1.5 Continuing Education Credits for Social Workers

Sanford Meisner, Improvisation, and the Art of Psychoanalysis

Traditionally, applied psychoanalysis has put the stage on the couch. However, in this paper, I put psychoanalysis on the stage. I propose that creativity in the theater contributes to making the work with patients more effective. I explicate the work of Sanford Meisner, a renowned theater teacher. He developed the art of improvisation, based on an unpredictable, affective engagement in the present moment. Meisner improvisation enlivens the analyst/patient connection; and furthers our understanding of interpretation, transference, imagination, and creativity. A case illustrates an apparent impasse between a patient and analyst. A Meisner improvisation revealed that the current impasse was an opportunity to further the treatment. Meisner improvisation promotes therapeutic action, contributes to our effectiveness as analysts, and adds to the art of psychoanalysis.

Arthur A. Gray, PhD, an honorary member of IPSS, is faculty, supervisor, and serves on its Coordinating Committee. He is also faculty and supervisor at the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society’s Group Therapy Department, and at the Training Institute for Mental Health, and council member of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. He consults with self psychology groups in South Africa and in Japan, and conducts supervision online using his group supervisory model. His published articles apply self psychology and subjectivity theory to individual, couples, group, and supervision. He has a special interest in how improvisation informs the therapeutic process. In private practice in New York City, Arthur treats adults using individual, couples, and group psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

Jeffery Trop, MD, is a supervising, training analysts, and instructor at ICP/LA (Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, CA). He is also an honorary Assistant Professor UCLA School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Trop has a interest in dynamic systems theory and intersubjectivity, and has published many papers on the subject. He was also an author of Impasses in Psychoanalytic Therapy- A Royal Road (with G. Atwood and R. Strolorow).

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