On not quitting the day job

Among the workshops I’ll be giving at the convention of the American Psychological Association in August is one based on a book chapter I published last year, titled On not quitting my day job. It’s a very personal reflection on the process of moving through a difficult passage in both personal and professional life at the end of the last century, and the ways in which the work of psychotherapy itself carried me through the wreckage and to the place where I now find myself. That chapter, and the workshop itself, are reminders of the uncertainty of life, and of our inability as humans to know what’s going to happen next, whether what we’re prophesying to ourselves is doom or glory.

That capacity to give up the pretense that we know what’s happening next is surprisingly personally empowering; it allows us to attend to what’s happening now, rather than to be, as Joni Mitchell once sang, “thinking about the future and worrying about the past.” Being here right now is powerful indeed; we can know what’s happening, have situational awareness, and respond in the moment. Two of my other workshops at the APA Convention are discussions of power and empowerment as they appear in feminist therapy, the paradigm informing my work. The first looks at empowerment as an essential element in what makes psychotherapy effective. The second, one of a continuing series of symposia on the work of emininent psychologists, will be an opportunity to watch me comment on my work in an APA psychotherapy video and notice what me empowering a client actually looks like. I’ll also be giving more informal presentations in the hospitality suites of the Society for Psychology of Women and the Division of Trauma Psychology. If you’re planning to attend the APA Convention I hope you’ll find the time to stop in and listen to one of these, and let me know your thoughts about my work.

I’ve also got two newly published articles available. The first reprises the story of losing and finding my voice, an experience that was the catalyst for my classic New voices, new visions article. The second is a commentary on the question of how psychologists should treat people who have allowed themselves to be written about in case studies, raising concerns about what occurred in one particular instance where a doubting researcher decided to delve deeply into the life and privacy of a young woman whose case the researcher found in conflict with her own theories.

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