NDJ:3 Michael Bieber .


In preparation for our work in revising the curriculum at HGPI, we reviewed the writing curriculum at the Columbia, Boston and San Diego institutes and borrowed from all three. Our initial premise in proposing an expanded curriculum is that one cannot assume a candidate with an advanced degree knows how to write well and an institute can help candidates develop their skills.

Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute

Writing and Presenting Psychoanalytic Thinking



Michael Bieber, Ph.D., Mary L. Scharold, M.D., Catherine Stevenson, M.D., Nancy Warren, Ph.D.

The writing curriculum consists of four courses: “Beginning to Write” – clinical writing in the first trimester of the second year, and then three writing and presenting courses, including a critical thinking section, in each of the three trimesters of the fifth year – “Preparing and Presenting a Psychoanalytic Project”, “Critical Thinking, Writing, and Presenting”, and “Writing and Presenting”. The vision of this curriculum is to encourage and help develop a culture of writing in the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute. We hope to provide candidates the training and skills to write effectively, whether they are writing a letter to a colleague regarding a patient, writing a case report, writing a presentation for a scientific meeting, writing for a colloquium, writing a professional paper, writing for certification, or writing creatively. Readings will begin with a focus on the process of observation in which the analyst develops data on which a report is based. There will be readings about the process of writing and on grammar and punctuation. There will be readings on resistances to writing, and patients reading analysts’ writing. Four sessions in the second trimester of the fifth year will be a critical thinking sub-curriculum with readings on a critical evaluation of psychoanalytic knowledge. Work in class will include discussion of readings, free writing exercises, and small group discussion of participants’ work. In the first year class, candidates will be encouraged to begin using writing mentors on their six-month reports, and then hopefully on other projects they may initiate. It is also recommended that their writing mentor not be their supervisor but someone unfamiliar with their case.

Year 2, Trimester 1: Beginning to Write

The focus in this initial class on writing will be to assist candidates in writing their six-month reports. There will be free writing exercises at the beginning of each class and discussion of these writings among class members. Candidates will be asked to describe the therapeutic process in one session, process over a week, and then process over a month of analytic work. Finally, candidates are expected to bring a draft of their six-month report. Copies will be given to members of the class with small group discussions. These discussions of reports will be done in an atmosphere that focuses on the writing: what works, what doesn’t work, whether the sentences are clear, the paragraphs coherent, the voice active, and whether there is good description of analytic process. These sessions are not supervisory sessions on clinical work but on understanding and learning effective writing. It is emphasized how vulnerable one is when writing and that it is important to be respectful of this when discussing colleagues’ work. The last sessions of this trimester will continue with free writes at the beginning of class and then discussion of readings and other writing that candidates may be doing.

Session 1: Writing about Process

Bernstein, Stephen B. Guidelines: Comments on Treatment Report Writing and the Written Description of Analytic Process. J. ClinPsa 1:469-478, 1992.

Bernstein, Stephen B. (1998) Writing about the Psychoanalytic Process. Unpublished, 37 pp.

3. Scharff, Jill S. On Writing from Clinical Experience. J Am Psa A 48:421-447, 2000.
Session 2: Observing Process Data

Candidates will bring a paragraph of process from a single session.

4. Michels, Robert. The Case History. J Am Psa A 48/2:355-375, 2000.

5. Sonnenberg, Stephen M. Patient Evaluation, III: Psychodynamic Evaluation (2004) in
Concise Guide to Psychodynamic Psychotherapy-Third Edition. Ed. by Ursano, Robert J.,
Sonnenberg, Stephen M., & Lazar, Susan G., American Psychiatric Press, Washington,
DC, pp. 53-71.

Session 3: Formulating Cases

Candidates will bring three paragraphs of process from one week.

McWilliams, Nancy. The Relationship between Case Formulation and Psychotherapy (1999) in Psychoanalytic Case Formulation, Chapter One. Guilford Press, New York, pp. 9-28.

Perry, Samuel W., Cooper, Arnold M., & Michels, Robert. The Psychodynamic Formulation: Its Purpose, Structure and Clinical Application. Am J Psych 144/5:543-550, 1987.

Session 4: Writing Process over Time

Candidates will bring three paragraphs of process from one month.

8. Lamott, Anne. Introduction, Getting Started, Short Assignments (1995) in Bird by Bird:
Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor Books, New York, pp. xi-20.

Session 5: Trying to Write

Candidates will bring a draft of their six-month report.

Session 6: Discussing Our Writing I

Truss, Lynne. Foreword, Publisher’s Note, Preface, Introduction – The Seventh Sense (2004) in Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Gotham Books, New York, pp. xi-34.

Kantrowitz, Judy L. Writing about Patients: I. Ways of Protecting Confidentiality and Analysts’ Conflicts over Choice of Method. J Am Psa A 52/1:69-99, 2004.

Session 7: Discussing Our Writing II

11. Goldberg, Natalie. (1986) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.
Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA, pp. xi-18.

Session 8: Writing Well

Unnamed Author. Basic Grammar and Punctuation (Handout).

Strunk, William. I. Introductory, II. Elementary Rules of Usage, III. Elementary Principles of Composition, IV. A Few Matters of Form (1999) in The Elements of Style. Bartleby.com, New York.

Parnell, Gay. I. Writing Assignment, II. Writing Critique (2005) in What Makes Clinical Writing Effective? Unpublished, 8 pp.

Session 9: Resisting Writing

Sonnenberg, Stephen M. To Write or Not to Write: A Note on Self-Analysis and the Resistance to Self-Analysis (1993) in Self-Analysis: Critical Inquiries, Personal Visions. Ed. by Barron, James W., Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 241-259.

Stein, Martin H. Writing about Psychoanalysis: I. Analysts Who Write and Those Who Do Not. J Am Psa A 36/1:105-124, 1988.

Session 10: Writing Analysts and Reading Patients

Kantrowitz, Judy L. Writing about Patients: II. Patients’ Reading about Themselves and Their Analysts’ Perception of Its Effect. J Am Psa A 52/1:101-123, 2004.

Stein Martin H. Writing about Psychoanalysis: II. Analysts Who Write, Patients Who Read. J Am Psa A 36/2:393-408, 1988.

Year 5, Trimester 1: Preparing and Presenting a Psychoanalytic Project

This initial course for the advanced candidate is to help start a psychoanalytic project. This can be a professional paper, a paper on an applied project, a 20 page certification write up, a short story, essay, collection of poetry, or a chapter of a book. There will be free writes in class and presentation and discussion of developing projects throughout the trimester.

Session 1: Presenting Psychoanalytic Ideas

The group will discuss how to consider, think about, and present psychoanalytic ideas as opposed to writing a professional paper. Guest speaker – a psychoanalytic writer.

Session 2: Improvisation

Each participant will participate in recommended improvisational exercises with the group.

Session 3: Beginning a Project

Each candidate will present their initial ideas for their project. This does not have to be written, but should include their thinking about what their project will be. The teachers will help the candidate decide on an appropriate project.

Session 4: Visual Thinking

There will be a description and discussion of Power Point, video and other methods of presenting. Guest speaker – a psychoanalytic presenter & writer.

1. Tufte, Edward R. (2003) The Cognitive Style of Power Point. Graphics Press, Cheshire,
CT, 28 pp.

Session 5: Outlining the Proposal

Candidates will present a one-page paper with introductory ideas about their projects.

2. Downey, T. Wayne. (2000) Guidelines for Writing a Psychoanalytic Essay. Unpublished,

Session 6: Writing as a Stimulus for Analytic Work

Reiser, Lynn W. The Write Stuff. J Am Psa A 48/351-354, 2000.

Coen, Stanley J. Why We Need to Write Openly about Our Clinical Cases. J Am Psa A 48: 449-470, 2000.

Gerson, Samuel. The Therapeutic Action of Writing about Patients. Psa Dialogues 10:261-266, 2000.

Kantrowitz, Judy L. Patients reading about themselves: A Stimulus to Psychoanalytic Work. Psa Quart 74/2 365-395, 2005.

Session 7: Writing Ethically

Stoller, Robert. Patients’ Responses to Their Own Case Reports. J Am Psa A 36:371-391, 1988.

Aron, Lewis. Ethical Considerations in the Writing of Psychoanalytic Case Histories. Psa Dialogues 10:231-245, 2000.

9. Gabbard, Glen O. Disguise or Consent. Int J Psa 81:1071-1086, 2000.
Session 8: Editing Writing

Guest speaker – a psychoanalytic editor.

Session 9: Discussing Projects I

Candidates will present at least 5 pages of work on their project. The class may break up into small groups to discuss each candidate’s written work.

Session 10: Discussing Projects II

Continuation of small group discussion of each candidate’s written work.

Year 5, Trimester 2: Critical Thinking, Writing, and Presenting

Classes will begin with free writes which last about 15 minutes. Sessions 1 through 4 will be a critical thinking curriculum. There are different points of view within psychoanalysis, and in the larger intellectual community, about whether to consider psychoanalysis a scientific or interpretive discipline. These controversies reflect different ways of thinking about the psychoanalytic situation. The implications of these different points of view are profound. Sessions 5 through 10 will begin a pattern of each candidate presenting his work to the small group on a rotational basis and the group discussing this work.

Session 1: Epistemological Points of View

10. Rubenstein, B. Person, Organism, and Self: Their Worlds and Their Psychoanalytically
Relevant Relationships (1997) in Psychoanalysis and the Philosophy of Science. Ed. by
Holt, R.R. & Eagle, M. N., Intern Univ Press, New York, pp. 415-445.

Session 2: Pluralism

Wallerstein, R. S. Will Psychoanalytic Pluralism Be an Enduring State of Our Discipline? Int J Psa 86:623-632, 2005.

Green, A. The Illusion of Common Ground and Mythical Pluralism. Int J Psa 86:627-632, 2005.

Wallerstein, R. S. Dialogue or Illusion? How Do We Go From Here? (Response to Andre Green). Int J Psa 86:633-638, 2005.

Session 3: The Hermeneutic Point of View

Friedman, L. Modern Hermeneutics and Psychoanalysis. Psa Quart 69:225-264, 2000.

Schafer, R. Authority, Evidence and Knowledge in the Psychoanalytic Situation. Psa Quart 65:236-253, 1996.

Session 4: The Scientific Point of View

Kafka, F. Investigations of a Dog (1952) in Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka. Random House, New York, pp. 202-255.

Kandel, E. R. Biology and the Future of Psychoanalysis: A New Intellectual Framework for Psychiatry Revisited. Am. J. Psych 156:505-524, 1999.

Sessions 5-10: Writing Through

Candidates will now begin a routine of writing, presenting their work in small groups and rewriting. Discussion will focus on use of language, clarity, style, audience, active voice, and other qualities of effective writing. Each candidate should present his ongoing work at least twice.

Year 5, Trimester 3: Writing and Presenting

Writing exercises will start each session. There will continue to be ongoing presentations of each candidate’s work and discussions of how these projects might be improved or be more effective.

Session 1: Refreshing Writing

Candidates will read two additional articles as a preamble to their ongoing writing, presentations, and discussions. Guest speaker – a writer.

18. Morrison, N. K. & Evaldson, J. R. Thoughts on the Processes of Psychoanalytic Writing.
ContempPsa 26:408-419, 1990.

19. Ogden, Thomas. On Psychoanalytic Writing. Int J Psa 86:15-29, 2005.

Sessions 2 – 10: Writing and Discussing

Writing exercises will start each session. Each candidate’s project will be discussed in small groups at least 3 times during the trimester.

Writing exercises will start each session. Each candidate’s project will be discussed in small groups at least 3 times during the trimester.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s