Society, Self, and Psychotherapy: The March CAPP Conversation

CAPP Conversations are a series of conversations for psychotherapists by the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology.  Here is the March Conversation:

Society, Self, and Psychotherapy

A CAPP Conversation

Shunda McGriff, M.S. Counseling, LPC, NCC, Jay Einhorn, Ph.D., LCPC
March 17th, 10:00-11:30 AM

Evanston Location

To what extent is the self shaped by the social world in which it develops?  And to what extent is that social shaping of the self recognized by theory and training in psychotherapy?

From the beginning, the vision of personality in psychoanalysis, and the various schools that evolved out of and around it, focused mainly on dynamics within a limited field of relationships:  the attachment dyad, the Oedipal triad, the family system.  This view of human nature, valuable as it can be, fails to give proper proportion to the person in society—and society in the person.  The neural networks of the brain form in neuroplastic response to impacts from many people, and many subcultures of society, from the block to the school, the church or temple, the workplace, the ethnic culture, the nation and beyond.  The relationship of the individual to society becomes particularly salient for psychotherapy when the client’s self has developed in a disempowering social context.  Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) grew out of the recognition that the central role of relationships, particularly in the lives of women and minorities, and the experience of inequality in relationships, needed to be appreciated for counseling/psychotherapy to be adequate to the needs of clients with these experiences.

In today’s Conversation we will consider the traditional view of self in psychotherapy, then look again in the light of RCT, and see whether that brings us toward a more comprehensive view of human nature from which to ground ourselves as therapists.
Shunda McGriff, M.S. Counseling, LPC, NCC is currently a doctoral candidate at Governors State University in the Counselor Education and Supervision program. She is a 2014-2015 National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Fellow.  Professionally, Shunda has worked as a college counselor for 15 years with low-income, first-generation, and minority student populations.  Jay Einhorn, Ph.D., LCPC, is President of the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology, a therapist in private practice in Evanston and Glencoe, consulting psychologist at Roycemore School, and a supervisor in the counseling program at the Family Institute.


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