|The European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (EFPP)|
Luc Moyson, Chair of the EFPP
The European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: the past, the present and the future
The European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy was founded in 1991 in London.
a British psychoanalyst was elected as the first President and he formed,
together with colleagues from the UK and other countries from Europe the
first Executive Committee. This Board had as most important task to write
the first version of the constitution, something that demanded a lot of
inspiration and transpiration.
The founding of the EFPP must be understood in the context of the political,
economic and social developments that occured in and between the European
nations and the growth of Europe.
a) The European Integration Process
b) The crisis in the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy
Unfortunately, the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Europe, at that time, was fragmented mostly into local or regional and seldom into national bodies. This situation was not the best way to defend psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Furthermore, there was no cohesion in the field: the training models
looked very different and even the training standards were incredibly
different from country to country. No consensus could be found of what
psychoanalytic psychotherapy really was.
Sometimes I wonder how it was possible to gather all these people in
one Association and to bridge those broad gaps.
During the first years of the EFPP, the focus was mainly on the type of training needed in order to work effectively as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. The discussion about criteria for training was an important political discussion, which engaged individual clinicians as well as training institutes in many countries. Through these discussions, several countries developed their training programmes and national networks.
Nowadays 24 countries in Europe are full members of the EFPP.
The Structure of the EFPP
a) The sections
b) The Executive Committee
What did the EFPP achieve so far?
In short, the overall principle is to keep in contact with the development of psychoanalytic work in our member countries, with special regard to the conditions of work with our patients. We must not forget that the concern for our patients must be always our priority! Permanent attention to training conditions and research are also of great importance. This is not an easy task. Europe is growing and with the recently new EU member countries, the balance seems to have shifted towards the eastern part of Europe. Right from the beginning, one main area of the work has been to discuss and exchange experiences from the various types of training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy that are offered in different countries in Europe. Our aim was to reach an agreement on the level of minimum standards of training that is desirable and realistic. This discussion is an open-ended one while continuous changes in society demands constant adaptations. Huge differences in history and traditions lead to different perceptions and interpretations of what psychoanalytic psychotherapy really represents. We offer a forum in which further explorations can take place and in which we can learn from our differences.
The EFPP promotes a European Community network of psychoanalytic psychotherapists through activities such as annual EFPP conferences, the publication of the EFPP Book Series, through support of training programmes, through setting up different special interest groups and through the EFPP Website.
The EFPP Conferences
In its 17 years of existence, the EFPP organised at least one conference
A special feature in the EFPP conferences is the discussion groups after each plenary session and these small groups, which stay the same for the whole conference, are much appreciated. They contribute to increase the learning as well as to enhance the contact between participants. During these big conferences, many colleagues have the opportunity to present their work in a workshop that leads to many very interesting exchanges.
Besides these section conferences there are the Francophone conferences. These conferences are important, as they are attractive for the French speaking parts of Europe. It is also one of our compromises to cope with the difficult topic of languages.
In order to support the resurgence of interest in psychoanalytic ideas
and therapies in Eastern and Central European countries, EFPP has also
organised conferences in some of these countries. The first Eastern and
Central European Conference took place in Prague, the next in Riga and
the third and last one in Tallinn. At the Tallinn conference, it became
clear that there was no longer the same need for these separate conferences.
The support from the EFPP through seminars and supervisions in specific
countries has continued. For example, we supported short-term trainings
in Kiev, Russia and Bulgaria. Any request for such trainings can be proposed
and discussed in the Executive Committee.
The EFPP has the tradition to see almost each Conference as an opportunity to produce a new book. This initiative resulted in the publication of already 9 volumes published by Karnac in London. Several other books are in preparation to be published in the near future. Main lectures, selected paper presentations and workshops compose the content of these volumes.
The Special Interest Groups
Also because of contacts made at conferences, several new special interest groups were founded. These groups sometimes organise small meetings by themselves or will reserve their own space at conferences.
The special interest group for Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Psychotherapy resulted in the proposal that the EFPP would create a fourth section. After a lot of discussion and reflections, the General Meeting of the Delegates voted for the formal setting up of this fourth section. We gave the responsible persons the time to develop this section to be ready to function autonomously and this fourth section will be officially established in 2009.
The special interest group for Infant Observation has already organised several meetings in the past. Their last meeting took place in Pisa, Italy in February 2008.
Another very important special interest group works on Research in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Several very well experienced colleagues in the field offer a forum where exchange of information can take place. Ideas regarding research projects were discussed and the importance of inviting both clinically and theoretically based-research was agreed upon. As the pressure to "prove" the evidence based" value of our work we believe that this kind of workgroup can offer a lot to our profession in the near future. Many colleagues working in different institutes and in different universities share the same interest in research. The EFPP makes links possible and facilitates contacts and initiatives.
The special interest group for Victims of Torture and Organised Violence is a constant, on-going part of our conferences and brings this painful subject to broader international attention.
A new form of an ongoing workshop is a Peer-Review Session in collaboration with the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in which a review discussion was held about an unpublished paper.
Every two years EFPP organises a small workshop at a Greek Islands: Syros where a theoretical and more clinical topic is elaborated. End May 2008, the theme will be psychoanalytic psychotherapy with the Narcissistic patient.
The EFPP and the Central and Eastern European Countries
From 2004 to 2006, twelve countries in Central and Eastern Europe became
members of the European Union. This development had been foreseen by the
EFPP and contacts with many of these countries have been developed since
the start of the EFPP. Ludek
Vrba (Czech Republic) is a member of the Executive Committee and through
him and others many of these contacts have developed in a very positive
way. Since several years, members of the Executive Committee have been
invited to give presentations, seminars and workshops or to work as Supervisors
in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia, Poland and Serbia.
The EFPP Website
The main channel for communication with the outside world is the EFPP website: www.efpp.org.
A considerable amount of improvement has been made since the start of the website. The website is one of the most important tools for information about psychoanalytic conferences whether or not organised by the EFPP. Very interesting articles with the possibility to react is another example of this inexhaustible medium. An important aspect of the website is the information about who are the delegates from the different sections for the different countries. It is therefore important that this list is kept up to date.
I just can recommend you to add the EFPP website address to your favourites list!
Contacts with IPA and Allied organisations
Since the start of the EFPP the connections between EFPP and the member societies of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) have been a crucial issue for the Executive Committee. One positive outcome of this co-operation is that psychoanalytic psychotherapists can publish their papers on psychoanalytic psychotherapy in a psychoanalytic journal.
Several Executive members of the IPA were invited to give lectures at conferences or delegates meetings. Another way to encourage the co-operation with the IPA is Peer-review sessions with somebody from the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in Europe. In the past and during our last conference several communications and information exchange between EFPP and other allied organisations took place and we are open to continue this in the future.
THE FUTURE: some reflections about areas to defend and areas to develop
A) Some areas to defend
Critics on Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Another remarkable finding is the complete lack of knowledge about the extensive empirical research in psychodynamic concepts and theories. The criticism that psychoanalysis is completely unscientific or that its assumptions cannot be tested empirically can, on the basis of a lot of empirical studies be rejected.
Psychoanalysis is too often, even in mental health itself, identified with the typical cure: several times a week, on the sofa, for many years. Obviously, psychoanalysis is much more than that. Different important writers such as Klein, Winnicot, Lacan, Bion, Kohut, Kernberg and Fonagy contributed not only to further theoretical developments but also to a broader clinical practice where practically the whole spectrum of possible psychopathology, by the way of adjusted methods and techniques can be approached. Nowadays, many psychoanalytic therapists work on wards for new born or elderly patients. They try to help in the first contacts between the baby and his parents, do play therapy with toddlers, help adolescents to find their way in their individuation and sexualisation processes, and you even can find them on wards for addiction problems and forensic psychiatry with more severe psychopathology.
They work in a face-to-face contact, with couples and families and with
psychotherapeutic groups in ambulant, semi- residential and, in-patient
Psychoanalysis is not a science?
The question, is psychoanalysis "überhaupt" a science,
depends completely on the definition and this definition is already controversial
between scientists themselves. If science is defined as an attempt to
connect causal links between events one can wonder if the concept of causality
can be applied to living creatures with a consciousness. Some epistemologists
state that the assumptions of psychoanalysis neither can be confirmed,
nor falsified which means that it does not fit the scientific requirements.
Our experience is that the increase of knowledge and growth of technology
does not help at all in coping with the complexity of the contemporary
world. When science and technology do not succeed in reducing the complexity
they tend to repress it. One of the most dangerous consequences of this
is the exclusion of the subject and of the subjectivity.
In a time where the positive sciences are idealised and where all biological insights are made absolute, this is not an evident message.
Research and psychoanalysis
On the other hand, it is of course true that research has to connect much more, not only to the complex daily clinical experience, but also has to recognise the complexity of psychodynamic concepts. In some research, psychoanalytic terms are used in a caricaturist way. In an attempt to obtain scientific status, the danger can occur that psychodynamic concepts and theories are too much oversimplified. In addition, that the experiment, conceived originally as a means to the end of scientific knowledge, may become an end in itself.
We cannot underline enough the crucial importance of reliable conceptual research, which forms one of the strongest points in psychoanalysis. Expanding conceptual research by using insights from other scientifically disciplines like philosophy, linguistics, cultural anthropology, biology, neurosciences and history is even necessary as the systematic testing of these concepts.
The last century is at least ended with the "decade" of the brain. The cognitive and neurosciences made important progress and offered insights about memory, molecular biology of the brain and about neuroplasticity. At least it was demonstrated that the structure and the functioning of the brain can be influenced by the environment. One can now visualise the anatomy but also the functioning of the brain by the neuroimaging. An advantage is that the by definition invisible world of thoughts, feelings and fantasy can be made visible and real. However, it is not because we can situate the brain activities, that we can understand them. It is the difference between "Erklären" and "Verstehen" Both kinds of comprehension do not exclude but overlap each other. Some neuroscientists, like Nobel prize-winner Eric Kandel, admire psychoanalysis for its ideas and concepts that are seen as relevant for a broader scientific society.
The Theory of Attachment
Within the psychoanalytic world, there is also a movement towards intersubjectivity. The theory of attachment is, not only for the empirical pole but also for the intersubjective movement, of extreme importance.
Psychoanalysis also generally feels the need to join the academic sciences to increase it is creditibility as a science which has something to offer to other areas of science. The well developed instruments of the attachment research offer promising possibilities to support psychoanalytic work scientifically, without loosing the specific psychoanalytic way of looking and listening towards mental health.
What we finally see now is that the conclusions of researchers in the field of attachment are much more careful. And in his recommendations to introduce psychodynamic thinking within the attachment theory, Fonagy states that the theory of attachment should pay more attention to the systematic distortions of the outer world in the perception of the child.
It is a concept that for several years has conquered not only the psychoanalytic
but gradually and also more and more the whole psychotherapeutic world.
This is, for a great part, thanks to the fact that "reflective functioning"
(who is closely connected with it), is one of the few psychoanalytic concepts,
where from its relevance, is proved scientifically. Mentalisation as formulated
by Fonagy is a concept that integrates contemporary neuroscientific, psychoanalytic
and psychological developmental findings.
With thanks to Dr Mark Kinet's publication: "Freud and Co in de psychiatrie", Garant 2006
|last modified: 2008-04-15|