The suffering one encounters in clinical work—sometimes ordinary and at other times traumatic—so often requires more than a simple fix. People live in complex and often challenging circumstances. They are often eager to move forward in their lives in some essential yet elusive way. As practicing psychotherapists know well, the application of theory to this lived reality is no simple matter. We strive to connect abstract principles (e.g., holism, justice, diversity) and interpersonal virtues (e.g., curiosity, respect, receptivity) with the textured, profoundly personal experience of our psychotherapy clients.
What is required for this kind of work, in short, is a "middle discourse"—that is, a practice-oriented conceptual system that bridges the gap between philosophical principles and clinical intervention. Our faculty believes that psychodynamic psychotherapy is ideally suited to meet this need. We emphasize the radical roots of this discipline, as well as its unparalleled emphasis on the therapeutic relationship as a catalyst for change.
The Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program students receive specialized and advanced training through sequenced coursework in the philosophical foundations of psychoanalytic thought, psychodynamic perspectives on the therapeutic relationship, personal and social dimensions of the unconscious, and radical and critical approaches in psychodynamic psychotherapy. These courses are taken simultaneously with professional seminars in which students are taught to link theory and practice through in-depth discussion of clinical cases.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy, as we teach it, offers a radical and subversive counterpoint on the status quo. Informed by recent developments in feminist and cultural psychoanalysis, as well as by the broad "relational turn" that has reinvigorated psychodynamic thinking over the last three decades, we view identity as an essential site of inquiry and a crucial factor in the therapeutic relationship. The nexus between identity, meaning and power is a focal point of three core courses—one on race and culture, another on gender and sexuality, and an advanced seminar in cultural psychology; all courses include consideration of power relations and the meaning systems in which power is expressed. These dialogues are expanded upon and enlivened by casework throughout the curriculum.
Our middle discourse, like any vital body of knowledge, should be continually evolving. As such, the Program's training model seeks to push psychodynamic psychotherapy forward. In accordance with our commitment to integral education and the University's ideals, we challenge and expand it through engagement with other paradigms and traditions. Our faculty is deeply interested in the many intersections between psychodynamic psychotherapy and humanistic, existential, somatic, and transpersonal psychotherapies. In addition, we actively cultivate dialogue between Western psychology and other wisdom/spiritual traditions. Students in the program take cutting-edge electives in areas such as Buddhism and psychotherapy, mindfulness and meditation, comparative mystical practice, psychedelic studies, dialectical-behavioral therapy and other third wave interventions, as well as a periodic (and optional) travel course to Sri Lanka to study Ayurvedic medicine, folk life, and other indigenous forms of wisdom.