The Conversational Model is an evidence-based approach for working with complex trauma, personality disorders and treatment resistant depression.

Training in the Conversational Model


Applications are now being accepted for our 2024 training intake which will commence in March next year.  Applications close on Friday 17 November and successful candidates will be interviewed by Zoom between 27 November and 15 December.

Link to 2024 Course Flyer 

Link to Application Form


This model of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is among the best validated of all current psychotherapies.


The first year of the course is an extensive introduction and will focus on the short version of the Model. Practitioners will be able to integrate this into their clinical work. All suitable candidates will then be given the opportunity to extend this first year to another two years of in-depth training in psychodynamic work in the Conversational Model. 


All course seminars are interactive on-line in real time on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 – 7:00 pm Australian Eastern Time (7:30 – 9:00 pm New Zealand time). Seminars are conducted via Zoom.  The course will commence on Tuesday, 5 March 2024. Supervision will be offered locally where possible, or on-line.


Prior to the commencement of training, a live-in weekend will be held in Sydney from 2 pm on Friday, 23 February to lunch time on Sunday, 25 February 2024.  It is essential that all successful candidates attend this live in weekend in Sydney


About the Conversational Model

The Conversational Model is a psychodynamic psychotherapy based on the work over many years by Prof Russell Meares and Dr Robert Hobson, incorporating developmental psychology, cognitive theory and attachment theory. It is a relational model, emphasising how early developmental relational trauma shapes many severe adult psychiatric problems and how to deal with this in short, medium and long-term therapy. The Model has been developed for a range of chronic psychiatric syndromes that are difficult to treat, particularly borderline personality disorder, dissociative disorders, other personality disorders, treatment resistant depression and somatic disorders.

It is an evidence-based treatment, with positive randomised controlled trials for the treatment of depression, deliberate self-harm, complex somatic disorders and borderline personality disorder. More importantly, the Conversational Model principles are practical and down-to-earth, and can be used even in emergency situations and one-off mental health assessments.

The Conversational Model relies on principles and techniques, both specific and non-specific, the latter common to other psychotherapy models. There is an increasing body of clinical experience that the Conversational Model can help borderline individuals reduce their suicidal tendencies and self-harming behaviour, develop a secure sense of self, and enrich their interpersonal relationships. During the course of therapy, improved interpersonal relationships and return to more productive lives are often reported. (Haliburn et al 2017).

The training focus is work with people who have experienced trauma and complex trauma, and are diagnosed with personality disorders and other treatment resistant conditions.

The three phases of psychotherapy in the Conversational Model

The phases are arbitrary and mutually informed.

  1. Attention to language, use of techniques such as coupling or linking, resonance, amplification, representation and the provision of safety in the therapeutic relationship, developing sense of self, recognition of transference and countertransference, and achieving stability is the goal of the first stage. It’s not merely what is said, but also how it is said that matters. “Implicit right-brain to right-brain intersubjective transactions lie at the core of the therapeutic relationship”.

  2. Linking in the transference relationship, identifying and exploring coping mechanisms, elaborating affect states and identifying and processing intrusion of traumatic memories are tasks of the second phase. Identifying disjunctions and repairing them is vital no matter when they occur

  3. Integrating dissociated affects into ordinary consciousness, transforming maladaptive coping mechanisms, and habitual ways of relating are part of the third phase. The fear of abandonment and separation anxiety that may have been apparent earlier, such as before, during, or after breaks in sessions, is dealt with and worked through before ending. A phase approach in psychotherapy is also a feature of other models.

The focus is upon understanding of particular psychopathology as the disruption of the developing self by repetitive trauma. These disruptions in development present as complex disorders. The trauma is described as being held in traumatic memory systems and the task of therapy is integration of these systems into the patient’s developing self experience.

The form of conversation as Script, Chronicle or Narrative reflects the present functioning of traumatic memory systems within the therapeutic conversation. Audio-recordings of clinical sessions allow the examination of this process in supervision.

A recent study (Haliburn et al 2017) concluded lack of adherence to the conversational model in the early stage of therapy—that is, the provision of safety, in those severely traumatised, through the use of empathic language addressing their level of consciousness—may contribute to patient/client dropout in the first three months of therapy. The dynamics of early relatedness in our opinion and its transformation in the therapeutic relationship is of vital importance in psychotherapy.



PO Box 3595

Key Contact: Anne Malecki. 
Ph: (02) 8004 9873 from Australia
Ph: (04) 887 0300 Toll free from New Zealand
Fax: (02) 9012 0546

First Point of Contact

Anne Malecki is responsible for the ANZAP Secretariat. She is the first point of contact for all matters. 

Telephone: AUS (02) 8004 9873