SCIARPP presents A Relational Approach to Couples Psychotherapy


Relational Psychoanalysis at the cutting edge

A Relational Approach to

Couples Psychotherapy

Philip Ringstrom PhD PsyD

For the first time in Australia

October 2014


provides a thorough, grounded framework for working with

the complex and multiple dynamics that are present when

we work with couples.

uses psychodynamic and psychoanalytic understandings in

ways that are highly practical

is based on three broad themes: a) the actualization of self

experience in an intimate relationship, b) the couples’

capacity for mutual recognition versus mutual negation and

c) the relationship having ‘a mind of its own’. These themes

are explored in an atmosphere of non-linear and nonhierarchical



Dr Ringstrom will show how the therapist’s initial task is to

become attuned to the partners' disparate subjectivities,

including the critical importance of each partner's

perspective on the "reality" they co-habit

he will then show how these perspectives can be fleshed

out through the exploration of their developmental histories,

with focus on factors of gender, culture and more

out of this arises an examination of how conflictual pasts

manifest in dissociated self-states, understanding of which

leads to the enrichment of self-actualization, the facilitation

of mutual recognition and the capacity to more genuinely

renegotiate their relationship.


provides advanced teaching of the model

application of the model to participants’ own clinical material

SCIARPP is also proud to present:

Improvisation in Psychoanalysis

and Psychotherapy

A special evening seminar with

Dr Ringstrom

Thursday 23 October - 7pm-9pm

About Philip Ringstrom PhD PsyD

Dr Philip Ringstrom has been working with relational systems and couples for over 30 years, following his

original training as a clinical social worker. Early in his career, he found systems theory offered a more

effective model of treatment than the drive-based psychoanalysis widely used at the time. He later developed

a renewed interest in a contemporary psychoanalytic approach with it’s focus on social context and social

constructionism. His current thinking represents an integration of these clinical perspectives into a new and

fully relational model of treatment.

He is a Senior Training and Supervising Analyst and Faculty Member at the Institute of Contemporary

Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, California. He is a Member of the Editorial Boards of both the International

Journal of Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology and Psychoanalytic Dialogues. He is also a Council Member of

International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and a Founding Board Member and current

Board Member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.

Registration Regular Early Bird /SCIARPP

Couples Workshop - Sat 25 Oct 2014 $437.50 $350.00

Couples + Masterclass - Sat 25 + Sun 26 $562.50 $450.00

Improvisation Seminar - Thu 23 Oct 2014 $100.00 $80.00

Couples + Improvisation - Thu 23 + Sat 25 $500.00 $400.00

Improv+Couples+Master - Thu 23 + Sat 25 + Sun 26 $625.00 $500.00



Annette Conradi -

Roberto D’Angelo -


Working with Couples Workshop: Saturday 25 October 9am - 5pm

This full-day workshop is based on Dr. Ringstrom’s recent book: A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples

Psychotherapy and will present a comprehensive, contemporary model for working with couples.

The model is organised around three broad themes:

• the actualization of self experience in an intimate relationship

• the capacity for mutual recognition,

• the “relationship having a mind of its own”

The model sets out Six Steps in which these themes are achieved, that wed theory and practice.

The first step begins with the therapist’s close attunement to the hopes and fears that each partner brings to the relationship,

eventually pointing out the couple’s “vicious circle” engagements. These arise when each partner’s developmental longings

trigger painful or unmanageable states in the other partner. Further steps include understanding the developmental context of

the way each partner organises the relationship; the exploration of enactments to illuminate what is going on unconsciously in

the couple; and discovering what is non-negotiatiable in each partner and in the couple.

During the first half of the seminar, Dr Ringstrom will outline his model of couples therapy in detail. After lunch, there will be

extended interaction with the audience, with particular emphasis on the application of his model to clinical material.

Participants are encouraged to bring clinical material to discuss with Dr Ringstrom.

Working with Couples Advanced Masterclass: Sunday 26 October 10am - 12pm

In this small group of a maximum of 30 people, participants will have the opportunity to interact with Dr Ringstrom in a more

intimate setting. The goal of this Masterclass will be to explore the theory and application of Dr Ringstrom’s model at a more

advanced level. Ways of working with concepts such as “the relationship having a mind of its own” and the centrality of

enactment as a way to access dissociated self-states of each member, will be explored in more detail. This seminar will focus

on the application of Dr Ringstrom’s model to participants’ own clinical material.

Participation in the full day workshop is an essential requirement for enrolment in the Masterclass.

Improvisation in Psychoanalysis: Thursday 23 October 7pm - 9pm

Dr Ringstrom will present a model of improvisational engagement with patients, which he has been developing for over a

decade and about which he has published widely. He will discuss how he conceptualizes the essential role of playfulness in

his clinical work and will also examine moments when an atmosphere of playing with possibility within the patient, within

himself, or somewhere in the complex mixture of the patient/therapist relationship comes to a halt. At these times, the two

participants can no longer play with the psychological material at hand. He examines these moments as opportunities to open

up something heretofore unimagined. He draws on his concept of “mutual inductive identification” to understand these


Some reviews of Philip Ringstrom’s recent book: A Relational Psychoanalytic Approach to Couples

Psychotherapy (Routledge: 2014)

"This outstanding new book is, to put it simply, the best book out there on the application of cutting-edge psychoanalytic

thinking to couples therapy. Ringstrom writes in a nonjudgmental, even-handed way about the joint contributions to conflict

from both partners. The problems of blame, failure of mutual recognition, and difficulties in self-actualization are clearly laid

out. He recognizes the power of unconscious repetitions in intimate relationships, but … with an optimism that offers hope to

the therapist and to the couple that their conflicts are not etched in granite and ultimately can be negotiated and managed in

the service of a more fulfilling relationship. Most of all, he offers a clear and clinically useful road map to guide both the

beginning therapist and the experienced clinician. I highly recommend it to all clinicians since even those patients in individual

treatments must learn to live in dyads."

- Glen O. Gabbard, MD. Author, Love and Hate in the Analytic Setting

"Ringstrom approaches couples therapy not with a narrow view of resolving psychological conflict, but with the conviction that

we enter couple relations with the hope of a fuller self-development and creativity that can only emerge in robust, mutually

recognizing engagement. … In a voice that is at once remarkably clear and humane he depicts the core struggle in which two

human beings strive to awaken one another, caught between repeating the dreaded past and the hope for fulfillment of deep

longings. "

- Jessica Benjamin, author, Shadow of the Other, Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis. Supervising Faculty, New

York University Postdoctoral Psychology Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis