Community Psychoanalysis Initiative
Bringing a community focus back into the field of psychoanalysis.
There is an urgent need in our times to bring community services and approaches back into the field of psychoanalysis, to expand beyond the model of the individual client. The demands on schools, nonprofit service and educational organizations, families, and communities are too great.
The Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis (WBCP) is responding in a variety of ways through a new Community Psychoanalysis Initiative, which has emerged from a Community Outreach Study Group started in 2020 and co-chaired by Joy Kassett, PhD and Deborah Feldheim, MD. The Community Psychoanalysis Initiative is focused in two areas: training and community.
In April 2022, 145 registrants from around the country participated in the first Community Psychoanalysis colloquium, which received very positive feedback and included a plenary speaker, Deborah Anna Luepnitz, PhD, Founder of Insight for All, who spoke of her experience in therapy with a homeless patient, and two examples of how current WBCP members use psychoanalytic principles in local nonprofits.
As of 2021, the Psychoanalytic Studies Program, WBCP’s 2-year introduction to essential concepts in psychoanalysis, includes classes on community psychoanalysis as part of the core curriculum. We hope to expand and grow the curriculum for those that choose to focus on Community Psychoanalysis, offering more courses and electives. We also hope to have community mental-health professionals assist with the teaching and supervision, alongside the analysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.
For years, WBCP has maintained a relationship with Jubilee JumpStart, an innovative Child Care Center for underprivileged families in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, DC. You can read more about the partnership in Partnering in Communities: Jubilee Jumpstart and WBCP.
We are also beginning to build relationships with St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families, a residential treatment for teen mothers and unhoused mothers in transition; and with Horizons of Greater Washington, a nonprofit program focused on educational equity for at-risk children. These connections and partnerships begin by listening, and learning from staff, and others associated with the organization, to help us better understand their needs. Through subsequent and ongoing observations and conversations, we gain a deeper sense of the culture of the agency and the population they serve, and thereby establish trusting relationships. This will allow us to create mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships.
As a part of the Community Psychoanalysis course work, we are in the process of creating practicums, with these three organizations. The practicums will consist of observing or co-leading groups with the residential staff, teachers, and other care providers. The groups will help students use a psychoanalytic lens to discuss and reflect on the resiliency and work of each agency, alongside the challenges they have to confront with the populations they work with and the realities and limitations of the agency itself.
We envision a Community Coalition, in collaboration with local nonprofits who work with both local and global traumatized and marginalized populations. The coalition will serve as a think tank to discuss mental health and other problems and to share resources and to learn from each other in finding solutions. We have begun reaching out to a variety of nonprofits for their participation and input and hope to start in October 2022.
As the Community Psychoanalysis Initiative continues to evolve and grow, we look forward to sharing news and updates.