Cropped photograph of Sigmund Freud

"The brain is wider than the sky." - Emily Dickinson

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • Tutor: Various leading members of the UKCP
  • Fees from £115 to £210
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
Booking link

Logo of the U.K.C.P.This course is organised in partnership with the UK Council for Psychotherapy

Since the earliest recording of human culture, there has been evidence of human mental and emotional distress and ways to explain and alleviate it. On this ten week course we will explore aspects of the history of psychotherapy in the company of some of the leading figures working in psychotherapy today.

The course will begin by looking at the pre-history of psychotherapy which stretches back as far as the ancient Greek writer Hippocrates in the third-century BC, and we will look at other approaches rooted in ancient mystical and medical practices. Moving forward in time we will discover the work of Chalcot in the late 1800s, when psychological causes for physical symptoms started to be identified, which prompted the young Sigmund Freud to develop his psychoanalytic theory and practice. We will explore the ways in which World War I left civilian and social trauma that continued for generations and we will move on to post-Freudian understandings of the mind and therapies used today including exploration of the work with children, families and groups as well as development of cross-cultural therapy.

The programme will conclude with a consideration of what the future may hold against a backdrop of remarkable technological and medical advances, and yet seemingly ever-increasing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

Through this historical study we will encounter engaging facts, stories and discussion which will illuminate a practice that has often been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. The aim of the course is also to be interactive, so discussion on the themes raised will be welcomed and encouraged. Following a lecture, we will have discussions in smaller (breakout room) groups or questions and answers (Q&A) session exploring the topics in more depth.

We would like to create a safe space for open discussions on a range of potentially sensitive topics for all students and speakers, therefore none of the sessions will be recorded.

No prior knowledge of history, medicine or psychotherapy is required to join this course. Also please note that this course is not designed to train people in the practical skills of psychotherapy.

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

No prior knowledge of history, medicine or psychotherapy is required to join this course. Also please note that this course is not designed to train people in the practical skills of psychotherapy.

Certificate of Attendance

All those attending at least 80% of the taught sessions for this course will receive a Certificate of Attendance from Imperial College.

If you complete at least 80% attendance of three of the joint Imperial College/UKCP adult edcucation courses in psychotherapy you will receive a joint Imperial College / UKCP Certificate of Attendance confirming your enagement with the course. Additional courses are scheduled to start in January and April, subject to sufficent student enrolments.

Course Information

Course Programme

Course Programme and Learning Outcomes (programme subject to confirmation and possible modification)

Week 1 (12 October): How to Fix a Hole in the Head: A History of Psychotherapy from Trephination to the Talking Cure

  • We will acquire a broad introduction to the history of psychiatry and mental illness and will learn about the nature of psychiatric treatment throughout the ages and about the transformation from sadistic procedures to more humane psychological practices.

Week 2 (19 October): War and Neuroses

  • The body is the theatre of the psyche and so, the symptoms of war-neurosis change, indeed all mental health shift over the years. The causations remain the same, but the symptoms change so, Shell Shock does not present like PTSD. We associate War Trauma with the men and women who fought, but using WW1 as an example we will look at the civilian and social trauma that continued for generations.

Week 3 (26 October): Development of Psychoanalysis by the Archaeologist of the Mind

  • We will acquire a knowledge of the basic biography of Sigmund Freud and will learn about some of the basic theories of Freudian psychoanalysis, including the notion of the unconscious mind.

Week 4 (2 November): Psychotherapy’s connection with Art and Film

  • We will gain a deeper understanding of further Freudian concepts such as hysteria and the Oedipal complex and their cultural impact, through the creative lens of film-makers across multiple genres. We will also explore how Freud’s conceptualisation of femininity was challenged by film-makers and artists, drawing on Lacan and Klein.

Week 5 (9 November): Self-actualisation: Humanistic Psychology and the Transpersonal

  • We will learn about humanistic integrative psychotherapy which relies upon the importance of the relationship between the therapist and client to enable mind, body, feeling, soul and spirit to come together as a whole. We will examine what it may mean to be a self-actualised person. Humanistic and integrative psychotherapists take into consideration how the external world affects the client, and we will explore the significance of social, cultural and political experience.

Week 6 (16 November): Mind, Body and Soul Rethought

  • We will acquire a broad introduction to the considering mind, body and soul and the impact of the environment as interconnected and thus begin to understand the origins of ill health. We will also learn about some psychotherapy perspectives of working not only with mind, body and soul but also the importance of love relationships and attachment in the development of psychological distress, psychological growth/development and healing.

Week 7 (23 November): Childhood: The Impact on Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

  • We will acquire a broad understanding of psychotherapeutic work will children and meaning of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We will gain an understanding of how an intervention of psychotherapy can arrest the detrimental effects of ACEs on child development.

Week 8 (30 November): Beyond the Individual: Working with Families and Groups

  • We will explore the cultural constructions of family and couple relationships and understand the key principles of family and systemic psychotherapy and their origins in the 1950s, as well as the subsequent development of systemic ideas.

Week 9 (7 December): Intersectional Privilege and Otherness: Stones on the Path towards Individuation

  • We will learn how an intersectional approach to privilege and otherness allows for a more inclusive exploration of diversity. We will recognise their own sense of privilege and otherness as being important aspects of their own intersectional identities.

Week 10 (14 December): The Future of Psychotherapy

  • We will learn about a broad range of technology, its history and consider how this will influence the future of interventions in psychotherapy. We will also learn about where technology is currently changing the landscape of the known and will be able to question current psychological theories as being fit for purpose.

 Course Facilitator: Jovana Perzic (Head of Academic Enterprise and Innovation, UKCP)

Our aim is to offer additional joint Imperial/UKCP courses entitled ‘Through the Psychotherapists Eyes’ (January to March 2022) and ‘Greatest Psychotherapists’ (April to June 2022), subject to sufficient student recruitment.

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

Your Tutor

Logo of the UK Council for PsychotherapyThe tutors for this course are all members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy and experts in the field. By combining their expertise into one course this is a truely broad-ranging and enlightening series of classes that draws on the knowledge of some of the best people working in psychoterapy today.

The course convenor is Professor Sarah Niblock who is the Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). The lecture series will be facilitated by Jovana Perzic, Head of Academic Enterprise and Innovation.

For more information on the UK Council for Psychotherapy please visit the UKCP website.

Course Delivery: Live Online Taught Courses

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.


This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeks^Standard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  10 or 20  £210    (Early Bird Rate: £190*)
£125    (Early Bird Rate: £115*) £165    (Early Bird Rate: £150*) 
^ Depending on the course     * The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends and Patrons of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Members of the Kennel Club
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • National Health Service (NHS) employees
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Teachers and other staff of UK schools
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  10 11 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (10 weeks)  n/a n/a n/a
* Applies to ONE-term courses only (please see the details in the 'At a Glance' box)

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 20  20 18 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (9 weeks)  PLUS 10 Jan - 26 Mar 2022 (11 weeks) n/a n/a
* Applies to TWO-term courses only (please see the details in the 'At a Glance' box)

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Any Questions?

  • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the lecture series facilitator, Ms Jovana Perzic at
  • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator,

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.