6th Annual Conference of the GEI

The Clinical Application of Self Psychology Theory*

Speaker: Richard A. Geist, Ed.D., psychoanalyst

*The presentation will be given in English. Simultaneous translation will be available to francophones and anglophones.

Date: Saturday April 25th 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (registration starts at 8:30 a.m.)

Location: Le Nouvel Hôtel, room Dorchester / Maisonneuve
1740, West, René-Lévesque Blvd, Montréal, Québec (514) 931-8841
Indoor parking: entrance on Saint-Mathieu St.

To register in advance, please download the brochure at the bottom of this page.

The Conference
Self psychology, since its first formulations by Heinz Kohut in the seventies, has taken its place among the major psychoanalytic relational paradigms now dominant in the American field of psychoanalysis and even worldwide. This presentation will discuss major clinical concepts from self psychology and study their implications for conducting psychotherapy. Even though many new ideas and theories have broadened and refined self psychological practice and theory, three essential contributions by Kohut remain as foundational constructs. They are: 1) the sustained application of the empathic-introspective stance of inquiry in the clinical situation as well as in the formulation of theories; 2) the central emphasis on the primacy of self-experience, and 3) the concepts of selfobject function and selfobject transference. Intersubjective systems theory has furthered the paradigm shift in psychoanalysis by recognizing the profound contextual and relational nature of human subjectivity in its development, in its unconscious organization, and in its therapeutic transformation. For psychoanalysts and psychotherapists of a self-psychological sensibility, it has transformed the attitudes they take in being and relating with their patients. The guest speaker in this Conference, Dr. Geist, is a living testimonial of this sensibility.

Through the use of verbatim clinical dialogue, the presenter will study the clinical implications of what he considers the main aspects of self psychology theory. Emphasizing patient-centered rather than theory-centered treatment, Dr. Geist will focus on the following aspects: implementing an empathic listening stance, responding to resistance and rage, using selfobject transferences, working with boundaries, understanding frustrations and gratifications, and the meaning and importance of interpretation. Throughout this clinically oriented conference, in keeping with the intersubjective systems contextualizing approach, the impact of the therapist on the treatment process will be emphasized.

Learning objectives

  • To understand the clinical underpinnings of self psychology.
  • To deepen a sense of how this theory alters our clinical perspective and interaction with patients.
  • Becoming more comfortable integrating the clinical self psychological perspective into our therapeutic work.

The Speaker
Richard A. Geist received his undergraduate degree and his doctorate in Psychology from Harvard University and for 30 years was Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry (Psychology), Harvard Medical School. He is a Founding Member, Faculty, Supervising analyst, and former member of the Board of Directors of The Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. He has been a senior supervising psychologist at Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Mass Mental Health Center in Boston. Dr. Geist maintains a private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Newton, Massachusetts where he sees children, adolescents, adults, and couples.

Dr. Geist was one of the first psychologists in Boston to embrace self psychology and intersubjectivity theory and practice, and he has been teaching and supervising it for over 25 years. Dr. Geist has also applied self psychology to understanding how investors make decisions under conditions of risk and has published a recent book on the topic—Investor Therapy (Crown Press). Currently he is working on a book on the clinical use of relational self psychology in psychoanalytic work.

Dr. Geist is married with four children and, when not doing clinical work, enjoys running, tennis, hiking in the White Mountains, designing and building furniture, and coaching his daughter’s basketball team. He is also a prodigious reader of poetry.

Partial Bibliography

  • Geist R. A. (1989) Self Psychological Reflections on the Origins of Eating Disorders. In Bemporad, J. and Herzog, D., Eds, Psychoanalysis and Eating Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Geist, R. A. (2004) Investor Therapy. New York: Crown Press.
  • * Geist, R. A. (2007) Who are You, Who am I, Where are We Going : Sustained Empathic Immersion in the Opening Phase of Psychoanalytic Treatment. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology,
    : 1-26.
  • * Geist, R. A. (2008) Connectedness, Permeable Boundaries, and the Development of the Self: Therapeutic Implications. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 3(2) :129-152.
  • * Geist, R. A. (2008) Idealizing Transferences, Mini-Analysis, and the co-creation of self restoration. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 3( 3) : 320-331.
  • Geist, R. A. (2008, in press) Empathy, Connectedness, and the Evolution of Boundaries in Self Psychological Treatment. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology.
  • Geist, R. A. (2008, in press) Empathy: The Foundation of Self-Psychological Analysis. The Annals of the New York Academy of Science.

* Available for downloading in the Member's section. To become a member of the GEI and benefit from the members' privileges, please visit our To Join page.

Back to home page