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 611/612 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 612: CF 611

CF 621/622:  Developmental 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.  Prerequisite for CF 622:  CF 621

CF 711:  Psychodynamic Psychology III:   Freud

This course will examine in depth fundamental Freudian concepts which have stood the test of time. The focus will be on ideas such as unconscious phenomena, transference, repetition, free association, guilt, defense, and symptom formation.
Prerequisite: CF 612

CF 712 Psychodynamic Psychology IV: 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 phenomenological 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 711

CF 721 Psychoanalytic Social Theory

From its beginnings psychoanalysis has been about the social as much as the individual. At once a clinical method and a theory of interpretation and critique, psychoanalysis has been a key resource in what philosopher Paul Ricoeur influentially called “the hermeneutics of suspicion.” This course will explore some of the developments of psychoanalytic theory in its application to analysis of the social, the historical, and the political, with a special focus on contemporary critical and queer theory. Central to this inquiry are questions about the constructive and punitive limits of individuality, and consequent understandings of the psyche as a space specifically of political formation. The ultimate goal is to interpret critically, which is to say with heightened self-awareness, the fit of the practices of psychodynamic psychotherapy within the social and political contexts of which they form a part. Prerequisite: CF 711

CF 811 Psychodynamic Psychology V: 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 711

CF 812 Psychodynamic Psychology VI:  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 712, CF 811

CF 821 The Social Construction of Difference I:  Race, Racialization, and Social Class

This course dissects the social construction of difference, particularly as it relates to race and social class.  The class explores how these social constructions operate within ourselves, our patients, and in the broader world.  Psychoanalytic literature is used in this course to expand thinking about constructions of difference.  Specifically, psychoanalytic thinking is utilized to look at how unconscious processes are at work on societal and intrapsychic levels and how these processes promote and deter various ways of being.  This course looks at how these dynamics influence our clinical work and how they influence society at large.  Finally, this course discusses how socially constructed notions about race and social class maintain social injustices and how we, as clinical social workers, can engage and combat these dynamics.  Prerequisite: CF 721

CF 822 The Social Construction of Difference II:  Gender and Sexuality

CF 911 Psychodynamic Psychology VII: Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice

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 721, CF 812

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

CL 601 and CL 602 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. Prerequisite for CL 602: CL 601

CL 611: Clinical Process and Technique I: The Therapeutic Situation

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 612 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: CL 601

CL 701 and 702 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 602, CF 612, CF 622, CL 611, CL 612

CL 711: 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 611, CL 702, CF 612

CL 712 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 612, CF 622

CL 721 Beyond the Fifty Minute Hour: Psychoanalytic Social Work in the Community

This course will focus on psychoanalytically-informed social work interventions with diverse populations outside of the conventional psychotherapy parameters.  These practice settings include, among others, child welfare, clinical case management, home visiting, hospices and medical facilities, forensic settings and school social work and the populations served include the homeless, persons with severe psychiatric disorders, abused and neglected children, troubled adolescents and the elderly.  With such interventions, environmental and psychological interventions are interwoven and require a creative synthesis of psychodynamic and systems perspectives.  Whether these interventions are therapeutic or palliative, understanding defenses, object relations, transference and countertransference are essential components of effective intervention. Prerequisites: CF 612, CF 622, CL 602, CL 611

CL 801 and 802 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: CL 702, CL 711, CL 712, CF 712

CL 811 Clinical Process and Technique III

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 711

CL 831 The Clinical Unconscious

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 601/602 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 602: RM 601

RM 701, 701, 801, 802 Research Methods I, II, III, IV

This two year course covers basic social science methodologies and research processes.  The major aims of this course are to expand and deepen knowledge of qualitative and quantitative modes of research inquiry.  In the first year of the course students use data shared as a group in the application of various qualitative methods.  In the second year students will participate in the collection of data and its analysis via the application of both qualitative and quantitative methods, Students will, throughout the course, focus on conducting ethical research, as well as understanding the epistemological embeddedness of all social science methodologies. Prerequisite: RM 602, all Methods courses must be taken in sequence

RM 901/902 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 802

ESRM 800 Advanced Research Seminar

This seminar is a required elective for all advanced students. The seminar meets in 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.  For students matriculating in 2014 and beyond:  The seminar is required by all qualifying 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. Prerequisites: all courses, Case Presentation, Qualifying Theory Examination (for students matriculating 2014 and beyond)


The above course catalog was last updated Fall 2015.