The past few months have been busy and productive ones for the Division of Psychotherapy, as we continue to work toward advancing clinical practice and creating opportunities for, and connections between, our members. In lieu of the traditional President’s Column, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some of our student members on their success in the field, and dedicate this space to highlighting their scholarship. Below you will find the Abstracts for the Division 29 Student Paper Award Winners. Please join me in congratulating our next generation of psychotherapy practitioners, researchers, and scholars.
Title: Erotic Feelings Toward the Therapist: A Relational Perspective
Author: Jenny H. Lotterman
Institution: Teachers College, Columbia University
This paper focuses on the relational treatment of a male patient presenting with sexual and erotic feelings toward the therapist. The use of relational psychotherapy allowed us to collaborate in viewing our therapeutic relationship as a microcosm of other relationships throughout the patient’s life. In this way, the patient came to understand his fears of being close to women, his discomfort with his sexuality, and how these feelings impacted his ongoing romantic and sexual experiences. Use of the therapist’s reactions to the patient, including conscious and unconscious feelings and behaviors, aided in the conceptualization of this case. Working under a relational model was especially helpful when ruptures occurred, allowing the patient and therapist to address these moments and move toward repair. The patient was successful in making use of his sexual feelings to understand his feelings and behaviors across contexts.
The Diversity Award
Title: From a Linear Match Equation to the Intersubjective Sphere: Negotiating Identities of the Sexual Kind
Author: Jackson J. Taylor
Institution: Derner Institute, Adelphi University
This paper considers the literature on cultural matching in psychotherapy with a focus on sexual orientation matching. The occurrence of explicit (i.e., conscious) and implicit (i.e., unconscious) dynamics in this realm are discussed with regard to the existence of sexual orientation microaggressions. This discussion is extended in the context of negotiating sexual identity in the therapeutic relationship. Issues of transference and countertransference are explored in tandem with Kleinian concepts of projection, projective identification, and developmental positions. The concept of intersubjectivity is borrowed from the contemporary relational psychoanalysis literature to understand better these important treatment considerations. Finally, a case is presented to illustrate the complexity of negotiating sexual identity in the clinical situation.
First Author: Ashlee J. Warnecke
Additional Authors: Caitlyn A. Baum, Jennifer R. Peer, Anthony J. Goreczny
Institution: Chatham University
Previous research has shown five characteristics correlate highly with anxiety and with each other; these are self-efficacy, locus of control (LOC), subjective happiness, life satisfaction, and optimism (Mills, Pajares, & Herron, 2006; Park, Beehr, Han, & Grebner, 2012), but most studies have examined these factors in business professionals or undergraduate students. The present study focused on graduate students. Participants included 113 graduate students from three graduate programs who completed measures examining depression, anxiety, stress, and the five aforementioned factors. Results showed expected correlations between anxiety and other measures. Additionally, subjective happiness and life satisfaction were the only two variables correlated with all of the other variables. Results of stepwise regression analyses showed that optimism, self-efficacy, depression, and life satisfaction accounted for 64% of the variance in subjective happiness. For the life satisfaction variable, the same variables (substituting subjective happiness as a predictor for life satisfaction) accounted for 57% of the variance, but LOC also made a significant independent contribution to this 57%. Lastly, we found psychology students reported more depression and stress and less satisfaction with life, less optimism, less subjective happiness, and more internal locus of control than either occupational therapy or physical therapy.
Title: In the Mood? Therapist Affect and Psychotherapy Process
First Author: Harold Chui
Additional Authors: Clara E. Hill, Jonathan Mohr, Charles J. Gelso
Institution: University of Maryland
Therapist effects have been increasingly recognized as an important contributor of psychotherapy process and outcome. Most therapist factors studied so far, however, have been trait factors. Little is known about state factors. Given the emotional nature of psychotherapy, therapist affective states seem relevant. In particular, what predict therapist affect change, and how is therapist affect related to psychotherapy process and outcome? Data from 1,172 sessions of 15 therapists and 51 clients were collected at a psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy clinic. Therapists and clients rated pre-session affect and post-session affect, as well as post-session session quality. Data were analyzed using multilevel modeling. Therapist increase in positive and negative affect from pre- to post-session was directly related to client pre-session positive and negative affect, respectively, and to client increase in positive and negative affect from pre- to post-session, respectively. After controlling for therapist pre- to post-session change in affect, higher therapist pre-session positive affect was associated with better client-rated session quality, whereas higher therapist pre-session negative affect was associated with poorer client-rated session quality. Thus, therapist affect played a role in therapist functioning and contributed to psychotherapy process and outcome. Dyadic regulation of affect appeared to be a promising mechanism of change that warrants further investigation.