In this issue

From the Early Career Committee

The Early Career Committee reviews panel discussion on clinical identity formation

The Early Career Committee was well represented at the 2012 Spring Meeting, highlighted by our very well attended and received Invited Panel: "Fitting in and Figuring It Out: Creative Identity Formation for Early Clinicians," in which early career clinicians discussed clinical identity formation, and particular struggles they encounter in their work. The panel was comprised of two graduate students, a clinical researcher, and three early career clinicians, who articulated the struggle to maintain a psychodynamic identity while "learning and speaking the language" of other types of treatment modalities and juggling lives and careers.

The committee also formed numerous subcommittees in order to address relevant concerns, including the internship deficit, diversity, increasing travel awards for ECPs, social responsibility concerns, and mentorship. Our group is expanding, thanks to Marilyn Charles, our Co-Chair and co-founder (with Winnie Eng), who received a lifetime achievement award during our reception. A first-time conference attendee and early career psychologist shared her impressions of a panel below:

"I work as a psychotherapist in an acute psychiatric hospital. Patients here are on a delicate edge, or just back a few steps from the brink. We encourage safety, and scaffolding, and stabilization. A few weeks ago, just prior to the Division 39 conference, the weight of narratives of patient loss and traumas began unsettling my usual capacities and rhythms for listening, metabolizing and letting go. To be more precise, the suicide of a young, 29 year old colleague unsettled the balance of my capacities. Layers of feelings of helplessness and disorientation arose in the chaos of losing a fellow soldier at the frontlines of a metaphorical war. I say "metaphorical war" to explain the phenomena of increasing numbers of desperate patients arriving at the hospital with less tangible resources (i.e, housing, rehabilitation) available to them when they leave. The colleague had wanted to help. The line became thin.

This young woman came to mind when listening to Marilyn Charles’ and Sandra Ullman’s panel entitled Engendering Creativity Through Creative Engagement: Notes from the Dark Continent at the Annual Meeting of Division 39 in Santa Fe. Each presenter reflected on the importance of the creative process, and how linked creative processes, as supervisor and supervisee, and as two artists, had enriched their work with clients, and with each other. Charles showed a series of collages involving a repeated image in various shapes and patterns. She also explored the theoretical and aesthetic underpinnings of the importance of women’s creative expression including quotes from Virginia Woolf, and Adrienne Rich. Ullman’s creative inquiry involved taking photographs as she worked with a patient who had become emotionally paralyzed by pain and hopelessness. That patient brought to mind my colleague. Ullman showed photos of fortified army bunkers, or of an amorphous figure on a ledge wrapped in blue plastic and shrouded, haunting figures found along a roadway as part of her inquiry. She and Charles also presented women artists who were sincerely trying to capture and convey a relationship to feminine experience.

I realized during the Charles' and Ullman's panel the necessity of focusing on creativity, on a creative process, to help make sense of what is unfathomable within ourselves, in those we work with, and with those whom we work beside. At other times in my life, I have used creative explorations and inquiries to make sense of what seemed ineffable. Somewhere during the course of obtaining a PhD-- between classes, internships, dissertation writing, and studying for the licensing exam-- all creative inquiries were eclipsed. What Charles and Ullman brought back to mind was the essential nature of creation, of following an urge toward beauty and articulation: of being lost sometimes, emerged in new idea or the parts of things that come together to help us metabolize and integrate complex and confounding human experiences.

There is so much to say, and the danger of gradually having gone quiet."

-Trisha Ready, PhD

* Please join our listserv and check out our upcoming events and information on the Division 39 website. Contact our co-chairs, Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP or Heather-Ayn Indelicato, PsyD if you have any further questions or need any additional information.