understandings that will serve to complicate whiteness in the service of being more consciously anti-racist in our practice, thinking and being in the world. 

Who is this workshop for? 

This workshop will provide an experiential opportunity for white practitioners  to examine whiteness as an embodied phenomena that requires a rigorous exploration if we are to do less harm and practice more ethically.  There will be some preparatory reading and reflective practices to engage with prior to the day.  

Following the day, there will be a series of seminars to deepen the work.  

To book a place go HERE