Christina Moutsou & Salma Siddique – Doing anthropology in the consulting room



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Title: Christina Moutsou & Salma Siddique – Doing anthropology in the consulting room


Christina Moutsou

Storytelling and the anthropology of the consulting room: The crisis of the pandemic has highlighted for all of us what brings us together as well as our differences. There have been clear themes emerging in clinical practice as well as stories around difference and discrimination. We began from a  place of community and communion and have progressively moved closer to splitting, polarisation and the rise of hatred (including racial hatred) and murderous violence. There has never been a time before now in my experience where the practising of anthropology in the consulting room has been more relevant. How do the cultural implications of the pandemic manifest themselves in the consulting room? And what about our shared vulnerability and humanity? 

I would like to focus here on stories from the consulting room and from life, including my own stories of the pandemic, which are inevitably informed by my history and cultural context. Such stories are also inherently connected with the universal myths which inform largely our collective psyche. In this sense, clinical practice, as well as creative writing, bring to the fore several interconnected circles of individual and collective experience within context. 

Christina Moutsou is a social anthropologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and writer. She was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1999. Her fieldwork focussed on multi-ethnic representations in Brussels. She has since trained as a therapist with the Philadelphia Association,  qualifying in 2002. She is UKCP registered. Christina has published a number of papers on the threshold between anthropology and psychoanalysis and has co-edited three books: on crossing  European boundaries; on audit cultures in psychotherapy and on the mother in psychoanalysis and beyond. More recently, she published a novel, Layers, which is a complex family story taking place across Europe with psychoanalysis at its core (Akakia, 2018) and a collection of short stories on adolescence and the consulting room with the title Fictional Clinical Narratives in Relational  Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2018). She is currently working on a book on the consulting room through the five senses (Routledge, forthcoming 2022). Christina works as a therapist and supervisor in private practice in London. She is also affiliated with Regent’s University and on the editorial board of 

the Regent’s Journal of Psychological Therapies. She is a member of the Site and the PA and she regularly teaches in psychotherapy training. 


Salma Siddique

“Any large-scale human cooperation — whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city  or an archaic tribe — is rooted in common myths that only exist in people’s collective imagination.”  Yuval Noah Harari 

Myths are collective stories which explain the universe, our psyches and our collective sense of being in the world. Our experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic reflect the interconnectedness of environmental storytelling. So, when we write from experience exploring the lived experience of othering is recognising self. One can recognise one’s own experience in other people’s descriptions of their experience without being blind to the differences. It is a complex negotiation between concrete descriptions and the formal structures they are said to exemplify. Using stories to build empathy doesn’t have to involve bringing people into the same room. Sometimes the role of the systems changer is to share stories, creating an expanded and accurate collective narrative. In telling tales we create safe physical and emotional spaces, where the marginalised feel at home in stories. 

Salma Siddique, PhD, FHEA, FRSA, FRAI is an academic, psychotherapist and clinical anthropologist based in Scotland. She obtained her doctorate in anthropology from the University of St Andrews and later qualified as a UKCP registered psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Her main research  

teaching is based on the dialogue between psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and anthropology and is influenced by her clinical experience working with people in trauma resulting from oppression,  abuse, torture, fleeing disaster and conflict zones. She is a contributor to research writing as a  clinical anthropologist. Her work and practice engage with the tension between collective guilt and personal responsibility examined from the witnessing of identity and belonging through displaced lives, racism and systemic oppression. 



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