The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

CLDL 522: Clinical Process and Technique II: The Therapeutic Attitude

Ph.D. Program - Distance Learning: spring 2012-13

Jennifer Tolleson, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.

Course Objectives

  1. To address the psychotherapist’s motivations, assumptions, personal characteristics, and attitudes as these inform both the clinical dialogue and the quality of the therapeutic relationship.
  2. To explore, using clinical theory in combination with personal and therapeutic experience, the fundamentals of clinical listening and understanding, as well as what is personally required by the psychotherapist for facilitating an optimal therapeutic process.
  3. To deepen the student’s reflectivity and self-awareness within the therapeutic interaction.

Required Texts

Two texts are required for the class:

  1. Bollas, Christopher (1987). The Shadow of the Object. New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. Reik, Theodore. (1948). Listening with the Third Ear. The Noonday Press.
  3. Symington, Neville (1996). The Making of a Psychotherapist. International Universities Press.

Course Requirements

All readings are required. Students must come to class prepared to reflect upon and integrate the readings into the classroom discussion.

Two essays are required. The first, due the third class meeting, should briefly sketch out your “therapeutic vision” (as described in class), using the outline provided. This essay should be no longer than two pages in length.

The second essay (10-12 pages) is due the last day of class. In the first part of this paper, students are asked to consider one of the therapeutic attitudes discussed in class (freedom, curiosity, reverie, empathy, courage, etc.) from a strictly personal perspective. In other words, what is the value you attach to the idea in human experience and interaction? What does it mean to you personally? In the second section, students are asked to explore their difficulties maintaining this attitude in the clinical situation. What impediments/anxieties interfere with your ability to be free, curious, imaginative, courageous, empathic, etc., in your work with patients? Please include a case example that demonstrates a clinical impasse that you believe was attributable to a retreat (on your part) from holding this attitude. What do you wish you would have done or said (or not done/said), and why do you think you refrained from doing so at the time?

Written work will be evaluated on quality of writing, complexity and independence of thought, and ability to express ideas authentically and honestly. Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated, and ideas belonging to others (including the internet) must be cited using APA guidelines. Overall class grades will be based on the following: Quality of class participation: 25%, Essay I: 25%; Essay II: 50%.

The course is taught in a lecture/discussion format. Therefore, class attendance is required. For students who miss more than one class session (excepting a personal emergency), the overall course grade will be lowered one level for each missed session. Students who miss more than three class sessions will automatically fail the course (in cases of personal emergency, the student will be asked to withdraw from the course and retake it the following year).

Except in cases of extreme personal emergency (requiring permission from the instructor before the last class day), there will be no ‘Incompletes’ given for the class. Assignments turned in late will not be accepted.


Students can contact me at 802-651-7670, or at I am rarely at the Institute, so please do not leave messages or material for me there. My mailing address is: 1 Iranistan Rd, Burlington, VT 05401.

Course Outline

Class 1: What is Psychotherapy?

  • Casement, Patrick (1985). Learning from the Patient. Guilford Press.
  • Symington, Neville (1996). “Introduction” (pp. xiii-xvii), “The traditions and practices of psychotherapy” (pp. 3-10), “The psychotherapist’s education” (pp. 11-22), and “The analyst’s inner task” (pp. 23-34). In The Making of a Psychotherapist. International Universities Press.

Class 2: The Therapist in the Clinical Process

  • Maroda, Karen. (1999). “On seduction, intellectualization, and the bad mother.” In Seduction, Surrender, and Transformation, (pp. 11-47). The Analytic Press, Inc.
  • Maroda, Karen. (1999). “Reflections on the analyst’s legitimate power and the existence of reality.” In Seduction, Surrender, and Transformation, (pp. 161-180). The Analytic Press, Inc.
  • Reik, Theodore. (1948). “Part I: I am a stranger here myself.” In Listening with the Third Ear, (pp. 3-104 ). The Noonday Press.
  • Symington, Neville (1996). “Self-esteem in analyst and patient. In The Making of a Psychotherapist, (pp. 61-73). International Universities Press.
  • Tolleson, J. (2003). “Narcissism, Guilt, and the Fear of the Bad Object: The Therapist’s Personal Anxieties and the Perversion of Clinical Technique.” ICSW Summer Series, Chicago, IL.

Class 3: Being an Object: Understanding the Patient’s Experience of the Therapist

  • Freud, Sigmund. (1912). “The dynamics of the transference.” Therapy and Technique. Collier Books, 1963.
  • Phillips, Adam (1993). “Playing mothers: Between pedagogy and transference.” In On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life, (pp. 101-108). Harvard University Press.
  • Symington, Neville (1996). “Transference.” In The Making of a Psychotherapist, (pp. 74-95). International Universities Press.

Class 4: Being a Subject: Freedom, Courage, and Authenticity

  • Bollas, Christopher. (1999). “The necessary destructions of psychoanalysis.” In The Mystery of Things (pp. 27-34). Routledge.
  • Reik, Theodore. (1948). “The shock of thought” and “The courage not to understand.” In Listening with the Third Ear (pp. 491-512). The Noonday Press.
  • Symington, Neville (1983). “The analyst’s act of freedom as an agent of therapeutic change.” International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10, pp. 283-291.
  • Symington, Neville (1996). “Mental pain and moral courage”. In The Making of a Psychotherapist (pp. 50-60). International Universities Press.

Class 5: How the Therapist Listens: Curiosity, Faith, and Reverie

  • Bion, W.R. (1967). “Notes on memory and desire”. Psychoanalytic Forum, v. 2, pp. 271-280.
  • Bollas, Christopher. (1999). “The mystery of things.” In The Mystery of Things (pp. 181-193). Routledge.
  • Bollas, C. (1992). “The psychoanalyst’s use of free association.” In Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, (pp. 101-133). Hill and Wang.
  • Ogden, Thomas. (1997). “Reverie and interpretation.” In Reverie and Interpretation: Sensing Something Human, (pp. 157-197). Jason Aronson Inc.
  • Symington, Neville (1996). “Imagination and curiosity of mind.” In The Making of a Psychotherapist (pp. 35-49). International Universities Press.

Class 6: What the Therapist Listens To: Forms of Communication, Receptivity, and Clinical Data

  • Bollas, Christopher. (1987). “Self analysis and the countertransference.” In The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known (pp. 236-255). New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Bollas, Christopher. (1995). “Communications of the unconscious,” and “A separate sense.” In Cracking Up: The Work of Unconscious Experience, (pp. 8-47). Hill and Wang.
  • McDougall, Joyce. (1978). “Primitive communication and the use of countertransference.” Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 14/2.
  • Ogden, Thomas. (1979). “On projective identification.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60, pp. 357-373.

Class 7: Why the Therapist Listens: The Centrality of Phantasy, Meaning, and Psychic Reality in the Empathic Process

  • Ogden, Thomas. (1986). “Dream space and analytic space.” In The Matrix of the Mind (pp. 233-245). Jason Aronson, Inc.
  • Parsons, Michael. (1999). “Psychic reality, negation, and the analytic setting.” In G. Kohon, Ed., The Dead Mother: The Work of Andre Green (pp. 59-75). Routledge.
  • Schwaber, Evelyn. (1983). “Psychoanalytic listening and psychic reality.” International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10, pp. 379-393.
  • Symington, N. (1985). “Phantasy effects that which it represents.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66, pp. 349-357.

Class 8: Beginning the Treatment

Freud, Sigmund (1913 ). “On beginning the treatment: Further recommendations on the technique of psycho-analysis.” The Standard Edition, XII, pp. 123-144.

Langs, Robert. (1975). “The therapeutic relationship and deviations in technique.” International Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 4, pp. 106-141.

Ogden, Thomas (1989). “The initial analytic meeting”. In The Primitive Edge of Experience (pp. 169-194). Jason Aronson, Inc.


Please note that links to some course readings have been purged from archived syllabi. Electronic texts on the ICSW website are protected by copyright law. These files are made available strictly for individual, educational use and may not be copied or distributed in any way. Distribution of copyrighted material to non-enrolled individuals or ICSW students will be considered an act of Academic Dishonesty and be dealt with accordingly as indicated in the Student Manual. Federal penalties for copyright infringement may be found at