2018-2019 Seminar Series

The Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center is pleased to offer brief seminars dedicated to understanding and expanding Relational Psychoanalysis. In the spirit of collaborative inquiry fostered by Stephen Mitchell, each seminar is designed as an interactive forum that aims to inspire creative thinking and to bring theory to life. Seminar topics span the gamut from in-depth explorations of foundational relational concepts to cutting-edge psychoanalytic thinking.

Seminars are designed for mental health professionals and trainees and meet for one to three sessions. Our intention is to offer participants an opportunity to explore a topic of interest in a collegial and informal small group setting.

All seminars are taught by Mitchell Center faculty, many of whom are leaders in the field and have contributed to the development of relational theory from its inception.

Please inquire about the possibility of long-distance participation.

Continuing Education: 4.5 credits offered per seminar for New York State LCSWs. Full attendance is required for CE credit. All certificates will be sent by post after the conclusion of the seminar.

Cost per seminar: $225.00- general public; $150- candidates and graduate students. Please note that we do not accept checks.

All payments are final. In special circumstances refunds may be offered if requested at least one week before the seminar start date.

Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center Seminar
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Unwanted Fragments: Listening, Witnessing and Inhabiting Responsibility

Sue Grand, Ph.D. and Jill Salberg, Ph.D., with special guest Roger Frie, Ph.D., Psy.D.
Saturday, December 1, 2018
375 West End Ave, Suite 9D, NYC

Ferenczi's voice, once silenced, now resonates within the relational psychoanalytic turn towards mutuality, witnessing and understanding trauma transmission. In his clinical diary, he writes about what he terms the terrorism of suffering: "as though something alien were speaking through her, something that she does not recognize afterward as herself." Ferenczi then writes of the analytic work, "I must remove, piece by piece, the fragments of the invading personality (1985, pg. 48)." The objective of this workshop is to help psychoanalytic therapists at all levels of training and experience to recognize, identify and work with the unwanted fragments of historical transmissions.

This seminar will address the trans-generational transmission of trauma, abandonment, destructiveness and how we do and do not take responsibility. We will consider a variety of examples from the analytic setting and society at large. The experiences and voices of victimhood in one generation that can reappear as haunted declarations of violence will be closely looked at to contextualize discussion of inherited perpetrator histories and the ethical obligations of memory that cross generations. We will examine the meaning of states of silence in the aftermath of trauma and the simultaneous knowing and not knowing that characterizes how we live with traumatic and perpetrator histories. How do we listen for silenced voices or find the words for unexpressed histories? How do these voices and histories relate to current social conditions? Internal states, often admixtures of excitement and despair, will be explored as the conduit through which, without transformation, each generation transfers repetitive enactments calling out to be heard and interrupted.

The workshop will include a combination of readings, lecture and discussion, and for those participants who are interested, informal sharing of personal and/or clinical material. Readings will be distributed prior to the start of the seminar.

Dr. Sue Grand is faculty at NYU Postdoctoral Program, the Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center, and the National Institute for Psychotherapies. She is also a fellow at the Institute for Psychology and the Other and an associate editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society. Dr. Grand is the author of The Reproduction of Evil and The Hero in the Mirror. She is in private practice in NYC and Teaneck NJ.

Dr. Jill Salberg is a faculty member and supervisor at the NYU Postdoctoral Program, The Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center, and ICP. She is the editor of the book Good Enough Endings: Breaks, Interruptions and Terminations from Contemporary Relational Perspectives and has co-edited two books with Sue Grand: The Wounds of History: Repair and Resilience in the Trans-generational Transmission of Trauma and Trans-generational Trauma and the Other: Dialogues Across History and Difference. She is in private practice in NYC.

Dr. Roger Frie is a faculty member and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute. He is a psychoanalyst-psychologist and a historian-philosopher and Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. He is author most recently of Not in my Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust and editor of History Flows Through Us: Germany and the Holocaust and the Importance of Empathy. He is in private practice and runs study and supervision groups.

This seminar is now closed to registration.

This seminar is now closed to registration.

Inside/Outside: Working Relationally with the Orthodox Jewish Population

Caryn Gorden, Psy.D.
Friday, March 1 and 8, 2019
590 West End Ave, Apt. 1C, NYC

This seminar will focus on the particular challenges and complexities inherent to psychotherapy with the Orthodox Jewish population.

Little to no formal research exists comparing the rates of mental health disorders in the Orthodox Jewish community with those in either the general population or the wider Jewish community. Although there is controversy concerning the possibility that religious observance functions as either a risk factor or buffer, specific religious, cultural and psychosocial factors are embedded in Orthodox Judaism that may significantly impact mental health issues. Further, Orthodoxy's recent shift to the right and the simultaneous sociocultural changes created through modern, global technology heighten the contradictory demands on those in the Orthodox community and may exacerbate pre-existing psychodynamic conflicts. Although historically there has been a great deal of silence around mental health issues in this population, the veil is slowly lifting, allowing for greater freedom and willingness to express mental health concerns and to seek help.

This seminar will explore the sociocultural and religious factors that may impact mental health in this population, and their relationship to certain kinds of mental disorders. These factors include the mixed and contradictory messages/obligations embedded in Orthodox Judaism, the significance of family and community, the shidduch phenomenon and its consequent hypersensitivity regarding stigma, and the traumas of persecution and the holocaust.

The ambivalence about seeking help from someone inside or outside the Orthodox Jewish community highlights the therapist's need for heightened cultural sensitivity. Even the culturally informed therapist will be challenged in assessing and delineating the margins between religious practice and pathology. We will consider specific elements concerning clinical management including collateral family sessions, the potential use of spirituality in the treatment, and transference/countertransference configurations and enactments. Clinical case material will be used to illustrate and deepen our theoretical and conceptual understanding of working with this population.

Caryn Gordon, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC. She is a faculty member of the Eating Disorders, Compulsions and Addictions Service (EDCAS) of the William Alanson White institute and The Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center. She is the author of '"Body and Soul": Eating Disorders in the Orthodox Jewish Population' in Body-states: Interpersonal and Relational Perspectives on the Treatment of Eating Disorders, edited by Jean Petrucelli. She presents and writes about the intergenerational transmission of trauma and regularly works with members of the Orthodox Jewish Population.

This seminar is now closed to registration.

This seminar is now closed to registration.

To Hold or Not to Hold: A Clinical Seminar That Explores Both Sides

Joyce Slochower, Ph.D.
Tuesday, March 12, 19 and 26, 2019
15 West 75th Street, Apt. 8B, NYC

In the acute press of the clinical moment, the therapeutic choices we make (to enter or remain quiet, to interpret, self-disclose, confront, or hold) tend to emerge more intuitively than not. We don't have time to consult our theoretical frame and think through all our choices before we 'act'. Nevertheless, our intuition isn't formed in a vacuum; it's shaped both by the implicit theory to which we ascribe and by our personhood- who we are, what we need and want, and what we fear. All these factors guide us procedurally by tilting us, our clinical focus and ways of understanding our patient, toward some ways of working and away from others.

This clinical seminar explores how our use of theory guides us, with a particular focus on the (apparent) dialectic of holding vs. explicit inter-subjective exchange in a given clinical moment. What "signs" do we implicitly use as we move one way or the other? What informs our choice to bring ourselves directly into the dialogue or to bracket our subjectivity and try to hold?

After a clinical/theoretical review of relational holding as it has unfolded in conversation (and clashes) with explicit relational engagement, we will move into a clinical seminar. Using multiple vignettes (you'll be invited to present), we will explore what informed your choices and what the impact was on your patient and you.

My working assumption is that there is inherent value and inherent weakness in all clinical approaches; my aim is not to find the right way to work. Instead, I hope we can unpack micro-events by aiming a lens at the dynamics of a given clinical choice and examining the implications of different ways of moving within it.

Joyce Slochower, Ph.D., ABPP is faculty at the NYU Postdoctoral Program, The Stephen Mitchell Relational Study Center, and the National Training Program of NIP. Second editions of her books Holding and Psychoanalysis: A Relational Perspective (1996) and Psychoanalytic Collisions (2006), were released in 2014. Joyce is co-Editor, with Lew Aron and Sue Grand, of "De-idealizing Relational Theory: a Critique from Within" and "Decentering Relational Theory: a Comparative Critique" (Routledge, 2018). She sees individuals and couples, and runs supervision and study groups.

This seminar is now closed to registration

This seminar is now closed to registration

Sibling Relationships in Psychoanalytic Work: A Relational Perspective

Cynthia Medalie, LCSW
Saturday, April 13, 2019
262 Central Park West, Suite 1B, NYC

It is generally accepted that sibling relationships are powerful and may shape life-long internal patterns of relating. Given this, it seems somewhat of a mystery that this topic has received relatively scant attention in the psychoanalytic literature. As is well-known, psychoanalysis began as a theory of psychosexual development emphasizing internalized childhood relationships with parental figures, with little attention to the formative role of sibling relationships. The current shift away from a one-person, authoritative model of treatment, to a more collaborative, co-constructed field moves the study of siblings into sharper focus.

Additionally, in contemporary theory and practice exclusive focus on the child-parent dyad has been augmented by an interest in the many self-states and relationship configurations that occur in the analytic dyad. Analyst and patient may at different moments experience both themselves and/or the other as parent, child, brother or sister. This shift towards mutuality and the multiplicity of selves can pull our attention toward the different ways in which sibling relationships inform our work and provides new lines of inquiry, such as: "Do I represent one of your siblings at this moment, and if so how am I doing that? Are you one of mine? Am I listening to you with a competitive, envious ear, or are we together in the backseat of a long car ride, knowing full well that we are forever buttressed against the discord that's going on in the front seat? How do the ways we need our siblings and hold them internally shift at various points in our lives?"

In this seminar we will consider this largely missing piece of psychoanalytic discourse. We will explore our thoughts about this exclusion, as well as cover some of the existing literature on sibling relationships. In addition, we will discuss our own experiences with siblings and how we see them informing our work. The seminar will include the instructor's clinical case examples that illustrate sibling dynamics in the treatment room. Participants are encouraged to present their own relevant case material. The readings will be discussed primarily through an Object Relations perspective.

Cynthia Medalie, LCSW, is on the faculty of the Stephen Mitchell Relational Studies Center and supervisor and faculty member at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. She is also Co-Director of Supervision for the NIP Four-year Training Program in Adult Psychoanalysis and Comprehensive Psychotherapy and a member of the Board of Directors. She has been in private practice for the last thirty years.

This seminar is now closed to registration

Seminar is now closed to registration

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

Hillary Grill, LCSW
Friday, May 3, 10 and 17, 2019
141 East 33rd Street, Suite 1A, NYC

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 causes 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. We will also consider the absence of such desire.

Exploring maternity, while 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 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 psychoanalysis 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 and draw on 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, is author of the book Dreaming for Two: the Hidden Emotional Life of Pregnant Women, various articles, and "The Importance of Fathers" in the book Clinical Implications of the Psychoanalyst's Life Experience.

Seminar is now closed to registration

Seminar is now closed to registration

The Paradox in the Reparative Striving and the Therapeutic Benefits of Mourning

Peter Kaufmann, Ph.D.
Tuesday, June 4, 11 and 18, 2019
1133 Broadway, Suite 828, NYC

As patients engage more deeply in psychoanalytic treatment, some may focus on pursuing a passionately-held ambition that feels very meaningful, a striving we may wish to support. Yet, if we scratch the surface, we may find that the ambition derives at least some of its meaning from the patient's conscious or unconscious wish to repair early trauma and the belief that the chosen pursuit will somehow undo and compensate for past traumas. However, patients may unwittingly set themselves up to fail as their new pursuit leads them to engage with people and replicate patterns that contain elements of their original traumas. Conscious awareness of this set-up and the repetitive nature of their pursuit may not fully reach and inform them so that if the effort fails, as it frequently does, it is experienced as a re-traumatization, evoking disturbing memories and feelings. A period of turmoil and even relative breakdown may follow. As painful as this can be, it also affords patients an opportunity to further process and mourn aspects of their past and re-orient towards strivings that are less likely to be repetitive re-enactments of trauma.

The mourning process that results from the failure of the reparative striving also strengthens and informs the patient's renewed efforts to achieve, enabling symbolized repair of the traumatic past. Ultimately, the failure of the initial reparative striving facilitates the processing of early trauma, which can then be more fundamentally reintegrated. This paradox or contradiction is consistent with my reading of Winnicott's ideas in "Fear of Breakdown" that put the processing of formative trauma at the center of therapeutic action.

To better understand this dialectical process between reparative striving and mourning, we will read relevant papers by Winnicott, Sheldon Bach, Jody Davies and Peter Kaufmann and consider some extended illustrative case examples. Seminar members are also greatly encouraged to share their related cases.

Peter Kaufmann, Ph.D., is faculty and supervisor at IPSS, NIP and the Mitchell Center. He currently is co-director of IPSS and the IPSS four-year psychoanalytic program. He has a particular interest in comparative psychoanalysis and in efforts to integrate the clinical approaches and sensibilities represented by different theoretical perspectives. He has written several papers that reflect his interest in the interplay between the expansive and repetitive dimensions of the transference and the role of mourning in therapeutic action.

Registrants who are not local will be able to participate in this seminar virtually.

Seminar is now closed to registration


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

Seminar Co-Directors

Lisa Lyons, Ph.D. and Hillary Grill, LCSW

Board of Directors

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

Contact us for more info: stephenmitchellcenter@gmail.com