Teaching psychotherapy in a behavioural world: An autoethnographic account

Sunday 19 March 10.10-11.10

Teaching psychotherapy in a behavioural world: An autoethnographic account

by Mark Thorpe


In this presentation, Mark will provide an autoethnographic account of his struggle to maintain a cultural, relational, phenomenological, and depth psychotherapeutic sensibility while teaching an undergraduate university psychology paper (“Approaches to Psychological Intervention”) in Aotearoa New Zealand. He will discuss the growth and relentless social and academic pressure to kill off any existential, humanistic and psychodynamic parts of the paper in favour of behaviourism, Cognitive Therapy, ACT and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. The presentation concludes with some tentative suggestions, based upon his eight years of teaching the paper, on how we may continue to grow human students within the heart of relational darkness.


Dr Mark Thorpe is a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology and practices as a clinical psychologist at Psychotherapy at Apollo. He trained in a variety of therapeutic modalities and worked in private, governmental, and university settings in South Africa and Aotearoa New Zealand. Mark is Chair of Training for the New Zealand Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, and a member of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia and the International Association of Relational Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He has held the positions of Vice President of the South African Institute of Psychotherapy, Chairperson of the Cape Town Psychoanalytic Society, Psychology Professional Advisor for Pacific Health DHB, Committee Member of the NZ Institute of Counselling Psychology, and Head of Psychology at Auckland University of Technology.