Claire Asherson Bartram


Psychotherapy Supervision and Groups

The Impossible Toilet    

The Impossible Toilet is the story of a conversation between myself and my friend Debbie about the superego function as symbolised in toilet dreams and our friendship. Originally published in Self & Society December 2001, (Vol 25 No 5)

Changing Times - Changing Families    

Changing Times - Changing Families arose from a workshop which I ran with Angelika Wienrich in 2000 on parenting in stepfamilies. It describes some of the complications that can arise for parents, stepparents and children in stepfamily situations. In addition it encourages counsellors to be aware of the differences between families where members are biologically related and stepfamilies which are made up of a of relationships. It was published in Self & Society April-May 2001 (Vol 29 No 1)

Research on Mothers in Stepfamilies    

Where Gestalt and Qualitative Research Merge: a heuristic inquiry into mothers' experiences in stepfamilies

This article describes the methodology of my doctoral research project. It was published in the British Gestalt Journal 2012 (Vol 21 No 1). It was also translated into Norwegian in Gestalttidsskrift 2013

Doctoral Project on Stepfamilies    


This doctoral project explores the topography of stepfamily relationships through the prism of the mother, a view as yet rarely explored. Recorded interviews of eleven mothers were examined using narrative, phenomenological, grounded theory methods, within a Gestalt theoretical framework and refined into first person narratives of their experience as mothers and stepmothers.
The overall aim of the research is to develop resources for stepfamily members and inform and educate psychotherapists who work with individuals or couples with stepfamily issues or problems, an area lacking in much information on this at present. The findings indicate that while many social scientists reject biological determinism within stepfamily dynamics, an acceptance of evolutionary theory opens out the analysis to provide greater understanding of the stepfamily landscape. Further, the study shows that some features of stepfamily dynamics have similarities to the workings of psychotherapeutic groups, and vice versa. Therefore stepfamily situations can be a useful metaphor for therapy group interventions and the possibility exists to develop this theory further as an addition to the existing knowledge of group dynamics.
Products of the project include a series of workshops, development of exercises that illuminate stepfamily issues and the launch of an organisation StepIn ASAP, Advancing Stepfamily Awareness through Psychotherapy.

The full thesis can be purchased in paperback or electronic form from


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