About this course

This event is chaired by Annabel Kitson and organised by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families’ longstanding Child Psychotherapy Service. The Colloquium has been offering a unique opportunity to network with UK and international mental health professionals for over 40 years. We bring together professionals from all over the world to think about well-established as well as ground-breaking approaches to working with children and adolescents and to discuss clinical cases. 


This year we are venturing to set up the Colloquium in an online format and our theme will be Play. We will be focusing on the psychoanalytic perspectives on play, taking into account thinking about developmental, traumatic or defensive aspects of play. In keeping with previous years, our emphasis will be on discussion of clinical cases. There will be a mixture of theoretical and clinical presentations on the subject. This will include looking at the role and function of  play in fantasies, dreams or ideas as well as inabilities or inhibitions in play. 

We will also be addressing ways in which the current pandemic has been a period of disruption in treatments and what impact it has had on playing through digital means. 

We will hear from internationally renowned experts in the field of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and we will have an opportunity to learn and think together about the complexities of play within treatment.  Our speakers include: Angela Joyce, Monica Lanyado, Inge Pretorius, Annabel Kitson and Holly Martin amongst others. It will be a highly interactive event with small group discussions in digital breakout rooms, a workshop on digital play, opportunities to exchange knowledge and network. 

Selected papers

Angela Joyce's paper will offer a conceptual introduction to play, playing and its place in development and psychoanalysis.

Holly Martin will present a clinical  paper which describes the intensive psychotherapy of a latency-aged looked-after child, attending to the way in which sexual trauma disrupts the development of symbolic functioning. Dissociative processes and their impact upon internal representation will be considered, as the presenter discusses the evolution of transference and countertransference phenomena over the course of this two year treatment. Highlighting the adaptations in technique that were used to meet the child at her level of functioning, the presenter will trace her patient’s movement towards a capacity to symbolise.

Inge Pretorius' paper will characterise what is meant by play and will describe why it is so important to the child’s development, physical and mental health. According to Anna Freud, play starts with the body: the baby’s and the mother’s.  It gradually moves to transitional objects and to toys.  This presentation will consider what we mean by play and when it begins in infancy. Parents play a crucially important role as mediators of their children’s play and some obstacles to play will be discussed. It will describe why play is so important in the child’s development. The presentation will be illustrated by a short (3 minute) video clip of children playing in a therapeutic parent-toddler group at the Anna Freud Centre.

Monica Lanyado will present a paper on 'The therapeutic potential of the ‘playful presence’ of the therapist', see abstract

Times of this event have been adjusted in order to accommodate international colleagues.  

Who is this conference suitable for?

This conference should appeal to all mental health professionals working with children and adolescents with an interest in psychoanalytic thinking. Attendees are required to have a professional accreditation or be enrolled on a recognised training course