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Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy - The principles of Psychoanalytic & Psychodynamic Couple Therapy

I recently met with Suzanna and Madeleine to discuss their Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy course to find out more about their approach and who this training might be most relevant for.

Is your course suitable as an introduction to working with couples - or is it for more experienced couple therapists?

This course is an in-depth introuductio to working with couples. It is appropriate for a range of experience amongst participants. It is actually suitable for those who are already working as a couple therapist and also for othe therapists and practitioners where relationship is the focus, for example, individual counsellors/therapists/psychotherapists/family therapists/psychologists and social workers. (Contact us directly if you have a question about whether this is the right course for you. Our contact details are at the end of the interview.)

Intimate adult relationships are central to our lives, whether we are in one or not. They are a challenge to us all. We may love them or loathe them, or of course have mixed feelings about them. Whatever our stance, we also need relationship. The psychoanalytic approach offers us a very compelling view of how we use relationships in many different ways to both develop and to defend against development. It is an incredible interesting area to work in, and to think about.

For instance, why do people get together?  Why might they stay together if they are unhappy?  How does attachment play out in adult relationships?  What makes sex good?  What might be creative for the couple? How do couples develop?  How are children affected by the quality of the couples’ relationship?  What about pornography?

We might also wonder, how can couples do all the things which being in a couple might involve, such as providing empathy, listening, accepting the otherness of the other, dealing with conflict.  We will look at how we can help them discover more capacity to do these things if needed.

Working as a couple to provide this training feels appropriate to us, given the training is all about couples work! We like to be creative with our differences, while also bringing our shared common ground - we both trained at Tavistock Relationships in London (formerly TCCR). Madeleine is a BPC registered Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Suzanna is registered as a Psychosexual Therapist. Together we are able to provide a much richer response to the complex issues within couple work, and we also combine a wider range of experience and understanding than either of us would provide alone.

For instance, in addition to couple psychotherapy, Madeleine has extensive experience of working therapeutically with families and of intensive psychotherapy with individuals. This experience crosspollinates with Suzanna’s psychosexual therapy which works with the couple’s emotional difficulties through the medium of the body.

How do you help therapists transition from understanding theory into working with real people and addressing their issues?

As well as teaching from the front, lecture style, we like things to be interactive, so there will be time to try out as well as to observe some skills practice. We will bring exercises we have devised to demonstrate how theory can inform our practice and to put the theory into real practice.

In addition, we will bring our case material, and there will be opportunities for participants to bring their own cases, questions and dilemmas. Because the course is run over four days and spread over three months, we have found that the group feels safe enough for everyone to have a voice.

It sounds intriguing that you use film, art and literature in your training - tell us more!

We both come from creative backgrounds, in the far distant past, Madeleine as musician and Suzanna as artist. Sometimes film art and literature are the best ways of understanding about human relations.  It can be very helpful to have vivid illustrations of couple behaviour and aspects of relating.  

What should people expect to come away with from your four-day course?  

Participants have been very pleased with the scope and depth of this course in the past. The course provides a very good start to understanding couples’ dynamics and to developing the states of mind necessary as a therapist to be able to help couples.  Then there is that wonderful sense of having journeyed beyond from where you started!

For more info Suzanna & Madeleine are happy to talk to you if you have questions about the course. Contact:

Madeleine: email:
Suzanna:  email:

Or to book contact Rachael Fry at GCS Training
email:  tel: 01453 766 310

Course Dates: Feb 17th, March 17th, April 14th & May 19th 2018 at GCS in Stroud


Nicky Ferry, GCS Training Development Manager

Suzanna Mackenzie is a BACP accredited counsellor and psychotherapist and holds an MSc. in psychosexual therapy. She is a visiting clinician at Tavistock Relations, London and a supervisor as well as a trainer for couples' counsellors at GCS.

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