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The Boston Change Process Study Group (BCPSG) was created in 1995.  It consists of a small group of practicing analysts, developmentalists, and analytic theorists, who share the view that knowledge from the burgeoning field of recent developmental studies as well as dynamic systems theory can be used to understand and model change processes in psychodynamic therapeutic interaction. The group brings together through its members the knowledge of infancy researchers and the experience of practicing psychoanalysts in an effort to study the process of change as it occurs both in normal development and in psychoanalytic therapies.

There is now a broad consensus that psychoanalytic developmental theories are in need of drastic revision based on these same studies.  Several authors (eg. Lichtenberg, Stechler, Emde) have begun to do this work.

The BCPSG, however, believes that looking at change processes as observed in infancy studies also sheds light on how change occurrs in treatment.  With this in mind, the group has set out to explore in depth how knowledge of developmental process could creatively inform psychoanalytic therapies and understanding of change in treatment. The fruits of these efforts, publications collected here, presentations, and symposia, both in the United States and in Europe, are now reaching a wider audience.  The group has published several seminal papers as a group, as well as numerous papers and books individually.

EVENTS: Austen Riggs Center

25 Main St Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262

September 16, 2016 at 6:30 PM to at 8:00 PM
Night Guest Lecture - On Engagement Ongoing Educational Events

DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: Engagement is intricately woven into the fabric of development and the fabric of psychotherapy. However, there has been little effort to specifically describe the process of engagement itself, its essence, and to closely consider its effects.  We propose that engagement with others occurs under highly specific circumstances.   We identify three conditions: a) affective investment; b) prioritization and c) continuity that, when met, initiate a process which catalyzes the developmental organization of mental, affective and social capacities.  Through this process, the creation of a “charged other” emerges, a person who holds increased value, and with whom a special relationship is possible. Development then proceeds through a decentering of the individual.  ‘Looping’ or moving through the awareness of another allows the developing child, as well as the patient in psychotherapy, to more fully bring themselves into the world and the world into themselves. It is in this way, through others, that one develops one's own perspective on the world, on others and on the self; and it is in this way that one’s exchanges with the world and others deepens, and one’s self is enriched and one’s capacities expanded.



September 17, 2016 at 9:30 AM to at 12:30 PM
Saturday Morning Clinical Workshop

DESCRIPTION OF EVENT:  The members of the Boston Change Process Study Group (BCPSG) elaborate how the philosophical and psychological concept of moving through another, one aspect of what Stern called interaffectivity, is also a fundamental aspect of the process of change in psychoanalysis. In developing this line of thought, we first take up the concept of engagement in psychotherapy and child development. Having identified three highly specific circumstances that must be present and conjoined in order to constitute an engaged relationship, we then begin to consider why engaged relationships with a positively charged other are so important to developmental and psychotherapeutic change. We see a more complex understanding of other minds as a fundamental outcome of psychoanalysis, and view the process of a moving through another as catalyzing this growth.  We ground our approach in developmental literature on the sequential steps the child takes in developing a theory of mind and come to view the increased apprehension of mind as a joint collaborative activity that grows abilities in the individual as a result of fluidly moving through the perspectives of another and in turn being moved in feeling by those perspectives. Drawing from literatures in developmental psychology, nonlinear dynamic systems theory, enactive social cognition, and psychoanalytic theory from a variety of contemporary orientations we show how specific interactive processes reach into the core of our self-constitution and are the ways in which we can truly affect each other.  http://www.austenriggs.org/event/engagement-and-moving-through


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