workshop 2015

Second Version of Triptych 1944 1988 by Francis Bacon 1909-1992

projection, provocation + dissociation


1 – 3 MAY 2015 , Quay West Suites,  SYDNEY

To achieve a good outcome with severely traumatised people, the therapist and patient need to work together to chart a safe course through the “Bermuda Triangle” of projection, provocation and dissociation.

In this 3-day workshop we will focus on the ISTDP treatment of complex, fragile (usually referred to as Cluster B and C personality disordered) patients.  Complex patients manifest a set of rapidly changing defences that can be confusing and frustrating for therapists.  Typically, these patients will rapidly shift from projection, to provocation – inviting you to attack them, to self-attack, to drifting/dissociation.  Their defences tend to not become ‘solid’ between the therapist and patient, but instead rapidly shift from one to another.  This combined with a low capacity to tolerate anxiety, results in a person who presents as reactive and unstable.  The initial tasks of the therapist are to be able to accurately track these defences, to not have countertransference reactions to these defences, to begin to build a conscious and unconscious therapeutic alliance, and to understand which defence is being mobilised to the forefront in each moment and apply the appropriate interventions.  The early treatment goals are to help these patients improve their self-reflective capacity, increase their anxiety tolerance and help them move from reactive defences to ‘affect isolation’ defences, where the patient is able to self-reflectively recognise what is happening within them in each moment.

Each of the three days will be anchored by treatment videos presented by Dr Arthey. The first two days will be chaired by members of ISTDP (Sydney), allowing for plenty of questions and discussions of the clinical phenomena, the ISTDP techniques demonstrated, and the theoretical understanding underpinning their application.  The third day will be an “advanced” workshop, which will not be chaired, and run along lines similar to the core training and advanced training run by Dr Arthey. All mental health professionals and appropriate post-graduate students in training are welcome to attend all three days of the workshop which is designed as a whole. Those new to ISTDP may find the pace moving up a notch on the third day, but hopefully find it stimulating and informative following the previous two days. It is not recommended that those new to ISTDP make the third day of this workshop their first exposure to ISTDP. For further inquiries, please contact the workshop administrator David Hawkins


Dr Stephen Arthey is a clinical psychologist at the Melbourne Centre for ISTDP and an internationally respected practitioner and teacher of ISTDP. He has published peer-reviewed articles on the theory and application of ISTDP, provides supervision in ISTDP and has conducted training workshops and presentations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden.  

Francis Bacon, Second Version of Triptych 1944 (1988)   © Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014
image used under license from Tate Gallery