The Riggs Blog

Dr. John Muller Steps Down as the Director of Training

By Jane Tillman, Ph.D., ABPP

On December 31, 2013 John P. Muller, PhD stepped away from his job of twenty years as the Director of Training.  He has left his erudite and sensible mark on a generation of Fellows who have developed as psychotherapists and, indeed, as human beings under his tutelage.  The Fellowship provides rigorous training of psychologists and psychiatrists in psychoanalytic studies, psychological testing, psychodynamic psychopharmacology, family work, and systems thinking.  This learning is both joyous and at times painful, as each trainee encounters personal limits in him or herself, and in the capacity to work with patients and staff.  John has found a way to teach Fellows to think deeply about how a therapist’s  speech, action, inaction, and basic humanity contribute to the therapeutic process.  When such processes become skewed, as they inevitably do in the course of an analytic endeavor, John’s wisdom and insistence about how and why the dyad has come to this place have often provided trainees with some of the most valuable learning that can be had in the training experience.  

As a teacher, John’s close reading of texts and capacity to translate difficult and dense material into comprehensible lectures are unsurpassed.  Perhaps it is his command of five languages, or his disciplined exegetical commitment that allows this to happen in a way that seems to flow from a place of natural ease for John.  For those of us continuing to train current and future fellows, we know that his long and distinguished record of scholarship has set the bar high.

All of the above are the sorts of things colleagues say about colleagues who are retiring or stepping down from a role.  But these words hardly capture who John Muller is as a person and as a training director.  He has worked with integrity, decency, and a loving commitment to open inquiry, academic freedom, creative pursuits, and excellence.  And though we say goodbye to John as the Director of Training, we are fortunate that he will continue to teach, supervise, and treat patients at the Center as a part-time member of the staff.

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