Education & Events

2022 Annual Forum Conference

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2022 Annual Forum Conference

Saturday, May 21, 2022 9:00am to 4:00pm
Mercer Island Community Center
8236 SE 24th St
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Sponsored by: 
The Mercer Island Community Center has air purifiers and superior ventilation throughout the Center, and we will be asking for proof of vaccination at registration and also requesting that you wear your mask during the morning presentations. And lastly in an abundance of caution we have cancelled the wine and cheese event which was scheduled to follow the plenary.

32nd Annual Forum Conference - "Environment"

It is the aim of the Forum, our annual conference and spring meeting, to share the experience, training, and expertise of the psychoanalytic community. The 32nd annual Forum will take place on May 21, 2022, and we are excited to welcome presentations on topics of interest to our members.

About the theme:

All life takes place in environment(s). What is our environment? How do we make sense of it? How do those ideas affect or move us? Given the shared environment with our patients, what is our response-ability as clinicians? What response-ability do we believe our patients bear? To live is to be in an environment, be affected—and to respond. For your Forum paper proposal, we invite you to play with this theme of drawing us deeper and more broadly into and out of the environments that we inhabit.


8:30am Doors & Registration Table Open (coffee and & tea)
9:15am Presentations Series I:

"Wanting Mares, Missing Objects, and Desiring Dystopias—a Lacanian Interpretation of Eco-Catastrophe"

Katharine Joo

Driving the proliferation of signifiers referring to climate change related psychic distress—eco-anxiety, solastalgia, ecological grief etc.—is a repetition attempting to symbolize a disturbance in our networks of signification anchoring us to time and place. As with any biomedical or psychological diagnosis, such signifiers play an essential role solidifying the social link of university discourse, ultimately favoring knowledge over a subject’s singular truth. What is our ethical responsibility as a psychoanalyst towards patients who approach us with symptoms they relate to global environmental change?  Can we take up a radical position of ignorance rather than of “the subject supposed to know” in response to a patient’s demands for a solution by eschewing anxiolytic speech promoting “resiliency” or “collective action”? What might patients gain by an exploration of fantasy and desire in its unique manifestations? After a demonstration of a Lacanian exegesis of the film The Wanting Mare, which unlike most post-apocalyptic/eco-catastrophe genre media products, suggests a traversal of fantasy rather than a perpetually repeating fantasy of “end of the world,” we will devote our time to a free-form discussion about personal, clinical or cultural examples of how the unconscious has shaped language around climate change. 

"Promising Medicine: Psychedelics and Consciousness"

Tanya Ruckstuhl LICSW

 Analytic treatment seeks to help people make sense of their inner world, to have a more robust experience of fully inhabiting their own lives, and to be better able to manage difficult feelings.

 Psychedelics, when used not for escape but rather for active inner engagement, appear to offer access to some of these same integration goals.

Our conversation will include consideration of the placebo effect in mainstream psychotropic medications and how it may be a beneficial agent in psychedelic medicine.

This presentation will highlight some of the current scientific research into the use of psychedelics to treat depression and anxiety, and will include some of the presenter’s own experiences with these substances, as well as a framework for safer conversations with clients who may express interest in psychedelic experiences.

"The Environment of the Bad Object: Idealizing an Internalized Bad Object"

Astrid Davidson, Psy.D.

This presentation will discuss how the internalization of a bad object can develop into idealizing bullies and aggressors that simulate the original internalized object.  Repetition compulsion will be explored in the context of how old patterns are embedded in our unconscious so that we continue to repeat messages received in our developmental years.  How the bad object emerges in the environment of the consulting room will be discussed by examining the idealized and devalued self and other manifestations in the transference.  

I will then elaborate on how the environment of our current polarized political divide can sometimes parallel the dynamic in the idealizing and devaluing of self and others.  I will discuss how idealizing an internalized bad object can evolve into the idealization of the bullies in our current political environment.  The paper will then explore how an undifferentiated self can be predisposed to the idealization of the bad object.  The paper will explain how utilizing a Psychoanalytic Intersubjective Self Psychological approach can be beneficial in the treatment.  The presentation will conclude with a case presentation provided by Julie Cake where she will show how this bad object environment materialized in her work with a patient while navigating covid mandates and restrictions placed on healthcare workers. 

10:45am Break
11:00am Presentations Series II:

“Still Trying: psychoanalysis, infertility, and the impossibility of doing it right.”

Tyson J. Conner, MA, LMHC

This paper investigates three strands of the author’s personal and professional development that precipitated a strong emotional reaction to a dry, technical description of parent-child attachment processes. By exploring the author’s experience of infertility, struggles with psychoanalytic study and practice, and clinical material with a particular client, this paper seeks to orient itself toward to the core of what it means to make significant contact with a beloved other. The paper describes ways that psychoanalytic theory and technique can be used to inhibit meaningful contact, ways that they can be used to increase capacity for meaningful contact, and the risks involved in both. The paper also seeks to complicate some common assumptions about the experience and process of infertility treatment. It argues that the desire to “do right” often supersedes the goal of “being with” in psychoanalytic encounters to the detriment of everyone in the psychoanalytic constellation, and that “being with” may be used as an orienting principal to enliven and deepen psychoanalytic work.

"Being and Belonging:  Asian American Therapists in Dialogue"

Gloria A. Huh, Ph.D, Jane Liaw-Gray, PsyD, Corinne Mar, Ph.D & Sabina Neem, MSW, MLSP

This roundtable and group discussion is specifically for clinicians of color, as there are scarce opportunities for clinicians of color to have honest dialogues regarding race in professional spaces.

A group of Seattle-based Asian American therapists found ourselves gathered in study with Dr. Usha Tummala-Narra, a Boston-based South Asian researcher/psychoanalytic psychotherapist amidst a global pandemic, the aftermath of Trump, the (re)emergence of collective responses to the killing of black Americans at the hands of the state, and escalating anti-Asian violence. We will share our story of finding each other, developing as a collective and as individuals, and practicing re-centering ourselves as we build our collective consciousness and individual narratives.

We will be discussing the psychoanalytic communities lack of recognition of the experiences and perspectives of clinicians of color, and its focus on individual psychopathology, assumption of universal development within a nuclear family model, and a failure to recognize the cultural, social, and political contexts of trauma.  We will explore the otherness felt by clinicians of color in the psychoanalytic community and collectively find words for this reality.  We hope to stimulate self-reflection about this otherness and about the importance of finding colleagues who support and understand us while acknowledging and valuing our differences. 

"Thinking towards a world we can fall in love with - starting with our discipline"

Robin McCoy Brooks M.A., T.E.P., L.M.H.C.    

It is obvious that we are experiencing an overwhelming global mental health crisis. We have the wisdom as a discipline to transform how we function as a community that is in alignment with what we care about amidst pervasive disempowering conditions. Working together towards transformative change means creating new conceptual, work and life knowledge systems that meet the needs of our time. This includes critiquing and changing how we practice, supervise, train, teach, and heal as a profession under constant siege. Examples: Supporting clinician fatigue, adapting soft, fluid hierarchical systems versus top down management, distributing power (leadership), creating inclusive environments such as making analytic training accessible for all (how about free), embracing group practice as a norm, etc. 

I suggest we adopt a heuristic approach inspired by our grass-roots social activist neighbors. This approach supports the belief that each of us has the potential to authentically relate to each other in novel, live-giving ways that are empowering and generative. Mutual-aid communities are thus participatory in that they collectively solve problems by creating cultures that mobilize community members towards shared aims through shared leadership (responsibility). What are your thoughts and visions for a radicalized psychotherapy today?

“Becoming an Environmentalist: The Emergence and Evolution of Early Trauma”

Samantha Good, LICSW

When traumatic events happen before physical and psychological separateness is established, they may be experienced as environmental disasters or catastrophes.  Through a detailed clinical example, this paper explores the complex nature of infantile trauma, its emergence in treatment, and its emotional links to current environmental and ecological concerns.  The paper traces one patient’s poignant engagement with ecology, climate change, and collective disasters as a means of attending to her own early trauma.  In this regard, the patient elucidated the links between the realms of psychoanalysis, the infantile and internal environments, and the larger world. 

12:30pm Break

12:45pm Lunch & Annual Meeting (Lunch is catered by 12 Baskets)   

1:45pm Break

2:00pm Plenary Session

"The Importance of Becoming a Climate Aware Therapist"

 Leslie Davenport

As clinicians we assess a client’s mental health by considering features such as job and relationship stressors, past trauma, and family history. But emotional distress triggered by climate change is already showing up in our practices and will only increase in the coming years. According to a poll from the American Psychiatric Association (October 2020), 67% of Americans are somewhat or extremely anxious about the impact of climate change on the planet, and 51% notice an impact on their own mental health. The toll is even greater among youth, and for many, worries about the future have grown into persistent existential dread.  It is time to add a climate psychology lens to our assessment and treatment. Explore ways to leverage our clinical training and expertise toward addressing the deep challenges of our times.

Leslie Davenport works internationally as a climate psychology educator and consultant, integrating social science insights into relevant resources for organizations exploring the intersectionality of climate, economics, policy, and social justice. She helped shape the document, “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance.” She is the author of four books including Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change, a manual for the mental health field, and All the Feelings Under the Sun written for youth through the APAs children’s book division. Leslie is an advisor to the non-profits Climate Mental Health Network, Integrative Healers Action Network, and One Resilient Earth. She is co-lead for the California Institute of Integral Studies Public Program: Climate Psychology Certification, and on faculty with their School of Professional Psychology and Health. For more information, go to and Twitter.  


3:30pm Book Sale/End of Formal Event


Fees: $150 for Alliance members, $180 for non-members, $105 student non-members, $95 Alliance student members (all rates will increase by $10 after May 7, 2022)

Refund Policy: Refunds less a $35 handling fee will be given up until one week before the presentation. 

Accommodations: The Alliance strives to host an inclusive event that enables all people, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability, to comfortably attend and access presentation materials.  So we can better meet your needs, please let us know at least two weeks in advance if you have a special accommodation request. 

Financial Need: If you are experiencing financial need and would like to discuss reduced admission, please let us know within two weeks of the event. 

This presentation has been approved for a total of 5.00 CE’s for licensed mental health counselors and associates, marriage and family therapists and social workers by the Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work. 

Contact Person: 
Brian Pendergast
Contact Email:
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