The Ackerman Alumnae/i Association presented its final program of the 2008-09 academic year on Friday, June 12. The program was a lecture by Martha Edwards, PhD, and Gillian Walker, LCSW, on Working with Affect: A Work in Progress.
In an introduction to the topic, Dr. Edwards explained that for many years, she considered thought and emotion separate entities. A discussion with her own therapist led her to a “huge revelation” that “every thought has a feeling.” As a result, she learned to integrate thought and feeling.
Ms. Walker said she generally disliked going to workshops, but was persuaded to attend one a few years ago that was led by Diana Fosha, author of The Transformational Power of Affect. Ms. Walker said the work done by Ms. Fosha was “the most loving work I’d ever seen with patients.” She added that working with affect is “utterly challenging, fascinating, transformative.”
Dr. Edwards then explained that the word emotion means to set in motion. Affect, she explained, helps people move and is wired in them. It is, she added, “what makes us feel alive.”
In working with affect, Dr. Edwards said, it is helpful to conceptualize a triangle of conflict with affect at the bottom. Her goal, she said, is to help her patients drop down into core affect. Often, this is difficult to accomplish because as the patient gets closer, s/he often is overcome with anxiety and institutes defenses. The solution for the therapist is to slow the entire process down. It is essential to help patients feel safe so they can drop down.
Ms.Walker demonstrated how the use of a genogram can help a therapist find explanations for the exclusion of affect. She added that the therapist is an attachment figure and working with affect is about repairing attachment. When you work with couples, she explained, you start the repair and then return it to them and they repair each other.
The other lectures presented this year were:
Understanding the Nature of the Risk: Building Support for Children and Families in Distress with Pedro A. Noguera, PhD, professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University; Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education; and Co-Director, Institute for the study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings, on October 23, 2008.
Back by Popular Demand: Case consultations with Ackerman Faculty with Mary Kim Brewster, PhD, Fiona True, LMSW, and Dee Watts Jones, PhD, on January 23, 2009.
Family Therapy with One Person: Coaching Individual Clients Toward Change in Family Relationships with Richard Johnson, PhD, LCSW, Director of Training, Jewish Child Care Association and professor, Columbia University School of Social Work, on March 6, 2009.
David Kezur, faculty liaison for the Association, announced in May that Brenda Shrobe and Candice Goldberg agreed to continue to serve President and Vice President of the Alumnae/i Association for an additional year while the search continued for new officers. A resolution proposing the suspension of the term limits, as stated in the By-Laws of the Association, was voted on at the June 12th meeting.
“This past year has very successful for the Alumnae/I Association program,” Brenda Shrobe said. “Membership continues to grow and the attendance at our meetings is significant. Candice and I are both delighted to serve for an extra year.”