Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society

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Graduate Students 
 Early Career Professionals

APS is committed to providing opportunities for graduate students and early career professionals (ECP) to learn more about psychoanalytic theory and practice. Graduate students and early career professionals have a reduced membership fee as well as discounted rates for conferences and seminars. In fact, with early online registration, Saturday Morning Seminars are free to Graduate Student Members and Early Career Professional Members.   

Graduate Student Assistance Fund

As part of our commitment to our graduate student members, the Graduate Student Assistance Fund (GSAF) was established to provide small awards to students to attend psychoanalytic or generally psychodynamic conferences and workshops, as well as to address research expenses

Please consider making a separate tax-deductible donation to the GSAF. Recent student letters of appreciation are below, and if you'd like to read a more detailed overview of the GSAF click here: GSAF 

In addition to donations, APS sells items to raise funds for the GSAF. Currently, "Pink Freud" mugs designed by former APS member Reva Heron, PhD are available. The suggested donation is $20 (or more), and the amount of tax deduction you claim is between you and your accountant. To purchase, contact: Diane Humphreys-Barlow, LCSW.

If you have questions, please contact our 2016-17 President: Heather Hirschfeld, PhD.

If you are a graduate student or early career professional and would like to apply for a grant: APS Awards Application

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"Your donations really help..."

 in the words of our graduate student members.

The 2017 Spring Meeting of Division 39 offered many opportunities to explore the most recent developments in psychoanalytic thought, particularly within Relational psychoanalysis. I attended two seminars including Jessica Benjamin and Lew Aron, both training psychoanalysts at New York University’s Postdoctoral Programs in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. These seminars were very helpful in understanding the rhetoric and implementation of intersubjective approaches in psychotherapy. This conference provided me the unique opportunity of comparing my own treatment approach, which is heavily influenced by the manner of training we receive at UT, and the approaches of other schools of psychoanalytic thought. I found the rhetoric of the Relational approach to be moving and at times poetic, but somewhat lacking in the clarity and precision of Object Relations and Ego Psychological approaches to treatment. As is often the case, attending seminars by speakers outside the APS community makes me more fully appreciate the depth of knowledge provided by the practitioners within our Knoxville community.

Many seminars focused on how gender, sexual, and racial identities manifest in the consulting room and the larger sociopolitical culture. These talks were very helpful as I grow in my understanding of multicultural competencies and the role of the psychologist in treatment and in social activism. In short, attending this conference was immensely thought provoking and helped further refine my professional identity. Being able to consistently attend Division 39 Spring Meetings has allowed me to participate in the cutting edge of psychoanalytic thought, and to meet those thinkers and fellow students who will be inheriting this rich tradition. I owe a profound thanks to the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society for their continuing financial and social support, without which these opportunities would not be possible. When meeting other students across the nation who do not have such a supportive local chapter, I realize just how fortunate I am to be part of the APS community.

Thank you,
Morgun Custer
Graduate Student Member
May 2017

Thank you so much for generously supporting my trip to NYC for the Division 39 Annual Spring Meeting. This was my first opportunity to attend and I found it to be well-worth the trip. As a training psychologist in a time when it feels like psychoanalytic work is disappearing entirely from training programs in the US, I really enjoyed meeting others in the field, particularly graduate students from other programs with similar interests.

I went to a number of interesting talks at the conference. One of the talks I enjoyed was a discussion about the development of the PDM2 by Vittorio Lingiardi and Nancy McWilliams. They spoke most about adding assessment tools for diagnosis and presented a case example. With the criticism of psychoanalytic work not being based heavily enough in empirically based literature, the discussion about their efforts to intersect assessment and psychoanalytic diagnosis were both helpful and interesting. I’d never heard Nancy McWilliams speak before, so this was a neat opportunity given I’ve read so many of her books.

My favorite talk was presented by Tina Adkins, a researcher at the University of Texas-Austin who studied under Peter Fonagy in London at UCL and the Anna Freud Centre. She presented about a psychoeducational intervention aimed to introduce psychoanalytic theory into child welfare. As someone interested in psychoanalytic theory and working with high-risk, low-income populations, this was an unexpectedly interesting talk as I’ve rarely seen the two merged practically. She advocated for the need to be able to “translate” basic psychoanalytic principles to non-psychologist audiences and provided examples of exercises she does with new foster parents to prepare them for the unique challenges that come with raising children who have experienced significant trauma. I spoke with Dr. Adkins after her presentation and she was incredibly open to discussing challenges she has faced in this work and where she hopes it will go in the future.

I also enjoyed getting to hear Sandra Buechler speak for the first time. She read a moving paper about the ways in which she uses poetry to understand and explore her patients, her supervisees, and herself. An interesting discussion arose in the audience about the ways in which psychologists use literature to directly and indirectly impact their work with their patients.

Thank you again for supporting my trip. I’m very much looking forward to attending the next annual meeting next year. I’m continually grateful to have such a welcoming and supportive community of psychologists who are so invested in training beginning therapists like myself. Both the annual meetings and all of the seminars put on by APS have been a wonderful addition to my graduate training.

Stephanie Kors
Graduate Student Member
May 2017

Due to generous funding from the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society, I recently had the privilege of attending the Division 39 Annual Spring Meeting for the third consecutive year. Each year, the conference has aided me in staying current with the influential ideas and people of American psychoanalysis. This year was no exception. The Spring Meeting continually proves to be a unique occasion for the opportunity to engage with a diversity of perspectives on contemporary psychoanalytic theory and technique.

Perhaps the most interesting presentation was a panel titled “Relational Theory and Its Excesses” in which three relational psychoanalysts presented a critical look at their own theory of psychoanalysis. The three panel members each offered up a bit of self doubt and acknowledged some of the shortcomings inherent in relational models. Dr. Christopher Bonovitz, the discussant on the panel, made a particularly keen observation about the development of modern relational practice. He noted that the original authors of relational psychoanalysis had been well-grounded in more traditional models of theory and practice; however, now that relational psychoanalysis has developed into the dominant mode of psychoanalytic practice, newly minted relational analysts are no longer steeped in classical training. While some may view this as a natural development or even welcome maturation, it is important to observe any disadvantageous effects. In brief, relational theory runs the risk of becoming less a liberation from potentially stifling classical psychoanalytic principles and more an excise of important foundational ideals.

In another presentation titled “Embodiment, Identity and the Unequal Distribution of Life Chances: In the Clinic and Beyond,” four panelists presented papers about what psychoanalysis brings to bear on the discussion of intersectional identities in both theory and practice. One presenter put forth a thoughtfully crafted view of whiteness in America as informed by object relations theory. Another presenter examined a therapy case in which her own “subversive” identity facilitated a therapeutic exploration of the patient’s identity. These papers sparked a discussion with the audience of how the culture at large both perceives and impacts individual identity, and further, how these dynamics manifest in psychotherapy. In an interesting twist, Wesley Morris, the New York Times critic at large (and notably not a mental health professional), joined the panel as the discussant. Mr. Morris brought an outsider’s perspective and the ensuing conversation was an excellent example of the potential for dialogue between psychoanalysis and the broader culture.

Other remarkable presentations included Dr. Allan Shore on new neurological findings implicating the right hemisphere’s role in the unconscious, as well as Dr. Sandra Buechler and Dr. Donna Orange on the intersection of psychoanalysis, poetry, and history. The conference also offered the unique opportunity to engage with many other psychoanalytically-minded practitioners from across the country. As a graduate student, the presentations and conversations I’ve enjoyed at the Spring Meeting over the years have helped me locate my own theory and practice within the broader psychoanalytic spectrum.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to APS for their contributions toward my trip to the Spring Meeting both this year and in years past. I am currently finishing my final year of training in Knoxville, and I can say with great certainty that the fellowship and support of APS members have contributed immensely to my identity as a developing psychologist. I will miss them greatly during the next leg of my professional journey.

Gyrid Lyon
Graduate Student Member
May 2017

Thanks to the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society, I was again able to attend the APA Division 39 Spring Meeting for the second consecutive year. As last year, it was a blessing to be surrounded by others who are curious and excited about psychoanalytic thought and practice. I attended several interesting lectures and panels, ranging from topics such as supervision to approaching multicultural issues within the therapeutic settings. One engaging and relevant talk was a paper on mental state talk and mentalization in child therapy. The paper covered a range of theory from Fonagy and Target, and incorporated their theoretical ideas into a well-designed case study that highlighted how theory can translate into psychotherapeutic techniques. Another enlightening talk was given by Sandra Buechler, that stressed the importance of reading “beyond the canon,” and highlighted the value of taking in poetry as a way of expanding ourselves, our ability for empathy and awareness of other’s experiences in the world.  I am very grateful for the chance to take in new lines of psychoanalytic thought, and a to have a place to process these ideas with fellow graduate students and clinicians. I would again like to thank the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society for their generous support of my fellow graduate students and me. I look forward to attending many more Division 39 spring meetings.

All the best,
Brianna E. Pollock
Graduate Student Member
May 2017

Thank you very much for providing me with the Graduate Student Professional Award to attend this year’s APA Division 39 conference in New York City. Attending the conference allowed me a unique opportunity to convene with other psychodynamically-minded individuals, and I learned a great deal. I was struck by the conference’s focus on interpersonal theory and intersectionality, and I am glad to have gained more exposure to this kind of thinking.

I was intrigued and invigorated by a number of the talks I attended. For instance, I attended a presentation of two play therapy case examples that focused on mentalization as the mechanism of therapeutic change. I found this talk to be especially enlightening as it spoke to my interest in dynamic work with children and the speaker included concrete examples and explanations of this. Other talks that were especially thought provoking were: a panel on supervision that included both a developmental model for supervision utilization throughout graduate school and a discussion of the role technology can play in supervision, Dr. Allen Schore’s keynote address on new neuroscience findings and their implications for psychoanalysis, Dr. Sandra Buechler’s paper on using poetry as a clinical tool, and a panel on various aspects of technology in relation to psychoanalysis (which included research linking adult attachment styles to relationships with technological devices, along with a more theoretical discussion of digital versus analog selves and fragmentation versus integration).

Some of the presentations I attended were less useful, as is to be expected at any conference. For instance, I did not find a talk on treatment of transgender adolescents starting hormone replacement therapy to be helpful because the content remained at a shallower level than I had hoped. I was also less impressed by talks that relied heavily on interpersonal theory and practice, as I remain unconvinced that terms such as “the spaces between” and the roles of “the doer” and “the done-to” are universally defined in a way that makes sense, at least to me. However, I was interested to witness the direction in which the field of psychoanalysis may be moving, and doing so led me to think more about my (still developing) theoretical groundings for clinical practice.

Again, I am very thankful to have received this award. APS has been a boon throughout my graduate school experience thus far, and I am appreciative of the thoughtful intellectual environment found within the organization.

Marisa Whitley, MA
Graduate Student Member
May 2017



This year’s Division 39 conference in Atlanta was a very productive and deeply moving experience for me. I had the good fortune of presenting on a panel during the conference, and it was the first occasion I had to do so in a psychodynamic setting. While the anticipation leading up to the panel was terrifying, I found the ensuing conversation to be rich and productive in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I am hopeful that this will be the first of a long career of presentations at Division 39 conferences. I also had the opportunity to help organize the conference by coordinating the volunteers for the conference, an opportunity which taught me a great deal about myself and my disposition towards administrative roles. Through this, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting psychoanalytically oriented students from across the nation (and some internationally) who share in a passion for good clinical work, but often have trouble finding support in their communities. My conversations with these individuals reminded me of how fortunate we are to have an active psychoanalytic community in Knoxville with whom to learn and grow as a clinician and as a human being.

As in prior years, being caught up in such a vibrant and lively community at Division 39 was encouraging and emboldened my passion for psychoanalytic work. Between the three phenomenal keynote speakers, many clinically oriented panels, and panels integrating clinical practice and empirical work, I learned a great deal. My favorite clinical panel was with Dr. Jack Barlow (though I admit I am somewhat biased in this regard), and of the values the panelists found vital in their supervision with graduate students. His presentation was emotionally evocative, and really encapsulated all of the values he instills in students throughout supervision and his didactic seminar. I also attended the live supervision panel presented by the graduate student council, which made me reflect upon my own supervisory experiences and gave me an appreciation for the top notch supervisors we have in the University of Tennessee Psychological Clinic. Another great panel was that on research on Transference Focused Psychotherapy, including Diana Diamond and others who are on the cutting edge of diagnostic tools for the use with Borderline Personality Disorder. After Ken Levy’s presentation at APS on TFP, I took it upon myself to learn this approach, and the panel provided me with further direction in terms of educating myself in TFP as a treatment approach.

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to give my deepest thanks to Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society for their support this year and in previous years. It is not an exaggeration to say that, without your support, I could not have attended this conference. The education I’ve received in the past few years through APS has given me both the knowledge to understand and participate in intellectual culture in the larger psychoanalytic community, and the comfort of knowing I will always have a family in Knoxville despite where my career takes me. I look forward to spending my remaining time in Knoxville learning and growing within the APS community.

Morgun Custer
Graduate Student Member
May 17, 2016

Thanks to the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society, I was able to attend the APA Division 39 Spring Meeting for the second consecutive year.  As was the case last year, the conference was a rewarding and stimulating blend of ideas and fellowship. 

One of the more interesting panels addressed erotic countertransference, a subject that was in keeping with the theme of the conference: “hot and bothered.”  In particular, a graduate student on this panel gave a rather brave paper on the erotic feelings she had harbored for a patient early on in her training.  She detailed the ways in which her careful, explicit acknowledgement of the flirtatiousness that had developed between she and her patient had elicited information that may have otherwise remained hidden.  She also contrasted two different supervisory styles she had experienced while working through her erotic feelings.  One of her supervisors quickly dismissed her concerns, perhaps out of discomfort.  This mistake had the unfortunate effect of leaving the therapist feeling ashamed of her feelings.  Another of her supervisors, however, engaged her in an honest exploration of the countertransference.  This freed her to think about how to use her feelings as an instrument to propel the treatment forward.  With regard to both the therapeutic and supervisory relationships, her paper reified the value of a key psychoanalytic ethic: speak the unspoken and openly engage with it.  

Another panel I attended focused on the integration of research and clinical practice in the context of Transference-Focused Psychotherapy, a manualized and empirically supported psychodynamic treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  Recent research findings presented by the panel indicate that patients with BPD perform better than controls on a task that asks subjects to identify affect as expressed only by the eyes.  Another interesting finding revealed that patients with BPD may best be characterized as inclusion-insensitive as opposed to rejection-sensitive.  That is, rather than being acutely sensitive to rejection, these patients tend to assume they are always being rejected, and thus, have greater difficulty recognizing situations in which they are being included.  The implications for treatment were thoughtfully discussed with special attention paid to the ways in which these findings might illuminate the dynamics that tend to evolve between BPD patients and their therapists.

Other talks addressed such diverse issues as masculinity, aging and death, patients that elicit strong negative countertransferences, and the friction between the roles of scientist and practitioner that many graduate students must navigate.  The quality of these presentations was invariably high.  As was the case last year, the presence of so many other like-minded students, researchers, and clinicians allowed us all the opportunity to process new ideas in a rich and collaborative manner.  I expect that many of the people and ideas at this year’s conference will continue to impact my clinical work and sense of professional community for years to come.                

With many thanks,
Gyrid Lyon
Graduate Student Member
May 16, 2016

would like to first like to thank the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society for the financial support that has allowed me to attend my first (of many!) Division 39 annual meeting in Atlanta, GA. The meeting was a pleasant and welcomed surprise given some of the other, heavily research-focused conferences I’ve attended in the past. Without a doubt, my clinical curiosity around psychoanalytic theory and working with patients was valued and emboldened. I was excited to meet other graduate students and young professionals, many of whom I was given the opportunity to engage in insightful and intellectually fulfilling conversations around topics relevant to psychoanalysis in the current climate of psychology. I almost immediately felt welcomed by all of the members of division 39 I had the pleasure of meeting. It was clear the environment was warm and inviting to early career clinicians. 

During my time at the conference, I had the pleasure to attend many professional talks and seminars on a wide array of topics. I am happy to share my experiences and insights gained during some of my more favored seminars. One intriguing talk focused on working through assaults on the analyst’s subjectivity. Dr. Robert Grossmark and Dr. Steven Tublin both discussed demanding dyadic engagements that can occur while working analytically with patients. Specifically, Dr. Grossmark spoke to the flow of enactment that can emerge during psychotherapy, given different patient’s characterological organization and defenses. Dr. Grossmark further discussed how this enactment can occur beyond the level of language, and can be best understood by the means of countertransference. Dr. Tublin spoke to what can go unsaid between patient and therapist when political affiliations and ideology are in conflict in the relationship. Specifically, how much a patient may leave out of the therapy room out of anxiety around judgment or disagreement if he believes a therapist is of a different political ideology.

I also attended a talk on the current and future state of psychoanalytic education and training. Dr. Jack Barlow specifically spoke to his experience working as a supervisor and professor in the program I am currently attending. It was an eye-widening experience to hear a critical and deeply true analysis of the historically psychoanalytically oriented training institution moving away from its roots towards a more behavioral and research focused program. It left me with a concern; is there any room for us left? This question has stayed with me, and is one I hope to continue to explore and advocate for with my final time as a graduate student in a doctoral training program. Other speakers, including Dr. Gerard Fromm, spoke to longstanding issues within Division 39 itself, and within the greater entity of APA. Hearing the perspective of multiple speakers on this panel helped me to begin to understand the reality of where psychoanalytic training is, and for me to make the very most of the training I have access to currently.

I would again like to thank the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society for their generous support of myself and my fellow graduate students. I look forward to attending many more Division 39 spring meetings and APS events.
All the best,
Brianna E. Pollock
Graduate Student Member
April 15th, 2016

Thanks to the APS board and donors. Your generosity made it possible for me to attend last month's Division 39 conference.

I attended several presentations throughout the three days I was at the conference. The presentations I found most enriching were those that addressed or elaborated upon psychoanalytic psychology's contributions to clinical science. These included Auerbach et al's discussion of psychoanalysis as hermeneutic discipline versus as science, and Stern et al's presentation on TFP. The latter presentation was particularly informative. It confirmed my understanding of Kernberg's structural interview technique, and introduced me to more recently developed, standardized procedures for structural interviewing (i.e. STIPO). Finally, Eric Fertuck's discussion of research on borderline empathy demonstrated how empirical research can broaden and affirm knowledge derived from psychoanalytic theory.

Again, thanks to everyone for the generous support.

Paul Tullis 
Graduate Student Member 
May 16, 2016

My experience at the Division 39 Spring Meeting was valuable on two levels: first, it was an opportunity to be immersed in a community of psychoanalytic thinkers; second, I was able to explore a specific area in which I am deeply interested in the intersection of psychoanalysis and art. 

Spending time with so many people versed in psychoanalytic thought allowed me to take a new perspective on my clinical and theoretical training. Many of the attendees who clearly knew their theory also showed an openness to revising their own beliefs and positions, impressing me with their lifelong commitment to self-exploration. I left the conference with the idea that being part of a psychoanalytic community allows one to grow as a practitioner (and perhaps even practice psychotherapy more responsibly) because it gives us the opportunity to listen to and share ideas with other professionals. That clinicians with much more experience were still so committed to growth was inspiring. It was also reassuring to find that the generativity and support of the national psychoanalytic community reflects that provided by APS. It became very apparent that members of Division 39 care about the perspectives of early career clinicians hoping to continue the tradition. 

I was able to attend several panels with an emphasis on art and what it can tell us about culture, psychopathology, and clinical practice. A panel entitled "Encountering the Beats" discussed the impact Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other Beat artists had on American culture; the panelists spoke of being part of mid-20th century countercultures and how these experiences impacted their adoption of psychoanalytic thought. In another panel, Dr. Sandra Buechler used a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer to illustrate how an individual might not succumb to overwhelming shame. A presentation called "The Creative Pulse and the Great Wound" explored how art, in particular dance, can be used to work through cultural trauma (the art in question was a retelling of the Medea myth in response to the civil unrest of modern-day Greece.) The theme in this presentation appeared to echo a broader preoccupation across Division 39 with the large-scale crimes of cultures or nations (e.g., genocide, oppression, torture). In that sense, my experience at the conference helped me think further about how psychoanalysis can inform my morality and politics. 

I am extremely grateful to APS for its generous support, which allowed me to attend this event. I will be able to apply my experience there to both scholarship and clinical work.

Jared Goldman 
Graduate Student Member 
June 2, 2015

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