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Leary, K. (2012). Race as an Adaptive Challenge: Working with Diversity in the Clinical Consulting Room. Psychoanal. Psychol., 29(3):279-291.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(3):279-291


Race as an Adaptive Challenge: Working with Diversity in the Clinical Consulting Room

Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D.

In this paper I extend the conceptual space in which analytic clinicians may think about racialized experience in order to enhance our capacity to work with racialized subjectivity in the consulting room. I suggest that race in America may be usefully understood to be an “adaptive challenge” (Heifetz, 1998), indicating that a meaningful gap exists between aspirations and the realities of everyday experience. This means when race gets enacted in the psychoanalytic consulting room, the problem or opportunity that is actualized will always look different to the patient and the analyst, as a function of their different loyalties, values, and habits. Using an extended clinical vignette, I suggest that psychoanalytic clinical formulations can be enhanced by a consideration of frameworks from leadership development and from the social psychology of racial experiencing.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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