The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

ESCS 700: Advanced Case Consultation

Ph.D. Program: spring 2012-13

Allan Scholom, Ph.D.

Course Description

The class will be organized around the critical and ubiquitous issue of impasse in treatment and how this is reflected in our patients and our own life experience. This is a matter that is at the heart of any therapeutic process but most impactfully present in psychoanalytically oriented treatments wherein patient and therapist unconscious forces play out so prominently and necessarily. The notion of impasse falls squarely under the category of resistance, broadly defined as both internalized and externalized relationship factors impeding but also required for growth enhancing change to take place. In this sense when we speak of an impasse we are talking both about our patients and ourselves, something that is always present to some degree or another. To address these critical matters we will take up the issues of conflict and deficit from the perspective that they are ever-present and intertwined. Herein we come upon the crucial phenomena of defense and internalization where we will place particular emphasis on dissociation and bad objects respectively, with the focus upon pulling together how all of these essential elements unfold in the treatment process. At the heart of all of this we will be ever mindful of the way in which our own unconscious life is engaged and how we too are influenced and changed through the clinical encounter.

Requirements and Evaluation

The class is pass/fail and, of course, attendance is expected, as our participation is critical to what we all get from the experience. Everyone will be responsible for a case presentation (or possibly two depending upon time) that is most alive for you and where you have a feeling of things being “stuck”. This will also include referencing an article or book (or movie or novel) that is useful in illustrating these themes. Readings will be offered as overviews of the extensive literature on impasse but, of course, you’re encouraged to use other works as well that you find compelling. Above all engaging with these matters is as personal a way as possible is what is most important.

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