‘Secrets & Lies’ – or Spilling the Beans’?


04 Mar 2024


10:00 am - 4:30 pm

CIFI (Centre for Individual and Family Therapy) presents

‘Secrets & Lies’ – or Spilling the Beans’?

Workshop with Dr Sharon Pettle, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Systemic Psychotherapist, and colleagues

When: TBC

Time: 10am – 4:30pm

Where: IFT Offices (1-4 Great Tower Street, London, EC3R 5AA)

Systemic psychotherapy has long understood that ‘secrets’ are an inherently a relational phenomenon. The field of Donor Conception is a prime example of where these may form, and have an impact on family life, and how late revelations about parentage can have powerful effects on self and relationships.

This workshop will cover:

  • The context and history of Donor Conception in the UK
  • Aspects of treatment abroad
  • Classification and types of secrets
  • Language in relation to ‘secrets’ and ‘disclosure’
  • Process for exploring the opening of a secret about parentage and minimising negative effects


Learning outcomes:
Participants will:

  • Be orientated to the use of third and fourth party reproduction and aware of resources available
  • Be aware of how language used may hinder or facilitate conversations
  • Be able to explore aspects of ‘secrets’ – issues of power, shame, guilt and loyalty.
  • Have skills in mapping the ‘secret system’.

Part of the afternoon will be spent exploring the challenges of ‘openness’ with children conceived though gamete donation and/or surrogacy, and the challenges this may bring.

These transferable skills will be relevant to the many other issues and difficulties encountered in communication that emerge in systemic psychotherapy with individuals, couples and families.

This workshop is open to people from a range of professional backgrounds, and does not require advanced knowledge of systemic therapy.

A reading list will be available


IFT Offices
The Institute of Family Therapy 1-4 Great Tower Street, London, EC3R 5AA


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