The Complex Psychology of Being Adopted: What Clinicians Need to Know - Linda Mayers, PhD, and Doris Bertocci, LCSW (Live)
2024 Grand Rounds Series
The adoption and mental health fields have viewed adoption as being only about children. Adopted adolescents are a more recent afterthought, with adults nowhere on the radar. From their psychodynamic perspectives on the psychology of being adopted, the presenters maintain that therapists often do not recognize the critical differences between adopted and non-adopted patients, or the need for important modifications in treatment. This requires specialized advanced training. Therapists’ knowledge base needs to include an understanding of early developmental trauma within the first three years of life and its implications for altered neuropsychological development, potentially into adulthood. Intensive psychodynamic treatment provides a pathway toward addressing the likely combination of ambiguous mourning, anxious attachments, fragmented identity formation, and confused sexual development. These stimulate unique complexities in the transference and countertransference and, for the therapist, a deeper appreciation of many universal issues.
______ Introductory ___X___ Intermediate ______ Advanced
- Describe three important modifications needed in the evaluation of an adopted patient.
- Identify three clinical issues relevant to the treatment of adopted adolescents/young adults that would not apply in the same way to those not adopted.
- Explain transference and countertransference complexities that are unique to the treatment of adopted patients.
Linda Mayers, PhD, is past director of training, and training and supervising analyst of the Institute of the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society and was faculty and senior supervisor at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health; former adjunct clinical professor at City University, Teachers College - Columbia University, and Yeshiva University. She is currently an adjunct associate professor at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She is a member of the editorial board of Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy an editorial reader for International Forum of Psychoanalysis and is a contributor to the IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. She has published in the areas of adoption, the psychology of art and psychoanalysis, tattoos, the history of mental illness, and infant–parent disturbances. She is one of three editors for the Handbook on the Clinical Treatment of Adopted Adolescents and Young Adults published by Routledge (2023). A licensed clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City she has worked for most of her career with adoptive
Doris Bertocci, LCSW, developed a diverse private practice in metropolitan New York after a long clinical career in college mental health at Columbia University. There she collaborated with treatment resources in NYC, including Columbia and New York psychoanalytic training programs, and coordinated the training rotations on campus of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital psychiatric residents. She specialized in handling high-risk assessments, served as liaison with hospitals and intensive treatment programs regarding care of college and graduate students, and worked closely with deans in the identification and management of seriously disturbed students. Toward developing the psychology of being adopted, she published on the internal meanings of the adopted person’s search for the birth family and more recently was co-editor of the Handbook on the Clinical Treatment of Adopted Adolescents and Young Adults released in 2023. She is also knowledgeable about clinical and legal considerations in the treatment of parents in child custody litigation. The thread running throughout her three specialties is the continuing practice of law and society of treating children as property.
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