Don't Just Do Something, Sit There! (The 2019 Alan Pollack Annual Psychotherapy Conference on the Nature of the Transference)

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How does a therapist increase the capacity to bear intolerable distress in herself and her patients?

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

BPSI, 141 Herrick Road

Newton Centre, MA 02459

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There! The challenge of bearing helplessness and despair


When a patient experiences intolerable anxiety, helplessness or despair, therapists often experience pressure to act in ways to relieve these unbearable states, only to discover that their efforts are counterproductive. With patients who struggle to describe their internal experience, the therapist may feel even more acutely that which the patient cannot tolerate. How do therapists make use of their own internal experience and reverie to better understand their patient’s unarticulated states of being? How does the therapist increase the capacity to bear intolerable distress in herself and her patients? In this paper, the therapist recognizes and bravely grapples with the powerful urge to act to ward off known and unknown fears held by both patient and therapist, and begins to create a space where patient and therapist learn to hope and trust in the patient’s own capacities to cope. 


Sirel Taner-Caballero, LMHC (Presenter) graduated from the Advanced Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program (ATP) at BPSI in May 2018. She has a private practice in Newton, MA.

Dan Buie, MD (Discussant) is a Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus at BPSI and an associate professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical School.

Jane Hanenberg, EdD (Discussant) is a Training and Supervising Analyst at BPSI and on its faculty. She is a graduate of the ATP, and has a private practice in Watertown, MA.

M. Carole Drago, LICSW (Moderator) is on the faculty and a supervisor in the ATP and Fellowship Programs at BPSI. She is also an adjuct faculty member at Harvard Medical School and has a private practice in Lexington, MA.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss how to develop the capacity to contain anxiety and helplessness without precipitously rescuing their patients from these affective states.
  2. Demonstrate three examples of psychodynamic interventions that facilitate the patient’s ability to cope in the face of seemingly unbearable affect.
  3. Describe the use of reverie to help identify manifestations of transference/countertransference dynamics in the treatment process.
  4. Explain three common countertransference responses to a patient’s hopelessness and despair.


Cohen, E. (2014). Getting into mud together: Trauma, despair and mutual regression. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 23(1):37-43. [PEP-Web Link]
Crugnola, C.R. (2016). Attachment and affects in the analytic dialogue. Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 10:25-47. [PEP-Web Link]
Gerrard, J. (2015). Hopelessness in the Analysis. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(3):348-359. [PDF]
Hoffer, A., Buie, D.H. (2016). Helplessness and the analyst’s war against feeling it. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 76(1):1-17. [PDF]

9:00am - 9:10am: Welcoming Remarks; 9:10am - 10:00am: Paper presentation; 10:00am - 10:20am: 1st Discussant; 10:20am - 10:40am: Coffee break; 10:40am - 11:00am: 2nd Discussant; 11:00am - 12:00pm: Audience discussion.

This program is made possible by the generous support of BPSI Members and friends.
Your gift to BPSI supports the future of psychotherapy education.  
To make a gift, please visit

This program will be of interest to mental health clinicians at all levels of training. 
Scholarships available for all BPSI programs.
FEE: $65 Early Bird (use code: EB2019PSY); $75 Regular (as of 3/2/2019)
The fee is waived for Early Career Clinicians, and BPSI Members, Trainees, and Partners.

Continuing Education 
Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose. 
Psychologists: The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program fulfills the requirements for 2.5 hours of CE. 
Please note: Per APA requirements, psychologists must attend 100% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.
Social Workers: Application for social work continuing education credtis has been submitted. Please contact us at or 617-266-0953 for the status of social work CE accreditation.
Please noe: Per NASW requirements, social workers must attend 80% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.
The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6913. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. This program offers 3 NBCC Clock Hours.


Event Cancellation Policies & Procedures
Any program participant requesting their individual program registration be canceled, must submit their request in writing via email to Drew Brydon at For fee-based events, a request for cancellation (and refund using the original form of payment) must be received no later than 48 hours in advance of the event. Requests received later than 48 hours prior to the event will not be processed or accepted. All approved refunds are subject to a $10.00 administrative fee. If BPSI cancels an event, all registrants will receive a full refund of fees paid (no administration charge) no later than two business days following the scheduled date of the event, using the original form of payment.

Grievance Policy
Please address any questions or concerns about your experience at this or any program or event you have attended at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute to the Program Chair, via the Senior Administrator/Continuing Education Administrator, BPSI, 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459;; 617.266.0953.

The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Inc., 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459, does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin or handicap in the admissions, administration of its educational programs, scholarship programs or employment.





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