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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

David Votruba - A Formative Encounter with Psychoanalysis

Winter Meeting 2002

By David Votruba, M.S.W.

As our MD-80 slowly descended beneath the low-lying clouds over Brooklyn and I surveyed the incredible, beautiful complexity of Manhattan stretched-out beneath the windows to my left, I began to consider how excited and grateful I was to be there, about to experience my first national meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Initially, I sought out those discussion groups that I imagined I would find the most immediately applicable to my clinical practice.  An intern at the University of Michigan Psychological Clinic, I have recently begun to expand my clinical skills and experience through work with couples.  With this in mind, I joined Fred Sander, MD, and Helen Rosen, Ph.D., for their discussion of “Psychoanalytic Couples’ Therapy”.  Later that day, I joined Christine Kieffer, Ph.D., and Martin Livingston, Ph.D., for their discussion of “Self Psychological Approaches to Group Psychotherapy”, something I thought would be particularly helpful as I continue my work in a group therapy practice as well.

As the week progressed, however, I found myself approaching the Winter Meeting with greater spontaneity.  I soon realized that there was quite simply so much to learn from each and every encounter at the conference, formal and informal, that I need not be so deliberate to gain a lot from the experience.  Whether we were discussing the implications of ultra-modern fertility technologies for the development of individual identities and object relations or the epistemological questions raised by psychoanalytic investigations into the life of Rachmaninoff, I found myself consistently and continuously engaged and stimulated.  And, with each passing day, I grew increasingly aware and convinced of the explanatory power and relevance of contemporary psychoanalytic theory as it is applied both in clinical practice and beyond the consultation setting.

My attendance at this conference, which would not have been possible without the help of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society and its Students and Trainees Association, has inspired me to search for additional opportunities to expand and deepen my understanding of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory and practice.  I am grateful to MPS and SATA and I look forward to a continued and expanding relationship with the Institute and the field of psychoanalysis.