Working Parties and Working Groups of the IPA in North America

Inspired by the example of the Working Parties of the European Psychoanalytic Federation (EPF) in 2008, Working Parties were begun in North America under the auspices of the North American Psychoanalytic Confederation (NAPsaC).  A Steering Committee was formed and in June 2008, two CCM workshops were held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) in Atlanta. In 2009, SPTT joined CCM in holding workshops at APsaA’s Winter Meeting in New York.  Experienced European moderators came to North America to lead workshops and North Americans attended European Working Party meetings to learn the methods.  Each of the NA Working Parties held meetings in between the regional workshops, to review workshop findings, refine the methodologies, and advance the research projects.  Ongoing collaboration with EPF and FEPAL sponsored Working Parties has been part of the process.   In 2010 the annual Working Party meeting expanded to include the Working Party on Initiating Psychoanalysis and the Clinical Forum on Listening to Listening (CFO) along with CCM and SPTT.  The workshops were held at Fordham University in New York.  In April and October smaller meetings with CCM and SPTT workshops were held at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis.  North American Working Party members participated as organizers and moderators for the IPA Working Party pre-Congress beginning in Chicago and continuing in Mexico City and Prague. Findings from the research projects have begun to be returned to the larger psychoanalytic community through presentations and papers.


From 2011 on the Steering Committee has essentially functioned independently with continued grants from the IPA and much appreciated support from the Contemporary Freudian Society (CFS), the New York Psychoanalytic Institute & Society (NYPI&S), and the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis (SFCP). The Steering Committee meets regularly via phone conferences and has organized its own annual workshop conferences at NYPI&S in the winter of 2011, 2012, and 2013. An End of Training Working Party was formed in 2011 and all 4 North American Working Parties participated in these annual conferences with attendance ranging from 60 to 90. Each Working Party also holds its own separate moderator meetings during the year.


Initially the workshops were restricted to IPA members. Beginning at the IPA Congress in Chicago in 2009 each of the Working Parties (except End of Training) has included candidates in their groups with good results. The potential of holding working party groups specifically for candidates is being explored.



Individual Working Parties and Working Groups

The Working Party on Comparative Clinical Methods (CCM)


The CCM group in North America was started by Abbot Bronstein working with David Tuckett and Jorge Canestri in 2008 as part an IPA funded project to start Working Party Groups in North America. The first NA CCM groups were held in Atlanta as part of the APsaA meetings.  Two Europeans moderated with NA group members and LA presenters.  Since that time, CCM has run groups with NA moderators in New York, San Francisco and the Congresses in Chicago and Mexico City. Eventually CCM formed from members of the North American IPA groups a working party that has consisted of 9 members. As of now the group has 5 ongoing IPA analyst members and 5 consultants in North America with other consultants being engaged as needed for the projects. These consultants are temporary members of the working party itself.


The Working Party meets up to twice yearly in North America to discuss the cases presented in the clinical workshops in North America and the IPA meetings. These meetings both develop the method further but also clarify and develop papers and projects about analytic thinking. We have 25 North American cases under study at present.  In addition NA CCM meets with the CCM chairs and working party members from the EPF and FEPAL regions in New York and Europe at EPF, APsaA and IPA meetings. 


One paper has been presented on a panel in Mexico City at the IPA meetings and two other papers are being presented based on the findings at the IPA meetings in Prague in 2013. These papers have primarily been written by Abbot Bronstein (on the “here and now” and “analyst as object” )and Marie Rudden (“on uses of the concept of transference”) with help from the consultants and other members of the working party.  We are actively engaging in working with the Latin American and European CCM working party groups, attending meetings, co-moderating clinical groups and sharing of data, papers and ideas. Our effort is to have more inter regional cooperation and consultation for the CCM working party, now that it is established in all three regions of the IPA.



CCM has been designed to allow analysts, to talk across theoretical, linguistic and cultural boundaries. The Comparative Clinical Method starts with a prime assumption. The presenter in each group is a psychoanalyst who is presenting an analysis. The members of the groups have a work task: to understand how the presenting analyst works. The group attempts to discover both the explicit and implicit analytic theory and method of the presenting analyst. The presenter brings a brief background to the case and analytic sessions that represent their way of working with this patient. Over the two days of meetings the group begins discussion focusing directly on the presenter's way of working, first by considering the function and purpose of each "intervention" in depth (Step1). During Step 2, members of the group "construct" from their discussion of the clinical hours, a picture of the presenter's work.  The group works on the analyst's "explanatory model": "how does this analyst explain the patient's difficulties”; "what are the analyst's ideas about how change takes place"; "how does the analyst think about the transference"; and "the dynamic unconscious as it comes into the session"; and "how does the analyst's way and manner of interventions further the analysis". In the process of discussion, each participant along with the presenter becomes clearer about how they and other analysts work in their consulting rooms. Participants must be psychoanalysts. 


Abbot A.Bronstein- North American Chair CCM  [email protected]

Marie Rudden –North American Co-Chair CCM [email protected]




The Working Party on The Mind of the Supervisor: End of Training Evaluation (WPETE)

The WPETE is comparatively new in North America. With increasing appreciation of the unique aspects of this Working Party we have added “The Mind of the Supervisor: End of Training Working Party’ to the title.   Since our first meeting in New York City in 2011 led by Eike Hinze, we have held three meetings in 2012 and 2013.


In small groups, training analysts focus on understanding the mind of the supervisor as he or she evaluates a psychoanalytic candidate’s progress toward becoming a psychoanalyst.  A presenting analyst/supervisor provides clinical examples from his supervisory work with one or two candidates, if possible, from the supervisions of one candidate whom he or she perceives is ready to graduate, and one who is not yet ready. As the supervisory session and the supervisor’s thinking come alive in the group, the participants consider how the presenter thought about the candidate’s readiness to function as a graduate psychoanalyst. The presenter’s criteria for his or her ideas about what good psychoanalytic work is, which may be implicit or “taken for granted”, emerges in the group process. The task of the group members is to construct the presenter’s model of evaluation of the candidate’s progress and to test this construction with the presenter. The group asks such questions as, What is the presenter’s view on the dynamics and psychopathology of the supervised case (conflicts, developmental deficits, trauma etc.)? What is the presenter’s theory of psychic change, which guides his assessment of the candidate? (For example, what sorts of experiences does he think the candidate must help to facilitate in the patient?)  How does the presenter/supervisor think about the candidate’s work with the transference and countertransference etc.? How does the presenter think an analyst should listen to the patient’s unconscious? Does the presenter have a theory of technique which guides how he or she thinks the candidate should intervene and interpret? The group will also have the opportunity to consider how an Institute’s training program and culture (explicit and implicit) might influence the supervisor’s work, and will discuss and compare subtle differences in training models to see how they might influence the supervisor’s way of working with candidates. The group process as it examines the supervisor’s mind is one of discovery.


Nancy Kulish – North American Chair: [email protected] 
Marianne Robinson – North American Chair: [email protected]

The Working Party Forum on Clinical Issues

This Working Party utilizes a method of working termed “Listening to Listening” created by Haydée Faimberg from her clinical concept, which uncovers how analysts listen to clinical material from an implicit basic assumption. This method permits each of the participants to begin to recognize their own basic assumptions and those of the other participants to understand how the presenting analyst works.’


While attempting to develop new ways to approach our discussion on clinical issues, it seems inevitable that at the same time we keep in mind as psychoanalysts our constructs (we cannot not have a theory). It would be an illusion to imagine that we fully understand the basic assumptions of the presenter (underlying his particular way of working) by translating into our own psychoanalytical language what the presenter is trying to convey.  Each analyst/translator has his own basic assumptions with which he translates. It is part of our goals to understand the presenter’s work; to recognize not only the presenter’s clinical basic assumptions but also to recognize our assumptions as well.   We shall try to understand from which theory we are listening to the Presenter as well as from which theory the Presenter is listening to his patient (and interpreting or not).

We explore the impact that the theoretical assumptions of each participant have on the discussion itself and we co-create a language.   More often than we think clinical material is heard from one chosen implicit basic assumption (recognized or not). In this kind of dialogue we would be using the function of ‘listening to listening’, which I had initially limited to the psychoanalytical listening in the session: from the gap existing between what the participant thought he was saying and how he was actually heard the sources of misunderstanding might appear and we begin to recognize the basic assumptions of each participant.  Thus, listening to misunderstanding is a valuable tool to discover different implicit basic assumptions.


Chair: Haydée Faimberg


The Working Party on Initiating Psychoanalysis


WPIP holds small group clinical workshops to understand how analysts create a specifically psychoanalytic opportunity in preliminary interviews. The EPF Working Party on Initiating Psychoanalysis (WPIP) was set up in 2004 to develop expertise about how to begin psychoanalytic treatment and, in particular, how to convey to an unprepared patient the specific opportunity offered by the experience of psychoanalysis.


The North American Working Party for Initiating Psychoanalysis began in 2010 with Ted Jacobs as Chair and Nancy Wolf as co-chair.  Members of the European WPIP, Bernard Reith, Chair, Elisabeth Skale, and Rudi Vermote have given generously of their time and experience to help us develop our Working Party. To date we have held 5 groups for IPA Members and candidates in North America.  Participants have expressed appreciation for the close and intimate work, the opportunity to think with analysts of different theoretical perspectives, and for the depth of clinical thinking accomplished in the day. We feel Initiating Psychoanalysis is especially helpful for candidates and include a number in each of our groups.


The WPIP has launched a study to look at how this is done by experienced colleagues, using small group clinical workshops to explore preliminary interviews psychoanalytically and develop experience-near theories of their dynamics. This involves a case presentation followed first by a free-associating group discussion and then by a more focused and structured examination of the material. Participants find that they learn from the experience at the same time that they contribute to the collective project. This procedure has now been extended to include the study of preliminary interviews that did not lead to psychoanalysis, leading for example to psychotherapy or to no treatment at all. The workshops are not informed of the outcome beforehand and begin by working blind to the results of the interviews, to sharpen their exploration of the material and to see whether or not they can detect differences in the dynamics of preliminary consultations that lead to analysis and those that do not. Registered participants will be sent more detailed preparatory information about methods and procedures before the workshops.


Initially we adopted both the procedure and the research questions of the EPF WPIP. Their findings regarding the emotional storm that occurs in the first meetings impressed us and we wished to further research how potential analytic couples negotiate this turmoil. As our NA working party evolves we have begun to develop our own inquiry building on the work of the EPF WPIP

We are interested in the nature of the internal work of the analyst in the face of the “emotional storm” of the initial consultations. We are interested in discerning to what degree the elements of trust, curiosity, and openness are available to the initial analytic dyad. How and when fear and foreclosure override the openness required for emergent meaning. How the need for certainty in the midst of this turmoil can hamper the analyst's capacity for curiosity and lead to an authoritarian attitude.  We are interested in when concrete elements such as “few resources” or “little time” are taken at face value and inhibit the psychoanalytic exploration, and how the analyst and patient can leave the field open to allow these possible resistances to be explored.

 To further our inquiry we have developed some new questions for the group work. These questions allow us to focus on and investigate whether the analyst in an initial consultation with a particular patient can access what we think of as a reverie function.  We are trying to both appreciate the human limits in play foreclosing evolutions of meaning, and yet, to become more aware of moments in the analyst when he or she can gain awareness of the patient's pain or emotion with sufficient openness and receptivity. We are interested to learn how both limitations and the receptivity of the analyst and the analytic couple impact the decision to begin a psychoanalytic endeavor. In our moderators meetings we have also been impressed by how the unconscious dynamics of the initial consultation cascade into the successive scenes of the workshop and then the moderators group. This is our research direction for the coming years.


Nancy Wolf - North American chair: [email protected]


The Working Party on the Specificity of Psychoanalytic Treatment Today

The WPSPTT was formed in consultation with Serge Frisch and Evelyne Sechaud, Leopoldo Bleger, and the Paris Group.  In 2009 a WPSPTT group was held at the winter meeting of the APsaA in New York.   NA moderators have been guests in the Paris Group in order to study the work of the WPSPTT. Sechaud, Frisch and Philippe Valon have come to the North American Working Party meetings and worked in the groups several times.  Interregional consultation and work with Europeans and Latin Americans has been invaluable and is still ongoing and necessary.


WPSPTT is a research method founded by Evelyne Sechaud, who developed the work of the clinical groups by widening the ideas of Johan Norman, Bjorn Salomonsson and Jean-Luc Donnet. The method is based on an analogical relation between the analytic sessions and their narration. The Working Party has found that owing to the associative thinking of analysts working together, the clinical research group functions as a magnifying echo of the transference-countertransference relation between patient and analyst. The small clinical groups are made up of 12 to 15 analysts from different analytic cultures working for a day and a half on the same clinical material. The presenter relates no more than necessary of the session content (speech, affects, and actions) without giving any indication concerning biography, the history of the analysis or the setting. He/she then remains silent without responding to the questions raised among the group. The fundamental rule of the group is to associate freely to the clinical material. The group thus 'constructs' the patient, each participant using his explicit and implicit theoretical references. Through the group work the gap between theory and practice (J.-L. Donnet) thus becomes reality and makes its exploration possible. The presenter then enters the discussion and lends his thoughts and feelings to the group work. This step enables the group to assess après-coup the constructions worked through during the preceding step.


In North America, the possibility that psychoanalytic work could be researched with a psychoanalytic methodology was and is still enormously well received, particularly by those analysts who want to study psychoanalytic work from a framework other than the quantitative methods that are well known to us but from other disciplines.  The groups in the US have had analysts from as many as five regions, as well as from the US and Canada. Group members appreciate the depth and substance of the work, the take-away value of working with the methodology, and the unique value of the work for presenters regarding aspects of the transference countertransference and the reflective space of the analytic mind. 


The moderator group, composed of H. Basseches, L. Johnson, and M. Mann, is eager to add Canadian, Korean, and Japanese analysts when possible, this international work being the target group for the original project. 


Dedication to the tri regional goals of interregional work and regional research has been the focus of the WPSPTT. The research step is soon to be taken and has been in the wings due to limitations in funding and until the moderator group had enough group experience and material to begin to study the work.  We hope to work with the Paris Group members as we take this step.


The group work experience has been positive and is said to be unique for analysts and candidates who participate and present and is consistently reviewed as useful in analytic work as well as important to deep immersion in clinical meetings with colleagues. Participants often express interest in the research findings in comparison with findings of the other regions. Presenters often find the work useful upon return to the consulting room.  We now have a list of analysts asking to present material in the groups and invitations to talk about the project and hold groups from various analysts.  We have also been contacted to discuss related methods that are being piloted around the country with the WPSPTT group work opening that discussion. 


David Stevens, who is now the co-chair of the WPSPTT, (2013), has a special interest in Candidate-only groups.  We have been interested in the benefit of the group experience both for experienced analysts and for Candidates.

Ronnie Shaw – North American Chair,  [email protected]
David Stevens – North American Co-Chair. 


The Working Group on Clinical Observation (CO)

In small groups (10 to 12) a clinical material is discussed for 12 hours using the Three-Level Model (3-LM) for Observing Patient Transformations, guiding the observation and discussion from 3 levels: 1) Phenomenological description of the analytical process; 2) The main dimensions of change; 3) The analyst’s theoretical hypotheses about change.


Three different significant moments selected by the analysts are shown in the material and the group discusses changes (positive, or negative) occurred in the patient, or the absence of them, during the course of analysis. The presenter, the analyst, actively participates in the activity.


Clinical observations in these two or three points of reference  should describe the clinical material in great detail including the context of the material (sessions or selected parts of the sessions, phase of the psychoanalysis, transference/countertransference reactions,etc) allowing the rest of the participants to follow the argumentation of the author as well as to build their own judgment concerning the transformation of the patient illustrated by the presented clinical material.


We intend to make a contribution to the improvement of clinical observations, its documentation and its communication in order to contribute to analytical work, as well as to the writing of clinical papers or other forms of sharing clinical insight. Listening and observing are fundamental aspects of our work. We need to work in this “second look” not only to discover the underlying unconscious processes but also to help the patient to find his own path that could help him to modify his present difficult situation.


An improvement of clinical observation needs steps in systematization


The term “transformation” is used here in its most common sense, meaning a change or a shift. Transformation processes can only be illustrated in a certain timeline and need at least two or three points of reference, related to the  same similar dimension. A starting point (that could be placed in the assessment interviews, when the patient enacts his central unconscious fantasies and conflicts in the (transference-countertransference) relationship, in comparison with analogous detailed clinical observations in later sessions of the psychoanalysis.


Groups may include members and candidates.


The latest version of the model can be downloaded from the committee's  Google Site where also an explanatory video can be found.


This committee pursues the aim of fostering the creation of groups in the different psychoanalytic societies which will work on the aspects highlighted by the model as a way of helping to improve psychoanalytic clinical observation, theory testing and therefore more effective psychoanalytic treatmentsThe committee provides support to all groups through e-mail and Skype when necessary.




Three-Level Model for Observing Patient Transformations


Ricardo Bernardi Método de análisis de observación clínica

Marina Altmann, Chair [email protected]


Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is composed of representatives from IPA affiliated organizations in North America and the Chairs of the Working Parties. The Steering Committee Chair rotates between representatives of the component organizations.


Current and past Steering Committee members:
Nancy Wolf, Chair
Maxine Anderson, Co-Chair
Robert White, Treasurer
Abbot Bronstein, past Chair
William Glover, past Treasurer
Margaret Ann Hanly, past Chair
Nancy Kulish
Marianne Robinson/
Marie Rudden
Ronnie Shaw
David Stevens


Past Members:
Harriet Basseches, past Treasurer
Richard Reichbart
Peter Rudden
Beth Seelig, past Chair


Working Party Membership


Comparative Clinical Methods
Abbot Bronstein, Chair, San Francisco
Marie Rudden, Co-Chair, Berkshire
Phyllis Cath, San Francisco
Martin Gauthier, Montreal
Robert White, Yale
Barbara Rosen, San Diego
Beth Seelig, Columbia


Past Members:
William Glover, San Francisco
Margaret Ann Hanly, Toronto
Alex Tarnopolsky, Toronto



End of Training
Nancy Kulish, Co-Chair, Michigan
Marianne Robinson, Co-Chair, Northwestern
Margaret Ann Hanly, Toronto


Specificity of Psychoanalytic Treatment
Ronnie Shaw, Chair, Denver
David Stevens, Co-Chair, Denver
Harriet Basseches, Contemporary Freudian
Leslie Johnson
Mali Mann, San Francisco


Initiating Psychoanalysis
Nancy Wolf, Chair, Contemporary Freudian
Maxine Anderson, Northwestern
William Glover, San Francisco


Past Members:
Lee Brauer, Western New England
Ted Jacobs, Past-Chair, New York