Fall 2019 Course Descriptions

Among its central educational aims, PSP seeks to train people to become skilled psychoanalytic practitioners. At the heart of this model of analytic education is a dual focus: an emphasis on the ongoing maturation of PSP analysts and trainees and an emphasis on the integration of theory and practice through a rich combination of personal analysis, supervision, classroom and clinical experience.

Essential Papers On Transference

Few concepts have occupied psychoanalytic thinkers and practitioners more than the phenomena of transference. Freud’s early definition of transference as “new editions of old conflicts” is elegantly simple. But the complexity of transference and especially the ways it manifests itself as both resistance and essential curative agent in psychotherapy has produced a rich canon of psychoanalytic writing that continues to grow.  This course will provide a survey of writings many psychoanalytic educators consider ‘essential” for serious students and practitioners of psychoanalysis. These papers will represent a range of theoretical and clinical perspectives and our aim will be to consider their practical applications for our work with client clients.


Human Maturation and Development, Part I

This course explains the constitutional and environmental factors in the first stages of life that contribute to or inhibit maturation.  This class provides the student with the opportunity to learn, both intellectually and experientially, about the unfolding lives of human beings.  Readings include those derived from the analyses of adults as well as those developed from the direct observation of infants with their mothers.  The course emphasizes theories of attachment as they relate to and parallel the development of the therapist-patient relationship and therapeutic interventions, thus providing a frame- work to begin to assess and investigate questions about where a patient might present on an emotional—developmental continuum.  Class discussion is intended to offer an opportunity to develop empathy with patients by re-experiencing those feelings that are lived in one’s own life and with one’s family of origin.  Driven by student participation informed by the assigned readings, the class is conducted in an environment where student-therapists can each learn in his or her own way and at his or her own pace.


Evolution of Psychoanalytic Technique, Part II: The American Innovators

This course will focus on the on-going evolution of modern psychoanalytic technique in America from World-War II to the present. It will build on the foundation laid in “Part I” in emphasizing innovative perspectives on:

  1. The optimal treatment setting and conditions for effective psychoanalytic treatment
  2. The trend toward relational, interpersonal and cultural perspectives in modern psychoanalytic theory and treatment
  3. All aspects including the critical emotional dimensions of the therapist’s participation in the therapeutic relationship
  4. Ways of dealing with transference, countertransference and resistance
  5. The uses of interpretive, educative and interactional techniques in psychotherapy
  6. Investigating the full range of human “problems in living” for which psychoanalysis can offer effective help


Introduction to Modern Psychoanalytic Theory and Treatment Technique: Part I

This course focuses on the beginning stages of treatment and provides an overview of Modern Psychoanalytic practice. Emphasis is therefore placed on assisting clients by helping therapists recognize, verbalize, and tolerate their respective anxieties, fears, and characterological defenses in order to create and maintain a therapeutic relationship.  Particular attention is paid to resolving treatment destructive resistances, establishing a treatment contract, developing the narcissistic transference, and utilizing joining techniques in specific client-therapist interactions.  In addition to readings and lectures, students will have the opportunity to present specific problematic dialogues from cases in order to fashion the most appropriate therapeutic intervention.


Resolving Resistances to Saying Everything: Maintaining The Analytic Frame Under Pressure

This course explores the origins and development of the concept of the “Analytic Frame”, or as it is sometimes called, the “Analytic Holding Environment.” Freud’s frame sometimes included walks in the park, vacations with analysands, three day “analyses,” children, dogs, his wife, cigar smoke, a consulting room full of personal objects, and weekly letters reporting the details of a spouse’s analytic sessions. The frame later evolved into a stereotyped “blank screen” analyst in an austere environment with little to no interaction except the occasional interpretation. As greater understanding of the transference-countertransference situation has been achieved, certain further modifications of the frame (referred to as “parameters”) have appeared, including interventions other than interpretation; even including therapist self-disclosure.

Psychotherapists of all persuasions have their own personal “styles” and theoretical rationales for the setting, procedures, interventions and usual conduct of psychotherapeutic treatments. The class reads a sample of authors representing views from the most orthodox to the most liberal.  We ask what approaches work best with which clients, especially when the therapist and the treatment come under pressure to modify the frame that exists, frequently with an eye towards achieving gratifications (for both participants) which range far beyond the “talking cure.”

The meaning and uses of the couch in psychoanalysis also are investigated as part of our exploration of the analytic frame, with emphasis on patient and therapist resistances to using the couch as an integral part of the healing process itself.

Finally, the class discusses the nature of the analytic frame in the context of an outpatient psychiatric clinic such as the Philadelphia Consultation Center, with its own particular set of external funding demands as well as the special pressures from a highly diverse population of clients, many of whom neither want nor understand the value of the “talking cure.”


Transference and Resistance Workshop

Primary emphasis is placed on the experiential understanding of transference and resistance as they occur among class participants. In addition, participants become acquainted with psychoanalytic theories of transference and resistance, especially the Modern Analytic understanding of narcissistic transference frequently encountered in patients and therapists. This workshop also works on resolving resistances to cooperative functioning with fellow students and faculty, and resistances to speaking spontaneously in professional situations.


Case Presentation Workshop

The purpose of the case presentation is to provide a learning tool for both the presenter and the participants for understanding the unique treatment dynamics in each patient-analyst relationship and how the analyst might proceed using Modern Psychoanalytic treatment methods. This course focuses on the process of choosing a case and writing a case presentation according to the PSP guidelines. Particular attention will be placed on the following key issues:

  • Overcoming resistance to writing the case presentation.
  • Identifying and writing about the patient’s defenses, resistances, and transferences, as well as the analyst’s countertransference.
  • Editing the draft: creating a “snap shot” of the treatment relationship.
  • Presenting the case: the presenter and participants discuss the successes as well as the problem areas in the treatment relationship.