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Stern, S. (2009). What's Possible? What Matters? Reply to Commentaries. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(6):691-703.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(6):691-703

What's Possible? What Matters? Reply to Commentaries

Steven Stern, Psy.D.

The three discussants agree that a definition of psychoanalysis tied to session frequency is problematic and needs to change. Yet none supports my recommendation to redefine the practice of psychoanalysis in terms of the practitioner's training. This prompted me to look more closely at my proposal and push my thinking further. I argue that psychoanalysis, like many other professions, needs to define its practice as the application of its complex and evolving knowledge and skill base, grounded in its unique field of inquiry. Although there are individual exceptions, the inculcation of this knowledge and skill base is generally best accomplished through psychoanalytic training. This assertion, however, rests on the premise that our training curricula keep pace with our rapidly evolving field of inquiry and knowledge. To further clarify my vision I examine the nature of psychoanalytic expertise. I suggest that such expertise amounts to the inculcation and integration of a large number of psychoanalytic frames of reference. I contend further that the nature of contemporary psychoanalytic theories is such that important psychoanalytic frames of reference are proliferating more rapidly than in the past, that the relationships among them are becoming more complex, and that consequently the application of psychoanalytic theory to practice is also becoming more complex. Psychoanalytic training programs need to recognize this expanding complexity and revise curricula and pedagogic methods on an ongoing basis to reflect this evolution within our field.

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