Epistemic Trust: An Essential Component of All Effective Psychotherapies

Recent meta-analytic clinical outcome studies have indicated that approach-specific therapeutic techniques are significantly less important than previously believed. Mentalization theorists have proposed that epistemic trust is essential to learning in all effective psychological therapies. This important perspective will be presented and explored in this one-day conference.

The concept of epistemic trust will be explained by Professor Patrick Luyten. Claire O'Dowda will discuss epistemic trust as a predictor of poor therapeutic outcomes. Gerry Byrne will present epistemic trust in relation to working with young people and families. A keynote speech will be made by Professor Peter Fonagy OBE on the topic of epistemic trust and the origins of culture.

This event is being organised by the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, TCD in conjunction with University College London, the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies and The General Representation of the Government of Flanders in Ireland, Embassy of Belgium.

Tickets can be purchased at https://epistemictrustconference.eventbrite.co.uk/
Enquires can be made by emailing epistemictrustconference@gmail.com

Peter Fonagy OBE is Professor of Psychoanalysis and Developmental Science and Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London; Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, London; and holds visiting professorships at Yale and Harvard Medical Schools. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the British Psychological Society, the British and Irish Group for the Study of Personality Disorder, and the World Association for Infant Mental Health, and was in 2015 the first UK recipient of the Wiley Prize of the British Academy for Outstanding Achievements in Psychology by an international scholar. A major focus of his contribution has been an innovative research-based psychodynamic therapeutic approach, mentalization-based treatment. He has published nearly 500 scientific papers, 260 chapters and has authored or co-authored 19 books.

Patrick Luyten is Professor of Psychodynamic Psychology and Director of the PhD in Psychoanalytic Studies at the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London; Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Leuven, Belgium; and Visiting Professor at Yale University. He is the recipient of the 2009 Psychoanalytic Research Exceptional Contributions Award from the International Psychoanalytical Association. He has published over 200 scientific papers, 60 chapters and has authored or co-authored several books. His 2015 co-edited book, the Handbook of Psychodynamic Approaches, received the 2015 Goethe Award for Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Scholarship.

Gerry Byrne is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Head of Attachment and Perinatal Services for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. This service offers multidisciplinary assessments and NHS treatments for severe parenting problems, including child abuse and neglect. Gerry is the originator of the Lighthouse Mentalization Based Treatment-Parenting Programme an innovative application of MBT, designed especially to benefit families. Gerry is author of All at Sea, a picture book that helps parents talk to their young children about their dreams, nightmares and their complex emotional reactions to the arrival of a new baby.

Claire O’Dowda is a Counselling Psychologist, Clinical supervisor and an Adjunct Teaching Fellow in Trinity College Dublin, where she provides psychodynamic training on the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and the MSc in Clinical Supervision. She is also a Director of Crannóg Psychological Services. In 2015 Claire commenced a PhD in Psychoanalysis in University College London under the supervision of Professors Patrick Luyten and Peter Fonagy. Since then she has been researching factors that contribute to poor therapeutic outcomes. In particular she is investigating several psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories as well as the alternative p factor psychological theory of psychopathology.


Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., & Allison, L. (2015). Epistemic petrification and the restoration of epistemic trust: A new conceptualization of borderline disorder and its psychosocial treatment. Journal of Personality Disorders. 29(5). 575-609.

Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., Allison, E., & Campbell, C. (2017a). What we have changed our minds about: Part 1. Borderline personality disorder as a limitation of resilience. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 4(1), 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-017-0061-9

Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., Allison, E., & Campbell, C. (2017b). What we have changed our minds about: Part 2. Borderline personality disorder, epistemic trust and the developmental significance of social communication. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 4(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-017-0062-8

Fonagy, P., Steele, M., Steele, H., Higgitt, A., & Target, M. (1994). The Emanuel Miller Memorial Lecture 1992 The Theory and Practice of Resilience. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35(2), 231–257. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.1994.tb01160.x