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series: connections and conversation

Connections and Conversation is a free monthly Zoom meeting, cultivating creativity and freedom of thought and feeling. We invite you to engage with our presenters and community as they share their interests and passions in conversation on current topics in psychoanalysis.

This free event alternates between Thursdays at 7pm, Saturdays at 9am, and Sundays at 2pm Pacific Time. The meeting begins with a 45 minute presentation followed by 45 minutes of conversation.

This series is open to all.

“Conflict Statements”: Leveraging the Patient’s Anxiety to Incentivize Transformation and Growth

Thursday, September 21, 2023,  7:00 – 8:30 PM PST

If deep and enduring psychodynamic change is the ultimate goal of treatment, then periodically juxtaposing seemingly contradictory “forces” (Hegel’s thesis and antithesis) will eventually jump-start the patient’s “adaptive recovery” by creating optimally stressful, growth-incentivizing “mismatch experiences.”

I will be proposing use of something to which I refer as a “conflict statement” – a clinically useful and almost universally applicable therapeutic intervention strategically designed to target the patient’s internal conflictedness between anxiety-provoking (but ultimately growth-promoting) forces pressing “yes” and anxiety-relieving (but growth-impeding) resistant counterforces defending “no.”

The stress and strain of the “destabilizing dissonance” thereby created will provide the “therapeutic leverage” needed for the patient gradually, over time, to relinquish the tenacity of her rigid attachment to the defense in favor of a more flexible adaptation – a “compromise position” that will “reconcile common truths” (Hegel’s synthesis) and transform conflict into collaboration.

The strategic construction of conflict statements requires of the therapist that she be able both to support the patient’s defense by “being with the patient where she is” and to challenge the patient’s defense by “directing the patient’s attention to where the therapist would want her to go.” I will be offering specific clinical examples to demonstrate these powerfully impactful, optimally stressful psychotherapeutic interventions. No pain, no gain…

Martha Stark, MD

Martha Stark, MD, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, is a holistic (adult and child) psychiatrist and integrative psychoanalyst in private practice in Boston, MA. She is on the Faculty at Harvard Medical School and is Co-Founder / Co-Director of the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies at William James College.

Martha is an award-winning author of 9 highly acclaimed books (including Relentless Hope: The Refusal to Grieve) on the integration of psychodynamic theory with clinical practice – several of which have become “required reading” in psychoanalytic training institutes and psychodynamic psychotherapy programs in the US and abroad. Martha is the Originator / Developer of the Psychodynamic Synergy Paradigm: A C.A.R.E. Approach to Deep Healing.

Board Certified by the American Association of Integrative Medicine, Martha also contributes chapters to integrative medicine textbooks and articles to peer-reviewed toxicology / environmental medicine journals.

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CE Credit

Connections and Conversation is not eligible for any CE Credits
No one in the planning or presentation of this activity has any relevant financial relationships with a commercial interest to disclose.

Special Accommodations

Please submit any requests for Special Accommodations to the ICP Office prior to registering or at your earliest convenience to ensure that we are able to assist.