American Psychoanalytic Association, Meetings in New York—January 17, 2014

American Psychoanalytic Association, Meetings in New York—January 17, 2014

Summary of Curriculum Workshop

Moderator: Mary Margaret McClure, DMH
Panelists: Laurie Case, PhD, Victor Bonfilio, PhD, Maureen Murphy, PhD, Peter Goldberg, PhD

This COPE Institute Representative Workshop, co-chaired by Mary Margaret McClure and Martin A. Silverman, focused on the cooperative, competitive, and interdependent interaction between a long-established (1942) analytic institute (San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, previously San Francisco Institute and Society) and an Institute formed in 1989 (the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California). The focus for this Workshop was the process of the creation of a new curriculum at the young training center and the impact that had for constructive revision of the curriculum at the older one. Both groups benefited greatly from the back-and-forth flow of ideas and information between them. Martin Silverman started off the discussion by recalling that this workshop came into existence more than three decades ago when Edward Weinshel, chair- ing COPE, and Dr. Silverman, then secretary of COPE, were unhappy with COPE’s having functioned for many years very much like a private club in which closed study groups discussed topics of interest but almost never generated any reports that could be of interest to the membership of the APsaA at large. This workshop was the first of a series of COPE workshops, open to all, that came into existence. It was the very first because Ed and Marty shared a common concern that the didactic arm of the tripartite structure of training at analytic institutes tended to be relegated to a position of lesser importance than personal analysis and clinical supervision at analytic institutes.

Mary Margaret McClure, the moderator for this year’s Workshop introduced the topic and the presenters. She is a faculty member at SFCP and at PINC, and she has previously acted as Chair of Curriculum and Chair of the Psychoanalytic Education Division at SFCP. In her introduction she emphasized the long histories and many roles among the presenters in their now 25-year history of working together on issues of psychoanalytic education. The aim of this Workshop was to look at the competition, collaboration, interdependence which have resulted in two distinct and still evolving curricula and two vital and active, overlapping faculties where participation in teaching, and in striving to teach well, has fostered learning and development of psychoanalytic identity for candidates and for faculty members alike.

Maureen Murphy, who was one of its original founders, reviewed the history of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC). She stated that its founders wanted their own identity rather than studying at an established institute, even though the SF Institute was quite favorable to training non-medical analysts. She indicated that they consulted Ed Weinshel, who encouraged them to go ahead, and said to them, “Now you’ll have a chance to make your own mistakes.” They highly valued the didactic arm of the tripartite model of training, and they viewed development rather than psychopathology as the most important, guiding focus of training. They invited analytic educators from around the country, both to consult with them and to teach them, for five years before they created a core faculty of their own. Most of the student founders (Maureen emphasized that PINC was “founded by its customers”) were in personal analysis with training analysts at SFCP, and the initial supervisors at PINC came from SFCP. The candidates from the beginning have been able to choose their own analysts (who did not necessarily have to be training analysts during PINC’s first five years) and to choose their supervisors. Currently a member of the IPA, PINC now has its own process for approving a personal and supervising analysts, and that process differs from SFCP, which is in compliance with the American’s requirements for a Training Analyst. At first, PINC invited people from established institutes to run their student admissions and student progression committees.

Peter Goldberg, a graduate of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis (then SFPI) where he is a co-chair of the Faculty Committee, is also faculty and a Personal and Supervising Analyst at PINC. He reported that by 1999, interest at SFPI (SFCP) began to stretch beyond the traditional Freudian/ego psychological tradition that had long prevailed. A good number of their faculty had been teaching at PINC during PINC’s first ten years. At PINC, things were being taught that were not taught at SFCP, and they brought back ideas that spurred SFCP to reconsider its own curriculum. Some of those ideas went on to be incorporated into that revised curriculum at SFCP. It was “not a love fest” at first, as some people at PINC tended to dismiss or look down on SFCP as old and stodgy and some at SFCP viewed the upstarts at PINC unfavorably. [Personal note from MS: I cannot help but be reminded of Oscar Wilde’s quip when he returned from a visit to the U.S.: “The young people in America are always ready to give their elders the benefit of their inexperience!”]. Nevertheless, the cross-fertilization between the two centers has turned out to benefit both of them. SFCP provided invaluable assistance to PINC in taxiing down the runway and taking off, and PINC, as Peter put it, saved SFCP from “being stuck in insularity.” Peter also indicated that a two-year Psychody- namic Psychotherapy training program was established at SFCP two years ago. It has been so successful and so generally val- ued that faculty members have come to view teaching in it to be both attractive and prestigious.

Victor Bonfilio, another founding member of PINC and recent chair of the PINC Curriculum Committee, reported that at PINC the courses are not organized in tracks as they are at SFCP but are grouped in “thematic clusters” in an attempt to overlap and integrate the courses in a meaningful way. A concerted effort is made to promote faculty communication and even the estab- lishment of study groups on teaching. Each cluster tends to fall under the spontaneously asserted leadership of someone with a particular interest in that cluster. They recently have introduced 16-week courses on psychic organization, psyche and society (including focus on gender and sexuality), the inter-subjectivities (relational, interpersonal, self psychological, etc.), and group process. At the end of the four-year curriculum, the students have a 16-week integrative course to pull things together. PINC imported 16 visiting professors a year until recently. Victor also observed that there continues to be cross-fertilizing competition-and-cooperation between SFCP and PINC, with those on the faculty who are not interested in working to that end tending to drop away from the interaction between the two institutes.

Laurie Case, a graduate of SFCP and current chair of the SFCP Curriculum Committee, shared that at SFCP the theory curriculum starts with Freud and closes with Freud again in the fourth year, but they try to embrace multiple theoretical viewpoints (“maybe too many”) along the way. They make an effort to maintain a psychoanalytic curriculum that emphasizes comparing, contrasting, and hopefully integrating differing theories and differing clinical perspectives. The courses and faculty are divided into tracks (Theory, Clinical, Development, and Psychoanalytic Studies, which includes psychoanalytic writing and electives). The theory track has tended to be viewed as the most important track by some and as problematically dominant by others. Laurie indicated that the “Psychoanalytic Studies” track is the least coherently constructed one, while the Development track is the most unified. The Development courses are taught almost entirely by people from the Child Analysis training program and, unfortunately, there are tensions remaining from the days when child analysis tended to be viewed by many as “not real analysis.” [Note from MS: Once again, I am led to insert a personal association: as the Chair of a Long Range Planning Task Force on the Future of Child Analysis that fought for a good number of years to convince APsaA to make changes that might integrate child analysis firmly within basic analytic training, including permitting a child case as a first case, it was a great pleasure for me to participate at this 2014 annual meeting of the American in a two-day clinical workshop in which we heard and discussed a magnificent first case of a five-year-old analytic patient.] There is a visiting professor week (often psychoanalysts from Great Britain or Latin America; Betty Joseph and other contemporary Kleinians have made a big impression) in the Fall of each academic year. This Visiting Professor Week includes intensive clinical and theoretical seminars for candidates alone, and other events for graduate analysts, as well as events for the community at large (e.g., members of PINC, psychoanalytic psychotherapists, etc.)

Laurie made some interesting observations. At SFCP, there still are some candidates who bridle against participating in development courses, stating, “That’s something we got in graduate school,” but SFCP is trying to overcome that misapprehension. There also are some candidates who object to SFCP’s practice of bringing in non-analytic academics and experts from other fields (stating: “That’s not analysis—why do we have to have that!”), although the institute views this as invaluable, [Personal note from MS: Maybe students have to rebelliously protest about something.] Regarding the selection of teachers for the candidates, Laurie also stated that at SFCP they used to tap people on the shoulder and ask them to teach, giving the impression of favoritism in the sought after teaching of candidates. Recently, the Curriculum Committee has shifted to a more transparent process, inviting people to apply to teach a particular course and to tell the committee what their expertise is.

Almost all graduates join the faculty, but the institute now encourages them to obtain teaching experience elsewhere first, including in the extension division and in training programs in the community seeking psychoanalytically oriented courses. Because of this, 80% of graduates are currently faculty members rather than the 95% that used to prevail. The institute is planning to create an organized “extended curriculum” for recent graduates in place of the ad hoc study groups that have been tending to form. They hope to work out a way to do this jointly with PINC.

During the open discussion that followed the four presentations, there was considerable interest in the value of a pluralistic and comparative curriculum over a culture that requires loyalty to one, valorized point of view within psychoanalytic education. Interest was expressed in knowing about who comes to each of these two institutes for training. We learned that at times it is because someone is in analysis with a training analyst at one of the two institutes. In the past it was those who wanted a traditional training tended to gravitate toward SFCP. PINC has seemed to some potential candidates to be more welcoming and more intellectually open to a wide range of ideas, but today there is less of a divide between the two. SFCP also has required candidates to have personal analysis with an SFCP training analyst, while PINC allowed people to stay with their non-PINC analyst if the requirements for Personal and Supervising Analyst are met.

Mary Margaret and I join with the other attendees at this meeting of the Curriculum and Didactic Training Workshop in warmly thanking the presenters for their extremely interesting and heuristically stimulating contributions. Anyone who is interested in receiving a detailed description of the curricula at SFCP and PINC need only contact one of us, and we will send them to you by email attachment.

Martin A. Silverman, MD


Go to top