Section V

Section V logoSection V, The Section for Applied Clinical Psychoanalysis of the Division of Psychoanalysis was created to foster diversity and support pluralism in psychoanalytic psychology. The Section represents not only those psychologist psychoanalysts who work in a traditional two person clinical practice, no matter what theoretical orientation underlies that practice, but also those who work in settings beyond the consulting room, including but not limited to: schools, hospitals, courtrooms, and community meetings of various kinds.

In our annual invited panels at the Division 39, the Division of Psychoanalysis, spring meetings, we seek to encourage technical and theoretical innovation while preserving fundamental psychoanalytic values and meeting members’ needs and interests. Our biennial student essay and Schillinger essay competitions encourage participation not only from members of the Section but from the wider psychoanalytic community.

The Section Five Community Mental Health Initiative

As the pressure to meet state regulations mounts in the public sector, and insurance companies curtail the number of sessions they cover in a year, the emphasis on evidence based treatments, most often in the guise of some form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, continues unabated. Meanwhile, knowledge about and the ability to practice psychodynamically has all but disappeared in most community mental health settings. In keeping with the name and mission of our Section, members of Section for Applied Clinical Psychoanalysis designed and tested an intervention to demonstrate to the administrators in these settings and to their staff that, regardless of discipline, psychodynamic training and treatment is relevant to the populations they serve.

Supervisory support is essential to help the clinicians in these settings meet the daily challenges of their work: developing clinical skills, maintaining job satisfaction, and minimizing burn-out. Yet therapists and their supervisors in community mental health are under ever increasing pressure to meet productivity and paperwork requirements imposed by clinic, state, and federal regulations. These demands leave little time for therapists to discuss actual cases with their supervisors, to reflect on their experiences with patients, and to wonder about the patient’s experience with them. These skills are the building blocks of a psychodynamic clinical training.

Only too aware of the level of demoralization their staffs were expressing, the Clinical Director at the Family Service League in Huntington, N.Y. and the Director of Psychological Services at Clarity Child Guidance Center in San Antonio, Tx, invited us to test our proposed intervention with their staff. The Family Service League intervention ended in January 2018, the Clarity Child Guidance Center began their intervention in May 2018.

In the proposed intervention, psychoanalysts and experienced psychodynamic clinicians are paired with staff therapists for weekly individual consultation sessions. They meet weekly by phone, in person, or via Zoom for a total of forty sessions. The consultants are drawn from the larger psychoanalytic community. They are experienced clinicians who share our concern about the lack of interest in psychodynamic work in the public sector and share our hope that this program, and others like it, will start to reverse this trend. Simultaneously, we are collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data to measure the outcome of these interventions.

You can find more about this initiative on our website at

As the immediate past president of Section V, I invite you to join this growing, vital community; students and early career professionals are particularly welcome. On our website, you can learn more about our history; you will find the winning essays; and you can read the thoughtful and varied contributions to our recent invited panels; check upcoming events, and join us.