(I) Psychotherapy:  The Utility of Regret in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

In this talk, I utilize clips from the feature films "Magnolia" (1999; directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) and "Ali" (2001; directed by Michael Mann) to articulate an approach to the processing of regret in the clinical encounter.  My perspective suggests that distinct painful life events may create a split in ego continuity, thus constituting a traumatic challenge to self-cohesion and implicating unresolved components of infantile narcissism.  To be integrated, such events warrant a technical approach that seeks to prevent (1) the therapist's need to gratify the patient and absolve him/her of the pain of mourning, and (2) the patient's tendency toward regression and repetition. The witnessing function of the clinician promotes the patient's humility, psychic learning, and the tolerance of non-meaning given that the most painful of life experiences often elude comprehensive explanation and understanding.  "To simultaneously let go and hold on" is presented as a resolving framework many patients achieve when regret is successfully worked through.  


(II) Parenting:  The Child's Psychological Use of the Parent: A Workshop 

This workshop presents an approach toward parent guidance that highlights how the imperfect resolution of the two monumental events of human life (two becoming one in the fusion between mother and child, and one becoming two in the separation/individuation process) is implicated in many types of family distress, dysfunctional and adolescent development. The unconscious collusion of parent and child to inhibit the child's growth and delay independence is described.  Parents are sensitized to defensive processes commonly manifested by caregivers (e.g., boundary diffusion, narcissistic identification, and conflict avoidance) as well as those emanating from the child (e.g., projective identification, "cloning," and counter-identification).  Finally, the "good enough" parent is conceptualized as a witness of/container for the child's emotional states, with the primary parental function being to accept and de-toxify ("human dialysis") the child's internal representations of self-other configurations.  I am indebted to the clinical staff at The Newport Academy Residential and Intensive Outpatient Programs and The Center for Discovery, as well as parents from these programs who have attended this workshop -- all have contributed in significant ways to the development and refinement of its content.   


 

(III) Buddhism and Mindfulness:  "Entering the Heart of the Sun and the Moon"

In this profound text, the co-authors Ngakpa Chogyam and Khandro Dechen provide an illuminating commentary on romantic love from the perspective of the Aro gTér (Aro tradition), a lineage within the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.  This tradition emphasizes the need to overcome the duality of the human mind, i.e., the segregated tendencies of form (i.e., meaning-making, conditioning, explication) and emptiness (i.e., non-meaning).  In the text, romantic love is approached as a mechanism of spiritual journeying. While those who are familiar with Buddhism and have a meditation practice may benefit most directly from this text, even the novice will find it intriguing and useful.  I also enthusiastically recommend the Aro Buddhism podcast.


 


(IV) The Men's Group: Schema-Based Living

If I were to tell you that your net worth, the car you drive, the partner you chose, even the size of your waistline, were all pre-determined years ago by factors out of your control, would you believe me?  Well, a body of psychological research suggests that most of our personal experiences are the natural expected manifestations of what experts call a "schema."  Eighteen schemas have been identified, and their impact on our psychological, emotional and social well-being is profound.  In the next meeting of the Men's Group on Saturday, April 4, 2015 (10:45 AM to 12:00 PM noon), I will describe the 18 schemas and provide attendees with a questionnaire that will determine one's dominant lifestyle schema.  We will then discuss the implications of these schemas as well as approaches to managing our adherence to them.  To register to attend this group on Saturday, April 4, 2015, please see the directions below. 


 

(V) The Dating and Relationship Group: The 12 Elements of Authentic Intimacy

A considerable body of psychological research and theory has attempted to characterize the factors which constitute a healthy, adaptive romantic relationship.  Drawing from this work and my own clinical experience, I have determined that there are 12 key elements of authentic intimacy, given that intimacy is the cornerstone and foundation of committed love relationships.  These 12 elements are organized into three main process categories: Self-Appraisal, Merger/Inter-dependence, and Dynamic Engagement.  In the next meeting of the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, April 4, 2015 (12:00 to 1:15 PM), I will describe these 12 elements and their role in safeguarding couples from the set of dysfunctional relational configurations I previously presented in our last group meeting.  To register to attend this group on Saturday, April 4, 2015, please see the directions below.

 

(VI) Upcoming Conference Presentation and Workshop: The California Coalition of Sexual Offending (CCOSO) Annual Conference: May 12-15, 2015 (Monterey, California)

 

I will be presenting an all-day workshop on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at CCOSO entitled " A Paradigmatic Approach to Conducting Group Psychotherapy of Sexual Offenders: Fostering Interpersonal Process to Supplant Shame-Based Relational Styles and Progress the Offender from 'Isolate' to 'Object Usage.' " Please go to the CCOSO website for more information about the conference and directions for registration.  

 

This workshop is inspired by anecdotal evidence suggesting that clinicians who conduct group psychotherapy of adult sexual offenders often do so with an uncertain or unarticulated perspective on clinical theory and technique.  Such confusion is largely the result of a dearth of information and training on the application of sound group psychotherapy principles to the treatment of forensic patient populations, including sex offenders.  This workshop is an attempt to bridge this void and avail facilitators of sex offender specific treatment groups to a relational paradigmatic approach.  In this approach, the central therapy format for mandated sex offender treatment (the group) is conceptualized as a social/contextual laboratory in which offenders' primitive "ways of being" are manifested.  The group facilitator's main therapeutic function is to coax forth, acknowledge, and tolerate these ways of being while simultaneously fostering opportunities for more sophisticated forms of intra- and interpersonal relatedness.  According to the renowned English pediatrician and psychoanalyst on which this relational paradigm is based, Winnicott (1896-1971) argued that the child exists as a singular entity ("an isolate") who approaches others ("objects") with narcissistic/grandiose motives geared toward (1) evoking a sense of omnipotence, (2) warding off feelings of dependency and vulnerability, and (3) bypassing the potential impact (both positive and negative) of other individuals.  His theorizing suggests that if the parent is able to tolerate the child's defensive maneuverings ("object relatedness"), "object usage" emerges.  In this phase of relatedness, narcissistic and defensive motives are softened, allowing for others to be encountered as separate entities who can be integrated and used for growth, exchange, challenge, and more realistic appraisals of self and other.  Drawing from Winnicott, I characterize the sexual offender as a shame-based isolate who is supported for psychological progression by the parental surrogate group facilitator and the organic features of the group process.  This workshop will detail the clinical attitudes and intervention strategies inspired by Winnicott's model, providing clinicians with a unifying theoretical and pragmatic framework for conducting group therapy of sex offenders. 

 

To register for the April 4th meetings of the Men's Group and the Dating and Relationship Group:  If you would like to attend the Men's Group and/or the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, April 4, 2015, please RSVP ASAP to Dr. Tobin at 949-338-4388 or jt@jamestobinphd.com. There is a limit of 14 attendees for each group and registrants will be accommodated on a first-come/first-serve basis.  The fee is $25.00 and the location is The Water Garden Business Center, 23421 South Pointe Drive, Suite 130, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653.
 
James Tobin, Ph.D., PSY 22074 | 949-338-4388 | jt@jamestobinphd.com 
Website: jamestobinphd.com
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