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18th GEI Annual Conference, with Steven Stern

In live streaming:

Co-Creating Needed Relationships:

The Art and Science of “Meeting” the Patient

Lien vers la version en français   Cocréer la relation nécessaire : La « rencontre » du patient : un art, une science

a conference by Steven Stern, Psy.D. *

Logo d'interprétation simultanée
   The presentation will be given in English, with simultaneous English interpretation for the audience questions in French during the question and answer period.

Date: Saturday, September 25th, 2021
Time: From 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (EDT, UTC -4), with a 15 minutes break

Live streaming: This activity is broadcast on Zoom. The connection link will be emailed to participants on the Wednesday preceding the activity and a reminder will be sent one hour before the activity. Participants will also receive a detailed guide on how to log in, select their preferred language, and participate in the activity.

Registration: See the Online registration section below

This conference is approved by the Ordre des psychologues du Québec for 4 hours of continuing education units (CEU) in psychotherapy. No OPQ: RA03799-21.

The conference

Most of us, relationally oriented psychotherapists, recognize that the pragmatic goal of our work is to give to each of our patients the specific and unique help which will enable them to move toward their own therapeutic and developmental aims, both explicit and implicit, as they emerge, evolve and become articulated within the therapeutic relationship. We also recognize that no two therapeutic relationship are alike. This precludes adopting any particular principle of therapeutic action as generally applicable to every dyadic treatment. Given these assumptions, how can we hold our theories of therapeutic action and apply them? If we believe that it’s the relationship in its totality which is curative, how can we implement it and account for it without reducing its complexity?

By putting forward certain abstract principles and a more holistic way of thinking about the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Stern proposes a richly integrative clinical approach to therapeutic action. Organized around the principle of co-creating the uniquely needed relationships with each of our relationally traumatized patients, the idea of “meeting the patient” is at the center of his approach– a process which he describes, paradoxically, as requiring the full complexity of multiple psychoanalytic theories and frames of reference in order to provide the “simply human” responses our traumatized patients need from us. His model is deeply rooted in self psychology and intersubjective systems theory, but is equally using neighboring theories, including Winnicottian, Bionian and Relational theories, a non-linear dynamic systems perspective, and especially Louis Sander’s developmental process principles.

Dr. Stern will begin with an overview of the major elements of his model, interspersing theory with illustrative clinical material. These elements include the idea of meeting the patient, the forward edge of the relationship, contouring, the therapist’s necessary freedoms, and the concept of necessity. He will then describe the co-creative, improvisational project of achieving progressive fittedness in the therapeutic dyad in the service of facilitating the patient’s desired transformation and growth through an extended clinical example - a challenging case in which the nature of what was needed only emerged over a long period of time.

This conference aims to stimulate our capacity to develop, integrate and hold in mind a range of theoretical models while remaining open and curious to discover the unique path of growth for each of our patients.

* The speaker

Steven Stern, Psy.D., is a faculty member of the Massachussetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP) and the Institute for the Psychanalytic Study of Subjectivity (IPSS), and he is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medecine.

He is an emeritus member of the International Council of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (IAPSP), has been an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology until 2015, and now serves on the editorial board of Psychonalysis, Self and Context.

He has been a frequent contributor to the contemporary psychoanalytic literature, with a particular interest in theoretical integration. His book Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process was published by Routledge in 2017. Dr. Stern practices in Portland, ME, with specializations in psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, couples therapy, and clinical supervision.

Partial bibliography

*The three publications marked by an asterisk are available for purchase and download: see the Readings section below.

  • *Stern, Steven (2014). A 9-Year Analysis with a Connection-Resistant Patient: Theory, Reality, and the Messiness of Therapeutic Action. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, vol. 9, no. 3, p. 179–192.
  • *Stern, Steven (2017). Holistic Thinking and Therapeutic Action: Building on Louis Sander’s Contribution. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, vol. 27, no. 1, p. 89-103.
  • Stern, Steven (2017). Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process. New York: Routledge.
  • *Stern, Steven (2021). Analytic Adoption of the Psychically Homeless. Psychoanalysis, Self and Context, vol. 16, no. 1, p. 24-42.

Learning objectives

At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant will be able to:

  1. Define the principles of co-creating needed therapeutic relationships with traumatized psychotherapy patients.
  2. Describe the process of “meeting” traumatized patients in ways that are “fitted to” and transformative of their most traumatized states.
  3. Illustrate the concept of “the forward edge” in work with developmentally traumatized patients.
  4. Define the concepts of “contouring” and “necessity” in work with relationally traumatized patients.


There will two breaks (10 and 15 min.) during the conference

09h00 Orientation and introduction of speaker
09h10 Steven Stern: The theory
09h55 Discussion with audience
10h25 Break (10 min.)
10h35 Steven Stern: Extended clinical case presentation
11h45 Break (15 min.)
12h00 Discussion with audience
13h00 End

You are welcome, if you wish, to prepare questions in advance for the discussion periods between the speaker and the participants. It will be possible to ask questions in English or in French, either verbally, or by writing in the chat of the webconference for the facilitator to read to the speaker.


At the Vendredis intersubjectifs (evenings of text study at the GEI) of this year, three of Steven Stern's papers have been studied in preparation for his conference (n.b. it is not required to read the papers to fully benefit from the conference). They are available at a cost of 10$ (for copyright fees) in their original English version and their French transalation at this page: Trois articles de Steven Stern (the page is in French).

If you were a participant to the three "Vendredis intersubjectifs Steven Stern", you already have access to these papers by clicking on the My files link, in the User menu, located in the right margin of the site (it is necessary to log into your user account to access this link).

Clinical workshop, also in live streaming

You are also invited to attend a clinical workshop (limited to 20 participants) with Steven Stern to be held on Saturday, October 2nd, one week after his conference, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

A participant will present a clinical case, and after an exchange between this participant and our invited speaker, the discussion will be open to the group. To register, please go to the Atelier clinique page (the page is in French).
Pleae note: this page will be accessible only to GEI members during the pre-registration period from Monday, May 17th, to Sunday, June 6th, and it will be open to all from Monday, June 7th.

N.B.: questions in French will be translated in English for our speaker and for the English-speaking participants, and theirs will be translated in French for the French-speaking participants.

Organizing committee

Sylvie Ledoux, psychologist, coordinator
Jean-François Bernard, psychologist, webmaster
Vincent Quesnel, sexologist, secretary
Annette Richard, psychologist, administrator

Online registration

With online or mailed payment (click on the Add to cart button below)

Registration fees
By Saturday, September 11th After Saturday, September 11th
Members 1 130$ 140$
Non-members 145$ 155$
Students 2 90$ 100$

1 The member rate is granted to members in good standing of the year in which the activity takes place.
To become a member of the GEI or to renew your membership please go to the Membership application page.

2 A proof of full time university student status will be required.

Cancellation policy

A 25$ administration fee will be withheld for refunds requested in writing up to Saturday one week before the conference when it is on-site, and up to the conference when it is in live streaming. Please address your request to the GEI treasurer. No refunds will be issued after these deadlines.

N.B. when cancelling your participation to an activity, the registration fees for this activity cannot be transfered and applied to the registration to another activity, or to the registration of another participant.

For more information please refer to the Tableau des modalités d'inscription aux activités du GEI.

To apply for (or renew your) membership and register at member fee

Please first complete online your GEI membership application. Following your membership application, you will immediately receive an automated email confirming your application (Confirmation d'inscription (ou d'adhésion)).

As soon as your payment is completed, you will receive a second automated email confirming the payment of your application (Confirmation de votre paiement). From then, the member status of your GEI site user account will give you access to member's reduced fees on your next registrations to activities of that membership year.

  • If you choose to pay by credit card online (on PayPal), you will receive the payment confirmation email in the minute following your online payment.
  • If you choose to pay by mail, allow an additional week to receive the payment confirmation email.

N.B. In order to access your member's reduced fee you need to be logged to your site account.

To register at student reduced fee (GEI members or non-members)

It is necessary to have site user account with a student status in order to automatically get the student fee when registering online.

  • If you don't have a user account, please first create your account by clicking on the following link Create a new account or on the link located in the site's right margin. The following account creation page will allow checking a student status option. This student status account will enable registrations at student fee when logged in.

  • If you already have a user account but without a student status, please email the user accounts administrator to request a student status. Your account will be updated (in approximately 24h), and your student account will then enable registrations at student fee when logged in.

Your registration requires logging into your user account

During the registration process you will be required to:

  • to log into your site user account if not already logged,
  • or to create a user account if you don't have one yet.

This user account will automatically adjust your registration fee to your participant status: member, non-member, or student (for the Annual conference only). Your user account also allows you to print your receipts and view the history of your transactions (from My transactions) or the history of your registrations, membership applications and texts purchases (from My registrations), which links are in the User menu, which appears in the right margin once logged in.

Payment modalities

Click on Add to cart below (after indicating if you intend to use simultaneous translation), and on the next page choose your payment method:

  • By credit card on ayPal's secure web site (it is NOT necessary to have a PayPal account)
  • Or by cheque mailed to the GEI.

Registration payment receipt

Your receipt is the GEI - Confirmation de votre paiement email. If you don't have this email anymore, please follow these steps:

  • First log into your site user account (by entering your username and password in the login box).
  • Once logged in, click on the My transactions link in your User menu (in the right margin).
  • On this page is the history of the transactions for your registrations, membership applications and texts purchases. Identify the transaction for which you wish to print a receipt and click on the corresponding print icon (representation of a printer). If needed, first click on the viewing icon (representation of a document under a magnifying glass) to view this transaction's details.
  • On the receipt page, click on the Print invoice button, in the upper right corner.

Should you encounter any difficulty, please email the online registrations administrator for assistance.

CEU certificate

The certifcate attesting to your participation to this continuing education activity will be sent as an email attachment in the following 10 days.

For any question regarding the CEU certificates, please email the CEU certificates administrator.

To apply for (or renew your) membership and register at member fee, you must, in a first transaction, complete your membership application and wait to receive the automated email confirming the payment of your application (« Confirmation de paiement »), which is immediate when paying online through PayPal. Only then, in a second transaction, will your user account member status allow your registration at member fee. For more information, please read the FAQ above.

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