The Conversational Model is an evidence-based approach for working with complex trauma, personality disorders and treatment resistant depression.

Training in the Conversational Model

This model of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy is among the best validated of all current psychotherapies

Applications are now being accepted for our 2020 intake. Our one-year extensive introduction course will focus on the short version of the Model.  Practitioners will be able to integrate this into their clinical work.  All suitable candidates will then be given the opportunity to extend this first year to another two years of in-depth training in psychodynamic work in the Conversational Model. 

The training will be offered part-time with all seminars conducted interactive on-line in real time.  Supervision will be offered locally where possible, or on-line.  For further information, including and application, please click on the links below.

Course Flyer

Course Leaflet

Course Application Form

The Conversational Model is an integrated, scientifically based model, broadly rather than narrowly focussed and developed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder.

The name was given by Robert Hobson (1920–1999) in 1985 to the approach to psychotherapy that grew out of work with patients who had failed other treatments, and who in the language of the time were “unanalysable” and were referred to as borderline. The work began with Robert Hobson and Russell Meares in 1965 in the United Kingdom and from 1982 was continued by Russell Meares in Sydney, Australia, where his ideas linked with those of self psychology, but later elaborated on and integrated with trauma theory, linguistics, and brain dynamics. (Haliburn et al 2017).

The Conversational Model relies on principles and techniques, both specific and non-specific, the latter common to other psychotherapy models. There is an increasing body of clinical experience that the Conversational Model can help borderline individuals reduce their suicidal tendencies and self-harming behaviour, develop a secure sense of self, and enrich their interpersonal relationships. During the course of therapy, improved interpersonal relationships and return to more productive lives are often reported. (Haliburn et al 2017).

The training focus is work with people who have experienced trauma and complex trauma, and are diagnosed with personality disorders and other treatment resistant conditions.

The three phases of psychotherapy in the Conversational Model

The phases are arbitrary and mutually informed.

1. Attention to language, use of techniques such as coupling or linking, resonance, amplification, representation and the provision of safety in the therapeutic relationship, developing sense of self, recognition of transference and countertransference, and achieving stability is the goal of the first stage. It’s not merely what is said, but also how it is said that matters. “Implicit right-brain to right-brain intersubjective transactions lie at the core of the therapeutic relationship”.

2. Linking in the transference relationship, identifying and exploring coping mechanisms, elaborating affect states and identifying and processing intrusion of traumatic memories are tasks of the second phase. Identifying disjunctions and repairing them is vital no matter when they occur.

3. Integrating dissociated affects into ordinary consciousness, transforming maladaptive coping mechanisms, and habitual ways of relating are part of the third phase. The fear of abandonment and separation anxiety that may have been apparent earlier, such as before, during, or after breaks in sessions, is dealt with and worked through before ending. A phase approach in psychotherapy is also a feature of other models.

The focus is upon understanding of particular psychopathology as the disruption of the developing self by repetitive trauma. These disruptions in development present as complex disorders. The trauma is described as being held in traumatic memory systems and the task of therapy is integration of these systems into the patient’s developing self experience.

The form of conversation as Script, Chronicle or Narrative reflects the present functioning of traumatic memory systems within the therapeutic conversation. Audio-recordings of clinical sessions allow the examination of this process in supervision.

A recent study (Haliburn et al 2017) concluded lack of adherence to the conversational model in the early stage of therapy—that is, the provision of safety, in those severely traumatised, through the use of empathic language addressing their level of consciousness—may contribute to patient/client dropout in the first three months of therapy. The dynamics of early relatedness in our opinion and its transformation in the therapeutic relationship is of vital importance in psychotherapy.

In 2019 ANZAP will offer a one-year training in the conversational model. This will focus on application of the conversational model for short to medium term psychotherapy. Following on is the option of training for a further two years to develop the clinical skills and personal awareness to deliver long-term therapy. 



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Professor Andrew Samuels - ANZAP Pre-Conference Workshop

Date: 18 Oct 2019

Wattle Room, Aerial UTS Conference Centre, Building 10, Level 7, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, Sydney

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Jacinta Frawley - ANZAP Pre-Conference Workshop

Date: 18 Oct 2019

Wattle Room, Aerial UTS Conference Centre, Building 10, Level 7, 235 Jones Street, Ultimo, Sydney

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ANZAP Annual Conference 2019 - Society and Spirit in the Therapeutic Space

Date: 19 Oct 2019

Primus Hotel Sydney, 339 Pitt Street, Sydney

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The Talking Cure Revisited, from Transference to Counter-Transference Driven Therapy

Date: 15 Feb 2020

Sydney University

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Affect Regulation through Mind/Body Integration (Using Heart rate Variability Tools)

Date: 28 Mar 2020

Sydney University

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Seminar presented by Julia Meyerowitz-Katz and Kevin Connor SC

Date: 23 May 2020

Sydney University

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Streaming live for us from the USA - Dr Terry Marks-Tarlow presenting "The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Intuitive Flashes, Hunches, and Gut Feelings"

Date: 25 Jul 2020

Sydney University

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Gender Diversity in a Contemporary Jungian Psychoanalytic Context

Date: 22 Aug 2020

Sydney University


PO Box 3595

Key Contact: Anne Malecki. 
Ph: (02) 8004 9873 from Australia
Ph: (04) 887 0300 Toll free from New Zealand
Fax: (02) 9012 0546

First Point of Contact

Anne Malecki is responsible for the ANZAP Secretariat. She is the first point of contact for all matters. 

Telephone: AUS (02) 8004 9873



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