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Clinical Study Group

Instructor: Don Ross, MD, FIPA

Practicing psychoanalytic therapy may at times involve feeling lonely, even isolated. You can have a well-functioning social network and still feel alone with your most intimate thoughts and feelings evoked by the therapeutic process and setting.

Our work requires that we spend large amounts of time alone with our own thoughts and feelings in the clinical hour. We use this time in self-reflection to contact the current moment of the clinical situation, to feel the present moment as an experience of pleasure or pain or disequilibrium, to classify its characteristics, and finally to formulate this experience to ourselves. Then we may choose to offer our thoughts to our patient as a verbal intervention after testing (in thought) the receptivity of the internal and external environments.

There are states of mind, however, that create more than the average sense of isolation and present greater difficulty in proceeding along these lines. Certainly, the mind that feels uninformed, mistaken, or in over-one's-head may all contribute. Insufficient experience and training or a feeling that one should know what to do in the clinical situation may evoke feelings of doubt and shame or feared ineffectiveness. These feelings can motivate curiosity, reexamination and course correction on the one hand or withdrawal from contact with our own inner experience on the other.

Whatever the cause, isolation is uncomfortable and potentially detrimental to our own mental functioning and sense of wellbeing. However, isolation may also spark various measures aimed at re-establishing a more supportive environment for ourselves and in our work with patients. This clinical study group aims to provide such a setting for seasoned psychotherapists. Through the presentation of clinical material, the group will explore states of mind that facilitate a deepening of the therapeutic process and those that interfere with its healthy evolution. Issues of technique such as setting the frame, establishing and increasing frequency, the timing of verbal interventions, making creative use of misattunements and other inevitable errors will be addressed within the context of clinical material explored by the group. Psychoanalytic papers related to therapeutic process themes that come to light in the group may be recommended by the instructor from time to time. However, the main focus of the study group will be exploring what emerges from the clinical material itself.

The aim of this ongoing study group is to foster an environment of respectful curiosity in which seasoned psychoanalytic psychotherapists can present challenging clinical material and feel helped by the collective imagination of the group. When professional loneliness is addressed in this way, clinical confidence deepens and with it a greater sense of aliveness and openness to the full range of emotional experience inherent in our work.

When: First Tuesday of every month September 2018 - June 2019 (10 sessions), 7:30 to 9:00 pm.

Where: NPSI; 2701 First Avenue, Suite 120; Seattle, WA 98121.

Whom: This Study Group is open to licensed mental health professionals with a minimum of five years post-graduate clinical experience in private practice and/or agency settings. To ensure ample time for each member to present the group will be limited to 10 individuals.

Fee: $40 per month

A non-refundable deposit of $80 is required to secure registration for this ongoing study group. Use the PayPal button to the left or contact NPSI Administrator Hollee Sweet at admin@npsi.us.com with questions and to register.

Questions about the Clinical Study Group: Contact Don Ross at rockvillecentre108@gmail.com or call (206) 552-8553, ext. 222.

About the Instructor:
Don Ross, MD, FIPA is an American Psychoanalytic Association board certified psychoanalyst and a training and supervising psychoanalyst with Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and a fellow of the International Psychoanalytical Association. His clinical practice and teaching is informed by traditional psychoanalytic theorists such as the Freud, Fairbairn, Balint, Guntrip, Klein, Bion, Meltzer, Rosenfeld, Britton, and Grotstein as well as the newer fields of consciousness studies and applied neuroscience (Solms, Koch, Friston, Tononi, and Panskeep). Don is interested in exploring the nature of subjectivity, what we mean by "knowing" and the environment in which it arises. Additionally, how the subject or self discovers what is true and the impact the discovery has on object relatedness when reality is ignored or falsified.