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Goldberg, C.O. (1997). Psychotherapy and Pedagogy: The Clinician in the Classroom. Ann. Psychoanal., 25:61-71.

(1997). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 25:61-71

Psychotherapy and Pedagogy: The Clinician in the Classroom

Constance O. Goldberg, M.S., LCSW

In new and imaginative ways, the work of Michael Basch has invigorated the teaching, learning, and doing of psychotherapy. His work crosses professional and theoretical boundaries as he attempts firmly to locate our therapeutic pursuits within current scientific findings regarding brain functioning, a thorough grounding in depth psychology, and a healthy dose of common sense—much of which he explicated using empathy as a guiding tool. In Basch's work, the obvious is never passed over or disregarded but rather is mined for its deeper meanings and affective experience.

Basch was a demystifier of the practice and teaching of psychotherapy and thereby conveyed his conviction that our guiding theories and techniques are eminently understandable and—crucially—capable of being passed from one generation of therapists to another. His optimism about the pedagogy of psychotherapy enlivened many a seminar and conference. What, then, is the essence of this treatment that is so well grounded for Basch in the functioning of the brain and the exercise of empathy?

For Basch (1988), dynamic psychotherapy “focuses on the aspect of the person's self concept that is either frustrating his potential or is leading the patient into an inappropriate and counterproductive attempt to breach those limits, and then tries to help the patient resolve those problems” (p. 19). It is the role of the clinician-teacher to assist students, whether it be in supervisory situations or in the classroom, to understand what is being required of them as therapists and to develop ways of communication with the individual student or the class that will enhance the students’ ability to help the patient “breach” his limits—however they may be construed. The main body of Basch's work was addressed to the beginner and, indeed, many of his case illustrations either had their origin in presentations made by psychiatric residents or were presented by him to them in case conferences.

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