Conference abstracts

Thank you everybody who submitted an abstract for the 2020 NZAP conference. Below are listed the details of the sessions which will be available.

Diane Zwimpfer – Hidden infant terrors in the room

This paper explores the discernment and understanding of sequestered infant experiences. Patients who have created a functional life, often without obvious symptoms or disorders, but who feel themselves to be non-existent are difficult to successfully help. Using several case examples, I suggest that the recognition of infantile catastrophic terrors opens up the therapy to work with the fundamental sources of distress. The theoretical perspectives of Ogden, Tustin, Bion and Alvaraz, all referencing objectless states, bring related understandings of these hidden terrors.


Diane is in private practice in Wellington and draws on forty years of clinical experience. Her special interests are in primitive states of mind and teaching psychotherapy through supervision.

Yve Gould Being with attachment terror and panic

When I let myself feel this shaky feeling and put all my usual weapons down – my proofs of your failings, I feel really afraid.”

We are nothing without each other – fear and terror lurk in being alone and unseen.

This one-and-a half hour workshop will focus on using emotion to recognise and validate attachment panic, fear and the need for healing. The workshop uses didactic presentation, videos of actual client sessions with individuals and couples, and discussion. We will explore the terror in the transference for both client and therapist when we access, validate and name underlying attachment fears and unmet needs.

The workshop is based on the work of Dr Sue Johnson, author of Attachment Theory in Practice (Guilford, 2019) and the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy. EFT is a systemic, humanistic, and experiential therapy that uses attachment theory to guide and bring about therapeutic change.


Yve Gould, ACP NZAP M Couns, B.A. Dip.Tchg, is a certified EFT trainer, supervisor and therapist (ICEEFT, Ottawa). Yve is a member of the NZ Community for EFT. She is a psychotherapist and trainer in private practice, based in Papamoa Beach. Yve trains and supervises both online and in New Zealand and Australia.

Violet Sherwood The black sun: symbol of the unwelcome child’s annihilation terror in prenatal infanticidal attachment

This presentation draws on my doctoral research into the experience of psychological infanticide. Weaving together infanticidal attachment theory, the psychohistory of infant murder, and pre-natal psychology regarding the experience of the unwelcome child before birth, I explore the alchemical image of the black sun, and the Death Mother archetype, as expressions of pre-birth annihilation terror. I argue that during pregnancy, the unwelcome foetus and unwilling mother form an infanticidal attachment centred on their shared experiences of helpless terror, and utilising mutual survival strategies of dissociation that orient the child towards death rather than life. From my perspectives as psychotherapist and former patient I explore how terror of the Death Mother reveals itself in dreams, symptoms, fantasies, and in the transference and consider how we might engage with such life-destroying forces.


Violet Sherwood recently completed her PhD in psychotherapy at AUT. She is trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy and her professional development has focussed extensively in the areas of imaginal psychology and traumatic attachment. She also has an interest in the nature of creativity. Thirty-five years ago, in her early twenties, Violet experienced a psychological breakdown related to her adoption as an infant under the closed stranger adoption system in the 1960s. Her lived experience of psychological infanticide led to her interest in infanticidal attachment and its relationship with psychosis and dissociation. Her perspective as former psychiatric patient offers valuable insider knowledge that enriches and deepens her theoretical position as a psychotherapist working with early traumatic attachments. Violet works in private practice where she combines her interests in imaginal psychology, traumatic attachment, psychosis and dissociation. She is presently relocating her Auckland practice to Hamilton and Raglan in the Waikato. Violet is also a poet, author, former university lecturer and retired homeopath.

Vicky BlakePresentations of hate

I began a conversation about hate with my grandmother when I was a child. In 2019, I returned to explore my unfinished conversation after being confronted by the profoundly destructive acts of hate expressed in the terrorist attack in Christchurch on 15 March 2019.

More recently the word ‘hate’ has been notably absent in psychotherapy literature yet lies within referenced terms such as terrorism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, abuse and trauma to name a few. Psychoanalytic theory provides a foundation for thinking about the origins of hate. Humanistic theories such as transactional analysis contribute to these theories by analysing the intersubjective experience of hate in relationships. Hate is a bodily state often evoking deep terror, rage and anger, it is universal affecting individuals and groups. In the dynamic process of hate, I will explore the unconscious aspects and relational possibilities to address the presence of hate within the therapeutic relationship. When hate evokes terror a disconnect occurs to preserve and maintain relational contact. The core of hate lies hidden within the psyche yet paradoxically needs to be exposed to offer protection.


Vicky Blake BN is a psychotherapist and has worked as a health professional for over thirty years in hospital, community and private practice settings. She is a provisional teaching and supervising transactional analyst and combines her interest in psychoanalysis with humanistic theory in her work. Vicky is currently the NZAP Honorary Treasurer and has been involved with NZAP at local branch level as convenor and treasurer. Her published work includes her interest in sexuality and gender identity.

Susan LugtonAging: the fury involved and the countertransference that needs to be held

This paper addresses the growing need for patients over seventy years of age who experience death, illness and grief and who can benefit from psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

I will be discussing three patients (case studies), two of whom presented after the death of their wives and one who had a problem with his eyesight involving a squint affecting him from birth and throughout his life. All three presented in deep distress, largely unconscious.

They entered once a week psychotherapy that was open-ended. I will be discussing pivotal moments in the therapy when I and my patients found it difficult to understand, tolerate and contain the depth of their feelings including, shock, rage and terror.

I will also discuss aging in the current population of psychotherapists and how close scrutiny of their own experience of aging assists the work within this complex and newly emerging area of work.


Susan is an “aging” psychoanalytic psychotherapist and psychologist in private practice in Nelson. She undertook her studies and training in relationship, individual and group psychotherapy in Melbourne. Susan has published on a range of subjects and writes poetry and generally tries to keep pace with Freudian and Post Freudian thinking.

Suzanne Johnson – Reaching through the terror

This paper will be read with time for discussion after each clinical vignette. Each vignette will describe some of the therapeutic interventions with several clients that brought them back from dissociative or withdrawn states triggered by memories and reactions to terrifying experiences.

A terrified, dissociated 19-year old, a patient in a hospital medical ward, became my first psychotherapy client. I have since worked with several others who bring into therapy the terror felt during severe abuse experiences in childhood. I will also present a vignette of a client who, though not physically abused, is convinced that being himself is impossible and that he will be destructively criticised for any emotional expression, making him terrified of himself and others.

Clients recovering from sexual and relational trauma and the fear they bring to therapy have taught me about engaging clients in therapeutic relationship that enables self to emerge. This work has involved working with body states, with dissociative states, and with the client’s fear of their own destruction at the time of abuse, or within the therapy relationship.

Terror in the transference, or terror brought into or evoked by the therapy relationship, has led to experiences in myself that had to be managed and also led to unusual interventions based on instinctive decisions made moment by moment.


I work in private practice in Wellington including work with ACC Sensitive Claims clients. I began psychotherapy training while working in Wellington’s Adult Mental Health Service as a clinical nurse specialist with a medical/mental health liaison team. This role provided opportunity to work with trauma and distress more intensely than private practice allows.

The ‘holding’ made possible within a hospital and outpatient setting enabled me to experience how clients’ fractured ego states and terror of their own experiences may be worked with in private practice.

Sue Griffiths On the edge

Two years ago I saw a young man poised to jump from the top of a multistorey building. At the time, this emergency was being managed by the police and mental health workers. As I was directed to drive away, I was spontaneously able to be with the full extent of my distress, and later reflected on how different this was to my experience in the therapy room.

In this paper I explore what this event stirred up for me, and my reflections on how much death awareness is kept from immediate consciousness. Fear, vulnerability and terror in the counter- transference is necessarily bracketed or denied. The therapist needs to be an adequate transference object. Drawing from Interpersonal and Relational theories I consider how the subjectivity of the therapist is titrated in the therapeutic encounter.


After working as a registered nurse in therapeutic communities and training in family therapy and group work, I completed the ACP pathway to become a Full Member of NZAP. I have also completed the ANZAP training gaining a Diploma in Adult Psychotherapy. I have worked in private practice in Dunedin, at Student Health, the University of Otago, and the former Dunedin College of Education. I’ve been a member of the Dunedin regional supervisors group, and have marked membership papers for NZAP. In recent years, my clinical work has been most influenced by the work of Russell Meares, and attendance at the conferences of the International Association of Relational Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists (IARPP).

Seán Manning – The assembly of a criminal self: The mitigation of fear

The sense of self has identifying and alienating aspects – I am this, I am not that. But this is not simple. If not being is what I most experience, then not being can become a powerful negative identification. I am not good enough, I am not part of, I do not belong, I am not acceptable, I will not succeed, I cannot think, I do not feel, I do not need, I will not be. Such injunctions, destructive to an integrated sense of self, create terror, annihilation, and fragmentation, but if one has access to anger in surrounding discourse, there is a way to a sense of freedom. If I do not belong, I need not follow rules; if I will not succeed, I can do as I please; if I cannot get it right, watch me get it wrong.  Anger is a perfect antidote to terror, it holds me together.


Seán Manning, MSc, DipSW, DipGrad, MNZAP, TSTA, and registered psychotherapist, has been working with crime, addiction and violence in men for over 40 years, as social worker and psychotherapist. This paper arises from his doctoral studies on the assembly of criminality. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he has three adult children and two grandchildren. He has held a number of offices in professional associations and is a former president of NZAP but recently has been working on a social life and has almost overcome a tendency to be argumentative. His limited abilities with Māori and Spanish are a lot better than his command of Irish. His addiction to collecting musical instruments is almost under control though his ability to play them lags behind. He is interested in how psychotherapy works and what happens in the human brain in the construction and reconstruction of the self. His published work includes reports on the effectiveness and the essentially secular nature of time, on antisocial behaviour, a critical review of ideas about the unconscious, and on the effectiveness of family violence programmes.

Ros Lewis Holding the terror of trauma in a therapeutic group process

For the last six years I have developed and facilitated a number of ‘Recovery from Trauma’ therapeutic programs in private psychiatric hospital settings in Melbourne. These closed therapy groups run weekly for six months. The participants, of diverse ethnicities, struggle with significant trauma symptoms from a variety of at times, extreme traumatic events that have affected their lives.

During my presentation, I wish to discuss the theoretical framework I use to run such a group, including exploring the transferential and counter-transferential processes that I often encounter. This includes my own lived experience as a survivor of trauma and how that informs my capacity to sit with group participants in their despair, in the grip of PTSD symptoms, wondering if their life is worth living. I will discuss how understanding the physiology of post traumatic stress disorder can empower survivors, as well as the resilience that can be found in embracing the concept of a ‘survivor mission’.


Ros Lewis is an NZ registered psychotherapist with 34 years’ experience in the psychotherapy field. She is an experienced clinician, educator and supervisor. Her clinical work is informed by a psychodynamic and feminist perspective. She has a special interest in trauma and recovery and is passionate about empowering clients to understand more about the impact of trauma in their lives, including the physiological impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She also values assisting other heath professionals to understand important principles, when working with those who have suffered trauma. Ros has a Masters in Health Science (First Class Honours) and her research thesis explored the long term consequences of intimate partner violence in Aotearoa, ten or more years after leaving.

Ros currently lives and works in Melbourne. She is also a life writer of creative non -fiction and poetry. This year Ros has published articles in both Australia and New Zealand and has published poetry in the Melbourne Writers Group Anthology over the last four years. She is currently writing a memoir.

Rod SandleRediscovering Sabina: terror and the primitive sexual transference

Terror arises on the one hand from the fear of death and on the other the passion for life. In working with terror as it manifests in the transference, a challenge for the practitioner is to maintain homeostasis in its physical, intellectual, emotional and relational aspects, as terror is a strong force for tipping the balance of emotional regulation with consequences mentally and physically.

This paper will explore this challenge, starting by going back to the roots of psychoanalysis and a paper written by Sabina Spielrein in 1912: “Destruction as the Cause of Coming into Being”. Building on Spielrein’s work, it will attempt to deepen understanding of theory linking terror to the primitive sexual transference. Of particular interest is the recognition of dissociation in both patient and practitioner and working with it in the therapeutic relationship. The presence of terror and dissociation in the wider community, both currently and historically, is touched on.


Rod has been a member of NZAP for 35 years. He is a Certified Transactional Analyst and a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist. He studied psychology and zoology at the same time at university and has remained interested in the links between them. Currently for him one such link involves what lies behind the phenomenon whereby dissociative personality traits can evoke both positive and negative idealization from others. This can be true of the therapist’s relationship with their client and can also be evoked in us by these characteristics in people taking political action.

Miranda ThorpeGenital binding

There has been an exponential rise in the prolonged use of disposable nappies. In human development we have never had this phenomenon of binding our children’s genitalia during this crucial age of sexual exploration. I postulate that these plastic, toxic chemical wrappings destroy our environment as well as our children. We strap our children’s genitalia and interfere psychically with the usual development through the psychosexual phases. Children in the phallic stage are prevented from discovering their bodies when their genitals are continuously out of awareness by being tightly bound, encased and unfelt. Society’s vicious attack renders children disconnected, infantilised and impotent, and interferes with the working through of their Oedipal and castration anxieties. I will elaborate, with clinical examples, on the themes of arrested development, sexual fixation, and the use of the disposable nappy as a transitional object and sexual fetish.

We in industrialised countries are attacking our children and our planet. It is unprecedented in human development that we bind our children’s genitalia in plastic wrappings, destroying their potential awareness at such crucial sexual developmental phases. Traditional societies have the key to a more relational and sensitive world. Urgently we must relearn these early parenting skills before they are lost.


Miranda Thorpe works as a psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and supervisor in private practice. In 2005 Miranda co-founded “Psychotherapy at Apollo” that has ten practitioners at Apollo Health and Wellness Centre, North Shore, Auckland. Registered with PBANZ, she is a member of NZAP, and co-Chair of Training of the New Zealand Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

Working in English, Portuguese and French, she sees individuals and families, and specialises in issues relating to early attachment, immigration, and blended families. Miranda has published papers in journals, written a book, designed a website, and has given papers, workshops and seminars at local and international conferences.

Born in England, she was raised and lived in numerous countries before immigrating with her large family to New Zealand in 1994. Miranda has adult children and grandchildren.

Marie Franklin “Hayku” and “The Lie of the Land”: Nature’s place in dis-placement

This paper explores the therapeutic value of Nature in the healing process of people who have been exiled from their homeland. Using a case study from my work with a client, I explore how the catastrophic trauma of being forced from her village in the mountains, with the many losses that ensued, found a pathway of expression in the mountains and farmlands of Auckland.

Inherent in working with people from a refugee background are obstacles, including language barriers, complex trauma, and harrowing conditions in host countries, as well as the loss of family members.

In this case study, I illustrate how these challenges can be attended to when we respond to a client’s gravitation to the natural world. My client expressed her sense of feeling trapped in her home, and her desire to go to the jungle. Following her lead, we embarked on a journey in which I saw through her eye’s essential elements from her tribal lands and heritage. Most centrally I noticed how my client’s attention focused on “reading the grass” for buffalo grazing which facilitated her remembering the essence of her early life, providing the container within which her stories could now be told.


Eleven years ago I immigrated to New Zealand from Ireland with my family. I trained as a psychotherapist at AUT, and I am currently working with Refugees As Survivors NZ. In Ireland I was an organic grower, where I developed my love of Nature. My master’s thesis is my own healing journey in New Zealand bush, which I undertook following the death of my close friend and Nature Teacher. This began my integrating psychotherapy and Nature, in ecotherapy. I’m passionate about psychotherapy in natural spaces, and I am pursuing this path in my psychotherapy practice with individuals and groups. I am currently embarked on ecotherapy training. I’m excited to share my enthusiasm for this work, together with my ecotherapy experience, with therapists who are curious to explore practicing psychotherapy in a natural setting.

Joy Hayward Detecting purple tongues

Psychotherapists seldom work with psychopaths or extreme narcissists. Psychopaths rarely go to therapy because they don’t see how it would benefit them and extreme narcissists believe the problem is with the other, not them.

Nonetheless, we do encounter these individuals, sometimes vicariously and sometimes in person. This is particularly so at the time of relationship breakups, and the combination of these traits and separation is often a lethal one. As psychotherapists, a highly developed capacity for unconditional positive regard is vital to our work but this can also be the very thing that blinds us to what we need to see when working with this population. I explore what happens in the transference regarding these individuals.

This is also a very personal paper as I share the terror of 15 years living in close proximity to a psychopath whose capacity to terrorise was inadvertently aided and abetted by the psychotherapists he seduced.


Following four years of Gestalt training, Joy completed the Child Psychotherapy training available, at that time, at the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago. She has worked primarily in private practice both as a member of a group practice and as a sole practitioner, and for seventeen years at The College of Education/University of Otago. She has been involved in working with individuals, couples, families and groups. She has taught a number of topics on the Ashburn Clinic Psychotherapy training. For the past eight years her work has primarily been in supervision including work with a group of psychiatric registrars.

After thirty seven years of working as a psychotherapist it has been hard for her to decide when her work is done and in moving towards finishing at the end of 2019, she finds herself with two unfinished passions. One prompted this paper and the other is for Family Therapy, which she intends to attempt to re-establish in Dunedin.

John FarnsworthClinical notes: taming terror in emergent transitional spaces

All psychotherapists take notes. But what function do they perform? This paper invites discussion of this common, and commonly invisible, activity.

I begin by disclosing my own, daily note-taking practices and the idiosyncracies that inform them.

Second, I explore the psychological dynamics that process notes mobilise. I propose they open a transitional space, a formative internal dialogue, between our immediate therapy experience and its later registration on page or screen. Doing so, it binds the transference anxieties, terrors and uncertainties between client and therapist, potentially regulating the ambiguities or chaos of a session.

Notes are continuously emergent and dynamic, unfolding as we write them. They are also an ordering ritual, one created through their hourly repetition.

I will illustrate all of this through my own notes. I will also warmly invite general discussion to explore this mostly unspoken, sometimes secretive activity.


John Farnsworth is a psychotherapist in private practice in Dunedin. Over the past twenty years, he has worked with individuals, couples and groups. He is a long-time member of NZAP and has an extensive background in psychodrama. He has an abiding interest in how psychotherapy is practised, thought and written about. His most recent paper on Relational Psychoanalysis will shortly appear in Ata.

Jenny De LeonTerror – Will – Faith

I offer a performative presentation.

Facing the terror of how can I go on?

As an older woman who practices psychotherapy and as a performance artist I have discovered that this terror is, in no way mine alone.

Confronted with the inevitability of age, physical and possibly mental disintegration and, at a global level the enduring uncertainty, the question arises.

Within the therapeutic encounter it arises with an insistence that can be terrifying.

My performed work – a dance – embodies and reveals the paper.

Confronting the reality of living with the terror in my own life I profess will and faith as having currency. But do these have meaning or credibility for my clients?

What energy of ‘will’ or ‘faith’ could possibly suffice?

These, plus numinous aspects as dream, vision, conviction, commitment, ‘calling’ lie there between my client and me. How do we do it/be it?

Curious and contentious perhaps is how I engage with myself, my clients and the dynamics of

  • Calling
  • Vision
  • Discipline.

The accompanying dance demonstrates a terror in me/us, upon me/us; impermanent, hesitant/ongoing, in/tangible, real/ephemeral.

It is an embodied representation of my belief that a career such as mine is not possible to sustain when what I do and what I create is politicized – objectified into ‘work’ and ‘object’ – but that when it (what I do and what I create) exists in the unpredictable, precarious realm of process – it is.

“To appreciate an artwork is to appreciate what is done” (Bicknell on Davies, 2004, p. 1). I argue that for the practicing artist this which is active, alive and about process, (‘doing’) – is vital, sustaining – and when this is absent, diminished the artist becomes unnourished, as with

wings that are no longer wings to fly

But merely vans to beat the air,

The air that is now thoroughly small and dry

Smaller and dryer than the will (Eliot, 1974, p.96).


Jennifer De Leon is a dancer-choreographer-movement therapist, trained in the UK, USA, and NZ; and founder of The Healing Dance Dance/Movement Therapy. Jenny is a certificated practitioner in Laban Movement Fundamentals (NY). Her Masters thesis in Health Science (awarded First Class Honours) was the first in NZ to be presented in both written (book form) and live performance. Jenny presently works from her studio in Grey Lynn.