I am a relational psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author in private practice in central and south west London (see below in 'Extra Information' for details of my practice addresses). I am accredited by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). I work with individuals, offer couples counselling and also supervise counsellors and psychotherapists. I also work as a life coach.
Training, qualifications & experience
I trained at the The Bowlby Centre where I qualified as a training supervisor and training psychotherapist. For several years I taught fourth year post-graduate trainee therapists seminars on psychosis, dissociation, and child and adolescent development. I am the father of two grown up children and have a granddaughter. Before training as a therapist, I was an oboist and conductor, and subsequently worked as a probation officer, having trained as a social worker at Kingston University.
I have 30 years of therapeutic experience in both a forensic setting and private practice in working with adults who have experienced a wide array of relationship issues and work-related difficulties. My approach is informed by attachment theory and research, relational psychoanalysis, the literature on bereavement, trauma, affect regulation, reflective functioning and developmental neurobiology, and memory research. My extensive clinical experience in the forensic field in working with violence, anger management, psycho-sexual issues, severe trauma and abuse, depression, anxiety disorders, addictions and other mental health problems has been effectively transferred to my private practice. Although generally the issues in private practice are less starkly dramatic than those in a forensic setting, the impact on the person and his or her emotional and sexual relationships can be no less distressing. Indeed, affairs and betrayals can cause a serious rupture to the love bond. Such problems may be cumulatively traumatising and require skilled intervention to effect a lasting resolution.
During my many years in clinical practice, I have worked extensively with corporate clients on such issues as change management, team conflict, goal setting, career development, presentation anxiety, and work-life balance. An integral aspect of life coaching is an enhancement in the client's self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
Professional bodies of which I am a member include the Forum for Independent Psychotherapists, the International Attachment Network, the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, and the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy. I specialise in working with people who have experienced a traumatic event, whether the onset of the trauma was in childhood or adulthood.
I have presented papers at international conferences and devised and facilitated continuing professional development (CPD) workshops, seminars and webinars hosted by Confer and Nscience UK on attachment and trauma, violent attachments, attachment theory and relational psychoanalysis, sexuality in the consulting room, memory, trauma and dissociation, and a contemporary perspective on the internal world and the process of change. These events have been presented to counsellors, social workers, therapists, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.
I am the author of "The Silent Past and the Invisible Present: Memory, Trauma and Representation in Psychotherapy", published by Routledge, New York, in their Relational Perspectives Book Series.
I am also the author of a number of book chapters and journal articles published in this country and translated for publication abroad on the topics of trauma, relationship violence and abuse, attachment issues, and the relational challenges of sexuality in the consulting room. With regard to the latter article, this was published in the British Journal of Psychotherapy in 2013. It was subsequently identified by Psychology Progress as being a key research paper of major importance in the psychology field.
More generally, I am on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry. In this capacity, I recently edited a special issue of this journal, which was published in 2017. The theme of this volume is the creative use of attachment theory and research in clinical practice. The special issue consists of articles by renowned clinicians and authors who are intimately conversant with attachment theory and research.
In addition to the publication of the above book (see reviews below) and a number of fully referenced and peer reviewed journal articles, I have submitted several short papers for publication in this directory. These cover a range of clinical issues and outline the theoretical approach that I use in my work with individuals and couples. These articles are listed below and may be accessed by clicking on the respective title. I would emphasize, however, that regardless of the various theories that we, as therapists, hold dear and use to help understand the difficulties that our clients may be experiencing, outcome research findings consistently show that it is the quality of the emotional relationship, or working alliance, created between therapist and client that is of paramount importance in aiding change and bringing about recovery from stressful life events.
Reviews of The Silent Past and the Invisible Present: Memory, Trauma, and Representation in Psychotherapy
"It turns out that Paul Renn not only knows the intellectual sweep of the psychoanalytic world… but he is also a wonderful writer and a seasoned, sensitive clinician…Whether writing about the subjects of memory, trauma, concept of mind, attachment, or developmental processes, Renn first presents relevant research findings, then pertinent psychoanalytic theoretical models from many discourses, and, lastly, graceful clinical examples. Patients and friends frequently ask me for "something to read" that will illuminate for them what contemporary psychoanalysis is all about. I usually suggest something from Mitchell or Beebe and Lachmann. Now with Renn’s The Silent Past and the Invisible Present I have the perfect book to recommend to the sophisticated layperson and professional. It’s an important contribution to psychoanalysis and a knockout!" - Joye Weisel-Barth, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, July 2013
"Paul Renn’s The Silent Past and the Invisible Present has already garnered glowing reviews. Rightly so for it is a fascinating and thought-provoking book. Renn takes the reader into the fields of attachment theory, cognitive science, neuroscience, traumatology, and developmental psychology and links key ideas and research findings into a model of relational psychoanalysis . . . The theory is leavened by case examples studded throughout the book, mostly from Renn’s own practice but occasionally from that of other therapists. As is often the case, the clinical material illuminates the theory, making it spring to life on the page. I wanted more such cases . . . I hope that Renn can be persuaded to write a more clinical book as he clearly has the ability to write lucidly and sensitively about individual cases. In that regard he reminds me of Patrick Casement and it is a huge compliment to say that he holds his own in such a comparison. I can certainly recommend the book to clinicians and trainees. And I would add that anyone interested in memory, trauma, attachment and representational models will also find it hugely stimulating. Renn has written a truly valuable book, one that stretches the boundaries of psychoanalysis and takes the reader into developmental psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience. It is also a book steeped in psychoanalytic theory. The casework Renn cites shows how he has sought to put these ideas into practice. It is a very impressive achievement . . . I look forward to reading more from Paul Renn on both the theory and the practice of relational psychodynamic psychotherapy." - John Marzillier, author of The Trauma Therapies
“The title of Paul Renn’s book, The Silent Past and the Invisible Present: Memory, Trauma, and Representation, reflects the author’s interest in the role of implicit or procedural memory as the matrix in which infant-caretaker interactions become encoded as the attachment patterns that effect subsequent personality, emotional and cognitive development. Deeply influenced by the work of Bowlby, Main, Stern, Target, and Fonagy, Renn presents a strongly reasoned argument that severe attachment disorders, operating out of consciousness and in the nonverbal sphere of psychic functioning, lead to a wide range of adverse developmental consequences . . .
His treatment model is based on an integration of relationally oriented psychodynamic theory, attachment theory, and a large body of empirical and clinical research in cognitive and developmental psychology, attachment disorders, trauma studies, infant-parent research, and neuroscience. In addition, he offers case material illustrating the practical application of this model.
Renn has organized the book into chapters that discuss memory systems, attachment theory, and other important clinical and research domains, including trauma studies, relational psychoanalytic theory, cognitive development, and the effects of social learning on neurobiological and neuropsychological systems. As a result, the book will also be of interest to readers seeking an articulate and intelligently written survey of data from many of the scientific disciplines that enrich our understanding of normal and abnormal psychic development.
The author is a skilled writer with a flair for clear, direct exposition, an excellent ability to summarize complicated ideas, and an interest in showing how these ideas can be integrated into a working model of the mind and of psychotherapeutic treatment. He builds this model in a logical, thoughtful manner respectful of divergent opinion and realistic about the limits of therapeutic action.” – John J. Stine, M.D., Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43: 157-160, May 2015.
"In The Silent Past and the Invisible Present, Paul Renn guides the field of psychoanalysis back to the future. Through his elegant presentation of a contemporary perspective on memory, especially the building blocks inherent in implicit memory, Renn makes the silent past speak, the present visible, and, via his clinical applications, our patients' futures brighter. Through his respectful presentation of a current perspective on past psychoanalytic theorizing, he even-handedly illuminates old obscurities, offers an integrated vision of present conceptions, and foreshadows a route to our field's future." - Joseph D. Lichtenberg, co-author of Psychoanalysis and Motivational Systems: A New Look
"Welcome to an exciting new voice in relational psychoanalysis. At once modest and authoritative, Renn integrates attachment theory and research, contemporary neuroscience, and developmental psychopathology into a clear, coherent, and compelling psychoanalytic narrative. With humor and sensitivity, the plight of conduct-disordered males with developmental trauma is poignantly illuminated. Students and experienced practitioners will find themselves reading this compelling volume in one sitting. As they return to their consulting rooms, they will notice that their therapeutic style, and grasp of its scientific underpinnings, will have been irreversibly transformed." - Professor Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter, and author of Exploring in Security: Towards an Attachment Informed Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
"This book delivers far more than it promises. In the early chapters, Paul Renn explains and masterfully interweaves attachment research, neuroscience findings, traumatic memory systems, and contemporary relational psychoanalytic thinking into an elegant tapestry. But don't stop reading. The later chapters show him as a wise and compassionate clinician putting all this scholarship to work in the criminal justice system. Those who hope and believe that mental health services pertain to everyone should read this book. Once read, The Silent Past and the Invisible Present belongs on your shelf next to Neil Altman's The Analyst in the Inner City." - Donna M. Orange, author of The Suffering Stranger: Hermeneutics for Everyday Clinical Practice
"Paul Renn is a magnificently integrative scholar who also appears to be a born clinician. Drawing on a superabundance of theory and research from attachment, neuroscience, infant-parent studies, contemporary psychoanalysis, and traumatology, he gives us a nuanced relational model of treatment evocatively illustrated with examples of his own very human and humane work with patients. His book is a deeply thoughtful, thoroughly researched, and lucid meditation on the question: How does therapy heal? The Silent Past and the Invisible Present is a major contribution that will be of use to seasoned and novice clinicians alike." - David J. Wallin, author of Attachment in Psychotherapy
"In The Silent Past and the Invisible Present Paul Renn… seeks to integrate the disparate languages of psychoanalysis with those of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, attachment theory, trauma studies, and developmental psychology. … Renn’s book does not provide a unified field theory, or create a single language. However what it does do is present another rich perspective, one that joins the author’s far reaching curiosity and gentle lucidity with his goal of understanding all that’s involved in the process of change in psychotherapy. Here is an author whose interest is both wide and deep. He seeks the connections between things, making links and fashioning understandings that cross psychoanalytic schools and scientific domains. … the book likely has great value both for graduate students and candidates new to these ideas, as well as for seasoned analysts who have not followed these developments that have come to represent such a large part of the current psychoanalytic conversation, especially around issues of treating trauma." - Bruce Reis, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, April 2013
"In this book Renn deftly draws together past and present developments in psychoanalysis, attachment theory and neuroscience to explain the crucial role of early relational experiences in human development… The book is clearly written, well researched, scrupulously referenced and illustrated with helpful case studies from the author’s therapeutic practice. Paul Renn has the ability to make complicated material seem straightforward and easy to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed it and heartily recommend it to any practitioner, irrespective of experience, who is interested in working relationally." - Els van Ooijen, Therapy Today, July 2012
“I have known and been hugely impressed with Paul Renn's writing for some years. In this, his first book, he draws on his lengthy clinical experience and academic knowledge to show how past experiences, especially trauma, can help to explain what is going on in the current life of a patient. The book is rigorously researched, clearly written and brought to life by illustrative case studies from the author's own therapeutic practice. I recommend it wholeheartedly to students, clinicians and related professionals.” - Professor Gwyneth Boswell, University of East Anglia, Norwich
“A really thorough exploration of the links between therapeutic practice and both attachment theory and neuroscience, from a clinician prepared to examine their own practice and to take risks in the interests of their clients. This will be a very helpful book for anyone wanting to explore the interface between developmental science and psychoanalytic psychotherapy and who is interested in learning more about their applications in a relationally oriented therapy. Both a solid book, well researched, and a radical challenge to much therapeutic practice”. – Graham Music, author of Nurturing Natures.
“This is an exciting and well-written book which both overviews and integrates modern perspectives on the subject matter of psychoanalysis. It is not a difficult read. The author gives an in depth description of the latest evolution of theory and practice and does this by drawing together insights from trauma research, attachment and neuroscience. It is relevant to any practitioner wanting to expand and consolidate their understanding of how everyday development can be knocked off path by extremes of trauma and neglect. As someone who works in the field of infant mental health I could find much to interest me here, and this was thinking about both the risks some children are exposed to and the tragic background of those few parents who pass on their own traumatic past to the next generation. Understanding enables thought and prevents becoming judgemental, this book is an important resource for all practitioners who want to be able to think about their clients. Much recommended.” - Robin Balbernie, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
“I found this book to be an exceptionally well researched, comprehensive synthesis of psychoanalytic, attachment, trauma and relational theory, with illuminating clinical illustrations integrating theory and practice. Most importantly, it is clearly and beautifully written. The author has the ability to convey complex theories in understandable, digestible form, and his unique and personal approach to psychotherapy is both informative and a pleasure to read. I think any clinician or student would benefit from reading this book.” - Debbie Zimmerman, The Bowlby Centre
Accredited register membership
Areas of counselling I deal with
- Affairs and betrayals
- Anger management
- Anorexia nervosa
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Attachment disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Binge-eating disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Career counselling
- Child related issues
- Dependent personality disorder
- Domestic violence
- Drug addiction
- Eating disorders
- Emotional abuse
- Family issues
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Internet addiction
- Low self-confidence
- Low self-esteem
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Panic attacks
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Passive aggressive behaviour
- Personality disorders
- Physical abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Postnatal depression
- Pregnancy and birth
- Relationship problems
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Separation and divorce
- Sex addiction
- Sex problems
- Sexual abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Work-related stress
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Relationship violence and abuse
Child development issues
Separation and Divorce
My current fees are £80 for individual therapy, £100 for couples therapy, and £150 for life coaching.
- The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Later Violent Offending
- Attachment, Security, Separation and Psychological Differentiation
- Psychoanalysis, Attachment Theory and the Inner World: How Different Theories Understand the Concept of Mind and the Implications for Clinical Work
- Security, Separation, Recognition and Power
- Stop Thief! But What Has Been Stolen and By Whom?
- Effective, Ineffective and Iatrogenic Treatment
- The Development of Attachment Theory
- Commentary and Critique of Mann, D. "The Psychotherapist's Erotic Subjectivity".
- Children classified as controlling at age six
- Summary of The War Neuroses
- How Developmental Studies are Informing Clinical Work with Adults
- Summary and Critique of Klein, M. The Oedipus complex in the light of early anxieties
- Notes on Dissociation and Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Notes on Sexuality, Perversion and Neosexuality
- May Ethical Codes Be Unethical?
- Introduction to Attachment Theory
- The Intergenerational Transmission of Affect
- Four Patterns of Adult Discourse Observed in the Adult Attachment Interview
- The therapeutic process using an attachment-based approach
- Summary of Home Office and NSPCC Statistics Relating to Violence and Abuse
- Violence as attachment gone wrong: three case vignettes
- Serious Violence, Trauma and Disorganised Attachment
- Violence and Gender - Similarities and Differences
- When should couple therapy be the choice of intervention?
- 'Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria ('Dora')' by Sigmund Freud
- 'The Mirror Transference in the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Alcoholism'
- Contemporary Views of Psychological Trauma
- Relational Psychoanalytic Perspectives On Psychosis
Practice addresses: 13 Seaton Road, Twickenham, TW2 7AT & Flat 2, Merlins Court, 30 Margery Street, London, WC1X 0JG.
My practice in Twickenham is well served by South Western Trains, London Overground, the District Line and the 281, 481, H20 and H22 bus services. Parking is unrestricted in the immediate locality of my practice, except on days when an event is held at Twickenham Stadium. In this eventuality, I have visitor parking permits available.
My practice in Islington is well served by several tube lines (King's Cross, Angel, Farringdon) and by the 205, 30, 214, 73, 63, 76, 341, 19 and 38 bus services. Currently, I am working solely from my Twickenham practice.
Maps & Directions
Type of session
|Face to face counselling:||Yes|
Types of client
Supervision & training
I have supervised the work of experienced registered therapists and trainees from the Bowlby Center, Roehampton University, Regents College and Metanoia.