Over the last four decades, the word relational has become a buzzword in psychoanalytic practice, acting as a hybrid, meta-theoretical umbrella term for a paradigm that places the relationship between patient and therapist at the heart of the psychotherapeutic exchange. The emphasis on mutual influence and mutual recognition is the cornerstone that separates the Relational Turn in psychotherapy from classical, non-participant schools of psychoanalytic practice (e.g. drive theory, object relations, self psychology).
In this introductory course, we will study the origins of the Relational Turn in psychotherapy by turning to key papers in objects relations theory, interpersonal psychoanalysis, self psychology, and constructivism. We will consider these theorists as catalysts in the shift of seminal psychoanalytic concepts, and in the evolution of a major paradigm shift from a one-person to a two-person psychology. This course will then explore the way in which the relationality changed our conceptualization of the mind as one existing on a spectrum of dissociation, with a kaleidoscope of shifting or sequestered self-states determining psychic experience. The next section of the course will reconsider psychoanalytic technique and process in light of this reformulated model of the mind, specifically honing in on aspects of mutuality and asymmetry, the analyst’s subjectivity, enactments, and intersubjectivity (drawing comparatively on Benjamin’s and Stolorow’s theories of intersubjectivity). This will lead us into the final segment of the course, where we will examine ways in which the relational model conceptualises transference and countertransference, and how the analyst uses the transference-countertransference matrix (and the implication of his/her subjectivity therein) to navigate through impasses and to initiate self-reflection.
In addition to weekly readings, candidates will be asked to bring in their own ideas and clinical work to use as a backdrop for discussion.