Conference – 14th October 2017

On Being Alive to Death: A conference bringing together different approaches to the emotional and psychological issues of life-threatening illnesses

As part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations, The Harbour is hosting a conference on 14th October 2017 which will explore aspects of our psychotherapeutic work and share the charity’s unique experience with other psychotherapists, counsellors, healthcare professionals, carers, academics and anyone who wants to explore further the role of emotions in dealing with life-threatening illnesses, dying and loss.    Not only do we look forward to a full programme of fascinating speakers from diverse backgrounds, but we are immensely excited to be welcoming The Harbour’s founder, Jill Brown, to open the conference with some reflections on our past and our present.   We expect high demand for the limited spaces available so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Bristol Uni logo

The conference is supported by the University of Bristol’s Brigstow Institute and will be held at a university site.


Date:  Saturday 14th October

Time:  10.00—5.00   Lunch and refreshments will be provided during the day, and all are invited to join us for drinks and networking afterwards.

Venue & Programme details will be provided upon booking your place.

Conference Fees:   Standard rate: £100

                                        Staff and volunteers in the voluntary sector: £80

                                        Students and trainee counsellors & therapists: £40

                                       (All bookings are subject to a small booking fee.)

A limited number of free places are reserved for the University of Bristol, please contact The Harbour for more details)

Booking – Please follow this link to Eventbrite to book your ticket:

CPD: Certificates of 6 Hours CPD can be provided upon request.

…and please note that any profits from the event will contribute to the work of The Harbour

Our Conference Programme includes…

The conference will open with some reflections on the work of The Harbour by its founder, the psychotherapist Jill Brown.

This will be followed by a keynote lecture from Christopher Vincent, consultant visiting lecturer at Tavistock Relationships: ‘Healthy defences for unhealthy times: coping mechanisms when living with Huntington disease. Is it always good to talk?’ . Chris will question some conventional ideas about the value of always talking about the challenges that life throws at us and in doing so will also challenge some conventional ideas about mourning.

Other confirmed presentations include:

Havi Carel, Head of Philosophy, University of Bristol: “The experience of illness: a philosophical analysis”: Professor Carel will discuss the experience of illness and why it matters. She suggests that illness matters deeply to how we live our life not only when unwell, but also when healthy. Illness also matters to philosophy, in ways that will be spelled out in this talk. Havi will present an analysis of the experience of illness using phenomenology. She will also touch on the relationship between illness and happiness, suggesting that this relationship is much less clear than one may anticipate. Finally, Havi will end the talk by discussing the importance of illness to philosophy.

James Brennan, Founder of the Clinical Psychology Department at the Bristol Haematology & Oncology Centre (BHOC): “Mental adjustment to a life-threatening illness”: Some illnesses and injuries fundamentally alter the trajectory and longevity of people’s lives. Such life transitions change our relationship with our mortality and our lives.  How do people psychologically adjust to these changes and re-engage with their lives, however long or short they are? In this talk James will argue that people are managing transitions all the time, and that this unique ability to adapt to complex change is central to how human minds work. By understanding the processes of mental adjustment, clinicians are able to make better sense of their patients’ (and their own) experiences when faced with change.

Karen Murphy, Hospice Chaplain, Westoncare: “The experience of a hospice chaplain”:  Karen will describe her experience of working in palliative care as both challenging and inspiring. A hospice chaplain’s role is to explore spiritual issues and distress with patients and families, often talking about the ‘unspeakable things’ that are still taboo in our society as we face mortality and death. In this presentation Karen Murphy will review some of the significant issues people raise, especially as people increasingly struggle to find an emotional language to express themselves.

Liz Salter, Couple Psychotherapist, The Harbour: “Working with couples: Resilience & Loss” :  This presentation will draw on Liz’s clinical work at The Harbour to consider some of the resources, challenges & dilemmas experienced by couples and therapists. This will focus on some of the tensions & advantages of working relationally with reference to attachment theory, couple concepts & illness narratives.

Paul Teed, NHS Gloucestershire Trust and University of Bristol: “An exploration of the Doctor-Patient Relationship in Assisted Dying” : Paul will explore the doctor-patient relationship within clinical encounters which involve a patient seeking an assisted death. The focus will be particularly on the experiences, pragmatic consequences and tacit underlying structures of the decision-making processes when a patient requests a medical report or a copy of their medical records to enable an assisted death abroad.