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Fear, Safety, and the Relational Foundations of Reflection

September 14, 2019 @ 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Presenter: Arietta Slade, Ph.D.
Registration 9 am
Presentation 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Saturday, September 14, 2019


Arietta Slade, Ph.D. is Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, and Professor Emerita, Clinical Psychology, The City University of New York. An internationally recognized theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher, she has published widely on parental mentalization, the implications of attachment for psychoanalytic psychotherapy with children and adults, and for relationship-based infant mental health practice. She is Co-Founder and Director of Training of Minding the Baby, an interdisciplinary reflective home visiting program for high-risk mothers, infants and their families, at the Yale Child Study Center and School of Nursing. Dr. Slade has also been in private practice for nearly 40 years, working with individuals of all ages.


This presentation will focus broadly on “attachment-informed psychotherapy”, and particularly on the importance of safety, regulation, and the establishment of the therapeutic relationship in promoting reflection and mentalizing. Within the context of analytically oriented treatment, the relational foundations of reflection—1) the minimization of threat and fear, 2) the development of capacities for emotion regulation, and 3) the openness to establishing a trusting relationship with the therapist—necessarily precede the softening of defenses and development of mentalizing. Particular attention will be paid to the role of fear in psychic and physical development, and to developing a deeper understanding of what constitutes a safe and secure therapeutic relationship. Questions of fear and safety in the patient-therapist relationship are particularly compelling when there have been significant attachment disruptions and complex developmental trauma.

For a variety of complicated reasons, attachment theory and research were banished from psychoanalysis for decades; only in the last 20 years has attachment study become an accepted part of the psychoanalytic conversation. Nevertheless, while many analytically oriented therapists use the term “attachment” in their work, the broader meaning and relevance of these ideas to clinical practice have been relatively unexplored. That is, many of the central aspects of attachment theory have yet to be integrated into psychoanalytic and relational theory practice. This despite the fact that attachment theory provides a coherent developmental, and relational framework for much of what delights and ails us; its central teachings are also supported by contemporary developmental science and neurobiology.


After attending this intermediate-level program, participants will be able:

1. To describe the role of threat in development.

2. To explain key attachment-based defenses against threat and dysregulation.

3. To identify the key tenets of attachment-informed psychotherapy.

4. To clarify the therapist’s role in promoting security, regulation, and coherence.


Allen, J. (2012). Mentalizing in the Development and Treatment of Attachment Trauma. London: Karnac.

Holmes, J.A. & Slade, A. (2018). Attachment in Therapeutic Practice. London: Sage Publications.

Slade, A. (2016). Attachment and Adult Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. In. J. Cassidy & P. Shaver, Eds., The Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications, Third Edition, pp. 759-779. New York: Guilford Publications.

Slade, A. (2014). Imagining Fear: Attachment, Threat, and the Dynamics of Psychic Experience. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 24, 254-266.

Slade, A. (2009). Mentalizing the Unmentalizable: Parenting Children on the Spectrum. Journal of Child, Infant, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 8, 7-21.


2.5 CE credits are available to psychologists and psychoanalysts, and 2.5 CE credits will be provided for social workers and LMHCs.


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 non-discrimination 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. For questions, concerns or complaints, please Contact Us.

WMAAPP is the local chapter of Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association.
WMAAPP is committed to following APA ethical guidelines.


30 Main Street

Contact Phone: 413-230-7027
Contact Email:

WMAAPP brochure Slade 9-14-2019


Pre-registration has ended.


September 14, 2019
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM


The Red Lion Inn
30 Main Street
Stockbridge, MA 01262 United States