The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Course Catalog

Conceptual Foundations Sequence

The goals of the Conceptual Foundations Sequence are to advance the student's knowledge of and capacity for scholarly and critical examination of the theories that inform the psychodynamic tradition of clinical social work practice.

CF 501/2: Psychodynamic Psychology I and II: Psychodynamic Theories I and II

The evolution of psychodynamic theory beginning with its origins in the work of Freud will be explored in this year long course, with an emphasis on historical context and the cultural and clinical implications of discrete theories, revisions, and controversies. The goals for each student are: 1) To become familiar with the key theorists of the psychoanalytic tradition, the epistemological premises upon which their thinking is based, and some of the attending challenges and limitations of their thinking; 2) To understand the implications of psychodynamic theorizing for contemporary clinical practice and culture; and 3) To develop a beginning critical awareness of one’s implicit identifications with particular theoretical assumptions (which are rooted in particular sociopolitical-historical moments), and to locate one’s thinking within the broader context of theoretical history.  Prerequisite for 502: CF 501

CF 601: Psychodynamic Psychology III: Object Relations

This course traces the object relations tradition from the work of Freud to the Kleinian movement and the British Independents, emphasizing the classic ideas within these traditions (the internal object, projective identification, schizoid phenomena, the depressive position, object usage, and countertransference theory). The class examines how mental/relational experience is structured according to projective and introjective processes, as well as how these processes are animated within, and informed by, the intrapsychic (phantasy) and relational (environmental) dimensions of emotional life. The course also presents phenomenologically related contemporary extensions of object relations theory, including discussions of its intersection and conflicts with attachment theory and cognitive neuroscience, plus introduces applied psychoanalysis. Prerequisite: CF 501 and 502

CF 602: Psychodynamic Psychology IV: Self Psychology

This course provides an introduction to the ideas that form the foundation of self psychology and their evolution over the past 40 years.  Seminal papers of Kohut, his colleagues and key contemporary theorists will be critically examined within the framework of psychoanalytic thought. The course focuses on the historical development of self psychology's central ideas, on the clinical attitudes and techniques that derive from these ideas and on their application to topics such as sexuality and trauma. Prerequisite: CF 501 and 502

CF 701: Psychodynamic Psychology V: Relational Theory

This course will introduce students to the origin and concepts of relational theory and acquaint them with the representative theorists, as well as examine the usefulness of relational theory in practice and in its relationship to other psychoanalytic theories.  Interpersonal to Relational, Models of the Mind, Relational Unconscious, Dissociation, etc, will be introduced and analyzed. Prerequisite: CF 501, 502, CF 601 and 602

CF 702: Psychodynamic Psychology VI: Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory

Debate, dissent, and argumentation have characterized the history of psychodynamic thought, interrogating how we think over time and revolutionizing what we do.  Drawing primarily from contemporary American psychoanalytic scholarship, this seminar will focus on the examination of critical texts and controversies within psychoanalysis as these are reconstituting the work we do.  Prerequisite: CF 501, 502, CF 604, 605, and CF 701

CF 604 Epistemology I: Foundations for Clinical Theories

This course examines the nature of paradigms generally, aiming to familiarize students with the philosophical underpinnings of various psychoanalytic clinical theories and to develop criteria by which to evaluate what constitutes a sound clinical theory. Through the survey of some of the major modern philosophical movements, such as positivism, post-positivism, hermeneutic theory, constructivism, and Neuropsychoanalysis, we examine their relevance to clinical theories and clinical research.   Prerequisite: CF 501 and 502

CF 605 Epistemology II: Conceptual Foundations of Human Inquiry

This course offers an introduction to the philosophy of science, emphasizing the conceptual underpinnings that distinguish the social from the natural sciences. The course provides the student with a framework through which psychodynamic and other theories of human behavior can be approached comparatively.  Prerequisite: CF 604


CF 550 & 560: Development Theory I and II

This year-long course will explore past and present notions of how a person psychologically develops and what is thought to influence, facilitate and/or impede the process. Common clinical phenomena historically associated with development and for which people often present in psychotherapy will be considered and discussed from multiple theoretical perspectives in the context of both early and adult life.  Consideration will also be given to the ethnocentric, cultural bias of many of these conceptions and a review of literature reflecting alternative paths toward development will be engaged. The context of human experience will be explored at length with special attention to the influence of interpersonal relationships, gender, cultural beliefs and necessities, historical forces (i.e., economic, political, social), and the timing and outcome of key transitions, both psychological and social and their impact on one’s developmental trajectory. Contemporary developmental conceptions will be given special attention and integrated into clinical practice with special focus on the influential interaction between the particular individual and his/her particular environment.

Development:  This four semester series provides a life span perspective on the developmental process. It covers psychological, social, and cognitive growth as it occurs in the context of family, community and culture. Psychodynamic and systems approaches to development are incorporated. Wide variations within the range of normal development, and multiple pathways toward outcomes, are considered. Classes are organized around the following developmental epochs:

Clinical Sequence

The Goals of the Clinical Sequence are to advance the student's capacity to apply psychodynamic theories and relevant techniques to the practice of clinical social work and the diversity that it encompasses

CL511 & CL 512: Case Conference I and II

The purpose of this two-semester seminar is to deepen students’ familiarity with the process of clinical conceptualization from a psychodynamic (or psychoanalytic) point of view. Using core concepts of transference, countertransference, therapeutic alliance, therapeutic contract, enactment, development, and motivation, among others, we will spend our year together examining the therapist’s attitude, activity, and impact on the treatment. We will look at the therapeutic encounter as it informs the conceptualization of the “case” and the diagnostic evaluation of the client. Prerequisites: CL 511 (for CL 512), CF 501, and CL 521

CL 613 & 614: Case Conference III and IV

This course emphasizes the mental, emotional, and relational participation of both the clinician and the client within the treatment process. The role of therapist's use of subjective reactions to the process, as well as her observation of the client’s affect, thematic patterns, and behavior, are increasingly at the center of concern in the middle phase of treatment. Issues such as 'evenly suspended attention' and free association in the clinician, and preconscious and unconscious experience in client and clinician, are primary foci. Concepts related to unconscious communication, defense, resistance, transference, repetition, and countertransference are examined.  Issues of termination are presented and considered.  Prerequisites: CL 512, CF 502, and CL 522

CL 715 & 716: Case Conference V and VI

These two courses emphasize the mental, emotional, and relational participation of the therapist within the therapeutic process.  The therapist’s subjectivity and “analyzing instrument” increasingly comes into focus in the middle phase of treatment.  There is a systematic study of: “evenly suspended attention” and free association in the therapist, the therapeutic regression in both patient and therapist, and the ways in which the therapist’s preconscious and unconscious experience plays a crucial role in eh therapeutic process.  Matters of defense, resistance, transference repetition, and countertransference are considered in the context of work through.  Issues of termination are presented and considered.  Prerequisites: CF 502, CL 512, and CL 522

CL 521: Clinical Process and Technique I: The Therapeutic Idea

Clinical Process and Technique courses explore psychotherapeutic process and technique. In this initial semester, the idea of the therapeutic will be explored in relation to historical developments, socio-cultural context, and its expression in psychodynamically informed psychotherapy. Institutional as well as individual psychotherapeutic approaches will be examined in any effort to reveal common therapeutic ideas. We will also emphasize the therapeutic experience and therapeutic action and activity in relation to the therapist’s use of self by focusing on engagement, frame, transference, and countertransference.

CL 522: Clinical Process and Technique II: Therapeutic Attitude

This course focuses on the therapist’s motivations, assumptions, personal characteristics, and attitudes as these inform both the clinical dialogue and the quality of the therapeutic relationship. Using clinical theory in combination with personal and therapeutic experience, the course explores the fundamentals of clinical listening and understanding, as well as what is personally required by the psychotherapist for facilitating an optimal therapeutic process. Requirements: Students must have active, ongoing psychotherapy cases. Prerequisites: CL 521

CL 623: Clinical Process and Technique III: Therapeutic Response

This course, the third in a series of process and technique classes, will focus on helping students to ‘deepen their analytic work’ with patients. An in-depth exploration of forms of deepening of this clinical process will examine the transference/countertransference matrix, as well as erotic transferences, and what is meant by ‘therapeutic action’, ‘enactments’, neutrality and subjectivities. We will also illuminate some current clinical considerations such as how race, class, ethnicity, sexuality and gender all impact the deepening of this ‘clinical space’ and the techniques to address them. We will also focus on the ‘art of analytic listening’, and various modes of listening .  Prerequisites: CL 512, CF 502, and CL 522

CL 661: Psychodynamic Approaches to Difference

This course explores categories of race, gender, class, and sexuality as these emerge in contemporary social work discourse and the psychotherapeutic context. This course has four primary goals: 1) to locate the clinician and client—and the identity categories within which they are embedded-- within a greater historic and socio-cultural context; 2) to stimulate the interrogation of socially constituted notions of “difference; 3) to encourage self-awareness of bias, implicit prejudice, and reification as these shape therapeutic process; and 4) to understand multiple frameworks for thinking about race, class, gender, and sexuality.

CL 731: Perspectives on Clinical Formulation

This course focuses on perspectives for understanding psychic pain in adulthood, perspectives on treatment, and the intrinsic relationship of understanding psychodynamic theory from drive, object relations and self psychology perspectives.  It explores the synergistic and dynamic relationship among the developments of psychoanalytic theories of the mind, theories of pathology, and clinical practice theories. Prerequisites:  CF 502 and CL 512

CL 732: Perspectives on Human Suffering

Using a combination of didactic and seminar approaches, this course issues that adults may suffer as a result of trauma and disorders of attachment, emotion dysregulation and mentalization.  The class integrates empirically based developmental literature, psychodynamic perspectives, neurobiology, as well as the transference and countertransference aspects of work with these issues. Prerequisites: CL 731

Research Sequence

The goals of the Research Sequence are to advance the student's capacity to rigorously and ethically conceptualize, and critically examine problems/issues of clinical social work practice and to conduct evidence-based and scholarly research.

RM 512: Traditions of Inquiry in the Social Sciences I and II

This year long course is an introduction to epistemological concepts and systems in psychology and social work theories. Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. The logic and rationale of different methodological approaches to developing knowledge, and critiques of the underlying epistemological assumptions are described in the readings and will be discussed in class. Prerequisite for: RM 541 and RM 512

RM 632: Qualitative Methods

This overview of qualitative research methods is grounded in sociological and anthropological disciplines. An organizing principal of the course is the application of these methods to clinical questions. A course project provides students with the opportunity to apply these methods in the exploration of a question of their own interest. Prerequisites: RM 512 and RM 541

RM 621: Quantitative Methods

Quantitative approaches to research methodology are studied emphasizing the use of descriptive and inferential statistics for small and large samples. The SPSS program will be used to help integrate statistical concepts and to provide students the experience of data analysis. Prerequisites: RM 512, RM 541, and RM 632

RM 741 & RM 742: Dissertation Seminar

This two-semester seminar takes students through the process of refining a dissertation topic into a researchable question or hypothesis, supporting it through literature, and selecting an appropriate research design and method of data analysis in order to write a dissertation proposal. The course utilizes a group format for students to vet, get feedback from colleagues and to refine their research ideas. Prerequisites: RM 512, RM 541, RM 632, and RM 621

ESRM 800: Research Seminar

This seminar is a required elective for all students. The seminar meets on a monthly format throughout the year, and functions as a group consultation on the research process. Students will present their evolving data analysis to the seminar participants and leader. Flexibility will be built in to accommodate the needs of advanced and commuting students. 

For students matriculating in 2014 and beyond:  The seminar is required by all advanced candidates until the completion of the dissertation, and will operate in two segments (proposal and data analysis), depending on where the student is in their research.

Child and Adolescent Specialty Courses

CACL 615 & CACL 616: Case Conference III and IV

During the second year, CAS students have a year long case conference class focusing on diagnostic and treatment issues arising in work with children and adolescents.  These courses replace the Adult Case Conference sequence.

CACL 615: Child and Adolescent Case Conference III

This course uses a psychodynamic perspective to understand clinical work with children and adolescents, integrating readings with students’ clinical work.  In the first semester students are introduced to theoretical and technical underpinnings in work with children and adolescents. Clinical assessment and writing is a part of this clinical practicum.

CACL 616: Child and Adolescent Case Conference IV

The second semester continues the focus on psychodynamic work with children and adolescents, deepening our understanding and assessment skills.  Legal aspects of child work as well as engaging the child’s social network/team are addressed in this clinically based course.  A formal assessment and clinical write up is a part of this clinical course. Prerequisite: CACL 615

CACF 541: Problems of Childhood and Adolescence I

Using a combination of didactic and seminar approaches, this two semester course examines issues facing children and adolescents. By exploring key processes and major disorders emerging in childhood, a range of issues will be explored including attachment disorders of early childhood, learning differences and their impact on one’s emerging sense of self; identity formation and integration through adolescence as well as other issues. The class integrates and applies evidence based and empirically grounded developmental literature, neuro-cognitive/brained based understandings of nature/nurture and how a psychodynamic perspective informs our work with children.

CACF 542: Problems of Childhood and Adolescence II

The second semester continues the didactic and discussion based structure of this course but focuses more on specific disorders of childhood.  Greater attention to how these issues compare to normative development and their impact on adult development is explored.   Theoretical perspectives and diagnostic assessments are addressed as well as the role of nature and nurture upon the expression of, and interventions with, problems of childhood.  Common psychopathologies of childhood and special diagnostic challenges will be addressed.  Prerequisite: CACF 541

CACF 620: Clinical Process and Technique with Children and Adolescents

In this course students will examine the unfolding of the clinical process in child psychotherapy with particular focus on the therapist’s technical interventions that facilitate this process.  We will consider the range of interventions and techniques that the therapist employs in therapy with children and adolescents.  We will begin with the efforts to establish a therapeutic experience with a child, including all aspects of the diagnostic assessment and opening phase of therapy.  Based on diagnostic understanding, the class will discuss the goals of treatment and how these are actualized.  As the therapy is underway, we will look at the therapist’s activity that sustains this process and promotes a deepening of the communication between therapist and child, whether in the form of words, play, behavior, enactments, etc.  We will discuss how the therapist uses the understanding of the communication with the child, considering the use of play, displacement, and/or verbal interpretation, and raising the question of how change occurs.  Finally, the termination or ending process will be examined in the context of the unfolding treatment experience.

Military/Veterans Specialty Courses

MVSCF 560: War Trauma I and II

This two semester course provides an introduction to the contributions of psychoanalysis to war trauma, emphasizing the seminal works of Freud, Jones, Fairbairn, and Kardiner.

The course material will serve to integrate these thinkers’ ideas into an explanatory framework encompassing intrapsychic, interpersonal, and sociocultural/historical phenomena.  Students will explore and discuss trauma ideas and concepts and their potential for both intersection and conflict with attachment theory and cognitive neuroscience.  The class lectures will review the psychodynamic theories that form the basis for understanding military trauma. Students should be familiar with much of this material from their previous studies. Weekly reading assignments focus on contemporary research and application to clinical practice. Weekly class discussions are designed to integrate these various aspects with students' clinical practice.

MVSCL 716: Military/Veterans Case Conference I and II

This course provides a historical overview of social work in the military prior to World War I through the 21st Century. Students will examine the ethical issues that military social workers experience in the various roles they assume in an effort to conserve the fighting force.  This course will help students develop the ability to: (1) understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues, (2) understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, (3) understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination, and (4) apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.

The above course catalog was last updated Fall 2014.