Skip directly to content

Primary Care Section

The primary care section was started in 1998 and aims to bring together GPs, psychotherapists, psychologists, nurses, health visitors and counsellors working in primary care who are interested in a psychoanalytically-informed and psychodynamic approach to their work. The section seeks to provide a framework of communication with a regional and national structure.

Its functions include:

  • a forum for GPs who value a psychodynamic approach to their work. It will be relevant for GPs with experience of Balint group participation and specific psychotherapeutic training; for those with psychosomatic interests and those who are looking for a reflective approach to thinking about their clinical work.
  • facilitating the professional development of psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working alongside GPs, through information-sharing, support structures and supervision/training opportunities aiming to deepen understanding of the distinctive nature of therapeutic work undertaken in primary care.
  • Inform and influence commissioners about psychological services in primary care
  • a database.
  • organizing conferences and workshops to promote interdisciplinary thinking in primary care.
  • broadening the general membership of the APP.
  • bringing a primary care perspective to the APP.

Current Issues Concerning the Section:

  • How to ensure the section plays a part in supporting GPs in their new commissioning role with particular reference to Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing
  • IAPT and its impact on existing NHS psychotherapy services.  How to ensure the continuation of psychoanalytic thinking and treatments in Primary Care.  Members of the Committee have been influential in the development and acceptance of Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)
  • NICE Guidelines. The need to engage critically but constructively with NICE and to engage in appropriate research that will build an evidence base to support recommendations of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in future NICE guidelines.

We would like to broaden the membership of the primary care section  and would welcome expressions of interest in contributing to our work

Report of our work in the past year 2011-2012

The Committee has met 5 times in the past  year at which we have discussed and debated many of the above issues.  Apart from the Seminars and Conferences listed below, one of our  concerns has been the future production of a document for commissioning groups to inform them on commissioning mental health and psychological services for primary care.

Seminars and Conferences:  Saturday Seminars relevant to the section are now organised by Serena Willmott and we are grateful to the Paddington Green Health Centre for continuing to provide the venue.  During the past year we have held the following very well attended workshops:

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy Presented by Anne McKay and Tamara Gellman (Tower Hamlets Primary Care Psychology and Counselling Service).  

Medically Unexplained Symptoms and the particular value of  GPs and counsellors working together. Presented by Tony Burch GP and Linda Anderson, Practice Counsellor.

Medically Unexplained Symptoms and their treatment in Primary Care  Presented by Liz Bentley Senior Accredited BACP Psychotherapist

Thinking Under Fire’ Working with Personality Disorder and implications from Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT)  Patrick Groves Clinical Psychologist (Tower Hamlets Personality Disorder Service)

Future Workshops

Saturday 21 September 2013:  ' How are Difficult to Refer Patients held in the Practice'

Speakers: Will Brook, GP in Hackney
Serena Willmott,  BPF Analytical Psychotherapist
Chair, Andrew Elder Consultant in General Practice and Primary Care.

See more information about the event here.


We organized a Conference jointly with the RCGP and the Balint Society:  Troubling Patients in Troubled Times.  4th November 2011 at the RCGP.  The conference  run as a one day workshop was introduced with a talk by Jan Wiener Psychotherapist and practice counsellor entitled Mindlessness in Troubled Times  and was followed by short vignettes illustrating a range of issues in the primary care consultations written and acted by the Conference team. The rest of the day consisted of 2 small group sessions, one using the format of a Balint Doctor Patient Relationship Group.

This  workshop was repeated in Newcastle on 3rd February.

We hope to plan another Conference/Workshop in 2013             

Committee Members

Tony Burch, Mary Burd, Joint Chairs,  Jeremy Clark,  Andrew Elder, Anne McKay, Jonathan Smith ,and Serena Willmott

Members who joined in 2011-2012:   Brian Rock PA, Will Brooks GP