2016-2017 Seminar Series

Each year the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center presents brief seminars on special topics of particular interest to members of our faculty. In the spirit of collaborative inquiry fostered by Stephen Mitchell, each seminar aims to engage participants in the ongoing project of learning and expanding Relational thinking and clinical work.

Seminars meet for three sessions and offer participants an opportunity to explore a topic of interest in a collegial and informal small-group setting. All seminars are taught by members of the Mitchell Center faculty and designed for Mental Health professionals and trainees.

Continuing Education: 4.5 credits offered per seminar for New York State LCSW's. Attendance at all 3 sessions is required for CE credit. All certificates will be sent by post after the conclusion of the seminar.

We do not accept checks. Cost per 3-Class Seminar: $225.00 for general public; $150 for candidates and graduate students.

No refunds one week prior to start date.

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Mutuality, The Dialogue of Unconsciouses, and the Uses of the Self in Contemporary Relational Psychotherapy

Anthony Bass, Ph.D.
Monday, Dec 5, 12, & 19, 2016
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
330 W. 58th Street, Suite 507, NYC, 10025

In this seminar we will explore the nature of the psychotherapy relationship, using Ferenczi's concept of a 'dialogue of unconsciouses' as a point of departure for considering the nature of psychotherapeutic relations. We will deepen our grasp of unconscious dimensions of therapeutic relating through our engagement with difficult treatment moments.

Along with Dr. Bass, participants in the workshop style seminar may present material themselves or work with others' clinical vignettes. They will gain experience using emotional responses to patients to identify and work through enactments, impasses and other challenging countertransference obstacles at the heart of psychotherapy. Implications for how we make use of ourselves in light of our unconscious contributions to the process, the ways in which we respond to our patients, and how this contributes to our therapeutic intentions and sense of 'technique' will be explored.

We will focus on patients with whom we have felt especially emotionally affected, i.e. those who have evoked intense, disturbing or arousing reactions: patients about whom one dreams at night, or becomes preoccupied by day, or who evoke anxious or counter-resistive responses, such as fighting sleep, or falling asleep or becoming bored; patients who arouse us to anger or disgust or shame or sexual or other body-based experiences.

Such experiences, often at the heart of enactments in psychotherapy, provide special opportunities for gaining access to the ways in which the unconscious life of patient and therapist emerge and interact, creating special challenges and special opportunities for deepening and furthering the work.

Anthony Bass, PhD, is on the faculty of the NYU Postdoctoral Program for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, the NIP National Training Program, the Institute for Relational Psychoanalysis of Philadelphia, and the Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies, where he serves as president. He is an editor in chief of Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives and a founding director of the International Association for Relational Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

This seminar is now closed to registration.

Seminar is now closed to registration.

The Analyst's Subjectivity: On the Clinical Impact of Inadvertent and Deliberate Self-Disclosure

Steven Kuchuck, LCSW
Saturday Jan 28, & Feb 4, 11, 2017
222 West 14 Street Suite 5M

This seminar will focus on helping psychoanalytic therapists at all levels of training and experience to identify and track the impact of their life experiences, crises, and psychological makeup on their clinical work. By expanding psychoanalytic study beyond theory and technique, the instructor will focus on ways in which experiences in the clinician's childhood and adult life affect both his or her clinical choices and the tenor of the therapist's presence in the consulting room. Particular attention will be paid to exploring areas of overlap and differentiation between two phenomena that are often confused: self-disclosure and the larger issue of the therapist's subjectivity. The seminar's primary focus will be on exploring the analyst's use of self via various forms of self-disclosure.

We will also examine both the obvious and more subtle distinctions between inadvertent and deliberate self-disclosure; the impact of the analyst's multiple self-states and their relationship to disclosure as these states arise in various clinician-patient dyads; conscious and unconscious reasons therapists choose to disclose or attempt to refrain from deliberate sharing; analyst fantasies around control of what patients know or learn about us; and differentiating between the analyst's and the patient's needs for the analyst to deliberately share or conceal.

The seminar will include a combination of readings, lecture and discussion. There will also be opportunities for interested participants to share clinical material. Readings will be distributed prior to the start of the seminar:

Week 1: Steven Kuchuck--Introduction to Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional (Edited by Steven Kuchuck).

Lew Aron- On Knowing and Being Known: Theoretical and Technical Considerations Regarding Self-Disclosure (Chapter 8 in A Meeting of Minds: Mutuality in Psychoanalysis by Lew Aron).

Week 2: Steven Kuchuck-- Do Ask, Do Tell? Narcissistic Need as a Determinant of Analyst Self-Disclosure. (The Psychoanalytic Review, 96:1007-1024).

Week 3: Hillary Grill- The Importance of Fathers (Chapter 14 in Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional Edited by Steven Kuchuck).

Steven Kuchuck- Guess Who's Going to Dinner? On the Arrival of the Uninvited Third (Chapter 11 in Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional. Edited by Steven Kuchuck).

Steven Kuchuck, LCSW, is Editor-in-Chief, Psychoanalytic Perspectives; Associate Editor, Routledge Relational Perspectives Book Series; Board member, supervisor, faculty and Co-Director of Curriculum for adult psychoanalytic training program, NIP; and faculty/supervisor, NIP and the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center. His writing focuses primarily on the analyst's subjectivity. He is Contributor/Editor: Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience: When the Personal Becomes Professional (Routledge, 2014) and The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi: From Ghost to Ancestor (co-edited with Adrienne Harris, Routledge, 2015).

Learning Objectives

By the completion of this seminar, participants will:

  1. Be able to define and give one example of deliberate self-disclosure.
  2. Be able to define and give one example of inadvertent self-disclosure.
  3. Give one example of an incident from their personal life that has impacted a clinical intervention.
  4. Define the difference between the therapist's subjectivity and self-disclosure.

Seminar is now closed to registration.

Seminar is now closed to registration

Ghosts in the Consulting Room: Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Psychoanalysis

Susan Klebanoff, Ph. D.
Tuesday Feb 28, Mar 7, 14, 2017
7:30 - 9:00pm
70 E 10th Street, Apt 17H

This seminar will explore the intergenerational transmission of trauma using the language and metaphor of ghosts. Intergenerational transmission of trauma is a syndrome in which un-mourned losses and unprocessed traumas are passed down unconsciously from one generation to the next. Modes of transmission include silences and gaps in family or cultural history, as well as fleeting memories or bits of dreams that arise in the absence of any context. Un-symbolized trauma may be carried and transmitted in the body, through smell, touch, cadence, physical pain or other somatic sensations. Significant experiences of loss of boundaries and the continuity of time and space are predominant in those who carry intergenerationally transmitted traumas; these individuals often experience a lack of continuity of self, memory and developmental progression.

These symptoms often appear "uncannily" in the treatment, as if dropped in from some otherworldly time or place, and have a ghostly quality of being both "there" and "not there" in the consulting room, spontaneously appearing and disappearing, difficult to grab onto or to make sense of. The hovering presence of un-symbolized trauma invades patients' lives and treatments, inhibiting patients' abilities to feel fully alive and often unconsciously setting them on a path toward self destruction.

This seminar will explore the interweaving of theories of intergenerational transmission of trauma with the history of ghosts in psychoanalysis. We will grapple with how to turn such ghosts into ancestors, and whether or not this is even possible. We will consider the therapeutic action of active witnessing, emotional containment, narrative co-construction, and attunement to spiritualism and the uncanny.

Readings will include selections from Haydee Faimberg, Maurice Apprey, Jill Salberg, Adrienne Harris and Michael Feldman. Clinical examples will be threaded throughout to illustrate theoretical concepts and participants will be encouraged to bring in their own clinical vignettes for discussion.

Dr. Susan Klebanoff, PhD., is the co editor, with Adrienne Harris and Margery Kalb, of two books on the Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma: Ghosts in the Consulting Room: Echoes of Trauma in Psychoanalysis and Demons in the Consulting Room: Echoes of Genocide, Slavery and Extreme Trauma in Psychoanalysis. She is on the faculty of the Mitchell Relational Study Center and an adjunct clinical supervisor at NIP and the Ferkauf School of Yeshiva University. She has written and presented on eating disorders, immigration, uncertainty in psychoanalysis, and intergenerational transmission of trauma. She is in private practice in New York City.

Seminar is now closed to registration

Seminar is now closed to registration

The Frame in Relational Psychoanalysis: Some Clinical & Theoretical Considerations

Kim Bernstein, Ph.D.
Thursday March 30, April, 6 & 13, 2017
7:30 - 9:00pm
24 W. 74th St., New York, NY 10023

How does relational psychoanalysis understand the clinical frame, and what does that mean for contemporary practice? In this seminar, we'll explore this question in several ways.

Relational psychoanalysis introduces ways of thinking about what goes on in the clinical encounter that require us to reevaluate some of the most fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis. Technique, as it was once conceptualized and practiced, is no longer given the same emphasis, since the relational movement prioritizes intersubjectivity and the specificity of the analyst-patient dyad over standardization of treatment and an adherence to absolutes. These changes encourage a move toward greater freedom and creativity in clinical work. But they also take away the safety net of what used to be more clearly delineated rules of engagement.

Starting with Marion Milner's writing about psychoanalysis and painting in the mid-1950's, we'll take a look at the metaphor of the frame as it emerged in that context. Through selected readings, we'll track its evolution through American ego psychology and "the relational turn," noting what's happened to the metaphor as it has aged and psychoanalysis has changed.

Next, we'll explore both the concept and use of the frame in relational psychoanalysis. Specifically, we'll draw on the relational literature to consider the potentials and dangers of moving from a notion of the frame as fixed to "framing" as relational process. We'll also identify ways in which more classical applications of the frame can sometimes get drawn into relational practice, often unwittingly, as a means of managing the complexity of contemporary clinical work.

Finally, we'll consider participants' own practices around the therapeutic setting, taking up Milner's invitation to be more creative in our thinking about our work with patients and relational theory's emphasis on bringing the frame into the realm of process.

Kim Bernstein, Ph.D., LP, NCPsyA, is on the faculty of the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center and NIP's National Training Program, where she teaches writing for psychoanalysts. She has written and presented on theoretical pluralism and therapeutic action; immigration, statelessness, and the impact of dislocation; and the psychoanalytic frame. Her private practice is in downtown Manhattan.

Seminar is now closed to registration

The Image in Psychoanalysis: Space, Appearance & Imagination

Mark Gerald, Ph.D.
Thursday May 11, 18, & 25, 2017
7:00 - 8:30pm
4 West 82nd Street, New York, NY 10024

Images are ever present in therapy. This seminar will explore the visual experience of therapist and patient as two in-sighted and ex-sighted partners in the struggle to see what can be seen in psychotherapeutic work. Blindness to ourselves and the other is often associated with impasses, boredom, and a feeling of disconnection in therapy. The visual is used in this seminar not just as a metaphor, but in the reality of what both therapists and patients can allow themselves to see in the physical presence of the other.

The eye is in the mind, but also is an organ that touches the surface of the outside. We will consider the impact of the visual in the analytic space principally through two lenses:

1. The spectrum from attraction to repulsion (including being attracted to what repels us and repelled by what attracts us) of the two parties in the therapeutic endeavor can often signal areas that have been left out and unrecognized in the patient. How patient and therapist present themselves through the expression of clothing, adornment and style will be a subject of attention. Being cognizant of how we see and avoid seeing can also serve as an enlivening countertransference-like tool for on-going self-analysis and imaginative growth for therapists.

2. The iconic imagery of psychoanalysis with its bearded older male analyst sitting behind a couch in a book and art filled Victorian consulting room occupies the shadows of the imagination of both therapist and patient. But the actual space that we practice in (a private office, clinic, university or institutional setting) with our own physical expressions surrounding and emanating from us, creates the canvas on which the painting of the therapeutic encounter is rendered. The images of our own visual room are rich for incorporation and imagination for patient and therapist alike. We will look at images of psychoanalytic offices and of our own work spaces.

Papers related to the topic will be discussed and clinical illustrations will be offered and welcomed from participants for discussion. Images that emerge during clinical work from the imaginative attraction-repulsion sweep will be looked at with our many sets of eyes.

Mark Gerald, Ph.D., is a psychologist-psychoanalyst and photographer. These two areas of work have immersed him in the subject of the person and the space. His project, "In the Shadow of Freud's Couch: Photographic Portraits of Psychoanalysts in their Offices" is an on-going exploration that has been profiled in The New York Times, on CBS Sunday Morning, the online magazine Slate.com and in his own writing. He has been interviewed by the BBC, Huffington Post, Daily Beast and various design publications. His article, "The Psychoanalytic Office: Past, Present and Future" is a study of the evolution of psychoanalytic space. Dr. Gerald practices on the Upper West Side in New York City.

Challenging the Motherhood Mandate: Contemporary Thinking Concerning Desire, Agency & Choice

Hillary Grill, LCSW
Wednesday June 7, 14, & 21, 2017
141 East 33rd Street, Suite 1A

While gendered presumptions have waned in recent years- somehow such presumptions still hold when it comes to women becoming mothers. Little latitude for examination of thoughts, feelings and desires cause us to wonder if choice and agency are illusory. This seminar delves into the meanings that live quietly below the surface- of the desire for motherhood, the fantasies and experience of being a mother- and alternative paths to parenting, including the absence of such desire.

Exploring maternality, avoiding reductive singularity for women, we will look most closely at the pull toward and away from motherhood. Potency, generativity and immersion in a powerful relationship are maternal possibilities- yet the desire for motherhood is often at odds with other desires, goals and self-states. It remains a struggle for women to become mothers without fearing, or indeed in actuality, losing parts of themselves- as they are challenged to easily navigate multiple self-states. The culture at large continues to idealize and denigrate motherhood with negative, maternal images juxtaposed with the glorification of the all-giving mother, and the fantastical all-doing super-woman, effortlessly caring for children, career and partners. Mainstream psychanalysis has been disinterested.

Stubbornly fixed binaries about the maternal have been jostled by feminism, gender and queer theory, and the technological advances of assisted reproduction. Our thinking will be informed by this, and by contemporary family configurations such as same-sex parenthood, single parenthood by choice and child-free arrangements. We will take note of the impact of reproductive technologies- offering hope and liberation, while entrapping many in an often obsessive, seemingly limitless quest for a baby.

Our format will include readings, lecture, discussion and case material drawing upon the work of Jessica Benjamin, Adrienne Harris, Muriel Dimen, Luce Irigaray, Donna Basin, Daphne de Marneffe, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Nancy Chodorow and others. Select readings will be distributed in advance.

Hillary Grill, LCSW, is a supervisor and faculty member at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, the Institute for Expressive Analysis and the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center. She is executive editor of Psychoanalytic Perspectives, presents widely, author of various articles, the book: Dreaming for Two: the Hidden Emotional Life of Pregnant Women and “The Importance of Fathers” in the book Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst’s Life Experience.


Seminars will be closed to registration when full or four days prior to the first session, whichever comes first.

Seminar Coordinators

Lisa Lyons & Kim Bernstein

Board of Directors

Anthony Bass, Jessica Benjamin, Margaret Black, Jody Messler Davies