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2012 PCE Conference



  • Already 330 participants from 28 different countries have registered:Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States of America.
    You can still join us! Please note that the deadline for registration is 15/06/2012. All information on registration can be found on the website
  • We have an interesting program to offer you:

Keynote speakers:

 8th July:  Greet Vanaerschot. Working with interpersonal and intrapsychic anxiety through the therapeutic relationship.

 9th July:  Robert Elliott. Working with anxiety in PCE psychotherapies: Theory,  research and avenues for practice.

            10th July: Dagmar Hölldampf. Children with anxiety problems: PCE perspectives.

    Marcel Schmeets. Neurobiology and anxiety: Implications for psychotherapy.

            11th July: Jim Iberg. Working with anxiety: A focusing-oriented approach.

12th July: Plenary endpanel (with plenary speakers, discussants and audience). From symptom to self: Issues for further debate.

  • In addition to the plenary sessions a broad range of presentations will be offered. We received 140 abstracts. An overview of the abstracts will be available on the website around half June.
  • The conference theme has proven to be very very fruitful: we received proposals from the different sub-orientations (classical client-centered, focusing-oriented, emotion-focused, existential and interpersonal psychotherapy), with a good balance of theory, research  and practice.

Do not miss this exciting conference! And if you have the opportunity, spread the word to your colleagues. Many thanks!O M 


10th PCE Conference


Working with anxiety: From symptom to self


July 8 - 12, 2012

Antwerp, Belgium


Local Organizing Committee:

Lisbeth Neven, chair


Claude Missiaen

Ellen Gunst


Ellen Van Diest

Germain Lietaer


Greet Vanaerschot

Kurt Renders


Nele Stinckens

Myriam Jennen


Nils Verbeeck

Paul Dierick


Pieter Goetvinck

In collaboration with
Vlaamse Vereniging voor Cliëntgericht-Experiëntiële Psychotherapie en Counseling,
Universiteit Antwerpen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit voor Mens en Samenleving

For more information, go to:


Conference Theme: Working with anxiety: From symptom to self

Anxiety is a central phenomenon in human existence. A healthy form of anxiety has a positive and stimulating impact on personal growth, while a sickening form of it can have a hindering or blocking impact on psychological development and self-actualization. The blockages may manifest themselves in diverse domains of human functioning: the self (incongruence between self-concept and organismic valuing), the experiencing process and emotional processing, interpersonal relationships and existential issues.

Anxiety is part of the experiencing of most, if not all, clients in therapy. As therapists we sometimes meet anxiety in our clients as a healthy emotion, but most of the time as an obstruction to change in the diverse problems clients are wrestling with. Clients' process-blocking ways of relating to anxiety may refer to being overwhelmed by it as well as to avoiding it.
Anxiety can arise in different kinds of problems or process blockages which clients may be struggling with, and which in the clinical field are often labeled in DSM-IV terms, such as phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dependent personality disorder, and the contact anxiety of the schizoid personality disorder. How does anxiety manifest itself in each of these problems or process blockages? Are these clients suffering from too much or too little anxiety? How does the client relate to his/her anxiety: not controlling enough - resulting in being flooded by it, or controlling too much - resulting in avoiding it extremely?

The different manifestations of anxiety or anxiety-avoidance call for different ways of coping, dependent on the areas of functioning which are blocked. They also make specific demands upon the listening attitude, the relational attunement and the process expertise of the therapist.

We are looking for what is really going on in the experiencing of clients who are going through something that is purely externally described in the psychiatric terminology for the different kinds of anxiety problems. We try to attune ourselves to this experiencing. The question is: how do we meet this client? How do we meet this client's anxiety or anxiety avoidance? How do we meet ‘all that' which this client's anxiety is about? And how can we help the client to come in contact with these underlying, implicit experiencings? How can we help these underlying experiencings to unfold themselves? How do we meet the anxiety of this client in a therapeutic manner, i.e. in a manner that leads to change? In a description from the perspective of the client's inner experiential world the term ‘symptom' refers to a process blockage. Then the question becomes: how can we get from process blockage to process unfolding and to an integration of the blocked process areas into the self?

Fully in line with our view on the human condition and therapy, we (will) concentrate on particular moments of anxiety in therapy. In this (phenomenological) approach, the classical external descriptions of anxiety symptoms or anxiety disorders do not offer much to go on. What kind of processes does the therapist meet in working with this particular client with his/her anxiety? This question applies to two domains:

  1. How does the therapist handle the client's anxiety at the level of the interpersonal relationship? Here the holding function of the therapist comes to the foreground, as well as the question how to manage the fixed and rigid interaction patterns which the anxiety leads the client into. Then the question arises of when the therapist should try to ease the anxiety, or when on the contrary he/she should leave it as it is or even try to intensify it, and and how may the therapist's own anxiety interfere with this.
  2. The second question then is: how can we work with the anxiety problems of this particular client on the intrapsychic level, on the level of the client's relationship with him/herself? The focusing attitude has a particular role here, but also a therapeutic task like exposure is important, as well as the therapist's helping the client to put into words his/her underlying implicit experiencing.

The conference will offer a forum to study and improve our therapy methods, in particular with respect to the treatment of anxiety problems. Important questions are: What works? What doesn't work? In what aspects are our methods challenged? In what ways do anxious or anxiety avoiding clients force us to adjust or to specify our therapeutic attitude? What are the particular problems we are confronted with in the domain of the client-therapist relationship (the relational domain) and in the domain of the client's self-exploration (inner avoidance or underregulation)? Are we able to find an answer to these problems and in this way to specify our methods?

Other questions are: What can we learn about the various anxiety problems from our process-differential psychotherapeutic approach? Does this knowledge result in new descriptions of anxiety problems that - in contrast with the external descriptions - are better attuned to what a therapist really needs, descriptions that focus on the experiencing person and on the moment-to-moment responses and interventions of the therapist?

We invite clinicians to contribute to the conference from their actual clinical practice, whatever the setting is, the social or cultural context, the client population, and the theoretical and practical perspective. We also invite researchers, theoreticians, trainers and supervisors to go more deeply into this topic of working with anxiety in psychotherapy and to present their findings and insights.