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Modern Psychoanalytic Theory and Treatment Techniques 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.

Attendance in person is expected unless approved in advance by the instructor and is required for CEUs. If you will be unable to attend a class but would still like to participate in the discussion, please ask the instructor for authorization to call in. 


  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the psychoanalytic treatment process: discuss how the “talking cure” works, and how to recognize and handle transference and countertransference problems when they arise.
  2. Recognize common (and treatment destructive) resistances which may occur in the opening phase of treatment, including telephone calls, contracts, fees, cancellations/”no-shows”, and personal questions to the therapist; apply Modern Analytic techniques in devising therapeutic responses.
  3. Describe “joining” techniques and their use in assisting the client to remain in treatment and progress toward their goals.
  4. Develop a comfort level with presenting clinical work in a group setting and using supervision to resolve client-therapist impasses.
  5. Discuss forms of narcissistic transference and assess techniques to assist its establishment and cultivation

Freud’s Case Studies and Technical Papers

“Nothing takes place between them (therapist and patient) except that they talk to each other. The analyst makes use of no instruments — not even for examining the patient — nor does he prescribe any medicines. If it is at all possible, he even leaves the patient in his environment and in his usual mode of life during the treatment.

…And incidentally do not let us despise the word. After all it is a powerful instrument; it is the means by which we convey our feelings to one another, our method of influencing other people. Words can do unspeakable good and cause terrible wounds. No doubt ‘in the beginning was the deed’ and the word came later; in some circumstances it meant an advance in civilization when deeds were softened into words”

Freud, 1927


This course will focus on Freud’s major case studies and papers on psychoanalytic technique. These works were seminal for generations of practitioners and still provide much for psychotherapists of all orientations to learn from. Particular attention will be given to comparing Freud’s practices with Modern Psychoanalytic approaches.


  1. Through familiarity with Freud’s clinical writings, develop a critical foundation for studying and evaluating psychoanalytic ideas and techniques.
  2. Examine Freud's work in a historical context; analyze the influence of cultural, political, and scientific developments in his thought.
  3. Discuss and assess the difficulties Freud encountered in working with patients which required alterations and modifications in his technique.
  4. Enhance therapists' work through group discussion — framing clinical material and life experiences in the context of the "literature" of psychoanalysis.
  5. Discuss Freud's observations and recommendations on technique; compare and contrast with the developments of Modern Psychoanalysis.

Required Texts:

  • Freud, Sigmund. (1989). The Freud reader (Peter Gay, Ed.). New York:  W.W. Norton.
  • Freud, S. (c2002). 'The wolfman' and other cases (Louise Adey Huish, Trans.; with an  introduction by Gillian Beer).  New York: Penguin Books.

Resolving Resistances to ‘Saying Everything’:  Maintaining the Analytic Frame under Pressure

…When a therapist doesn’t hold to the frame in the treatment situation, it is saying to the patient, “I agree with you, your life isn’t worth much… “


This course will explore 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 will read a sample of authors representing views from the most orthodox to the most liberal.  We’ll 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 will also be 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 will discuss 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.”

(syllabus will be available in August)

Maturation Part III:  Parents, Children and The Search for Identity

A timeworn adage says that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, meaning that a child resembles his or her parents; (but) these children are apples that have fallen elsewhere. . .they are deaf or dwarfs; they have Down Syndrome, autism, schizophrenia or multiple severe disabilities; they are prodigies; they are people conceived in rape or who commit crimes;  they are transgender. . .”

“Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger. . . Though many of us take pride in how different we are from our parents; we are endlessly sad at how different our children are from us. . . .                          -Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree


Andrew Solomon, who is a gay child of straight parents, found a curious kinship with members of the deaf community.  While gayness and deafness tend to be considered deficits or illnesses by the parents of the gay and the deaf; each are a source of identity and community for gay and deaf individuals. This conundrum, which is shared by parents and children struggling with other physical and mental/emotional differences such as autism,  Down Syndrome and many others, poses an extraordinary challenge to parenting (an already near-overwhelming task) “different” children.  Is it the task of a good parent to “correct” the difference, or to help the child locate his identity within a community unknown to the parent? 

Solomon’s book is a wide-ranging study of children who are different from their parents in an attempt to understand how parents cope with such children.  The task of the modern analyst, in working with both these offspring and their parents, is similarly complex.  The maturational problems that people have are related to their very early childhood experiences, developmental experiences in adulthood and sources of trauma in their present lives.

The plan of the course is for the class as a group to read the introductory chapter and then to select chapters to read and discuss.


  1. To explore how parents with children who differ from them in ability, disability, sexual orientation or other radical ways approach parenting them in the attempt to meet or reject their maturational needs.
  2. To discuss how this information might help an analyst to formulate more relevant treatment for such children and their parents.

(all readings will be from Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree, This is available in paperback; we also have several copies in the library)

Transference and Resistance Workshop


In Freud’s view, any line of investigation which recognizes and uses as its starting point the concepts of transference and resistance might properly be called psychoanalysis.

An eight semester sequence of “T&R” Workshops provides a group experience in which participants examine the thoughts and feelings aroused in themselves and each other.  Different participants react differently to the same communications and this experience provides each participant with the opportunity to learn their individual predisposition.  The workshops also provide an experiential understanding of transferences, resistances, countertransferences and their relevance in the psychoanalytic process.


  1. Becoming acquainted with psychoanalytic theories of transference and  resistance;
  2. Becoming sensitive to self-generated and induced feelings and learning how to communicate these feelings in a therapeutically sensitive manner;
  3. Working on resistances to cooperative functioning with fellow students and faculty;
  4. Working on resistances to speaking spontaneously in professional situations.

Requirements of the Workshops include regular timely attendance, weekly submission of class logs and active participation in the class discussion.


There is a wonderful breadth of writing that has been done on Modern Psychoanalytic group therapy.  From the well-known writers — Spotnitz, Ormont — to less well-known writers — Kauf, Kirman — the preoedipal character that emerges in group treatment has been the focus of attention for many analysts.  This course allows students to deepen their Modern Psychoanalytic background in and understanding of group therapy through immersion in the Modern point of view. 

Topics of study include aggression, leaders, group resistances, interplay of past and present, failures.  This course combines reading, discussion, experience of class members, and applications to real treatment groups.  Each class session runs 1.5 hours; total number of classes is 10.


  1. Describe in depth the unique contributions of group therapy to the treatment of preoedipal conditions.
  2. Give examples of instances in group treatment of the interplay between past and present.
  3. Relate group dynamics to the functioning of social systems as a way to protect against anxiety.
  4. Identify examples of aggression in groups, hostility, acting out, and figurative homicide or suicide.
  5. List potential triggers for the release of aggression.
  6. Describe modern psychoanalytic strategies for dealing with anger, aggression, and acting out.
  7. Identify functions of the group leader that allow preoedipal patients to feel secure and participate fully in group treatment.
  8. Describe potential pitfalls for the group therapist that are different than in individual treatment.
  9. Examine him/herself as a modern analytic group leader and give examples of group transferences and resistances to his/her leadership.
  10. Verbalize experiences with countertransference resistance in group settings and effects on the group.

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