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Five Leading Clinicians Explore the Crisis: PESI UK Mental Health Awareness Summit

What impact is the Covid-19 crisis having on our brains and our bodies, our relationships and our children? What can neuroscience, attachment theory, mindfulness and trauma work contribute to an effective response? This week, PESI UK will be asking some of the world’s top clinicians as part of a free, five-day Mental Health Awareness Summit. Join Dan Siegel, Janina Fisher, Dan Hughes, Sue Johnson and Caroline Welch for a world-class week of resourcing and reflecting.


Coronavirus is an invisible threat in more senses than one. While we now have some handle on the medical toll of the virus, it’s just as vital we understand the implications of the crisis for our minds – or rather, our body-minds. Models such as interpersonal neurobiology, Emotionally Focused Therapy and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy have so much to offer us here, as do mindfulness practices and trauma work.

So this week, as part of PESI UK’s free Mental Health Awareness Summit to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ll be asking five of the world’s top clinicians to explore the pandemic from the perspective of their model or practice – and it’s all completely free.

Kicking things off on Monday will be neuropsychiatrist and internationally acclaimed author, Dan Siegel, to talk about the impact of the current crisis on our nervous systems. Using an interpersonal neurobiology framework, what may be happening for clients in terms of chaos, rigidity and flow? How might social distancing and online therapy be impacting the relationship between the inner self, the relational self, and the inter-self (or ‘MWe’)? We’ll also be asking Dan to share three essential tools that every mental health professional needs in their pandemic toolbox. 

Dan will be followed on Tuesday by Caroline Welch, his co-founder at the Mindsight Institute. Caroline’s new book, The Gift of Presence: A Mindfulness Guide for Women, finds that the key to being more present in our lives is to practice mindfulness wherever we are, and whenever we can. We’ll be asking how these insights can translate to a time of lockdown.

On Wednesday, we’ll be joined by clinical psychologist, international author and trauma specialist Janina Fisher. Perhaps you are considering whether it is possible to work safely with trauma online. Maybe you are noticing a return of past traumas in clients’ recent material. Possibly you are anticipating working with higher incidences of post-traumatic stress, and keen to be alert to signs that, for some clients, this is becoming post-traumatic disorder. Janina will be exploring the implications of the current crisis for trauma work, from natural stress cycles to the impact of immobilised responses.

The decision over when, and how, to reopen schools is proving one of the most contentious aspects of the roadmap out of lockdown. On Thursday, we’ll focus on the mental health of children and adolescents with Dan Hughes, clinical psychologist, author and the developer of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. Drawing on attachment theory and neuroscience, he will discuss ways in which therapists can help support parent-child relationships at this time – and reflect on what enduring impact this time may have on young psyches.

Finally, on Friday, we’ll be hearing from the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy, Sue Johnson. One of the first repercussions of the lockdown was the rise in divorce applications, and a surge in domestic violence. Beginning with a discussion of attachment bonds, Sue will explore the mental health impact of Covid-19 through an attachment lens – and share tools for helping our clients navigate disconnection and repair family bonds.

At other points this week, you can also hear from Paul Farmer of Mind, Laura Falconer of Barnardo’s and Sarah Niblock of UKCP, as we fit the macro to the micro and provide you with eight illuminating perspectives across clinical and organisation fields. Join us to explore the coronavirus crisis in mental health terms – and, crucially, to consider what needs to happen next. 

The PESI UK Mental Health Awareness Summit will take place from May 18-24. Visit this page for the full line-up and details of how to register. We have to limit the capacity for these online events to 3,000 per webcast – so we advise advance booking to avoid disappointment.  

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