Sat, Jan 10, 2015
2:00 - 4:00 pm
Instituto Familiar de al Raza
2919 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Gregory Desierto, Psy.D.
Mahima Muralidharan, Psy.D.
Participant Limit: 


Early Registration Deadline: 
January 09, 2015



Course Overview: 

Community mental health practitioners are under enormous pressure to deliver more services with fewer resources, while the problems that we are challenged to resolve are increasingly complex. As we strive to provide meaningful interventions that address the social, psychic, and justice demands of those who struggle the most, we have an even greater need to carve out spaces — both within our minds as clinicians and within our places of practice — to reflect on our work and connect with one another. Since our inception in 2012, we discovered that many of us are passionate about encouraging a dialogue between community work and psychoanalytic thinking. We hope to continue to build a community around doing so.

In high school-based settings (and other community mental health ones) therapists become quite immersed in the worlds of their patients. They observe how they impact those around them in the milieu, talk to their teachers and school administration staff about academic performances and peer relationships, and have collateral meetings with their parents. This additional information about and experience of a patient’s world adds to their psychic presence and can significantly impact the transference-countertransference matrix. Holding all of this can become an especially delicate process when the patient is not physically present.

First, Gregory Desierto will detail a day in a high school-based placement, in the Excelsior district of San Francisco, to capture the complexity, conundrums, and institutional countertransferences that are inherent in this specific school site. Second, Asya Grigorieva will present a clinical case in which the patient seen in this school has a vivid psychic presence, but is often physically absent. The discrepancy between this patient’s psychic impact and her physical absence will be discussed as a manifestation of her individual, familial dynamics, as well the larger community dynamics of absence, deprivation, and lack of resources. Lastly, Mahima Muralidharan will lead a discussion and offer some of her thoughts about the themes that emerged from these presentations to better help our community understand the intricate psychoanalytic work we do in school-based settings.

Course Objectives: 

​Participants will:

  1. Increase their knowledge of how psychoanalytic thinking can inform community mental health work
  2. Increase their knowledge of how community mental health can inform psychoanalytic thinking.
  3. Increase their understanding of how various public and governmental help systems impact clients in the public health system.
  4. Integrate systems thinking and psychoanalytic thinking.
  5. Identify support for early-career community mental health practitioners.
  6. Demonstrate how to increase space for reflective thinking in community mental health clinics
  7. Apply a socio-cultural-political lens to work with clients.

Gregory Desierto, Psy.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at Psychological Services Center in Oakland and City & Arts Technology High School in San Francisco. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at Access Institute for Psychological Services. He has strong interests in the intersection of psychoanalysis, multiculturalism, social justice, and trauma.


Mahima Muralidharan, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist with extensive experience providing program management, training, and psychological care for adults, children, and families. Dr. Muralidharan served as past president of NCSPP, and she is co-founder of Cohear SF, an organizational consulting firm promoting workplace well-being. She has a keen interest in sociocultural process and psychoanalytic theory.

Co-Sponsor Information: 

The Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC), an International Psychoanalytic Association Society, was established in 1989 as a center for comparative psychoanalytic inquiry, research and training. PINC provides professionals from all mental health disciplines the opportunity to study the full scope of psychoanalytic theory and practice. For information regarding training or referral for analysis, call (415) 288-4050 or visit www.pincsf.org.

Access Institute for Psychological Services has helped thousands of adults, children, couples and families, for the past 10 years. Access provides therapy, medication consultation and psychological testing services at its Hayes Valley clinic, San Francisco public schools and at an adult day health center in Hunters Point. Through its psychoanalytically oriented training program, Access is also building a community of clinicians who are committed to community service.

Target Audience & Level: 

This course is designed for a wide-array of audiences: from early career community mental health clinicians to experienced analysts who have an interest in socio-cultural-political issues.

Contact Information: 

For program related questions contact David Cushman at 415-717-9485 or davidavicushman@gmail.com.

Community Mental Health Committee

This committee is a group of clinicians who are interested in the relationship between Community Mental Health (CMH) and psychoanalysis.  Psychoanalysis is anchored in a quality of close care and attention that is often systematically denied to members of disadvantaged communities and difficult to locate in stressed, under-resourced public mental health clinics.  CMH clinicians hold the tension between a variety of institutional, social, and political pressures and constraints. Meanwhile, psychoanalytic thinking sometimes misses the significance of these systemic influences on individual lives.

There is important work to be done in bridging the theoretical and concrete gaps between community work and psychoanalytic practice. The CMH committee aspires to create a more inclusive home for CMH clinicians within the NCSPP community. In turn, we advocate for greater investment from psychoanalysis in the projects of CMH practitioners- in terms of both theory and practical engagement.

We seek to identify the needs and interests of our various partners both in CMH and NCSPP.  We invite our community members to engage with us by emailing us at cmh@ncspp.org .

David Cushman, Psy.D., Chair
Stefania Pifer, Psy.D., Chair
Suresh Chacko, Psy.D.
Katherine Eng, Ph.D.
Daniel Gunther, LCSW
Peggy Kim, LMFT