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Highlights from the UKCP conference 2017

The audience at the UKCP 2017 Conference

Publication date: May 10, 2017

The future of Psychotherapy: research, politics and best practice

11 March 2017, London

Earlier this year, we held our biggest conference to date.  Our aim was to raise our profile and our voice. The event had both an internal and an external focus.

The day began with two excellent keynote addresses by Dr Iain McGilchrist and Dr Richard Erskine. These were followed by a question and answer session with both speakers. Then we had a presentation by Martin Pollecoff, UKCP Chair, Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of BACP, and Gary Fereday, Chief Executive of BPC. They explained how our organisations are working together in the Collaboration of Counselling and Psychotherapy Professions.

conference delegates networking over coffee

Delegates at the UKCP conference networking over coffee

Lunch provided a further opportunity for networking. In the afternoon, we had seven workshops on a broad range of topics. Suzy Greaves, editor of Psychologies magazine then shared her personal experience of psychotherapy and the benefits she has felt.

Finally, broadcaster Michael Collie facilitated a lively panel discussion. The theme was ‘How can society ensure that high quality psychotherapies are available to those who need them?’ We had a prestigious panel with Rt Hon Paul Burstow, Jenny Edwards, Andrew Samuels and Judith Lask and an excellent, cutting edge discussion. Martin Pollecoff then brought the day to a close.

Over 300 people attended and the feedback has been very positive. Below are videos from the day to give you a flavour of what you missed or, if you attended, to remind you of the event.

Pat Hunt
UKCP vice chair and chair of the conference organising committee

Feedback from members

Overall the general sentiment of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive; with 83% of feedback papers being positive and only 5% being negative. Members said:

‘High quality, well organised and clearly demonstrated UKCP have heard the membership.’

‘The two key speakers were excellent and Richard’s workshop with his therapy demonstration was moving and I learnt much.’

‘The contrasting view points and perspectives from panellists throughout the day was very thought provoking, and made the debate really dynamic.’

Highlights from the day

Suzy Greaves

Suzy Greaves, Psychologies editor, gave a moving presentation on how she had been helped by psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy Question Time

The panel comprised Rt Hon. Prof Paul Burstow, Jenny Edwards of the Mental Health Foundation, Professor Andrew Samuels and Judith Lask of the Institute of Family Therapy. Broadcaster Michael Collie facilitated it.

Exhibitors and sponsors

In this video, our exhibitors and sponsors share what attending the conference meant to them.

Workshop review

If you were at the conference and would like to add a workshop review to this page, please email

Adventures in an unknown landscape

Wheelbarrows, taxis and the Big Bad Wolf: working with metaphor with children and adults
Led by Michele Bartlett

Michele initially talked about the need to tolerate the not knowing, drawing on the idea of dwelling in the right hemisphere of the brain from Iain McGilchrist’s earlier presentation.

We were invited to share first thoughts about Darth Vader. Then Michele told of a former student who had offered a “nicer” aspect of Vader and made her see him in a different, fuller light.

To reinforce this, in small groups, we all related a story, such as Peter Pan. This served to emphasise the different focus we all brought. This factor was really brought to the fore by Michele who strongly advocated that what the client brings is the most important factor, irrelevant of the apparent truth. Even ignoring the content, the nature of what was brought forward, whether decidedly factual or more emotive, was illustrative and gave rise to interesting and wide ranging conversations within our small groups.

In Michele’s experience the way in which we remember, and how we bring things to the fore, is another layer of metaphor that can be used to help our understanding of the other.

Michele also introduced the idea of working in the wild, as she uses walking therapy in order to potentially put clients at ease. While she acknowledged that there needs to be an element of planning within the literal unknown landscape, much of this reduces the wildness and simply transplants the traditional therapy room to an outside setting.

Michele challenged her audience to work more flexibly, offering an example where circumstance meant her client had the opportunity to literally take her into his world, with noticeable results in the deepening of their relationship.

The workshop was useful in offering a view of what the unknown landscape can be, and how it can be used within the therapeutic relationship to offer new insights and garner information from the client that isn’t just apparent from their narrative. More than that, the workshop challenged us to take the landscape and work with it to try and make metaphors more accessible for both client and the therapist.

Review by Ben Scanlan