news & events

 UPCA and UKCP UTC Joint Annual Conference 2018

Love, Sex and Psychotherapy in a Post-Romantic Era

How do our 'romantic' values as psychotherapists and counsellors affect how we work with our clients/patients regarding their relationships? Do we embody values from a previous era that are inappropriate for the era we are in now which some term ‘post-romantic’? For example, do we really privilege monogamous relationship? There again do those psychotherapists who advocate polygamy really want others to legitimise their own desire to have affairs?   How wary should we be of accepting such prevailing theories as Freud’s nuclear family romance and his ‘ordinary unhappiness’? Are we value-free regarding romanticism/post-romanticism and should we be? Is ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part’ still an ideal worth working towards or more an ideological imprisonment? This conference seeks to explore through case studies, personal experiences, theories of different modalities and recent research how our notions of romanticism and post-romanticism affect our therapeutic practices. 

Southern Association for Psychotherapy and Counselling (SAFPAC)

 SAFPAC hold free seminars on the first Thursday of the month in term time at the University of Roehampton.  All UPCA members are welcome to attend.  visit

UPCA and UKCP UTC Joint International Conference 2017

Internet psychotherapy, supervision and training:

are you providing this - should you be? 

The rate of change brought about by our digital era appears at the very least exponential. It is affecting how we live our lives involving both the 'what' and the 'how' of what clients/ patients bring, together with how we as psychological therapists practice. The internet provides for us such potential changes as: Whether we access clients/patients through our own websites and electronic directories, whether we communicate with our clients/patients through mobiles, text, emails etc.; whether we accept payment by electronic transfer, through to whether we provide therapy, supervision and training using the internet. This conference is designed to not only explore the possibilities the internet can open up for us but also whether these changes stand up as worthwhile in the light of criticisms that it changes the very nature of our project.


What are the benefits and limitations of the internet for either therapist or client? What opportunities does it open up or close down? What might it help reveal or conceal? Does it, for example, provide access where previously geography or mobility would have been restricting? Or does it fail to allow for the very nature of psychotherapeutic knowledge, which might only be present with the face-to-face as opposed to the inter-face? Thus, whilst there are opportunities for us to get into 21st century technology there are many warnings. For example, Heidegger cautions us against developing a technicity where the problem becomes we are only interested in what functions. Derrida argues that ‘what is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way’. Whereas for Levinas, our (ethical) relation to one another ‘takes place in the concrete situation of speech’. What then might be the relation of the ‘virtual consulting room/training room/supervision’ room to ‘the concrete situation of speech’? Also, what might interactive therapy/supervision/learning on the net – in the potential absence of an embodied listener - imply for ‘responsible relatedness’?


So, should one embrace all or none of how the internet can affect psychotherapeutic practice, and what are the, if any, helpful places in between? This conference is designed to provide an opportunity for two audiences: Those who have had little involvement with the internet, and are wondering whether now is the time to consider venturing further; and, those who are already very involved with aspects of the internet in therapeutic provision and may wish to think again!

UPCA Conference 2016

Working with Sex, Violence and Sex and Violence: Real or Imagined

Therapy used to be the place, outside the confessional, where one could talk about sex, dreams, violence and disturbing fantasies. But can we still appropriately respond to, for example, the man who when dropping his daughter off at university fancies her friend and worries he is a paedophile, or the female patient who can’t give up the narcissist because the sex is better, or the client who fantasies about bottling his opponents, or the ‘abused’ wife who feels helplessly trapped by her minority culture’s traditions, or the young person who is not sure whether to join a gang, etc.? In exploring how to work with sex, violence, and sex and violence, real or imagined, this conference explores some personal, cultural and economic factors that influence our abilities as psychological therapists.

There is a danger that government policies for psychotherapy, such as ‘Safeguarding’ and ‘Prevent’, remove issues of sex and violence from the consulting room with the danger that they are acted out rather than worked through. Furthermore, the increasing use of manualised, often in the name of ‘evidence-based’, trainings, together with therapeutic approaches that attempt to structure out both the client and the therapist having to stay with such issues as sex and violence, may be helpful. However, it is assumed that there is also a need for at least some psychotherapists and counsellors who can enable their clients to work through such experiences, real or imagined. With this in mind, this conference explores four major themes:

        In a neo-liberal world where policies such as austerity, alongside ‘Safeguarding’ and ‘Prevent’ may increase both the ethos, and acts, of violence and where the perpetration, victimhood and consumption of violence is often in normalized forms, what can psychotherapists and counsellors do?

        What are our values as psychological therapists to clients from different cultural, including religious, traditions regarding sex and violence?

        How can we better interrogate our moral blindness to the emotional violence that is caused by economic conditions, and in what ways may the psychological therapies help or hinder this sensitivity? 

        As psychological therapists, can we hear issues of sex and violence in our clients, if we haven’t explored these in ourselves? 


UPCA Conference 2015

 UPCA Annual Conference 5th December 2015

 What future long-term and open-ended psychotherapy and counselling?


What has happened to long-term and open-ended psychotherapy & counselling? It would appear that in the UK, as with most other countries, the provision of long-term and open-ended talking therapies in the public services is disappearing. At this conference we explored whether this demise of public service long-term and open-ended therapies is inevitable. A related question is the effect on the public’s access and attitudes to private psychotherapy and counselling.  At this conference we examined users’ perspectives and recent work carried out in the UK on the state of long-term and open-ended talking therapies. We then heard a speakers from Sweden where research evidence has convinced governments to sustain such services.

 Through both our presentations of international research and our parallel presentations we considered whether the time is now right to reappraise what is happening in the UK and what research can now be carried out to evaluate the public provision of long-term and open-ended talking therapies. 



UPCA Conference 2014

UPCA Annual Conference 22nd November 2014

Psychotherapy and counselling: from cottage industry to factory production - can we survive, do we want to?

Has something gone seriously wrong with the psychological therapies?  Whilst it has been argued that, thanks to such initiatives as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), far more people are having psychotherapy and counselling than ever before it has also been commented that the psychological therapies are becoming an industrial process requiring technicians (Glenys Parry). 

So is our work, and the way we are trained to do it, fundamentally changing with call centres, state regulation and manualisation in addition to the overall ills of neoliberalism?  If this is the case how can we be clearer as to what is happening to us?  This conference aims to explore what may be going wrong in the psychological therapies with particular reference to the nature of our work, and indeed the way we see our clients’/patients’ employment, through the perspectives of the socialist and textile designer William Morris, the educationalist and social thinker John Ruskin (both of whom were initially involved in the development of where the  conference is being held) and Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist and sociologist (who, with his wife, was very much influenced by Ruskin).  In different ways all three thinkers saw the move from cottage industry to factory production as leading to deterioration in working peoples’ quality of life. Rather than the intrinsic pleasures of the work itself, instead money compensates for our working time which leads to consumption as the external source of pleasure. Is this also becoming increasingly true of psychotherapist and counsellors, and is this becoming increasingly inevitable for their clients and patients? This conference is designed to open up how we might see ours and others’ work by reconsidering thinkers from the romantic and expressive traditions, as well as those brought to us through our call for papers.


UPCA Conference 2013

UPCA Annual Conference 2nd November 2013

Critical Psychotherapy and Counselling  - if not now, when?

We already have ‘critical psychiatry’ and ‘critical psychology’, is there now a need for ‘critical psychotherapy and counselling’? Some might argue that ‘critical psychiatry and psychology’ have come about because psychiatry and psychology are primarily agents of the state and therefore their courses need add-on ‘critical’ modules in order to give a semblance of thoughtfulness. Should the same be true for psychotherapy and counselling given that they are increasingly being subject to government regulation? Furthermore, is any critical thinking in psychotherapy and counselling made more difficult by the history of the ‘trainings’  and to what extent are those programmes associated with universities even more stymied by government influence combined with an audit culture? This conference will examine this question of ‘Critical psychotherapy and counselling- if not now, when?’ with the help of key speakers: James Davies, Del Loewenthal, Hugh Middleton, Ian Parker, Rosie Rizq and Andrew Samuels.  In addition, the UPCA conference committee have invited over thirty authors to present papers that would make a contribution to this debate, including those which raise critical questions about our practices, theories and research.  There will be 15 minute presentations and 5 minutes for questions.

Prof Del Loewenthal:   UPCA and Conference Chair


UPCA Conference 2012


How mindful should psychotherapists and counsellors be about mindfulness?

In response to a growing interest from psychotherapists and counsellors the UPCA conference held in November 2012 focused on the practice of mindfulness. One claim from those engaged in mindfulness is that it allows people, through meditation, to find ways to be more open, expansive, and able to relate to experience differently. Indeed, a growing number of therapists have embraced mindfulness as a new approach, maintaining that it is enabling them to work differently with anxious and depressed patients/clients in a way where the ‘goal’ is to end the struggle with unwanted thoughts and feelings without attempting to eliminate them. 

The conference, held on Saturday, 17th November 2012 at George's University of London Medical School, heard presentations from the following contributors:

Christine Dunkley started the conference with her presentation entitled ""What's In It For Me?" Introducing clients to the concept of mindfulness"

Guy Claxton spoke to the topic "Who's mindful of what? Disentangling the varieties of reflective experience"

Gwen Adshead presented on "The time of our lives: time perception, psychological disorders and their clinical implications".

Steven Stanley gave a talk entitled "Will the ‘Real’ Mindfulness Please Stand Up? Metaphors of Mindfulness in Pali Buddhism, Psychotherapy and Cognitive Science"

Attendance counted as 6hrs C.P.D.

having your say - Annual General Meeting

The 2013 AGM was held on Saturday 17th November following the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association Conference at the University of Roehampton. The next AGM will be in November 2014.

We are very interested in hearing from both our members and members of the public who use the services of our clinical members - if you would be interested in talking to us at any other time please contact us.

UPCA Practice Research Networks

We are considering developing a Reflective Practitioners Network and we hope to be able to use the potential of our UPCA network to research areas that may be of particular interest to us.  Such areas of interest (one of which could include the beneficial and detrimental effects of current research approaches to our practices), and the development of the network were discussed at the UPCA conference, where it was also suggested that local groups might meet to discuss practice issues.  If you would like to get involved in piloting this please contact Cath Hutson at

For more information please read our UKCP Report on Practice Research Networks

Regional Centres

Our policy is to develop regional centres in order to open up the possibility of CPD opportunities for all our members.

Research Centre for Therapeutic Education

The following events are held at Whitelands College, University of Roehampton and are open, free of charge, to all staff, students, alumnae and UPCA members.  However, if you do not have any affiliation to the University of Roehampton and wish to attend an event or seminar you are welcome to apply for a place by contacting

Forthcoming events:

5th February 2015 – (6.00 for 6.30pm to 8pm) Prof Del Loewenthal (RCTE)

‘NICE work if you can get it: Research and the psychological therapies as cultural politically influenced practices?’ (Room G001)

26th February 2015 -    (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Gauri Chauhan (RCTE)

Stories of comedy and tragedy in psychotherapy: therapists’ experience of humour in sessions with clients diagnosed with a terminal illness (Room G071)

5th March 2015 – (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Dr John Heaton (PA/RCTE)

What is evidence in psychotherapy and counselling? (Room G001)

12th March 2015 -        (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Bahareh Haghighat-Khah (RCTE)

Exploring the experience of psychotherapists working with clients presenting bodily symptoms (Room G071)

7th May 2015 –            (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Prof Darian Leader (CFAR/ RCTE)

‘What is bi-polar?’(Room G001)

21st May 2015 -           (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Betty Bertrand (RCTE)

Psychotherapy and desistance from crime (Room G071)

4th June 2015 –            (6:00 for 6.30 to 8 pm) Dr David Jones (UEL)

From moral insanity to antisocial personality disorder: lessons from history for psychological therapists (Room G001)

11th June 2015 -           (5:00 - 6:00 pm) Tony McSherry (RCTE)