An Affair to Remember: How the Psychodynamic Model Has(n't) Met the Moment

  • Saturday, October 28, 2023
  • 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Upper Student Center, Regis College
  • 24


PCFINE's Training Program's
20th Anniversary Event

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of our Couple Therapy Training Program, the Psychodynamic Couple and Family Institute of New England (PCFINE) will present a conference, chaired by Joe Shay, PhD, focusing on infidelity, one of the most common challenges faced by the couple therapist.

Many couples arrive on the therapy doorstep announcing an affair has occurred and the couple has no model for dealing with it.  They ask: Is the relationship over? Can we repair this? Whose fault is it? Why did it happen? Can I ever trust my partner again?

Do psychodynamic models provide frameworks for addressing these questions? Have the models with their emphasis on individual and internal aspects of psychological function kept up with the moment? Freud was writing in an era of sexual repression so affairs could be framed as rebellion against that repression. Subsequent eras followed with modifications of that frame that fit the zeitgeist of their time. What about today? A major task of dynamic models is to offer explanatory narratives about what happened and why. Have current psychodynamic narratives evolved to integrate LGBTQ+ relationships, polyamorous bonds, and the sociocultural complexity of our current lives? Add to this not a small number of therapists have had an affair themselves. What place do the subjective feelings of the therapist hold, and how does the therapist manage this additional intricacy?

To address this complex topic, we will show video clips from movies and TV shows that will serve as a springboard for discussion by several PCFINE faculty members striving to explore the general questions above. These will include clips, among others, from Fences, Brokeback Mountain, Succession, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this program participants will be able to:

1)  Describe different types of affairs and betrayal in relationships.

2)  List central tenets of psychodynamic models with regard to understanding affairs.

3)  Describe differences in therapeutic practices in working with cisgendered, polyamorous, and BIPOC couples for whom infidelity is a presenting problem.

4)  Describe ways in which psychodynamic models have not taken sufficient account of sociocultural and other contextual factors.

Program Presenters:

JOSEPH SHAY, PH.D., CHAIR  Psychologist in private practice in Cambridge.  He is on the staff of the joint McLean/ Massachusetts General Hospital training program, and has an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.  He is on the faculty of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy and PCFINE.  He has co-edited Odysseys in Psychotherapy and Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy and has co-authored Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy (4th and 5th editions).  He has also published widely in the fields of couple therapy and group therapy and serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy.  He has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and was twice awarded the Psychotherapy Supervision Award from the MGH/McLean residents in Adult Psychiatry.

MAGDALENA FOSSE, PSY.D.  Psychologist, certified sex therapist, sexologist, and author with a private practice in Wellesley.  She is the co-president-elect of PCFINE, where she also teaches on sexuality and couple therapy.  She holds graduate degrees from universities in Poland, Norway, and the US.  Her particular expertise is in polyamory and consensual nonmonogamy, with publications, national and international presentations, and consultation services reflecting this interest.  In her clinical work, Magdalena focuses on the intersectionality of normative and non-normative approaches to love and life, and the lessons we can learn from them.

DAVID GOLDFINGER, PH.D.  Director of Education for the PCFINE Couple Therapy Training Program since 2017.  He has also served on PCFINE’s Diversity Committee and is now involved with its Inclusion and Belonging Committee.  David is a Cambridge-based therapist whose private practice is largely devoted to treating couples, and includes working with individuals, groups, and clinical supervisees.  David has additionally been active in the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, where he has led demonstration groups and given numerous presentations on the subjects of attachment theory, intersubjectivity, and dynamic systems theory.  Recently, David was invited to give a series of talks exploring the application of psychoanalytic theory to musical improvisation and performance, his other passion.

SEJAL PATEL, PSY.D.  Psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, MA where she predominantly treats couples and is a board-certified psychologist in couple and family psychology.  She has a specialty treating interracial and BIPOC couples in her practice.  Prior to starting her private practice, she worked at MIT’s Student Mental Health and Counseling Center for 7 years and served as the group coordinator for the service where she ran several process and skills groups each week.  She has presented nationally, most recently on sociocultural issues in group therapy at American Group Psychotherapy Association.

JOHN ROSARIO, PSY.D.  Cambridge-based psychologist.  A 2003 graduate of the PCFINE Couple Therapy Training Program, he was the Chair of the PCFINE Diversity Committee from 2017 to 2022.  In addition to couple therapy, he has also trained in psychoanalysis, graduating from MIP in 2011, and in various trauma-focused models.  He completed his internship at Harvard University and for many years served on the staffs of Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music counseling centers.  He holds degrees from Brown University, Tufts University, and William James College (a.k.a., Mass. School of Professional Psychology).

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