One Year Object Relations Day Program for Practicing Clinicians & for the New Graduates of the Training Institutes

This program was traditionally offered on Wednesdays (9am – 10:15 am – clinical theory; 10:15 am- 11:30 am – group supervision). This program is currently suspended.

Instructor: Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, DLitt
Tuition: $3000 per year. Payment plan can be arranged.


Curriculum consists of five 7-week semesters (total 35 weeks) of theoretical part which is accompanied by the “Analyst as Instrument” group supervision component. Students of this program will benefit from experiential learning of how to process “objective countertransference,” and of concepts of the “transitional space” & “transitional object,” “holding environment,” “psychic container,” and “projective identification.”

For more information, email or , OR call 212-674-5425 or 646-522-0387/ 646-522-1056.

Course 1: The Theories of Melanie Klein

The Theories of Melanie Klein addresses the fundamental clinical and developmental contributions of Melanie Klein, stressing qualitative process issues over content issues. Some course topics are:

Who is an “interpreting subject” who can receive symbolic interpretations in treatment, and who isn’t?
Who is an “historical subject” who can experience the psychic reality of time and responsibility for the limits and progression of their lives, and who endlessly repeats the delusion of “starting all over again”?
How is a symbolic level of understanding and self-reflective capacity achieved (which sometimes called “mentalization”) and when is it not?

Course 2: D. W. Winnicott’s Writings and Theories

D. W. Winnicott transformed the practice of psychoanalysis, enlarging its scope to understand the developmental progressions, disruptions, and traumas that take place within with the whole, or the leaking container, of the “mother-infant matrix.”

This Program’s unique curriculum features the supervision groups where the group process is used as a learning medium. The experiential dimension of psychoanalytic learning is introduced here, and it includes processing of “objective countertransference” feelings, associations, and visceral experiences.

For those interested in D.W. Winnicot’s works, but unable to attend morning events, please contact Dr. Kavaler-Adler for information on her private study groups. Also, visit – for more information.

Course 3: Writings of Ronald Fairbairn, the Theoretical Founder of the Object Relations Theory

For the Course Syllabus, click here: Syllabus/ Fairbairn

Perhaps Freud could be considered the first Object Relations Theorist, when in 1917, in “Mourning and Melancholia” he exclaimed “The shadow of the Object falls upon the Ego,” but it was Ronald Fairbairn who explicitly built a theory of object relations thinking from the premise that the basic and core human striving is towards “connection,” and thus towards reality through connection, as opposed to holding on to any theory of primary narcissism as Freud and even Margaret Mahler have done.

Fairbairn was the first to envision what all our infant research has validated, that the craving for the primal other dominates each human beings life, often causing profound dissociative splitting, and sealing off of the potential self, when this primal connection is traumatically disrupted, resulting in an internal drama where the vacuum cleaner sucking feeling of early need is experienced as the evisceration, robbing, entrapping, exploiting, or draining of the self. And wasn’t it Fairbairn who spoke of the “poison pie” parent who must be swallowed whole when there is no other psychic food that could be good enough to eat and digest? Wasn’t it also Fairbairn who spoke of “the moral defense” that compelled deprived, abandoned, abused, and generally traumatized children to always blame themselves so as to psychically survive in a world with the parents they were forced to totally depend on, preserving the idealized image of the parent at the price of the emaciation of the soul, when psychic annihilation would have been the alternative, the child who must chose to be “Satan in a world ruled by God than to be God in a world ruled by Satan.” Fairbairn played with the vocabulary he had learned when training to be a minister in Scotland, a period in his biography much prior to his excursions to London to speak at the British Psychoanalytic Society, side by side with Melanie Klein, who like him spoke of profound dynamic internal objects–so different than the symbolic level “introjects” that American theorists had mistakenly taken for granted.

This Seven Week course will touch on all this seminal theory along with Fairbairn’s clinical contributions related to visceral body enactments in hysteria, and the somatic body enactments that go further into playing out their monotone primal dramas in the internal world as internal body object repetitions. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said to Horatio in a Renaissance world that thought that educated reason and intellect could explain things, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And wouldn’t Fairbairn be the perfect theorist to describe the phenomena of Hamlet’s “Ghost,” when he spoke of people in psychological purgatory throughout a lifetime unless object relations treatment might slowly intervene. According to Fairbairn, we are all haunted by ghosts, the ghosts of our internal objects, so much more trenchantly alive than “introjects” that require a level of symbolic evolution that only small parts of us ascertain. Those interested in a prelude can read “Nightmares and Object Relations Theory,” (winner of a Wohlberg Memorial Award) by Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler, in Nightmares: Psychological and Biological Foundations (1987), edited by Dr. Henry Kellerman…

Course 4: Theories of Wilfred Bion

For the Course Syllabus, click here: Bion/ Syllabus

This course on Wilfred Bion’s theories will have readings and discussions related to Wilfred Bion as a theorist of clinical technique. Lectures and discussions will embrace Bion’s dialectic with Melanie Klein and the Neo-Kleinians in relation to the Every Day Containment and Processing of the essentials of what psychotherapy patients “put into us,” during the nitty gritty experience of sitting with the patient whose internal experience cannot yet be adequately verbalized at a symbolic level. Course participants will learn how to differentiate between Bion’s “attacks on linking” and Bion’s ideas on therapeutic “containment,” which go beyond D.W.Winnicott’s “holding environment,” while building on this theoretical construct of clinical technique.

When we dip into Hanna Segal’s “Notes on Symbol Formation,” we see how those at a protosymbolic level, due to developmental arrest, and as seen in all borderline, narcissistic, and schizoid character disorders, – relate to people and parts of themselves as “things in themselves” alla the “symbolic equation” rather than as entities with psychological meaning and representational form. This results in obviating the neurotic transference developments of classical analysis, and thus demands an object relations approach to teach the processing of the clinician’s experience in the treatment room. An object relations approach teaches the journey of “reverie” in the midst of preoedipal pre-symbolic enactments, which can eventually evolve into a symbolic level understanding, and allowing “alpha function” to develop in patients, as they transform into “interpreting subjects” who can use interpretations that reflect representational meanings. Attendees of this course will learn about the phenomenon of developmental evolution in relation to affect experience, so that Betty Joseph’s ideas on “psychic pain” can be understood as a psychic birth that operates in dialectic and distinction from the developmental journey of the mournful suffering of object loss.

Course 5: Theories of American Object Relations Theorists

In this course different theorists from the British and American Schools of Object Relations theory will be discussed and an attempt will be made to integrate their theoretical contributions especially as they appear in the work of James Masterson, Althea Horner, Thomas Ogden, and Susan Kavaler-Adler. The various theories will be illuminated through case presentations.