Mentalization: A New Framework for thinking about How We Think, What We Think, What We do, and How People Change

WSPP 3-Part Seminar
January 27, 29, & February 3, 2017
(note that this seminar is filled)
Presenter: David Cooper, PhD

Theories about Mentalization, as elaborated in the work of Fonagy and his colleagues, have led to some re-thinking about how therapy is conducted and how therapy works. While these principles are relevant to therapeutic change from therapies grounded in multiple theoretical perspectives, this series will focus on psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Mentalization theory brings an explicitly developmental perspective, one grounded in empirically-supported research, to bear on the therapeutic relationship and the therapeutic process. Through discussion of theory, and with examples of clinical work from the presenter and the participants, we will explore how our understanding and our usefulness are enhanced with the addition of this perspective.

Presenter: David Cooper, Ph.D. is the President of the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, where he serves as Teaching Analyst on the faculty of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Cooper was founder and Director of the Lodge Day Program, a partial hospital program for the treatment of severe personality disorders at Chestnut Lodge. Since the Lodge closed in 2001, he has been in the full-time practice of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis in Chevy Chase. He has lectured, written, and taught on topics related to addiction, trauma, and severe personality disorder, as well as on issues related to psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to demonstrate an increased understanding of the developmental trajectory of mentalization and its relationship to psychopathology.
  2. Participants will be able to define “psychic equivalence” and recognize its relevance to borderline states and to moments in the treatment of a variety of patients.
  3. Participants will be able to demonstrate the relationship between enhanced mentalization capacity and therapeutic change.
  4. Participants will be able to articulate a model of the mind and of treatment organized around mentalization.
  5. Participants will be able to identify factors that facilitate and factors that impede changes in theoretical perspective.
  6. Participants will be able to cite clinical examples from their work that would be enhanced by an appreciation of mentalization and its failures