Ontological Psychoanalysis: From Knowing to Being and Becoming

Over the course of exploring the foundations of contemporary psychoanalytic theory, we have found a repeated return to a fundamental distinction between an epistemological framing and an ontological framing of psychoanalytic theory and praxis.

This field is required.
This field is required.

8 Sessions: Wednesdays, April 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, 2023
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 pm EDT
Schedule: 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Lecture/Presentation; 8:30 pm - 9:00 pm: Group Discussion

This course will only take place in-person at BPSI. All registrants must sign a Vaccine & Booster Attestation. Click here to sign.

Registration Deadline: April 6, 2023

Seminar sessions are not recorded and registrants are expected to be able to attend all sessions in their entirety. Should your availability change, please contact the BPSI office (team@bpsi.org) to remove your course registration and allow other interested participants to attend. 


Ontological Psychoanalysis: From Knowing to Being and Becoming
Over the course of exploring the foundations of contemporary psychoanalytic theory, we have found a repeated return to a fundamental distinction between an epistemological framing and an ontological framing of psychoanalytic theory and praxis. Although this is something recently thematized by Ogden (2019, 2020) in a reconnaissance of his thinking over the years, it reflects a growing recognition of a transition in how we think and work as psychoanalysts, something that captures key reconceptualization's and modes of practice that have been part of our field for a long time. In this seminar, rather than retrace the diachronic history of this change, we hope to engage participants in a synchronic experience of working from a stance that changes our relationship between knowing (epistemology) and being (ontology). The relationship we hope to develop and experience might be best understood in the synergistic connection: knowing > being > knowing, where the second form of knowing is in fact, being <-> knowing.
We will explore this through an examination of “process” itself, the unfolding of an experience, and will discuss the is process from three different vertices: first, psychoanalytic and philosophical thinking in an ontological mode; second, clinical examples of our work on being and becoming; and third, an examination of group process as it evolves in our work together exploring these experiences and ideas.


Jack Foehl, PhD
President, Training and Supervising Analyst, BPSI Associate Professor, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.
Joint Editor in Chief, Psychoanalytic Dialogues.
Christopher Lovett, PhD
Co-Chair and Faculty, Explorations in Mind program, BPSI Editorial Board Member, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association Board of Directors, The Boston Group for Psychoanalytic Studies.

This course is open to beginning and intermediate licensed mental health clinicians and trainees on the path to licensure. Continuing Education credits are offered for physicians, psychologists, and social workers.

Learning Objectives

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

  1. Describe the difference between epistemological psychoanalysis and ontological psychoanalysis.
  2. Explicate the difference between the symbolic meaning of the 'play' and the state of being involved in 'playing' and its importance in psychoanalytic process and technique.
  3. Define the two different modes of therapeutic action involved in epistemological psychoanalysis versus ontological psychoanalysis.
  4. Explain what is meant by the phrase, "the analyst's practical epistemology" and how it is related to the practitioners 'analytic attitude'.
  5. Describe the experience between patient and analyst of 'becoming informed by being-with'.
  6. Compare and analyze the difference between the accumulation of mental knowledge and a process of psychic growth.
  7. Utilize 'negative capability' and describe its relation to the idea 'making strange the familiar' in the analytic process.
  8. Describe the central that the shift from the analysis of dreams to the experience of dreaming plays in the development of receptivity to the patient's unconscious experience.

Scholarships are available for BPSI programs.

$375 Course Fee
$300 Early Bird (available until 03/15/2023) Use Code at Checkout: EB2023OP
$50 Early Career Clinicians, Residents and Students

The fee is waived for BPSI Members, Trainees, and Partners. Scholarships are available upon request.


Explorations in Mind: Community Education at BPSI is made possible by the generous support of BPSI Members and friends.
To make a gift to BPSI, contact Carole Nathan (cnathan@bpsi.org or 617-266-0953 x101),
go to www.bpsi.org, or send mail to BPSI, 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459.

Program Administrator
Stephanie Cavanaugh: scavanaugh@bpsi.org

Program Co-Chairs
Holly Friedman Housman, LICSW: holly@housman.org
Chris Lovett, PhD: cglovett44@gmail.com

Continuing Education 

Physicians: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint provider ship of 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 12 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 for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s)* to disclose with ineligible companies* whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.
*Financial relationships are relevant if the educational content an individual can control is related to the business lines or products of the ineligible company. -Updated July 2021-

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 course offers 12 hours of CE credits for psychologists.

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 has been submitted. Please contact us at office@bpsi.org or 617-266-0953 for the status of the social work CE accreditation.
Please note: Per NASW requirements, social workers must attend 80% of a course in order to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Licensed Mental Health Clinicians: NBCC credits are not available for this course.
Please note: Licensed Mental Health Clinicians may request continuing education credit on an individual basis from NBCC, through their Continuing Education Credit Verification process.

Event Cancellation Policies & Procedures
Any program participant requesting their individual program registration be canceled, must submit their request in writing via email to Stephanie Cavanaugh at scavanaugh@bpsi.org. 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(s), via the Senior Administrator/Continuing Education Administrator, BPSI, 141 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459; team@bpsi.org; 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 to or administration of its educational programs, scholarship programs or employment.