relational Psychodynamic Theory and Therapy
David Levit, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.



This course will center upon relational perspectives on psychotherapy with emphasis on the evolution and expansion in our understanding of therapeutic process, therapeutic options, and therapeutic action. We will address relational revisions in basic concepts such as transference and countertransference. The foundations of relational perspectives will be presented, drawing upon the contributions of seminal theorists, such as Mitchell, Greenberg, Davies, Hoffman, Bromberg, Aron, Benjamin, etc. We will not only outline and discuss the central ideas about psychotherapy within the relational paradigm, but also examine them in light of more traditional psychodynamic perspectives. For example, the relational emphasis on the therapist’s expressive participation will be considered in light of a more traditional emphasis on analytic restraint.
While the emphasis of this seminar will be on the relational paradigm as a clinical theory, we will also consider it as a psychological theory. We will look at relational models of the mind, wherein conscious and unconscious inner processes and dynamics are conceptualized quite differently than in the Freudian view. This will include an emphasis on dissociation and its centrality in an understanding of the impact of trauma.
In addition to the clinical and psychological emphases in this program, we will also consider relational theory historically. We will contextualize its evolution in terms of the overall relational turn in the psychoanalytic world during the 20th century, and we will trace out the emergence of relational theory as a radical revolutionary movement beginning in the 1980’s.