2013 Annual Conference: Countertransference, Regret, Aggression, and Their Vicissitudes

Date: Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 9:30am - 4:30pm

   Keynote paper presentation by Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler:

Countertransference, Regret and Aggression: Dramas and Free Associations in the Object Relations Therapy Group

In this keynote paper, Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler shares her experience and observations related to countertransference, free associations, and psychic regrets in the environment of the long-term object relations psychotherapy group. Psychic regret involves the conscious ability to face the grief related to existential guilt and to communicate the nature of one's guilt to oneself, and often to another within the personal relationship. Such psychic regret and its integration of split-off aggressive aspects of the personality also promote the development of self-agency, self-reflection, and psychic dialectic helping to resolve conflicts over love and hate.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler has dealt with the topic of psychic regret in her recent  Karnac Press book, Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization in Vivid Clinical Cases.  In this book, Dr. Kavaler-Adler explores the profound transformational personality changes that can come about when patients consciously confront their own regrets in treatment, especially in a treatment that involves a mourning process (Kavaler-Adler’s “developmental mourning”) within a psychoanalytic treatment, and which thus addresses transference constellations. 

In this conference paper, Dr. Kavaler-Adler goes one step further to offer a personal clinical experience in which she became intensely aware of her own countertransference regret. This regret then enabled her to work with the aggression in a group therapy situation, so that insight about projections and transferences in the group became possible.  So Dr. Kavaler-Adler offers us a view of the transformational value of mournful grief in relation to regret, and now of regret in the countertransference.   She further offers us a view of these conscious attempts to grapple with regret, and to learn from regret faced consciously in a group psychotherapy setting, where  psychic visualization and a focus on the individual developmental mourning process of each member of the group, facilitates work with disowned aggression, and specifically with mother/daughter conflict. Such work leads to deeper and more self reflective work in the monthly four hour intensive group.  Her paper will show the process of the psychoanalyst’s role in engaging with the group to facilitate group communication and growth once she herself is clear about the countertransferential regret that she needs to learn from as a group leader and as a psychoanalyst.   

Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler’s paper will be accompanied by the discussion from a well known psychoanalytic author and clinician, Dr. Jeffrey Rubin.  Dr. Rubin will bring together the themes of "countertransference regret" with his own view of learning through failure in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. 

    Discussion by Dr. Jeffrey Rubin: Regret, Failure, and the Hidden Value of Crisis

In “Regret, Failure, and the Hidden Value of Crisis,” Dr Rubin will use Dr. Kavaler-Adler's courageous examination of her counter-transference and regret in group psychotherapy as a jumping off point to explore his understanding of the sources of the intersubjective disjunction in the treatment Dr. Kavaler-Adler describes. He will then share how he’d approach the clinical material. In the concluding section Dr. Rubin will reflect on the potential value of failure and crisis in psychoanalysis. Both can lead to transformation and growth if pursued with integrity, clarity and compassion.



   Conference Moderator: Dr. Margaret Yard

Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, D.Litt is the Founder and Executive Director of the Object Relations Institute since 1991. She has over 35 years of experience as the clinical  psychologist and psychoanalyst, group therapist, psychoanalytic training supervisor; psychotrauma, developmental mourning, grief, and self-sabotage specialist. Dr. Kavaler-Adler works with individuals and groups. Her monthly therapy group is open for 18 years now, and it focuses on developmental mourning process. The other two groups are dedicated to the clinical supervision process, and a new group - on creative writing and blocks to creativity. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is a prolific author - she had published three psychoanalytic books with Routledge and 60 peer-reviewed articles and edited book chapters. Her two new books, The Anatomy of Regret and The Klein-Winnicott Dialectic are being published by Karnac in 2013. Dr. Kavaler-Adler received 11 awards for psychoanalytic writing, including the National 2004 Gradiva award for her book Mourning, Spirituality, and Psychic Change. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is the object relations theorist who had integrated and developed further ideas of the British object relations clinicians and thinkers. Visit www.KavalerAdler.com – for more information on upcoming events, groups, and consultations.

Jeffrey B. Rubin, PhD practices psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy in New York City and Bedford Hills, New York. The author of Psychotherapy and Buddhism; The Good Life; and A Psychoanalysis for Our Time, Dr. Rubin has taught at various universities and psychoanalytic institutes including Union Theological Seminary, The Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, The C. G. Jung Foundation of New York, The American Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Yeshiva University. A Dharma Holder in the White Plum Sangha and Red Thread Zen Circle and the creator of meditative psychotherapy, Dr. Rubin is considered one of the leading integrators of the Western psychotherapeutic and Eastern meditative traditions. He runs private study groups on dreams and meditation and meditation and psychotherapy and lectures around the country on two recent books, The Art of Flourishing, and Psychotherapy and Meditation: Partners in Healing. Dr. Rubin is a training and supervising analyst at the Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and can be contacted through his website (www.drjeffreyrubin.com ).

Margaret Yard, PhD, APRN, BC - Asst. Professor, Lehman College, CUNY, Faculty, Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, Alumni Program in International Trauma Studies, Columbia University, Alumni Adult Psychoanalytic Program and Analytic Group Therapy Programs, Post Graduate Center for Mental Health, Past President Post-Graduate Psychoanalytic Society, Co-Chair Educational and Training Programs, Faculty for Psychoanalytic Training, Object Relations Institute and Washington Square Institute. She is a faculty and training supervisor for Chinese American Psychoanalytic Association (CAPA) and teaches psychoanalysis in Beijing and Singapore. She is a Chair of the Province Review Board for Dominican Fathers and Brothers of the Affirming and Protecting Children and Young People Program as well as consultant for contemplative monastic communities for nuns in the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church. Read more about Dr. Margaret Yard HERE.


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