Lecture by Richard Swynnerton: Working existentially with substance misuse

Reflections on Managing a Psychotherapy Service for Westminster Drug Project – an Existential Perspective

For this talk, Richard will reflect upon his experience of managing a busy psychotherapy service initially for the substance misuse service provider Turning Point and more recently, for Westminster Drug Project at the “Recovery Centre” in Finchley Central.

With no prior experience in management, Richard will talk about how he has been able to draw upon his experience as a psychotherapist, particularly his knowledge and understanding of existential-phenomenological theory, to help him make a success of this role. Richard will highlight some of the many issues, challenges and dilemmas, which inevitably present themselves when managing such a service and will invite you to share your own thoughts on these matters.

He will begin his talk by providing an overview of the work currently being done at the Recovery Centre, which will include a brief discussion of the various interventions on offer and the interplay between these and the therapy service. Richard will also endeavour to give a sense of what it is actually like to work at the project and be part of a dynamic and forward thinking multidisciplinary team.

Richard will continue by talking about managing the therapy service and all this entails. He will reflect briefly upon the various influences upon his management style before going on to focus more specifically on how he believes bringing an existential dimension to this role has helped him manage the service.

Richard’s role as a manager includes regular clinical assessments with service users who have been referred for therapy as well as supervision with the therapists, all of whom are students in psychotherapy or counselling psychology and on placement at the project. He will discuss this aspect of his role in detail and talk about why he thinks an existentially informed approach to therapy is particularly helpful when working with people with substance misuse issues. Finally, Richard has data on the service going back many years and if time allows, will share this with you with a view to facilitating further discussion.

About Richard

Richard is an experienced psychotherapist, supervisor, lecturer and service manager currently working in a number of educational, agency and clinical settings. He trained as a therapist at The School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology at Regent’s College during the nineteen nineties where he completed a Masters and an Advanced training in Existential Psychotherapy. He currently maintains a portfolio of interrelated psychotherapeutic activities, which includes managing a therapy service for Westminster Drug Project, teaching part time at Regent’s College as well as supervising at The Claremont Project in Islington and at The Community Alcohol Support Service, near Fulham Broadway. In addition, Richard maintains a private practice at his home in High Barnet where he offers personal therapy and supervision. Richard has a keen interest in psychotherapy in general but is influenced most especially by existential and phenomenological theory and practice.


The Society of Psychotherapy
will provide a continuing professional development (CPD) letter confirming 1.5 hours of CPD.

Sponsored by:

The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling:

254-6 Belsize Road, London, NW6 4BT

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  • Dmitri

    Unexpectedly interesting topic was discussed.
    Clash between Existential personal philosophy and mode of functioning, and organisational requirements backed up by goal driven managerial philosophy- hot topic!

    June 19, 2013

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