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“Bringing in the Body: Enhancing Psychoanalytic Treatment of Trauma and Catastrophic Dissociation by Drawing Upon Somatic Experiencing”

March 30, 2019 @ 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM

PIONEER VALLEY STUDY GROUP Open to WMAAPP members and guests. (Members wishing to bring guests are asked to call in advance.) There is no fee.

“Bringing in the Body: Enhancing Psychoanalytic Treatment of Trauma and Catastrophic Dissociation by Drawing Upon Somatic Experiencing”
A discussion group led by David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP

Saturday March 30, 2019 9:30 am – 10:00 am Coffee and bagels 10:00 am – 12:00 pm presentation and discussion

DESCRIPTION OF EVENT: As psychoanalytic therapists and analysts, we all know the tremendous challenges in treatment with people who are prone to states of utter overwhelm, of catastrophic fragmentation and dissociation – the full “tsunami” (Bromberg) or “system crash” (Harris). In recent years, many of us in psychoanalytic practice have been increasingly interested in looking not only to our own rich theories and techniques, but also outside of our canon, to a variety of other modalities or traditions (e.g. EMDR, Neurofeedback, meditation, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, etc.). This looking outward is both exciting and controversial. Some see enhancement and enrichment, while others see the undoing of our psychoanalytic way of working. After a number of years in psychoanalytic practice, Dr. Levit trained in Somatic Experiencing (SE), a non-psychoanalytic, bio-psychological model developed for treating PTSD. Dr. Levit’s prior presentation on SE (two of which were for WMAAPP) formed the basis for a paper recently published in Psychoanalytic Dialogues: “Somatic Experiencing: In the Realms of Trauma and Dissociation – What We Can Do, When What We Do, Is Really Not Good Enough.” This paper generated enormous controversy as reflected in the commentaries by three psychoanalyst discussants (published in the same issue). A fourth discussion by the founder of SE, Peter Levine, elaborated in greater depth on the SE model, itself. In this program, Dr. Levit will summarize his paper and some of the central critiques posed by the discussants. We will then discuss various issues raised. These will include points of convergence and divergence between psychoanalysis and SE in how the body is brought in, and in how we try to balance or manage tensions between exploration and regulation. We will also compare SE approaches for facilitating regulation with analytic forms of intersubjective regulation, holding, and containment. Participants are encouraged to read Dr. Levit’s paper prior to the study group. Participants may also want to read the discussions, and Dr. Levit’s reply to them, all in the same issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Attached are Dr. Levit’s paper and his reply to the discussants. Due to copyright rules, we are not able to distribute the pieces written by the discussants of his paper. However, even if one has not had the opportunity to read the discussions, Dr. Levit’s reply to the discussants can be followed because he summarizes their critiques as he addresses them. In addressing the discussants, his reply not only expands on the original paper’s presentation of Somatic Experiencing, but also provides a more experience-near elaboration of the therapy process.

PRESENTER: David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP, SEP is a Diplomate in Psychoanalysis and in Clinical Psychology. He is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. His current faculty positions: Faculty and Supervising Analyst, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP); CoFounder, Co-Chair, and Faculty, MIP Postgraduate Fellowship-West: Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School: Adjunct Instructor in Psychiatry, Tufts Medical School. He is a Fellow at the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis, and a Fellow at the American Academy of Clinical Psychology. He is in private practice in Amherst, MA where he provides individual therapy and psychoanalysis for adults and consultation for colleagues.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Dr. Levit’s Paper and Reply to Discussants Levit, D. (2018). Somatic Experiencing: In the realms of trauma and dissociation – What we can do, when what we do, is really not good enough. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 586-601. Levit, D. (2018). Continuing the dialogue between psychoanalysis and Somatic Experiencing: Reply to Bass, Leddick, Levine, Blakeslee, Sylvae, and Lombardi. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 640-645. Four Discussions Bass, G. (2018). Ain’t misbehavin’: Discussion of “Somatic Experiencing.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 602- 609. Leddick, K. H. (2018). Making good use of combined therapeutic modalities: Discussion of Somatic Experiencing.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 610- 619. Levine, P. A., Blakeslee, A. & Sylvae, J. (2018). Reintegrating fragmentation of the primitive self: Discussion of “Somatic Experiencing.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 620-628. Lombardi, R. (2018). Beyond the psychosexual: The bodymind relationship: Discussion of “Somatic Experiencing.” Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), 629- 639.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 1. Participants will be able to discuss ways in which dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system affects patients’ psychological capacities, including in the therapy session. 2. Participants will be able to describe and contrast modes of intersubjective regulation from psychoanalysis and from Somatic Experiencing. 3. Participants will be able to articulate ways in which principles and modes of intervention in Somatic Experiencing dovetail with major psychoanalytic paradigms. 4. Participants will be able to articulate and identify conflicts or points of tension between psychoanalytic treatment and Somatic Experiencing treatment.

CE CREDITS: PLEASE NOTE: If you are a clinical social worker and would like CE credits for this program, please let us know in advance, by emailing or calling Patricia Everett, or (413) 256-3539. 2.0 CE credits are available to psychologists, psychoanalysts, and social workers upon complete attendance of this intermediate level event. 2.0 CEUs are offered to LMHCs. This study group is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts and Albany Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology, a local chapter of Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association. Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education credits for psychologists. Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

LOCATION: At the home of Jane Kristal, 33 Sunset Avenue, Amherst, Massachusetts. Phone: (413) 549-0436. Directions: From I-91, take Exit 19 (Route 9). Make a right at the end of the ramp, take Route 9 East to Amherst. Go up hill to Amherst Common, make a left at the light at the top of the hill. At the next light in the center of town, make a left. Sunset Avenue is the 3rd right. Jane Kristal’s house is the 3rd house on the right. If you wish to bring a guest, or for further information, please contact Patricia Everett at (413) 256-3539.

To  download the program’s description click here:

To download David Levit’s paper click here:

To download David Levit’s reply to his discussants  click here:


Confidentiality and WMAAPP Policy In order to protect the confidentiality of the clinical material, and to adhere to APA ethical guidelines, it is required that those attending the program be either currently licensed mental health professionals, psychoanalysts, or currently matriculated students in mental health programs (psychology, social work, psychiatry, psychoanalysis). Students are required to provide the name of their program. There will be no exceptions. Division 39 is committed to accessibility and nondiscrimination in its continuing education activities. Division 39 is also committed to conducting all activities In conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during the discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. Please address questions, concerns or complaints to: Moi Wurgaft, Ph.D., LMHC at 413-230-7027.


March 30, 2019
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Event Categories:


The home of Jane Kristal
33 Sunset Ave.
Amherst, MA 01002 United States
+ Google Map
(413) 549-0436


Tricia Everett