What is it about Families? A Relational Psychological Perspective


In 1964, the well-known Psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott wrote a book entitled The Child, the Family and the Outside World specifically for parents, health workers, teachers and other interested parties expressing his conceptualisation of the formational nature of early life. Much of this conceptualisation remains relevant today even as we live in an ever-changing global world and our view of ourselves, society and institutions are being continually shaped and impacted among other things by the digital age, and social media. All presenting new and unique challenges to individuals and the institutions that form modern society. The emphasis will be on the psychological, developmental and relational.

Programme details

Session 1

The first four seminars will focus on Parents and Children beginning with earliest childhood   (the ‘Baby’)

Session 2

First there was ‘Mom and Me’ and then there were three

Session 3

The changing role of Fathers

Session 4

Challenge of Adolescence

Session 5

The next two seminars will focus specifically in Siblings. ‘The best of Allies; The deadliest of Competitors’

Session 6

How significant is Birth Order in shaping our relationships and personalities?

Session 7

Transgenerational transmission; Constellations Family Drama

Session 8

Family Therapy as a way of highlighting the systemic nature of families with particular focus on the ‘Identified patient’

Session 9

Family Business. What is it like to go into business with your family ? From the corner store to historically many successful and global concerns

Session 10

Behaviour in groups, organisations and other systems

Session 11

Changing views of the family. The extended, the blended, single parents, adopted children and surrogates

Session 12

Overall conclusions, central and enduring features. Why are families still central in our lives?  Influences like TV, streaming and classical stories. What about family drama?


Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments (and refunds) are subject to exchange rates at the time of processing.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking

  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date

Cancellations and refunds

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oussa@conted.ox.ac.uk or by post to OUSSA, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid

  • Cancellations received up to and including 31 May 2021 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.

  • Cancellations received between 1-30 June 2021 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.

  • Cancellations received on and after 1 July 2021 - no refunds will be made.

    Important note: You need to take out travel insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs.


Dr Diana Shmukler


Dr Diana Shmukler is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychotherapy, teacher, supervisor and clinician. She has published and lectures widely giving workshops in the UK, Europe, Australia on Developmental Psychology, Psychotherapy, Supervision, Counselling and Consulting as well as working with individual clients.

Course aims

This course aims to focus on the psychological features and dynamics in families and provide a wider understanding of the far reaching significance of structure and functioning of original families to peoples’ lives.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand:

  • The developmental significance of families and their emotional and psychological provision as well as the material and care taking aspects
  • The importance of ensuring sufficient support for families in order for them to function adequately in the stressful and ever-changing and demanding contemporary world
  • How ‘family like’ structures support people in their adult and particularly work worlds while clearly emphasising the difference between work and home
  • How to think both systemically as well as individually and adopt whichever tense seems relevant to a situation

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.


To enrol online, click 'Book Now', above.  To enrol by post, please see details of the application process.

Covid-19 guidance for summer school participants

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of participants is our highest priority. We've introduced a range of measures to protect you when you are in university and college buildings, in accordance with University and UK government guidelines. These measures may include: enhanced cleaning regimes and additional facilities for hand washing and hand sanitising; spaces adapted to support social distancing with clear signage and markings; a requirement for the wearing of face coverings during in-person teaching and in indoor shared spaces.

You'll be required to follow University and UK government guidelines whilst in Oxford, and to sign a ‘Student Responsibility Agreement’ in advance of the course, confirming that you will do so (this will be similar to the version for University students, which you can review online).  Further information is available at https://www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus/health. You should particularly review the University’s Face Coverings policy, which you will need to comply with at all times on University property.

If UK government regulations require you to quarantine on arrival in the UK, then you will need to arrange this yourself at your own expense. Unfortunately, we aren’t permitted to let you quarantine in University accommodation. Travel is not encouraged – and may not be permitted – if you are travelling from or through a country on the UK government’s ‘red list’.

If we have to cancel your course

Should it be necessary to cancel your course, we will make every reasonable effort to give you as much notice of cancellation as possible, and we will refund all course fees paid by you (including the cost of accommodation, if booked through us as part of your course). Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than in pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the date they are processed.

The Department cannot be held responsible for any costs you may incur in relation to travel or accommodation bookings as a result of a course cancellation, or if you are unable to attend the course for any other reason. You are advised to check cancellation policies carefully and to purchase travel insurance.