by Seth Warren
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I suppose my first column as Director of CPPNJ should have been something special, the expression of a grand vision for our institute, something clever or intellectually challenging, or perhaps filled with some detailed proposals for meeting the challenges we face as an organization. But, with the busy-ness of the last few weeks including the institute election, the lead-up to our Annual Graduation, and the changing of the guard of the Board of Directors, I have set my goals a bit lower, and at this point I'm hoping mainly to avoid delaying distribution of our second e-Newsletter! (I would like to take a moment and digress here to thank our e-Newsletter committee, Mary Lantz, Rose Oosting, Debi Roelke, and Andy Roth, for the outstanding work they have done creating this essential new communication tool for our institute - I thought the first e-Newsletter was truly incredible: extremely professional, visually appealing, filled with interesting content, and seamlessly linked to our also very professional-looking website - thank you!).
It is also the end of the academic year, summer officially starts next week, and the feeling is more about winding down, easier schedules, diminished responsibilities, and summer vacations. Not really the time to nail 'theses' to a door!
But I would like to take the opportunity to mention a few things that are important to note as this year comes to an end and we begin to look forward to the coming year.
I want to thank our Graduation Committee, Susan Jurish, Carolynn Hillman, and Susan Masluck, who along with a great deal of help from Cathy VanVoorhees, put together a successful and fun evening celebrating our graduates and also celebrating our outgoing co-Directors, Jim Garofallou and Irwin Baden. Our turnout was the best in quite a few years, filling a larger-than-usual room, and the occasion exemplified what is for many of us one of the important functions of the institute; namely, to sustain and support a professional community of like-minded psychoanalytic practitioners, to get together with peers and professional friends, and even, yes, to enjoy ourselves!
I want to emphasize this important function for a moment. While it is true that our training programs are the heart of our Center, and the focus of much of our collective effort, it is also important to keep in mind that one of the things that makes post-graduate training appealing is the idea of participating in a professional community. For many potential trainees, the idea of coming together with other practitioners with similar ambitions to do sophisticated clinical work - both as peers and mentors - is one of the driving forces behind the choice to pursue post-graduate training.
Most of our potential candidates are looking for excellent classes, good instructors, exciting programs, and all that our training programs offer, but they are also looking to connect with a network of potential lifelong colleagues. While it is a given that potential candidates want to learn in depth about psychoanalytic theory and practice, they are also looking for ways to survive in the current therapy marketplace, and to create referral networks that can help to develop and sustain their practices. I am focusing here on potential candidates, because I think all of us need to be continually mindful of the important of outreach, recruiting new trainees, and public relations - but the place of professional community is just as important to those of us further along in our professional lives.
The psychoanalytic movement has always been characterized by the centrality of personal connections between analytic practitioners, theoreticians, and writers, from one generation of analysts to the next. Our training model remains in large part an apprenticeship model, with a substantial emphasis on the supervisory relationship, and the importance of personal treatment. Listening to our graduating candidates speak briefly at our recent Annual Graduation, the theme that came through each spoken address was the clear importance played by the candidates' personal relationships and connections. Each one spoke movingly and with deep sincerity about their feelings of gratitude toward instructors, supervisors, and therapists (and needless to say, family members). I think the remarks of the graduating candidates reflected the most compelling possible argument for psychoanalytic training - the transformative possibilities of sustained, respectful, attentive and devoted relationships. Psychoanalytic training is absolutely about learning, theory and practice, but it is also about ourselves: our identifications and our connections to others.
So I would like to close our very eventful year with this thought: that each of you consider how you would like to contribute to the growth and health of our professional community, how to reach out to new potential members, how to create new forms of educational programming to reach the widest possible audiences, and how to help shape our Center to both continue to honor our psychoanalytic roots and traditions while adapting ourselves to the changing cultural and historic environment in which we all find ourselves.
Please consider the "birth" of CPPNJ to be an opportunity for some new kind of involvement. If you have not been actively involved in one or the other of our two constituent institutes for a while, consider that this would a very good time to re-dedicate yourselves to our new, collective project. If you have not yet felt able, for whatever reason, to take responsibility for some new level of involvement, this would be an excellent time to take the chance - we need new people to join our standing committees, to take responsibility for new projects, and to contribute leadership and skills to the ongoing projects we have. I would be delighted personally to hear from any member of our community about any aspect of our training programs, with ideas, feedback, suggestions, or concerns. Best wishes to all for a restful summer!