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Why This Election of the American Psychoanalytic Association is so Critical

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to all members of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I’m writing to those of you tempted not to vote because you believe that ApsaA is not about you—your practice and experience as committed psychoanalysts.  Many of you have withdrawn, understandably feeling that APsaA belongs to a small number of members whose concerns are not yours.

APsaA belongs not to any group, but to you, its members. But only your vote can insure this, and with your support we can do this together.

If elected, I will work with the Executive Council, our Board of Directors, to represent all of our members. Working with one member of the Council at a time if necessary, I will make certain that members’ concerns are addressed with transparency and accountability.  Those who have known me during my more than 20 years in APsaA will attest that I build relationships in my office, in the community, with donors, and with fellow members, including those with whom I may have differences. In all cases, I am committed to our mission of treatment, education, service, and research.

All of us members are concerned for the future of psychoanalysis, but we have different ways of focusing our concerns. Some of us concentrate on the need to make significant changes in the way we interface with the rest of the world, lest we find that the best days of psychoanalysis are behind us. Others concentrate on protecting the educational procedures and standards of our glory days.  But preoccupation with one or the other of these poles can only leave APsaA further behind as opportunities for psychotherapy treatment and training continue to expand. We must concentrate on both — public awareness, and professional excellence.

We need to speak in one voice to the public’s interest in humane and meaningful psychotherapy, and to challenge the current reliance on (and disappointment with) “quick fixes” with our long track record of success. I have worked in public information efforts for most of my psychoanalytic career. I look forward to rejuvenating the private discourse among psychoanalysts about how to ensure the future of our field, and to create a new kind of discourse with the public about the value of what psychoanalysis has to offer.

Our candidates are worrying about their futures, and whether their training is worth the time, energy and cost.  I will propose that we take a more generative position toward them by establishing candidate voting representation on the Executive Committee and Council.  We can work together to make our curriculum more reflective of practice today, including excellence in psychotherapy.  That is the best way to “protect” our candidates and their future, and the future of our field.

Many analysts, especially those who choose not to become TA’s under our current system—feel marginalized in our association.  Yet these members make significant contributions to psychoanalysis in many areas, including research, community and hospital work, in academia, and more).  We need to take a more generative stance toward these full-fledged members as well.  After too many years of little appreciation, their contributions must finally be recognized. I will speak for them.

We can develop fruitful relationships with academic and with graduate and residency programs only if our institutes are open to new ideas—in science, philosophy, and research as well as psychoanalysis.  An attitudinal change is required.  I want to work with the BOPS to facilitate that new attitude and consensus about how best to implement it.

As Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation, I proved my skills as a fundraiser for research. I will make APsaA an essential resource for local groups to strengthening development.  Creating programs that appeal to prospective individual donors and foundations is essential.  However, I also am convinced we can raise funds to support the high cost of training for candidates struggling to afford it.

In our lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., we must protect privacy and inclusion in health care systems, but move far beyond self interest.  Racism, homophobia, sexism, and bullying outside and within APsaA will continue to be addressed.

I will also support the Pyles-Perlman proposal regarding objective TA requirements. I feel that this is in the best interests of moving all of us forward, locally and nationally.    Objective criteria—number of years post graduation, realistic immersion requirements, coursework, and good ethical standing—could finally put an end to this historical source of divisiveness.  It would provide an even greater generative change for all members and especially newer and middle career members.

With your support, we can accomplish this transformation.  For more information (CV, position statement, media work, etc), please visit my website at ,write (, or call me (312.447.0605).

You must vote for us to move forward.  Our future is in your hands.

With best regards, Mark

Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.; Nominee for President, American Psychoanalytic Association


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Analytic Service to Adolescents Program (ASAP) in NY Times

We are very pleased with last Sunday’s article in the New York Times Chicago edition and the NY Times Online, about ASAP and Morton Alternative School which can be viewed by clicking the following

ASAP, a joint treatment and research project of Morton Alternative High School (MAS) and the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis represents the best of what psychoanalysis can offer to communities and what communities, in this instance an alternative high school, can offer to an institute for psychoanalytic education.

As the article describes, MAS is the last stop for troubled students kicked out of the regular two public high schools in Cicero, Illinois. In addition to regular educational and counseling services provided by the school, ASAP provides more in-depth individual and group treatment. We have shown through qualitative and quantitative data that we have received levels of depression and anxiety.

With the generous support of the Arthur Foundation, a local foundation interested in supporting educational efforts especially in Hispanic neighborhoods in the area, the American Psychoanalytic Foundation, and individual donors, ASAP hopes to increase funding to support more psychoanalytic treatment for students at the school.

We are a small program with big ambitions. Paying close attention to the internal states of students, in all school settings, can only increase students’ capacity to learn and function at home, school, and in all social situations. ASAP is committed to providing opportunity for students to reach their potential, graduate high school, and become productive in their interpersonal and working lives. We have begun efforts to replicate the program at a middle school in New York City, and at local high school in southwest Michigan.

This article will help us achieve our goals.

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Lessons of Leadership: Sigmund Freud, Heinz Kohut, and Nelson Mandela

Three of the photographs in my office are of Sigmund Freud, Heinz Kohut, and Nelson Mandela. Each of them not only made significant contributions to humankind, but brought forward a very particular kind of leadership, not without flaws, that moved their respective “missions,” forward.

Freud, in creating a new field against almost insurmountable odds, including dismissive and hostiles response from the scientific, cultural, religious, and political communities of his time, never lost sight of keeping his endeavor moving forward. When attacked for theories and treatment methods, he forged ahead with more scientific data based on clinical work with detailed writing used as evidence. His application of these ideas beyond the consulting room, remain as significant today as they did during his life.

As a leader, he welcomed colleagues, often younger, who would take his new field beyond him and to new communities, both scientific and otherwise, around the world. Many succeeded. Others went in new and diverging paths which could be met with a dismissive response by Freud. Personal relationships sometimes ended quickly and painfully. His response in historical context was understandable–a young field, if not solid and fully developed, could gradually disappear.

I believe psychoanalysis sits on solid ground today. As one friend of mine has always suggests–he never worries about the survival of psychoanalysis, but always about the the survival of psychoanalysts. We no longer have to operate out of old fear, be it about theories, or standards of education.

Lessons of Freud’s leadership are about keeping one’s eye on the bigger picture, expanding an “inner circle,” both in new ideas and pragmatic development, while maintaining critical foundations of theory and treatment. Lessons from the limitations of his leadership “style,” are sharing and delegating responsibility with other and newer colleagues, to move ideas forward. Something like–their ideas and actions may not be exactly like mine, or the way I might do it, but I can trust they will add their own mark and creativity, and through our common commitment to the whole field and association, both will grows by their actions. As a leader, that becomes primary organizing principle–the growth of our field.

In the photograph of Kohut he is sitting in a chair at his home feeding his dog (I believe the dog’s name was Tovi). It was given to me by his sister-in-law as a Christmas present years ago through a mutual friend. That picture is a complex symbol. I remember literally sneaking in the back door on a cold Tuesday evening of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society 34 years ago. It was not a particularly welcoming place to outsiders.

A well respected faculty member was presenting a paper critical of Kohut’s ideas, and in the most personal and attacking way. When someone asked a question disagreeing with the presenter, his question was was dismissed as a “resistance,” to a more traditional way of thinking. Kohut’s back was to me and I couldn’t see his face but he sat completely still. Later, I would hear stories of Kohut, a former president of APsaA, walking though the halls of the Waldorf being completely shunned by old freinds and colleagues, merely for offering new ideas.

Whether you agreed or not with Kohut’s ideas, the clarity of thinking, like during an hour long lecture without a note, was impressive. I heard him later on two occasions. But it was because of Kohut, nicknamed “Mr. Psychoanalysis,” that I was determined to learn and study closely traditional psychoanalytic theory. Only then could I hope to make any real sense of more contemporary theories and ideas. Some of his collaborators became my mentors, and as I previously said, their generativity, had the great influence. He himself at times could be dismissive like Freud, and maybe for similar reasons. Yet, his ideas have remained and grown. As he wrote, leadership requires great empathy with those one hopes to lead.

And finally, in 1997, I traveled with one of my daughters, Leah, then 13, to Cape Town both to present a paper, and visit a woman in (that woman Kim Richardson later became my wife). One of the first things we did was to take a boat to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Our guide was Patrick, a former fellow inmate with Mandela. We were taken to the 8×8 ft cell (“classroom is what he called it) where Mandela lived, the quarry where he worked each day, the shower room where most of the political lessons of change and freedom were whispered to younger inmates, and the mail room where officials would censor mail, or blatantly change content, for example: write to a spouse on the mainland that the inmate no longer wanted to married; or writing the inmate falsely about a relative dying. This on top of daily physical abuse.

At the conclusion of the tour, Patrick asked Leah to come forward in front of the group. He took both her hands and said, “My new young friend, when you return to America, you must not forget that the most important lesson we learned from Mr. Mandela: “You can never right a wrong with another wrong.”

Such a principle guided not only his will to survive impossible conditions, but also impacted Manlela’s decisions to begin work with his oppressors years before his actual release. How do we avoid civil war and more bloodshed, end apartheid but save our country. It is hard to imagine siting down with his captors, who had taken him away from his family and his life for 27 years, and work toward compromise and change. Though there have been many problems and missteps since, Mr. Mandela saved a nation.

One lesson is obvious. One can be openly and clearly on the side of significant change and still negotiate serious compromise with those with whom one disagrees to save a country, to save the mission, and certainly to bring a professional association forward.

Kohut wrote that it is not what a parent does that has the most impact on a child’s development. It is about who a parent is. Hopefully throughout this campaign I have conveyed to you all something about who I am, how I have led, and how I will lead.

But, this election is not about me, nor Bob. It’s about you and about our common psychoanalytic “mission” and association and how we finally move forward by way of real change.

If you have voted…thank you. If not, do so today.

Best regards, Mark P.S. Kim and I are going to see the movie, Invictus, this evening.

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I first want to thank the members of the New Center for Psychoanalysis
in Los Angeles who came out Thursday night for the “Meet and Greet.” I
was moved by the turnout, dinner and terrific discussion about the
issues facing APsaA. Special thanks to Paulene Popek, Jeffry
Seitelman, Mel Mandel, Jeffry Prager for putting the evening together.

Much of the discussion focused on how a president or president-elect
can seriously effect change or lead our organization.

In an early election posting this summer, I said I worried we were at
risk of becoming “the G.M.” of organized psychoanalysis. I am
sometimes relieved that my father, born and raised in Detroit, did not
live to see how a once vibrant industry of which he was always in awe,
crashed and burned. However, as today NY Times reports, G.M. has
emerged from bankruptcy with a new vision and culture. And the

In the article titled: “Culture Shock: GM Struggles to Shed Its
Legendary Bureaucracy and Remake Its Attitude.” The reporter writes of
the “old” G.M.: “Decisions were made, if at all, at glacial pace,
bogged down by endless committees, reports, and reviews that
astonished members of President Obama’s auto task force.”

One former consultant wrote: “…the [old] culture emphasized past
glories and current market share, rather than focusing on the
future…..’Those values were driven from the top down, and anyone
inside who protested that attitude was buried.”

And finally, “In the old G.M. any changes to the product program would
be reviewed by as many as 70 executives often taking two months for a
decision to wind its way through regional forums, then to a global
committee, and finally go to the all powerful automotive products

Hmm. Replace the word “product” with “the graduate psychoanalyst.”


Last evening at the NCP, I tried to emphasize that the president and
president-elect of APsaA must lead with vision, transform old
attitudes, but most importantly, have the willingness to acknowledge
what is not working, and take action. Not behind the scenes. Not in a
plenary or papers, but openly and in ways a leader, well, leads.

My opponent, who has voted against two of our most significant reform
bylaws, (ironically, versions of which are finally being discussed in
the BOPS tasks forces for major revisions) has suggested he does not
believe in bylaw change, but rather more task forces or special
discussion groups to create more process and reach greater consensus.

I’m afraid we are far past such a position or strategy. He suggests
that we need “more consensus,” yet when he was president 9 years ago,
he has acknowledged, in Chicago and last evening in L.A., that he was
unable to get that consensus and effect change.

This election is about a new leadership and new strategies.
Leadership is not about campaigning on the promise of change, only to
default back to old ways or more inaction. The President and
President-elect are responsible for moving the organization forward.
If structures are seriously interfering with the growth and well being
of the association, leadership must act. If a committee of the
corporation is not functioning in the best interests of the
association, then the Council is charged to make changes.

Institutes must continue to create innovative ways of educating and

Haven’t we have done things the old way for too long? The majority of
members want serious change as was seen in three by-law votes only
slightly below a 2/3’s majority. Let’s try something new. If new
strategies and new ways of functioning do not succeed, the minority
will again become a majority and vote in that direction.

Last evening, the worry about about “splits” came up in the
conversation, sometimes another “elephant”. Let me be clear. I’m
from the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, established in 1932.
WE DON’T DO SPLITS. We continue to passionately debate, argue, and
then together, go to lunch. Really.

Let’s try something new. My style, as any of you who know me would
attest, is about passionate debate, and finally, a course of action,
and then, “Let’s go to lunch.”

The G.M. article ends with an G.M. executive saying, “There has been
fear in the organization, and people have been afraid for their jobs.
But now we need to be open and more and transparent and trust each
other, and be honest about our strengths and weaknesses.”

That’s the lesson of G.M. And, this election is about that kind of
honesty, change and moving forward. Thanks again to the NCP.

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Brother Brian Carty, Community, and the American Psychoanalytic Association

When speaking of psychoanalysis in the community (in social issues,
the arts, business, politics, neuroscience and the psychology of
everyday life) I have always emphasized not only what we might
provide, but more importantly, what we as psychoanalysts can learn.
How does being “out there” enrich our clinical work, our training, and
our association?

Last Friday APsaA member Will Braun and I met with Brother Brian
Carty, the founder of George Jackson Academy (GJA), and De La Salle
Academy in New York. We are attempting to replicate aspects of the
Analytic Service to Adolescents Program (ASAP)
( in Chicago with GJA, a middle
school for severely disadvantaged kids. Many of these students go on
to high school in some of the most prestigious schools in New York and
the east coast.

What makes GJA successful? It’s not just the excellent teachers, the
principal, the support staff, the parents, and the wonderful students.
COMMUNITY,” Brother Brian underscored. “Our students not only receive
our help, they help each other.” This is someone who has founded three
schools for a troubled student population predicted to fail, and
raised private funds to support them under impossible conditions.
Brother Brian was recently the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of
Honor for community service. If Brother Brian can succeed, why can’t

What is the state of our psychoanalytic community?

Whether through our Council (Board of Directors) or our BOPS, APsaA
must be a “community,” and provide aid and guidance to local institute
communities, and members, while building these structures by example
and support. Currently, our educational standards are interfering
with our local communities in two significant ways.

Our current certification/TA structure interferes with recruitment.
Qualified prospective candidates are going elsewhere for training
because we are not perceived as a welcoming psychoanalytic community.
How could we be when many are asked to leave their analyses that, in
many instances are exactly the experiences that have motivated them to
become analytic candidates? This does not build a psychoanalytic

And, our current TA system creates “have and have not’s”. After
meeting with and hearing from many colleagues over the last three
months, I hear of the resentment and poor morale caused by our current
system. The current TA structure creates a group of analysts seeing
many candidate patients in analysis, while others are not. Either we
create a more viable TA system that facilitates our local
psychoanalytic communities, or we dismantle a system that is proving
destructive in the long run.

Brother Brian distinguishes between “the teacher” and the
“instructor.” The “instructor” imparts knowledge. The “teacher” uses
the relationship to teach, taking into account the whole student. Do
our current educational standards guide curriculum, supervisors,
faculties, and analysts to educate the candidate of 2009?Standards are
about educating and supporting an educative and practice community.

And finally, maybe most importantly, communities must be generative.
Brother Brian describes students graduating, coming back to his
schools and complaining of the hard time they might be having at the
new high school. There is a need for a connection to the old school.
However, these graduates are encouraged and pushed to move forward and
take their education and community experience on to the new school and
re-create it. Everything is about moving forward.

Not being generative is one of our biggest limitations. Do we
encourage people to learn in our analytic communities, and move on to
be more independent and more creative and contributing psychoanalysts?
Or are we creating obstacles with direct or indirect messages of,
“You are not skilled enough….You are not quite doing analysis right
enough…You need yet more experience…Was that really an analytic
alliance or merely a therapeutic one?” Are we obsessively striving to
create “the perfect psychoanalyst” and hurting our communities in the

I fear our current standards are so much the latter. You are not
really “competent” even after 5+ years of analytic practice, until
proven otherwise. This is NOT community building. This creates
ongoing resentment.

And the proof? While co-Chairs of our Committee on Foundations for 11
years, Selma Duckler and I frequently heard institute directors and
foundation boards complain that the faculty and alums of their
institutes were the most difficult from whom to obtain donations to
the institute. As one director once said, “It’s as if they resent the
institute following graduation and it gets worse as time goes on.”
Our most successful universities succeed in raising funds. What is
not working at our institutes, also institutions of higher education?

The average age on the faculty at my institute in Chicago is 72. It
is close to that in APsaA. We have not yet become a generative

Our current BOPS Task force attempting to revise our current standards
must consider what kind of new standards will facilitate educational
and practice oriented communities locally. Nothing less will work.

Finally, it is not what I or any leader could do to move us forward.
It is all of us speaking up and contributing in any way possible to
make these critical changes happen. Only then will we catch up with
Brother Brian in continuing to build our psychoanalytic community.

Again, thanks for your emails. They make this effort absolutely one of
the more meaningful in my career. Please keep writing. And, I will
be in L.A., this Thursday night at the New Center For Psychoanalysis.
I look forward to meeting many of you in person.

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Making Derrion Albert’s Tragic Death Mean Something: One Solution to School and Street Violence

The recent tragic and violent death of Derrion Albert has evoked community grief for the horrible loss of one of our children and the loss for his family. Local and national media has given voice to concern for the safety of all our children on the streets of Chicago and elsewhere. This tragedy will be greater if current attention to this public health issue—violence in our schools—is not transformed into new direction in programs that are innovative and effective. Police protection will never be enough.

As an adult and child psychoanalyst, I would like to put forth one small, inexpensive but effective program now beginning its fourth year. The Analytic Service to Adolescents Program (ASAP), is a joint treatment and research program of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and Morton Alternative School (MAS), a high school in Cicero. MAS is an alternative school where students expelled from the two high schools in the area are given one more chance to turn things around in their troubled lives, stay in school and graduate.

After two years of consulting at the school, one of the school’s part-time social workers, Dave Myles, the school’s principal Rudy Hernandez, and I designed a program that includes groups for all forty students in the school along with weekly individual counseling for 8-10 students selected by the teachers. These students are unable to make enough use of group intervention. The truth is, we would like to provide all forty students with individual counseling but we currently do not have adequate funding.

In trying to evaluate the impact of our efforts, all forty students fill out simple self reporting depression, anxiety, and stress level tests at the beginning of the year and in June. In our first two years we decreased levels of depression and anxiety, usually the feelings behind drug use, violent and disruptive behavior, and poor school performance. More importantly, those levels were even more significantly reduced in the students who received the individual counseling. These are students who are regularly referred for psychological help to local mental health clinics and agencies, but never make it. We provide service right in school as part of their school experience.

In addition, we provide ongoing support for teachers through clinical meetings and in-service programs. Parents of all forty students are also provided support, and offered regular presentations titled, “Parenting, the Impossible Profession.” And no surprise—the parents of students who accept our support, or come to our dinners and talks, are the parents of the students who slowly begin to succeed toward graduation.
And finally, the cost of ASAP? $20,000 per year, with funds from foundation grants, and individual donors who believe in what we do. $20,000 compared with the $35,000 to $60,000 it costs to incarcerate a child in our country.

Most of our students, once in the safe, reliable and predictable environment of our school leave much of their aggressive behavior, gang affiliations, and tough veneer at the door. Then they are just kids trying desperately to be listened to, responded to, and with ambitions to move forward. Some come from very difficult family situations, and others have experienced unspeakable trauma. We address and acknowledge the feelings connected to those experiences, but more importantly, respond to the part of them that wants to do better, that wants to learn, that wants to be meaningfully connected to each other and to caring adults.

There is no mystery to why our program works. It’s pretty basic, and I believe with proper support from principals, superintendents, and communities ASAP could work in any neighborhood in the city or suburbs. We see it working every day.
I hope similar programs emerge out of the horrible loss of Derrion, and we can seriously and creatively work toward protecting all our children. Nothing less is acceptable.

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Doing Well By Doing Good: How Psychoanalysis Changes Our World

Three experiences in recent visits to Ann Arbor and New York are worth
sharing and are on my mind when I think about educational standards,

Doing well by doing good………

Allen Creek School, the psychoanalytic pre-school created by members
Kerry and Jack Novick in Ann Arbor might be one of the best examples
of psychoanalysts, doing well, by doing incredibly good,
Pre-schoolers and their parents are provided with a psychoanalytic
pre-school education by a group of committed teachers and child
psychoanalysts that would make any one of you, like me, not only wish
our kids had gone to this school, but wish that we could have!
Seriously, after hearing how one teacher responded to a five year old
having a terribly hard day, I told the teacher that were I to need a
fourth analysis, I would commute to Allen Creek to see her for that

And, its worth mentioning an important side effect. Allen Creek,
which has received support from your American Psychoanalytic
Foundation, has also supplied local analysts and candidates with adult
and scarce child patients. I kept thinking during the clinical meeting
how Anna Freud would be incredibly proud of her former students Kerry and Jack. I am proud to know them.

Doing well by doing good……..

This last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit George Jackson
Academy in the east Village, where member Will Braun of the New York
Psychoanalytic Institute, has been consulting the last two years.
Will and I, and Carla Solomon (Carla has ably led the NY Institute
Foundation for years) began speaking about collaborating last spring
because of their interest in my Analytic Service to Adolescents
Program (ASAP) in Chicago. My visit began with a tour of the school
by the incredibly skilled and charismatic principal David Arnold.

Every 4th through 8th grade student I passed in the halls would stop
and introduce themselves, “Hello, I’m Patrick, welcome to George
Jackson Academy.” Each one of these students arrives from at the
school from some of the worst neighborhoods in the city, many having
experienced unspeakable trauma, yet finish 8th grade on their way to
some of the best private and boarding schools in the area and on the
east coast. Will and another analyst work with students, teachers in
any way possible to address emotional difficulties students have in
trying to learn and grow.

In the words of the principal, “Will is kind of my analyst. We can’t
get enough of Will and all he offers me, the students and teachers.”
Three times David expressed to us, “I really can’t believe you
analysts are interested in us. That’s not what we think of when we
think of psychoanalysts.” Flying home yesterday I was thinking about
how many people Will has impacted by his psychoanalytic training and
work beyond his office. 137 students at George Jackson. Think about

Like at Allen Creek, I didn’t want to leave at the end of my visit and
I’m going back next month.

Doing well, by doing good……

On Thursday in New York, I attended an ongoing study group with Mark
Solms. Our group, made up of analysts from NPAP, an independent
institute in New York has been meeting five years, hears case
presentations of a brain injured patients being treated
psychoanalytically. It was this kind of work that brought Mark from
neuropsychology to psychoanalysis 20 years ago, and was part of the
creation of our young field of neuropsychoanalysis. These cases are
also a part of ongoing neuropsychoanalytic treatment and research
project supported by the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation.

The case was of a college honors student severely injured after being
hit by car, paralyzed, and having essentially lost her life. Though
well supported by her family, all were struggling not only with the
physical damage of this poor woman, but the emotional damage to all.
The patient sometimes can barely verbally communicate, yet the analyst
remains incredibly attuned, responsive and the psychoanalytic
treatment moves forward.

Hearing how the analyst began to help all begin to come to terms with
this loss was not only gripping, but was another reminder of how our
education and skills can change the course of peoples’ and families
lives. Again, the family often said to the analyst, and social worker
who referred them, “We didn’t know a psychoanalyst would be interested
in these kinds of things.”

Doing well by doing good…..

And finally, after hearing from many of you of you through emails,
meeting you in various places, and discussing organizational issues,

Currently our standards of education interfere. Prospective
candidates seek training elsewhere. They hear of rigidity in
training, NOT flexibility. They hear of an educational process that
is not “user friendly.” Current members withdraw because they see us
being stuck in old unworkable ways.


Doing well, by doing good…

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