Effective Therapy from Psychologists

Central and East London

Resolving problems in the therapeutic relationship: a practical skills workshop.

Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy Workshop presented by Dr Robert Watson, Clinical Psychologist, Accredited Cognitive Analytic Therapist & Supervisor, and Vice-Chair of the Association for Cognitive Analytic Therapy.

~ Relevant for Clinical & Counselling Psychologists, and Psychotherapists.

~ London: Friday 21st September 2018 – Council Chamber, Institute of Biomedical Science, 12 Coldbath Square, London EC1R 5HL. £125 ACAT Members; £140 non members. Book at:


This is the third run of this workshop, following its successful first run for the West London Mental Health Trust Personality Disorder Service on 30th April 2018.

The therapeutic relationship is central to good outcomes in any therapy. Yet problems and ruptures to the therapeutic relationship are common and stressful, and they can present challenges to therapists across all levels of experience. Understanding and formulating problems in the relationship and making them the focus of collaborative dialogue are all essential components of successfully addressing them.  Fundamentally, whether the interventions we use are felt to be helpful or unhelpful by our clients is often moderated by the bond between therapist and client.

This workshop will present a straight forward relational framework for formulating problems in the therapeutic relationship and focus on the application of tools and skills needed to resolve these problems. While drawing some ideas from Cognitive Analytic Therapy, this workshop will be accessible to therapists working across different modalities, including CBT therapists.  This workshop will:

  1. Provide participants with an accessible and portable relational model for formulating and addressing strains in the therapeutic relationship.
  2. Provide participants with practical skills in how to use these formulations as a resource for the purposes of therapeutic metacommunication i.e. creating a dialogue that fosters awareness and understanding of the relational patterns between you and your client, so they can be explored and resolved collaboratively.
  3. Help participant’s identity and overcome their own blocks in addressing alliance difficulties, particularly when therapists find it hard to help.
  4. Provide a range of clinical examples, with a specific clinical focus on working with narcissistic patterns of relating.

The workshop will involve a mixture of didactic and experiential learning. Whilst some introductory knowledge of relational approaches such as schema therapy or cognitive analytic therapy would be helpful for this workshop, it is not essential for attending this workshop. This workshop is suitable for qualified therapists.

Previous feedback from the first run:

~ 90% rated the workshop as good or excellent, 10% as average.

~ 96% would definitely or likely recommend the workshop to a colleague.

~ 89% rated their confidence to address ruptures as either much higher or higher after the workshop.

~ 100% rated the workshop as either extremely relevant or of some relevance to their clinical work.

Some examples of what participants have liked so far:  

Very clear guidance of how to notice, understand, and address ruptures.  I have had previous lectures on this, but this was the most helpful in practical terms.”

Having more awareness of dynamics and the confidence to speak to clients about it”

“The clinical examples of how to tackle ruptures.  Knowing that there is no set way to fix ruptures – it depends on the situation and your own judgement.” 

Not convinced?  Hear from some of Robert’s previous supervisees.

‘I have known Robert for several years in his capacity as my supervisor and also attended his workshops in the past. Robert has helped me immensely in my work as a Cognitive Psychotherapist to understand and formulate patterns within the therapeutic relationship and how to effectively address them in a sensitive and supportive manner. Robert has both clinical and theoretical expertise which I found invaluable in helping me confidently manage relational factors that arise in practice.’ – Vanessa Papas, CBT and CAT Therapist

“Rob has provided clinical supervision to me over a number of years. Rob’s supervision is extremely supportive and caring, allowing me to explore challenging aspects of the therapy process safely and without judgement.  A focus on the interpersonal aspects of the client’s presentation in supervision has helped my CBT practice enormously. It has provided a reflective space to explore my own observations and feelings that arise during the therapeutic work, and given me greater confidence in exploring relational factors with the client directly.”  –  Dr Stella Christofides, Clinical Psychologist.

My motivation for this workshop.

Looking back now, I can see how unprepared I was when I first qualified as a Clinical Psychologist for dealing with problems in the alliance. It was one of my key reasons to train in Cognitive Analytic Therapy first as a therapist and later as a supervisor – a model that puts at its heart understanding and revising unhelpful and limiting patterns of relating both outside and inside the consulting room. The therapeutic relationship, and how as therapists we understand and try to negotiate it, has been one of my lifelong clinical interests and passions over the last fifteen years. I have been fortunate to write and teach about it and supervise doctoral research on the subject. I am pleased to be able to offer this training to psychologist, psychotherapist, and counsellor colleagues who might share my curiosity of discovering more ways of moving forward usefully when the therapeutic alliance gets stuck.