The Riggs Blog

Psychodynamic Training in Psychology: Crisis, Challenges and Opportunities

By Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP, Conference Director

On November 9-10, the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at the Austen Riggs Center hosted a working conference entitled Psychodynamic Training in Psychology: Crises, Challenges, and Opportunities.  Attendees consisted of individuals from 22 psychodynamically oriented training programs in the USA and Canada. They worked together around questions such as how to meet accreditation standards in ways that are true to psychodynamic values; how to inspire our students in spite of the tensions they encounter between quality and quantity; how to communicate better about evidence that shows the value of psychodynamic treatment; and how to better meet the needs of marginalized groups.  

Small and large working groups focused on pragmatic concerns such as psychodynamic assessment, teaching techniques, diversity training, and how to address challenges through political action.  In addition, a group formed to look further into ways in which, in the past, psychoanalysis may have wronged or stigmatized particular groups, and ways in which any such wrongs might be addressed.

The meeting also discussed networking by making use of national or regional conference opportunities and local chapters, and hoping to have a conversation hour at the 2014 Division 39 Spring Meeting. Recognizing the need to build bridges with other groups with similar values, members also proposed a conversation hour for the American Psychological Association in 2014, where anyone involved in training graduate students in longer-term, insight-oriented approaches could discuss training challenges. 

The group came out of the conference with agreement on several issues.  First, they agreed that it is important for psychodynamic practitioners to become a more  ‘robust minority’ and to think outside the box about how to have a place at the table rather than further marginalizing ourselves.  Second, members agreed on the value of taking on complex issues and putting forward ideas in ways that are more accessible to other groups within psychology and to the public at large.  Finally, members hoped to meet next year to continue working together, extending an invitation to more students and early career professionals.

Participants plan to use the listserv of the Education and Training Committee of Division 39 for continued discussion and to share resources such as syllabi, relevant research, cogent and accessible articles, etc. Contact David Downing at ddowning@uindy.edu to be included.

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