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The Canberra & Region Self Psychology Community

2023 Self Psychology Conference

CRSPC March 2023 - post conference recap and insights


The Canberra & Region Self Psychology Community 2023 Self Psychology Conference “Nurturing the Tendrils of Health: Working with the Forward Edge in Clients, Self and Community” was held on the 25th & 26th February 2023 in Canberra, Australia. This is the 2nd of such conferences for the region. The first was held in 2021. This conference was born of the wisdom, creativity, motivation and vitality at the centre of Sandra Kay Lauffenburger’s work with ‘becoming’ self psychs in the Canberra and NSW region.  Here is an excerpt from Olivia Wilson’s Closing of the Conference which summarises the offerings and shared experiences of being present at the event succinctly and beautifully:


“There have been other times in history where, like now, there seems no better time to live an embodied life of empathy and understanding of our own and others’ humanness.  With the challenges facing us and the realities of living with multiple threats of Pandemic, Climate Change and the associated increase in Natural Disasters, a rise in Authoritarian movements and regimes around the globe, the importance of strengthening our own ties with each other,  to our clients and to our Community is immense.  There seems no better time to encourage and support each other in these ways to offer the work we do with ever increasing presence, clarity and relational capacity.   


This Conference has truly strengthened our ties with each other in our professional community of Self Psychology.  We have been invited and allowed and received in the full humanness of our vulnerable and thoughtful self experience with each other.  We have shared our work with each other in ways that describe the complex and nuanced experience and thoughts we have in relation to our clients as we navigate this work - mostly alone in our offices or natural therapy spaces, at times with great uncertainty, confusion and unknowing, at times with despair and even a sense of futility. What better way to vitalise and reinvigorate ourselves by focusing on the tendrils of health, the Forward Edge of our Experience with our clients, ourselves and our community.  And my sense is that the Forward Edge has been enlivening for us here this weekend!! -  others have commented too that there is a distinct feeling of energy and aliveness here with us this weekend, where the sense of connection within our community is growing stronger.  It means so much to us that people have travelled from Sydney and Melbourne and Orange, that we have Zoom guests from New York, and country NSW to join with us and bring their interest and presence.


The work of those who came before us creates a rich lineage of philosophical, theoretical and clinical thought to enrich our own process as therapists in meeting our clients in their full, diverse and unique humanness, to bring understanding and responsiveness,  to welcome aspects that have not been allowed or received.  This work has been referred to and woven in to the rich talks and Case Studies that we have been hearing over the weekend, another Forward Edge.   The learning that has taken place, the admiration we feel and the inspiration we have drawn from these presentations is another form of nourishment for our tendrils of Health that I suspect we will all be digesting for some time to come.


We have heard from Jeff (Jeff Barlow - ed.) about his compelling and uniquely unusual life- where he made sense of his powerfully sad and frightening early childhood experiences and their influence on his attraction to body oriented work and eventually to embodied intersubjectivity!   His exploration of the Body and the Theories of Self Psychology and Intersubjectivity was his leading edge to create the Australian College of Somatic Psychotherapy.  We are enjoying Jeff’s contribution to Somatic Psychotherapy in Australia  as it infuses energy and thought in to our forward edge of inclusion of the Body this weekend.




We have heard wonderful Case Studies!  Karen, (Karen Stewart - ed.), offered us a poignant account of her immersion into Annie’s psychotic experience with rich affective resonance, working with the push and pull of the trailing edge and forward edge, between therapist and client, where the careful close attunement that Karen was practicing revealed the misattunements, from which she could better hear and recognise the tendrils of health: the yearnings and longings for what Annie truly needed from her in different moments.


 We have heard from Susi, (Susan West - ed.), who captivated us with her Case Study where story and myth were her guiding star.  Susi’s forward edge was the Supervision she was receiving to hold her to bear witness to horrifying violence that touched in to her own painful experiences.  Her Supervision and her own personal practice were her leading edges to enable her to respond to the reaching, yearning shoots of her client’s tendrils of health, within their mutual embeddedness.  









We were delighted by our four panellists, Matt, Carolina, Stephen and Hollie, (Matthew Hynes, Carolina Barreto, Stephen Tang, Hollie Bakerboljkovac), who tantalised us, at times very playfully, with their professional Forward Edges.  For Matt, sitting in the unknown, having NO idea what he was doing or what would happen next, but fortified by his innate capacity for empathy led to surprising boons!


Carolina explicated to us the 3 main Kohutian Self Object Functions which were a Leading Edge for her practice.  She also demonstrated another leading edge of being naturally able to speak in an animated and cogent fashion without reading!  Go Carolina!


Hollie described her Forward Edge as her own process of becoming more deeply herself that gives others the inspiration, modelling and felt safety, to become more fully themselves.  She discovered that this way she could attract the clients that she could best serve.


For Stephen his therapy was his Forward Edge encouraging him on his journey to move toward his own self fulfilment, toward the values of his core or nuclear Self. (In the meantime it’s very that you are on the inside of organisations where you can have some subterfuge influence- maybe nurturing their Forward Edge tendrils of Health!).


Nicola’s, (Nicola Hoskins-Murphy), beautifully wrought Case Study honed in on the seed of becoming between herself and her client, the in between space of becoming, where what struck me most about the forward edge of the work was Nicola’s receptivity, not just cognitive, but deeply emotionally attuned, to catch the gifts and offerings of her client for the therapeutic grist for the mill.


Chantal’s, (Chantal Jackson), elucidating offering of her questions regarding the way in which to bring together Somatic Experiencing and her client’s needs offered us a wonderful explication of neurobiological trauma theory.  Some of her Forward edges ranged from going at the pace of her client, step by step, staying experience near with minimal words and responses, attending to rupture and repair and triumphantly welcoming his NO!

















Sandra, (Sandra Kay Lauffenburger), has offered us wonderful experiences of our selves within our bodies this weekend, as well the forward edge of her intention to create a forum for therapists to describe their work not just for the benefit of others, but also for the mirroring that nourishes us all to become more sturdy and confident about our work.


The wonder of Kohut’s offering is the articulation of what specifically involves to become a fully actualised Self.  There seems no better time than now to study relationship and what relationship needs to look and feel like in order to develop a sense of self which is capable of agency, empathy, humour, ambition and acceptance of death.  Raanan Kulka in his recent Key note Address in the February 2022 IAPSP Conference spoke about Kohut’s Legacy and how one of the Forward Edges of his legacy is the inclusion of the transcendent aspects of human experience as well as ethics and morality.   He explicated the transformation of archaic narcissistic needs to reach a mature narcissism which Ra’anan calls the “Supra-ordinate“ self.  This progression is from an archaic “Self for itself” to a “Self for the world” where one is merging fully into one’s ideals and ethics.   Could this also be a Forward Edge of our work as the tendrils of health that we have nurtured this weekend tentatively reach out from us to our clients and from them to the broader community and the world?”

“Ron Lee is smiling on all of you”  pic from Margaret Lee.

Chantal Jackson speaking, Sandra Kay Lauffenburger seated. 

Susan West speaking.

Jeff Barlow speaking from the audience.

Susan West, Sandra Kay Lauffenburger and Nicola Hoskins-Murphy.

The Canberra & Region Self Psychology Community

2023 Self Psychology Conference

“Nurturing the Tendrils of Health:
Working with the Forward Edge in Clients, Self and Community” 25 & 26 February 2023


DAY ONE: SATURDAY 25 February 2023

8:45a— Registration and Networking 9:15a— Conference Opening

10a Keynote Speaker: Jeff Barlow, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor “From Reichian Body Psychotherapy to Embodied Subjectivity:

a personal and professional journey”

[11:15a morning tea—provided]

11:45a Case Presentation: Karen Stewart, Psychodynamic Psychotherapist “Dancing with the Demons: Making Sense of Schizophrenia”

Moderator: Stephen Tang, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

[1:00p Lunch—not provided ]

2:00p Case Presentation: Susan West, Counsellor, Psychotherapist “Finding our Way to Greater Authenticity, or (K)not”

Moderator: Nicola Hoskins-Murphy, Psychotherapist, Psychologist

[3:15p afternoon tea—provided]

3:45p Panel Presentation: “Self Psychology and my Clinical Forward Edge” Stephen Tang, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Policy Advisor, Researcher

Carolina Barreto, Psychologist, Supervisor
Hollie Bakerboljkovac, Counsellor, Coach
Matt Hynes, Child Psychologist
Moderator: Sandra Kay Lauffenburger, Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, Supervisor

5p Close of Day One

[5:30 Optional Conference Buffet Dinner—prepaid] Space42 DEAKIN ACT Ngunnawal Land

7/42 Geils Court, Deakin West ACT Conference organizer: S K Lauffenburger


DAY TWO: SUNDAY 26 February 2023

9:15 Arrival & Networking

9:30a— Opening Welcome

9:45a Case Presentation: Nicola Hoskins-Murphy, Psychologist, Psychotherapist “Close to the Bone: Coming-into-Being and the Crucible of Motherhood”

Moderator: Jeff Barlow, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor

[11:00a morning tea—provided]

11:30a Case Presentation: Chantal Jackson, Counsellor, Somatic Exp. Practitioner “Weaving Somatics and Self-Psychology: Remaining Rooted in the Relationship”

Moderator: Sandra Kay Lauffenburger, Somatic Psychodynamic Psychotherapist

[12:45 Lunch—not provided ]

1:30p Presentation and Experiential: Sandra Kay Lauffenburger, Psychotherapist, Supervisor Olivia Wilson, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Supervisor

“Somatic Self Psychology: What does it mean to ‘Include the Body’?”

3:15p Questions, Answers, Discussion All Presenters

4p Close of Conference—thank you for joining CRSPCommunity

The Canberra & Region Self Psychology Community

2023 Self Psychology Conference

“Nurturing the Tendrils of Health:
Working with the Forward Edge in Clients, Self and Community” 25 & 26 February 2023

Space42 DEAKIN Ngunnawal Land
7/42 Geils Court, Deakin West ACT Conference Organiser: S K Lauffenburger

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