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Case Conference: Embodying

February 5, 2024 @ 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm, Wyman Classroom

2-Year Certificate Program (2YCP)
2023-24, 3rd Term — Mondays, 8:00-9:15pm
Janelle Eckhardt, PhD
Liz Markey, PsyD LMHC

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We welcome you to case conference themed Embodying. This course will turn its attention toward the experience of embodying in the clinical setting. There are many ways to understand embodiment and to appreciate its complexity.  The body is, by no means, a new consideration in the field.  As early as the 1890s, Freud considered how the body (soma) could express unconscious conflict.  A contemporary understanding involves not only this notion, but that in the clinical setting two bodies and and two minds are ever present clinical factors in the dyadic space. Likewise, contemporary psychoanalysis dedicates itself to re-imagining how to make use of the body in the clinical pair by using attention, imagination and empathy to both patient and therapist’s/analyst’s body. 

In clinical work it can be easy to focus on one domain as if sensations, feelings, and thoughts are disconnected registers of experience.  We like to think of embodiment as a composition wherein thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations comprise what we call “the mind.”  Embodiment comprises all three, optimally creating a unified system of input to better understand and work with our patients. However, for our patients (and sometimes ourselves, despite out best efforts of self-awareness) dissonance between thoughts, feelings, body sensations occurs. Integration results in a reduction of suffering and an expansion of meaning.

The Embodying case conference is thoughtfully paired with a class on trauma.  Research and clinical experience grounds us in knowing how both trauma impacts the body and how the body can be used to work through trauma. To better integrate your learning, please feel free to bring in any curiosities, musings and connections from your trauma class.

Much like in your dream CC, we ask you to keep a log or journal to explore notes on embodiment in your clinical work with patients, playing around with what you note in yourself and in the patient and/or between two bodies. Additionally, we invite you to notice what is embodied or disembodied in the case, your experience listening, or participating in class. 

We ask you to read two papers for this class. Each paper establishes considerations to work with our theme.The first paper by Brothers and Sletvold utilizes the framing of  “I, you, we, world” to expand theoretical concepts to include the language of embodiment. They offer this simple structure as a way to write about embodiment in your cases. You can use this format or another that speaks to you. In the second paper, Lemma highlights the importance of the analyst’s body in the mind of the patient.  Specifically, the analyst’s body and its normal variations represent features of the analytic setting or frame. Lemma explores how changes in the analyst’s body may result in mobilization of primitive defenses for the patient which are felt at a deep and bodily level for the analyst. 

During out first meeting, we will discuss the Brothers and Sletvold paper (see below) and establish a schedule and format for presenting. We want to continue to allow our presenters to share their sacred case material, enriched by offering curiosity and imagination about the clinical pair and how or what their bodies may feel AND what we feel as they present. 

Recommended Reading:

Harrang, C.; Tillotson, D.; & Winters, N. (Ed.)  (2022). Body as Psychoanalytic Object: Clinical Applications from Winnicott to Bion and Beyond, Routledge, London and NY.

February 5, 2024

[14 pages]

Brothers, D. & Sletvold, J. (2022) Talking Bodies: A New Vision of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 42:289-302


February 5, 2024
8:00 pm - 9:15 pm
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(206) 328-5315
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SPSI on Madison
4020 E Madison St, #230
Seattle, WA 98112
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(206) 328-5315
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