Psychoanalysis Unit


George Salaminios

George studied Psychology in London before undertaking the MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies within the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit.


What is your educational background?

I studied Psychology in London before undertaking the MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies. I also completed a postgraduate diploma in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Along with pursuing a PhD in Psychoanalytic studies, I currently work at the Anna Freud Centre on the evaluation of psychotherapy treatments for vulnerable families and also undertake clinical work in an NHS Psychodynamic Psychotherapy service.

What were your motivations for pursuing a Postgraduate Research programme within the Psychoanalysis Unit?

Upon completing my MSc degree in the unit, I began working as a researcher in the field of psychosis. Through my work with individuals suffering with psychotic illnesses, I became very interested to explore the psychological factors that may increase the risk for psychosis across development and felt that psychoanalytic theory provided the best framework to do so. Knowing that the Psychoanalysis Unit at UCL is at the forefront of applying psychoanalytic ideas to the empirical study of clinical issues, I felt that undertaking the PhD programme within the unit would give me the opportunity to bridge my interests in psychoanalysis and in clinical research in the field of psychosis. 

Why did you choose to study in London, and specifically at UCL?

I believe that a major strength of UCL is its diversity and emphasis on interdisciplinary study. I think this is perfectly reflected in the postgraduate courses offered within the Psychoanalysis Unit, which are open to people from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, from psychology and psychiatry, to philosophy, literature and the visual arts, among others. This provides a unique chance to engage with and learn from others, something that has helped me expand both my field of study and my personal interests. I feel that London is an exciting city to live in and offers unlimited opportunities for personal growth. Also for anyone interested in psychoanalysis, whether their interest lies in the academic study of psychoanalysis or in clinical psychoanalysis, London offers a number of opportunities, from attending high quality lectures and seminars, to pursuing formal psychoanalytic training.

What do you find interesting about your field of study and what inspires you?

Addressing the complexity of psychosis is something that really interests me. Psychosis does not have a specific aetiology, rather it emerges across development through a multiplicity of interpersonal, psychological and genetic factors. So one has to take all these into account when trying to understand why some people with seemingly similar life trajectories go on to develop psychosis and others don’t. In other words, what are the risk factors that lead to the development of psychosis and what are the resilience factors that can protect against it? Answering this question is key, both to the understanding of psychosis but also to its treatment. My inspiration comes from the hope that by drawing on psychoanalytic ideas, my empirical research can contribute in addressing this question and potentially inform clinical practice in the field.

What are your career plans once you complete your current programme of study at UCL?

Following the completion of my PhD I plan to continue working in clinical research in the field of psychosis and also pursue the psychoanalytic training in London. Further down the line, I wish to divide my time between working clinically and undertaking research.

Has there been an element of your degree programme that has impressed you or been particularly valuable?

I’ve been impressed with the quality of supervision offered within the PhD programme. All the supervisors in the unit are experts in their field of study and most are also practicing psychoanalysts or psychotherapists. Personally, I’ve really appreciated that my PhD supervisors have enabled me to engage in independent work, while also making me feel that I always have their support when needed. I have also valued their input in my academic and professional development, not only through supervising my PhD project, but also by motivating me to present my work in academic journals and conferences. Another aspect that I have to say I’ve valued a lot in the programme is the quality of the other PhD candidates. Discussing my project with them and listening to their opinions and ideas has been very helpful throughout the different stages of my PhD. 

What would you advise anyone thinking of doing a PhD?

My only advice would be to choose a topic that you feel passionate about, rather than trying to just fit in to what you may think a potential supervisor or the unit as a whole would be interested in. Whether you’re doing your PhD on a full-time or part-time basis, you will have to work on your project for about 4-7 years and if your heart is not really in it, doing so can become incredibly difficult. 

What was the most challenging aspect of the PhD?

Because I am undertaking the PhD on a part-time basis, whilst also working, the most challenging aspect for me has been finding the time and space to consistently work on my project in the midst of a busy schedule. I think that trying to be self-motivated is key to overcome this challenge, but also accepting that it might take some time to find the right balance. For those pursuing their PhD on a full-time basis, I think that managing to complete all the aspects of their project within strict timelines can be quite challenging. Although these are some inherent challenges of the programme, I believe that they are also part of the learning process involved in undertaking a PhD. Having the opportunity to learn how to address these challenges can prove very helpful for one’s career following the completion of their doctoral programme.