CPPNJ - The Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of New Jersey

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CPPNJ ELECTS A NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS

As you all know, after a long, rewarding, and arduous term as co-Directors, Irwin Badin and Jim Garofallou are stepping down, in accordance with the by-laws of CPPNJ, which call for elections as part of the new institute. They have performed a tremendous service to the Institute both as Directors of their respective institutes, and in their dedication to ensuring the merged institute, CPPNJ, would emerge from the process strong and forward-looking. The heartfelt thanks of each member go out to both Jim and Irwin for their work.

The four newly-elected Board members are:
Director: Seth Warren
Dean of Faculty: Tom Johnson
Dean of Students: Shawn Sobkowski
Candidate Representative: Susan Stein

As part of the election process, Seth Warren was asked to reflect on three questions put to him by the newsletter:

  • 1. Can you tell us something about your background, experience, and orientation?

  • 2. How do you envision CPPNJ moving forward into the future, both in attracting candidates and presenting psychoanalysis as a powerful methodology, given the constraints our times?

  • 3. What are three goals which you have for your Directorship?

His answers are reprinted below:

SETH WARREN

1. Can you tell us something about your background, experience, and orientation?

Born in New York City, I have lived in New Jersey since 1983, when I moved here to begin my graduate training at Rutgers. I completed my Masters in Clinical Psychology in 1986, and my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1989. I began my formal psychoanalytic training in 1990, at the Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy at New York University, and received my Postdoctoral certificate in 1998.

I have been primarily in private practice since graduation from my doctoral program after a brief stint as a staff psychologist at Fair Oaks Hospital in Summit. I have also had the opportunity to teach as a Visiting Faculty member or Adjunct Professor in the Clinical Psychology training program at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology of Rutgers University, from 1991 to 2003 (including “Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality,” “Short-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy,” and “Psychoanalytic Foundations”) I have served as a Supervising Psychologist for a number of graduate psychology training programs, including GSAPP at Rutgers, the Ferkauf School of Professional Psychology at Yeshiva University, Fordham University, CUNY, and Long Island University.

Although I was a member of the faculty of IPPNJ and now CPPNJ since 2004, my connection to the institute goes deeper. I was fortunate to have among my teachers, supervisors, analysts and mentors, several founding or early members of IPPNJ. And while I spent many years training in New York City, and still maintain a connection to the Postdoctoral Program at NYU, I am committed to helping sustain and develop CPPNJ as a New Jersey-based psychoanalytic community.

I joined the faculty of IPPNJ in 2004, and have taught several different classes in the years since. I was appointed to the Interim Board of Directors of IPPNJ/CCAPS in 2008 as co-chair of the Bylaws Committee, and at about the same time was asked to join the Interim Training Committee as a co-chair of the TC’s Curriculum Committee. I was appointed Co-Director of the Interim Training Committee in the Fall of 2008, and have served CPPNJ in that capacity since.

Psychoanalysis currently faces significant challenges as a method of treatment, and as a way of understanding human beings. Our current social climate is greatly influenced by large organizations and corporations that control much of the way health care is structured and paid for. These organizations – in health insurance, pharmaceutical, and “managed care” industries, as well as large public health-care bureaucracies, and even universities – have sought to shape a public view of psychotherapy that can be described as “industrialized”: oriented toward symptoms, manualized “techniques,” information technology, the methodology of large-scale research studies, and a medical view of diagnosis. Treatment under such conditions tends to be impersonal, superficial, lacking in real privacy, and directed at administrative concerns and appearances more so than issues of clinical substance.

From my point of view, psychoanalysis is more important than ever, in offering an essential alternative to “industrial” psychotherapy. What we call “psychoanalysis” may really be a diverse set of theories and practices, but in my view, all sharing certain basic core values, including attention to the domain of subjective experience; appreciation of the value and importance of human feeling and sensitivity; respect for the importance of personal human contact; responsiveness to the existential and spiritual dimensions of emotional and psychological distress; and an appreciation for the beauty and creativity of each person’s responses to their particular circumstances.

My hope is that CPPNJ will continue to survive and evolve as a home for practitioners who share these values, who want to support one another, honor the intellectual and clinical aspects of the psychoanalytic tradition, to support and develop current psychoanalytic practice, and to convey these values and traditions to a future generation of practitioners. I am committed to such a goal, and feel honored to be considered for the role of Director of our Center.

I currently see individuals, adolescents, and couples in my offices in Hoboken and South Orange.


2. How do you envision CPPNJ moving forward into the future, both in attracting candidates and presenting psychoanalysis as a powerful methodology, given the constraints of insurance issues and the difficulties that psychoanalysis as a methodology has encountered in terms of reputation? (Eg, long treatments with poor outcomes; CBT as the method of choice, etc)

There are no easy answers to the difficulties we as a psychoanalytic organization face – certainly no one answer will be sufficient. I would like to start by articulating some basic principles that I think must form the core of all our activities.

First, I believe our greatest asset is our collective conviction about the value of what we do, our integrity, and commitment to well-informed, clinically sophisticated treatment. I think we need to articulate our values, to ourselves and to the public, because they are important and distinctive and in many ways go against the current of our larger culture, and because I trust that people – potential consumers of our work – will recognize something real and meaningful and something that is truly in their interest. Years ago, in talking about the future of psychoanalytic practice, some anxious graduate students teased me about expressing these views: “so, you mean ‘if you build it they will come’?” I know that building a mystical “field of dreams” may be very far from the real and practical concerns of our Center, and perhaps it will not be enough, but it is an important place to start from. I think one of the most important functions of the institute is to provide a safe haven for the cultivation of such convictions, to provide collective support for our beliefs and our ideals, particularly in the context of an often disinterested and misunderstanding world.

I would differentiate this commitment from slavish or uncritical beliefs; psychoanalysis is at its heart a critical method, one that relies on self-reflection, thoughtfulness, and openness to what is as yet unfamiliar. There has been some tendency in the history of psychoanalysis toward certain kinds of fundamentalism, although I believe this is more a function of the sociology of psychoanalytic organizations than anything intrinsic to its theories – in fact, psychoanalysis has provided a very great window of understanding into the dynamics of organizations and groups. I would hope that we, by now, have learned enough from the history of rifts, splits, and “excommunications,” to understand the importance of openness to difference, new ideas, and the value of all points of view. I believe that at its heart, psychoanalysis is an expression of a profoundly democratic tendency: to give all aspects a voice, to allow subjects to speak without constraint, without coercion or fear of consequences, and a belief in the value of negotiation and dialogue. It would be my goal to foster this democratic tendency within our organization, because I believe such processes will result in the best possible decisions. I hope our Center will serve as a kind of “holding environment,” in which different ideas, views, experiences and personalities can co-exist creatively and productively.

3. What are three goals which you have for your Directorship?

In more concrete terms, I would like to suggest the following, partial list of priorities:

  • I think we can give our organization visibility and create interest through careful attention to the programs we produce. Well-chosen presenters leading to successful conferences are essential to the financial health of the Center, and at the same time provide our greatest venue for reaching a larger public.

  • I think our commitment to the success and long-term viability of the new Couples program is essential to the survival of the Center as a whole; it represents a major initiative of our newly consolidated institute, and offers great opportunities for outreach, creating interest in psychoanalytic training, and its existence is a compelling argument for the practical value of applied psychoanalytic ideas.

  • Our increasing sophistication in using new media gives us access to larger audiences, and will be necessary as our culture continues to transition to a digital world. We will need to develop our internal resources to make use of the internet, including increased reliance on our website, use of blogging and other forms of digital communication, and more sophisticated use of email as a powerful tool to keep in touch with one another and to reach potential consumers of our educational programs.

  • I would like to see the Center develop new ways of providing instruction both for credit and continuing education, bringing in distinguished faculty for weekend programs, making use of distance-learning technologies, and trying to find ways to provide training that is more accessible to a wider range of potential trainees.

  • As important as the new information technology will be, I think the role of personal and professional relationships will remain as important as ever in meeting our goals for recruitment. Most of us have found our paths in psychoanalytic training via personal connections with teachers, supervisors, analysts, and other mentors. This process of identification will always remain central to the nature of psychoanalytic training, which has been traditionally based in large part on an apprenticeship model of personal and professional development. This means that every single faculty member and candidate needs to think of themselves as a vital part of the outreach and recruitment process – if each one of us brought in a single new candidate over the next ten years, the Center would be able to continue as a successful and flourishing training program.

Ideas are easy to come up with, but they also require implementation, and that requires time and effort by our members. This is really the greatest challenge: we are almost entirely a volunteer organization without external funding or support. For the most part we support ourselves through our private practices or jobs, and must fit in all our organizational work within the framework of our families, our work, and, god forbid, any other outside interests in culture or recreation! I am truly impressed by the contributions of time, talent and energy by so many of our members and candidates, who have made the consolidation possible, and have kept a strong training program in place throughout. We have to make it a first priority to get as many people involved in the activities of the Center as possible, to contribute in whatever ways they can. I hope that we will all see this moment as an opportunity for a new beginning, based on valued traditions and a shared commitment to the future of psychoanalytic education and practice.