Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for June 2nd, 2015

The Journey from Psychotherapy To Psychoanalysis

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 2, 2015


I return to blogging, filled with new tales from my latest endeavors including teaching art therapy students at Loyola Marymount University, drilling down into the world of substance abuse rehabilitation, and now adding on, teaching a new class to psychoanalytic candidates on “converting” patients from psychotherapy to psychoanalysis. This class, never taught before at the New Center for Psychoanalysis, is my current challenge. To begin, the name of this class escapes me. I am working on a catchy title. Then, the syllabus. What should we read? I chose Owen Renik’s book, “Practical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and Patients.” Now, my task is to stimulate conversation, not so much to delineate the difference between psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, but more to help these clinicians transition patients from one kind of psychotherapy to another. This transition, in my mind, grows out of a strong pull to go deeper into the psyche, by having the time to explore associations and nuances of behavior, which can only be discussed when the relationship is intense, meaning a lot of time together. Weekly psychotherapy is often consumed with “dear diary” material, that there is little opportunity to interrupt and pursue choice of words, small changes in facial expression, or small changes in posture. It is the ability to take the small things, Freudian slips, if you will, and create narratives with deep meaning. These small behaviors, looking under a microscope, exposes a wealth of ideas about hidden assumptions and hidden agendas that lurk behind conscious motivation for action. The microscopic assessment lends the both viewers to examine a clearer picture into the behind the scenes examination of how the mind works. “Why did you choose that word,” is an example of pausing and reflecting about language as a royal road to the unconscious. That question is hard to ask in once a week psychotherapy, where that might be heard of as an interruption, rather than an opportunity to understand the layers of the mind. Like any skill, the more you do it, the better you get, and so it is for a psychoanalytic understanding of oneself.

Posted in Teaching Psychoanalysis | 4 Comments »

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