Psychoanalysis Unit


Mary Target

Mary Target

Mary Target PhD is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist, and Professor of Psychoanalysis at UCL. Mary set up and ran the MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies in the Unit for 20 years 1996-2016. She now teaches and supervises UCL students on this Masters programme, and the PhD and DPsych degree programmes. She is also primary supervisor to four PhD students, and has supervised 25 successfully completed PhDs. Her current PhD students are carrying out research on: the subjective meaning of anorexia nervosa to children and families who are chronic sufferers; children's experience of death and divorce; the measurement of risk in the parent-infant relationship; and psychoanalytic theories and clinical attitudes to homosexuality. Her own research focuses on social and emotional development and attachment, personality functioning in adulthood, the process and outcome of psychotherapies for children, adults and couples, and qualitative research on the experience of illness. She teaches seminar series on clinical writing, personality disorders and psychoanalytic research to candidates in training at the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Mary was Professional Director from 2003 to 2013 of the Anna Freud Centre, now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. She is a Fellow of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, of which she was Honorary Secretary to the Board and Council 2012-4. Previous positions within the Society have included chairing the Research Committee and the Universities Liaison Committee, and being Hon Sec of the Curriculum Committee. She serves at present on the Student Progress Committee.

Mary was founding Chair of the Working Party on Psychoanalytic Education for the European Psychoanalytic Federation, 2001-4, and continues to publish findings from this work. She chaired the Psychotherapy Section of the British Psychological Society 2005-8, with membership of the Representative Council and Research Boards. She is a member of the Research Committee and Research Training Programme of the International Psychoanalytic Association. She has served as External Consultant for the analytic training at the Society of Analytical Psychology, and External Examiner for the psychoanalytic training at the British Psychoanalytic Association and for the psychotherapy training at the Society of Analytical Psychology. She served on the Future Strategy Working Group of the British Psychoanalytic Council. She is Joint Series Editor of the Karnac Series in Psychoanalysis, and of the Yale Series on Developmental Science and Psychoanalysis, and she is a member of several journal Editorial Boards in the academic and professional fields.

Mary holds an associate clinical professorship at Yale University (New Haven, CT), and is a member of the science faculty at the University of Turin. She has been honoured by visiting professorships at the University of Rome and the University of Vienna. She has international academic collaborations with colleagues at Yale University, New Haven, and the Université Laval, Quebec. She jointly leads training courses with Prof Alessandra Lemma and Prof Peter Fonagy in Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy, and supervises practitioners in this approach. Mary is Chair of the Governing Body of The Family School http://www.thefamilyschoollondon.org/about/headteachers-welcome/ which is an alternative provision free school, aiming to apply and integrate our research, educational and clinical learning to support children and parents within, as the website states 'a different type of school that provides opportunities for young people who currently present as unsuited or unable to meet the demands of mainstream school provision. … These children need early and sustained intervention to ensure that in the first instance they are not permanently excluded from school or, where they have already been excluded, to ensure their return to full time appropriate provision is rapid and sustained.'

As a committed clinician for thirty-five years, Mary has training and experience in cognitive behaviour therapy and family therapy as well as in psychoanalytic approaches, and has developed and evaluated short and medium-term therapeutic modalities most relevant within public mental health services. Since 1997 she has maintained a private adult psychoanalytic and psychotherapy practice.

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How to contact Mary Target

Psychoanalysis Unit 
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology 
University College London 
Gower Street 
London WC1E 6BT