NCSPP

Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

PRESIDENT'S REMARKS: MELISSA HOLUB, PH.D.

In order to discover new meaning, we analytic practitioners regularly remind our patients that we don't simply assume to understand them. We try to unhurriedly dismantle that which has been stripped of meaning by overuse. Patients talk of being "crazy," of "codependency," of having "trust issues." Sometimes, it's a look or a hand gesture that suggests, "You know what I mean." We convey to our patients that, actually, while we care very much about what they are telling us, we may not know what they mean. In fact, they may not be aware, just yet, what they mean themselves. 

In this vein, I have been wondering what we mean when we say, for the umpteenth time, "I have a practice in Berkeley," or ask, "Where do you practice?" Why this word practice? What does it mean? What does it imply about our work and what we do within the space we call a practice? Evidently, we mean the activity that makes up our professional pursuits. The term, practice, is most commonly used in the medical community, and that is its likely origin for our current usage. Is it a medical model that we mean to imply when we speak of our practices? 

Perhaps, we mean that our work needs a certain depth, whereby we hope to be highly practiced in our craft. Are we, then, referencing to aspects of our work that are relevant to a deep, inner practice, such that we might be saying that our practices, private as they may be, are akin to something like a spiritual practice? 

Trainees and early career clinicians are literally practicing -- trying out -- the craft with their patients. So are any of us, when we try something new -- a new technique, theoretical angle, or the use of ourselves -- in a way that feels fresher, less accomplished, less practiced. It might be fair to say that, in our practice, we are practicing on our patients, and deeply with our patients, as they practice doing something old and something new with us. 

Warm regards, 
Melissa Holub, Ph.D.
NCSPP President