Affect and Self-Regulation Study Group 2016-2017 Learning Objectives


First Monday of the month, October through May, 7:30 PM
Washington, DC

The overarching frame of reference for this year of study is to deepen our understanding of what has been called the severe neuroses and typically involves the treatment of borderline and dissociative phenomena. We will explore the extent to which an unconscious need to regulate intense affectivity and maintain a sense of self during periods of experiencing severe impingement, attacks on being, play an active role in these clinical categories. There will be seven sessions, one for each chapter in our reference work (Wurmser, L. (2000), The power of the inner judge:Psychodynamic treatment of the severe neuroses, Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson.).

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

  1. Describe how an interpersonal view of shame creates advantages for a psychotherapy that exceed the utility of an intrapersonal view
  2. Describe how right-brain to right-brain interaction fits de Young’s model of shame.
  3. Discuss how deYoung’s theory of shame supports the idea of shame being about a sense of disintegration of self in relation to a dysregulating other.
  4. Describe how a “regulating other” actually behaves in a healthy environment.
  5. Describe the behavior of a dysregulating other and their impact on neurobiological function
  6. Describe the subjective experience of self-disintegration
  7. Discuss the genesis of felt internal harshness from the presence of the “needy self.”
  8. Describe how Bacal’s notion of shame as an affect of discrepancy fits presented casework.
  9. Discuss the advantages of Schore’s idea of attributing the ego ideal to the right brain and conscience to the left brain influences how to work with shame.
  10. Describe how perfectionism and procrastination are related to chronic shame.
  11. Describe how insecure infant attachment patterns contain shame scripts.
  12. Explain how implicit relational knowing holds unformulated narratives of emotional trauma.
  13. Describe how a “shame-free” clinical stance can be approximated.
  14. Explain how chronic shame may best be seen as something to manage rather than cure.
  15. Describe how dissociation influences the subjective experience of shame.
  16. Describe the role of the “not-me” self-state in the interaction between dissociation and shame.


Experiential and Theoretical Investigation into the Creative Process Study Group 2016-2017 Learning Objectives

Third Tuesday of the month, September through June, 7:30 PM
3715 Alton Place, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Our group views creativity as a capacity that is integral to being human, although the ability to express that creativity may be developed to differing degrees. Our readings have built up a body of thinking about creativity that draws on classical, self psychological, and relational theories. The group shares some responsibility for suggesting topics and readings related to these issues, and collaborates in inviting researchers and artists to join us to discuss their process.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

1) a. Describe the role of creativity in the grieving process after seeing The Year of Magical Thinking, a play based on a book about the loss of the author Joan Didion’s husband.

1) b. Compare this to theories about grieving described by theorists such as Kubler-Ross and Lindemann.

2) a. Explore the Common Threads use of story cloths in the treatment of women who have experienced gender based violence.

2) b. Identify several ways in which this method enhances trauma treatment especially when the clinician does not share the culture or language of the patient.

3) a. Using Press’s self-psychologically informed theories of dance in The Dance of Self, explore the work of dancer Bill T. Jones. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

3) b. After reading his memoir, discuss Jones’s use of his dancing body as an expression of his experience as a gay man. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

4) a. Observe the significance of personal narrative in the lives of the characters in the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, using Michael White’s theories about the importance of story and of dual listening in the therapy hour. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

4) b. Discuss the function of the individual therapist and of group members as witnesses in light of insight gained from viewing the film and reading Wenders’s commentary.

5) a. Having critiqued Mark Doty’s autobiography Fire Bird, explore the ways his creative process allowed him to come to terms with a troubled history. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

5) b. Apply the assumption implicit in his statement “the act of making a poem requires that someone’s listening” to the relationship between therapist and patient.

6) Discuss the development of a sense of personal and cultural identity (“who I am and how I fit into the world”) after viewing the Yo Yo Ma documentary The Music of Strangers. Apply these insights to the challenge of helping patients grapple with this question.

7) Describe, in self-psychological terms, the process by which Helen MacDonald, the author of H Is for Hawk, uses her knowledge of falconry and her relationship with her hawk to grieve the death of her father. Determine ways, in the clinical situation, to distinguish between grief and clinical depression.

8) a. After viewing Out of Our Heads: A Male Journey into the Heart, a film by Allen Moore, and hearing Moore discuss the film, identify issues that arise for men who are depressed and conditions in the culture that may contribute to the incidence of depression in men.

8) b. Using clinical examples, compare the group approach depicted in the film to various methods used by clinicians in the study group. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

9) After viewing Linn Meyers’s installation at the Hirshhorn, and attending several gallery talks, discuss the parallels between the creative process involved in making her mural with the creative process in a therapy session, focusing on such elements as the balance between plan and spontaneity, theory and interaction, boundary and improvisation.

10) a. Apply Hagman’s theories about the self-object function of viewing and collecting art to the experience of the collectors of art at the Glenstone Museum and the Barnes Museum, through visiting Glenstone and reading the writings of Albert Barnes. Explain how this may inform your clinical practice.

10) b. Using clinical examples and reading Yalom, discuss ways in which the therapist can help patients develop and deepen their sense of self through the experience of altruism.



The Science, Art, and Application of Psychotherapy Integration Study Group 2016-2017 Learning Objectives

2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from 11:00 am-12:30 pm
3000 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 327, Washington, DC 20008

This study group will focus upon the convergence of selected components of theory and practice that serve to enhance and intensify the therapeutic encounter. The central role of the integration of contemporary psychodynamic approaches, affective and social neural science and mind/body principles will be explored. A didactic and experiential format will be employed to facilitate the application of this model to clinical practice.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

  1. Describe how the convergence of relational psychotherapy, Neural Science and Mind/Body approaches promote best practice in treatment.
  2. Describe the central concepts within object relations theory, selfpsychology and intersubjectivity that can be employed to enhance treatment in a convergence model.
  3. Discuss the central concepts of Neural Science that relate to healing, emotional regulation and psychotherapy.
  4. Explore the powerful and healing effects of Mind/Body approaches to psychological functioning and the psychobiological transformation that occurs when used within a model of integration.
  5. Explain a dynamic model of treatment which combines theory, practice, scientific findings and effective clinical application to promote psychological wellbeing and life enhancement.
  6. Explain the relationship among intersubjectivity, transference and counter transference, and the creation of a new healing narrative in psychotherapy.
  7. Discuss the effect of Mind/Body (M/B) approaches upon psychological functioning from both a psychogenic and neuro-biological prospective.
  8. Discuss the relationship among engaged equanimity, emotional balance, and neural integration.
  9. Apply M/B techniques for the reduction of anxiety and the treatment of depression within an integrated model of treatment.
  10. Identify the principal components that enhance the trance experience and create an altered state of consciousness.
  11. Discuss the fundamental principles employed within hypnotic inductions.
  12. Discuss ethical considerations and issues of competency when using M/B strategies in therapy.
  13. Discuss the effects of cortisol on the hippocampus,memory and learning.
  14. Discuss the neurological consequences of trauma.
  15. Describe the neurochemistry of PTSD and its effects upon psychological functioning.
  16. Define and discuss the Social Brain.
  17. Define and discuss Mirror Neurons.
  18. Define and discuss Mindfulness.
  19. Discuss the Neurological substrates of Transference and Countertransference.
  20. Discuss the Neurobiological substrates of Borderline personality disorders.
  21. Describe the effects of a cocreated healing narrative upon Neural Integration and bihemispheric communication.


Aging and Mortality Study Group 2016-2017 Learning Objectives

3rd Friday of every month from 2:30-4:00 pm
4400 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

The focus of the group will be the aging process and treatment of older adults. We will be reading books that discuss clinical phenomena and therapeutic approaches as well as fictionalized accounts and other literary works about the aging process. Group discussions will be informed by members’ work with older adults and their ways of dealing (or not) with their own aging and mortality.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

  1. Considering the title of the book, Another Country, identify 3 ways in which the passage from middle age to old age is analogous to moving to a foreign land.
  2. Identify 3 factors that contribute to the majority of elders living segregated lives.
  3. Describe 4 ways in which xenophobia applies to the plight of the elderly.
  4. Identify 3 ways that moving from a communal to an individualistic culture has affected the elderly.
  5. Describe the ways in which aging is like chronic PTSD.
  6. Enumerate positive coping strategies that the elderly and their caregivers can employ.
  7. Identify how interactions between ‘grandparents’ and younger generations can be mutually beneficial.
  8. Discuss Mary Pipher’s contention that intergenerational connections are vital to the continuity of culture and the health of communities.
  9. Discuss the fear of dying as it is experienced through the developmental stages of life.
  10. Describe ways of recognizing covert death anxiety hidden behind other symptoms
  11. Define what Yalom means by “The Awakening Experience”.
  12. Identify and discuss life milestones as awakening experiences.
  13. Describe three Epicurean arguments that may be used to ameliorate death anxiety.
  14. Enumerate some of the aphorisms, or ‘mighty thoughts’, that can help to overcome the fear of death.
  15. Distinguish between everyday loneliness and existential loneliness.
  16. Describe how to use presence and gratitude to alleviate the loneliness of death.
  17. Discuss how people influence one another through the rippling effect.
  18. List Yalom’s four ultimate concerns germane to the practice of psychotherapy.
  19. Describe the connection between love, sex and death.
  20. Explain three rationales Yalom suggests for using immediacy in psychotherapy.
  21. Discuss Yalom’s stance on the use of therapist self-disclosure and how this relates to a self-psychological and a relational approach to psychotherapy.


Couples Study Group 2016-2017 Learning Objectives

1st Friday of every month from 1:10-2:40pm
3000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 214
Washington, DC 20008

The challenges of working with couples will be explored through readings that draw from self psychology, attachment theory, intersubjectivity and relational theories, neuroscience, as well as clinical discussion. Topics will include working with oppositional couples, countertransference dilemmas, sexual issues, infidelity, loss and blended families. Additional topics will be determined by the interests of group participants.  Group members should be actively working with couples.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

  1. Describe the application of self psychological and relational concepts in couples therapy.
  2. Discuss clinical approaches to helping couples elicit and deepen emotional expression.
  3. Identify how early attachment wounds manifest in varying attachment styles and contribute to relationship dynamics.
  4. Demonstrate therapeutic approaches to working with each attachment style.
  5. Describe two concepts from neurobiology that can be integrated into couples therapy.
  6. Assess the emotional dysregulation of each partner and employ techniques to address the arousal system of the couple.
  7. Identify the impact of each partner’s childhood trauma on relationship dynamics.
  8. Discuss clinical approaches to working with couples with a history of childhood trauma.
  9. Describe the developmental losses couples inevitably face in the aging process.
  10. Identify challenges and shifting relationship dynamics as couples age.