Opening the Fortress of Solitude: Can It Become Safe To Feel With Another?

The presence of childhood trauma compromises an adult patient’s capacity for trust and closeness, and presents the therapist with a particular kind of clinical challenge. For a therapy to be most helpful, some degree of trust and closeness needs to be established.

This field is required.
This field is required.

Saturday, February 25, 2023
9:00 - 11:30 AM EST Zoom Program & Discussion
Registration is required for this program. All registrants will receive a Zoom link.
The 2023 Alan Pollack Psychotherapy Conference on the Nature of the Transference 

The presence of childhood trauma compromises an adult patient’s capacity for trust and closeness, and presents the therapist with a particular kind of clinical challenge. For a therapy to be most helpful, some degree of trust and closeness needs to be established. So, when a patient comes to us with long-established ways of keeping others at a safe distance, how should we best proceed? How can the patient and therapist balance the dynamics of emotional safety and risk in therapy when the patient fears exploitation and humiliation by the therapist? This conference aims to explore how a patient’s transference can be seen as both a necessary self-protective barrier while also containing potential aids to the difficult working through of childhood trauma. How does a therapist navigate the at-times-impossible tensions between a patient’s wishes for both self-protection and growth? 


Kerry Walsh, LICSW, Presenter
is an ATP Post-Seminar Student at BPSI.  Until January 2022 she was a clinician at McLean Hospital Behavioral Health Partial Program, Belmont, MA. She is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Arlington, MA 

Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD, Discussant
is a faculty member at BPSI and MIP and on the board of directors of the Boston Group for Psychoanalytic Studies and of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly, where he is also the Book Review Editor. Dr. Barahona is on the editorial boards of The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, the Psychoanalytic Quarterly, and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He has a private practice in Brookline, MA. 

Paola Contreras, PsyD, Discussant
is a BPSI, Psychoanalyst Member & Co-Director Community Psychoanalysis Concentration. She is an Associate Professor at William James College where she directs the Human Trafficking Community Research Hub. She has a private practice in Cambridge, MA 

Alan Pollack, MD, Moderator
is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst on the faculty at BPSI, where he was the Director of Psychotherapy Training for 24 years. He has a private practice in Newton, MA. 

Learning Objectives

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

  1. Discuss how to understand a patient’s need for defensive withdrawal following moments of vulnerability and increased closeness.
  2. Describe two examples where transference/countertransference dynamics became organized around a patient’s wish for self-protection and fear of growth.
  3. Describe three common countertransference responses to a patient’s defensive withdrawal.
  4. Describe how the patient’s defensive withdrawal can provide inroads for working through of childhood trauma. 


9:00 am Welcoming Remarks; 9:10 am Paper presentation; 10:00 am 1st Discussant; 10:20 am Break; 10:30am 2nd Discussant; 10:50am Panelists respond to each other; 11:05 am Audience discussion. 


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

The target audience for this program is mental health clinicians at all levels of training and members of the community.
Scholarships are available for BPSI programs.
$95 Progrsm Fee
$85 Early Bird Special (available until 02/06/2023) Use Code at Checkout: EB2023OFS



This Zoom event may be recorded and shared with all registrants. The video may also be used for educational purposes or made available for purchase. If you do not wish to be recorded, please turn your camera off. By registering for this event, you grant permission to BPSI to the rights of your images, in video or still, and of the likeness and sound of your voice as recorded on audio or video.


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 2.5 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 2.5 hours of CE credits for psychologists.

Social Workers: Application for social work continuing education credits has been submitted. Please contact us at or 617-266-0953 for the status of 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: The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (BPSI) has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6913. BPSI is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. This program offers 2.5 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 Stephanie Cavanaugh 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.