Practising at different frequencies

October 14, 2007

I whiled away several hours today trawling through the archives of International Psychoanalysis one of the few blogs I’ve come across in this area. There’s a very interesting article by Arlene Kramer Richards on the issue of training and licensing of practitioners (in the US) Why Do I Want to Include Our Colleagues in Licensing as Psychoanalysts? in which she says

Different points of view about psychoanalytic education and theory can be grouped, I think, into two categories. One camp argues that psychoanalysis must be safeguarded from those who would debase it by using the name to include therapies that are scheduled for less than three times per week. The other camp argues that psychoanalysis is, as Freud himself defined it, the use of the concepts of transference and resistance to understand the unconscious and especially unconscious affects, wishes, prohibitions and fears. Who is right?

She then adds

People who have sought psychoanalytic training have complained of being excluded as not good enough or smart enough to do psychoanalytic work. Those who are excluded then turn around and denigrate the group that excluded them. It should be no surprise to a sophisticated audience to learn that excluding people does not make them friends. But psychoanalysts have been doing such excluding for over a century. How do we get away with it? I think that we get away with it because we have a very valuable technique that speaks to people’s hearts and minds in a way that no other technique does.

I’m not a psychoanalyst but my work (therapeutically and organisationally) is all about the transference – the issues Ms Richards raises are of course relevant to any professional association or group, As the old Irish saying goes – the first thing on the agenda of any political party meeting is ‘the split’. She is arguing for more fluid boundaries between the rigid definitions of who is and who is not an analyst – suggesting that an understanding of the transference process is the key component of the practice.

For both the practical reason that we want to continue the field of psychoanalysis and our own analytic practices and the theoretical reason that transference and resistance are the firmest foundation for analytic understanding, I think we need to welcome our colleagues who practice at different frequency from ourselves as fellow psychoanalysts and welcome ones.

I like the idea of people practising at ‘different frequencies’ as ourselves and I would suggest that not all types of therapy are suitable for all kinds of people – neither is one type of therapy necessarily the right answer for somebody at each stage of their journey. The article is the text of a presentation she is making at a conference The Future of Psychoanalytic Education to be held in New York at the beginning of December and the post also has a number of very considered comments (you can register to comment at the bottom of the sidebar on the right). I’m looking forward to reading more at this site and if any readers know of other psychoanalytic/psychodynamic blogs that aren’t on my blogroll, please let me know.