“Psychoanalysis” is up-to-date, and at the WCP it will stay that way.
“Psychoanalysis” to us is basic and timeless, a commitment to understanding how the life experience of each person, from early infancy on, incrementally creates a unique personality, and how increased awareness of these influences, which are often hidden in the unconscious, can be enriching and liberating. Our approach integrates differing views and applies new ideas to psychoanalytic education, practice, and social action.
Whether in clinical work, in scholarly investigation, or in collaboration with other helping professionals and scholars, when we say “psychoanalysis” we refer not to a specific clinical method, but to a general openness about exploring the mind, in all of its depth and complexity. Our conviction is that such openness fosters healing, growth, and the attainment of full potential for the individual, for the family, and for society.
Clinical training is the foundation for our work in other fields.
The psychoanalysts and psychoanalytically-informed therapists whom we train treat individuals, couples, and families. Their theoretical framework and their techniques are based on evolving best practice and on new clinical research. For example, our clinicians are now better to able to match the individual patient with the most effective treatment. And we study the exciting new combined field of neuro-psychoanalysis, as it both confirms and helps to modify our current models of the mind.
From their work in the clinical consulting room, these professionals develop insights and skills that they bring to other settings: inter-disciplinary scholarship, public education, and outreach to groups who otherwise would find psychoanalytic expertise inaccessible.
Our training programs continue the legacy of psychoanalytic insight in clinical practice, scholarship, and social activism.
During recent decades the psychoanalytic approach we have helped to maintain has faced serious challenges, such as short cut therapies with great appeal, but only limited value. In some quarters of society, we see an alarming retreat from the approach to human experience at the heart of psychoanalysis, self-reflection and respect for individual and cultural differences. With these changes, resources are shifting away from psychoanalysis and our legacy is under threat.
What is this legacy? Throughout its extraordinary history, this organization has trained psychoanalysts, psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapists, couple and family therapists, researchers, scholars, and organizational leaders. Thousand of trainees, along with their patients and collaborators, have learned to explore the mind in a way that is profound and comprehensive, and as a result can be of great value for individual and social progress.
WCP is committed to maintaining this legacy, and to do so we are not only strengthening our longstanding programs but have inaugurated new training initiatives: these include a rich array of continuing education for clinicians at all levels of experience, and also for members of the community who are not therapists. Our programs have been created to serve the needs of scholars and professionals in a wide range of fields, such as public policy and politics, medicine and nursing, law, religion, writing, and the arts. By means of lectures and seminars, and also by tapping the internet with podcasts and webinars, we are creating a vibrant, multidisciplinary, learning community.
We are optimizing the psychological development and potential of as many people as possible.
Professionals trained at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis learn a great deal about how human beings are motivated and about what it takes to sustain healing and growth. In their clinical work and outreach they help to promote the attainment of full potential for individuals and families, and also within groups of people who seek our collaboration.
To make it real:
Ms. A. entered analysis because of recurrent depression after breakups with emotionally unavailable men. Anti-depressants had only minimal benefit and brief cognitive behavioral techniques did not help for long. In analysis, she discovered that her sense of herself, beneath her gregarious outward style, involved keeping her deepest feelings hidden, even from herself. She became convinced that her damaging way of relating to her family of origin was no longer necessary. She began to experience life as she had only dreamed it could be.
We provide thousands of hours of low fee treatment and collaborate with vital community service programs.
To make it real:
The WCP has been working with Jubilee Jumpstart in a comprehensive child care center for children under five slated to open in Fall, 2008. Our model reinforces consistent caring relationships with a few primary people. Our volunteers help Jubilee’s staff to better understand the meaning of a child’s communications and play, and to effectively tolerate the powerful anxieties evoked in that setting. The Center’s team help strengthen relationships within the families participating in the program, supporting parents as they identify intergenerational traumatic child rearing patterns. WCP members provide a variety of mental health services, including maternal/infant groups, child, adult or family therapy/analysis as needed. Broader plans include developing psycho-educational programs which will be open to the families within Jubilee Jumpstart and Jubilee Housing. This program will impact current families and future generations, for years to come.
Our community low fee Clinic serves a racially, ethnically, socio-economically diverse population of individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford or benefit from deep, necessary, reparative intrapsychic therapeutic work.
We consult with leaders in business, government, education, and religion to make psychoanalytic thinking available to a broad array of society.
To make it real:
A WCP analyst collaborated with the Peace Corps to slow the rise in HIV among its volunteers, helping them confront their defenses of denial, counterphobic risk-taking, and youthful grandiosity through a new training video: real volunteers described the challenges they faced. With the help of this video the analyst was able to teach Peace Corps staff to guide volunteers through an exploration of the emotional stresses that lead to their devastating choices, and these harmful behaviors were drastically diminished.
We are advocating strongly for the psychoanalytic view.
To maximize our impact, we place public education and policy advocacy at the center of our strategic planning.
We advocate for individualized, thoughtful assessment and collaborative treatment plans that go far beyond simplistic short-lived measures that have prevailed in a managed care environment.
We work to help achieve mental health parity. We oppose any intrusions on patient privacy, crucial to a beneficial clinician/patient relationship.
To make it real:
WCP members worked as part of a small team who negotiated with the DC Insurance Commissioner to enact guidelines for third-party disclosure of information that preserves the essentials of confidentiality, an agreement that serves as a model for other jurisdictions.
Writers affiliated with WCP contribute op ed pieces, journal articles, and monographs on a wide range of topics relevant to public health, mental health, and social policy benefiting children, adolescents and adults.
We are promoting psychoanalytic ideas in the broader culture.
As public education programs, we lead free post- play discussions at several leading theaters in the Washington area; we offer a film series focused on interpretation of character development in terms of intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics; and we collaborate with a contemporary art museum in showing the viewing public how psychoanalytic and art critical ideas illuminate each other.
To make it real:
WCP members lead post-show discussions at such theaters as Arena Stage, the Shakespeare Theatre, and Studio Theater. They present a talk and then engage audience members, and occasionally the actors and director, in a conversation on the internal and interpersonal dynamics evoked in the play. All participants, including the discussion leader, learn from these encounters, since staged drama brings psychoanalytic theory to life in a unique and enlightening way.
We are contributing to public discussion of policy issues.
Clinicians and scholars who have studied with us go on to become active players in the world of public policy, as individuals who may write psycho-biography, testify on major social issues, take leadership roles in national and international organizations, and in countless ways bring to the public debate their deep, multi-layered understanding of human experience.
To make it real:
A WCP member wrote a psycho-biography of a sitting U.S. President that has helped to bring his character traits to the fore and has profoundly influenced how he is viewed throughout the world.
A leading figure at the United Nations is applying ideas and insights of her training at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute to her ongoing work for global women’s rights.
Your contribution will make a difference.
The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis depends almost entirely on the efforts of unpaid volunteers, highly regarded professional clinicians and others in our community who give generously of their expertise. Nonetheless, the Center faces an annual gap between earned revenue and program costs of nearly $200,000. Our irreducible costs include three salaried staff members, a modest office infrastructure, and other essentials. Like all educational institutions, our dues and tuition and fees must remain moderate for us to remain accessible to students and other beneficiaries of our work.