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Time, Focus, Relationship and Trauma: A Contemporary Object Relations Approach to Brief Therapy

Michael Stadter, PhD, presenter

Most of the writing and research on brief psychotherapy emphasizes technique. While this has contributed enormously to clinical practice, the therapeutic relationship in brief therapy has not been given adequate attention. Yet it is as important in brief work as it is in long term treatment. Perhaps more than any other psychodynamic perspective, object relations theory focuses on the relationship in therapy and is one of the major roots of relational psychodynamic approaches. Contemporary object relations therapy emphasizes the importance of the holding environment, the therapist’s use of self, empathic attunement, and the specific object relationships that are enacted and reenacted in the therapeutic encounter.

This six week seminar will focus on how this relational perspective can enhance the practical, applied work of brief therapy. Application of contributions various object relations writers will be included. Readings will focus on Stadter’s book, Object Relations Brief Therapy: The Relationship in Short-Term Work (1996, 2009) [link is to Amazon] published by Jason Aronson. Additional readings from other authors will also be assigned. The presenters will provide many case examples and invite case material from the participants.


Seminar Topics

  • Brief therapy and the contemporary practice environment
  • Object relations concepts and brief therapy
  • Time-near and time-far: the signature impact of time in brief therapy
  • Brief therapy and the treatment of trauma
  • Selection: inclusive and exclusive approaches
  • Rapid establishment of the alliance
  • The key and creative challenge of setting a focus
  • Use of verbal interpretations and interpretation-in-action
  • Use of transference and countertransference
  • Use of non-psychodynamic techniques
  • Termination


Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Apply the principles of contemporary object relations theory to brief therapy
  2. Apply this approach to the participants’ clinical settings
  3. Use a symptomatic and dynamic focus in brief therapy
  4. Identify the impact of the dimension of time as an ingredient in therapy and in trauma
  5. Plan for the issues involved with termination in brief therapy



Dr. Michael Stadter is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Bethesda and on the faculty of the Washington School of Psychiatry’s Clinical Program on Psychotherapy Practice. He is also on the Board of the International Psychotherapy Institute where he is a Founding Faculty Member. Formerly, he was Director of the Counseling Center at American University, Clinical Psychologist-in-Residence in the Psychology Department of American University, Assistant Director of the Counseling Center at Georgetown University, and developed Employee Assistance Programs for 3 organizations.

Dr. Stadter is the author of many publications in addition to his brief therapy book including his most recent book, Presence and the Present: Relationship and Time in Contemporary Psychodynamic Therapy (2012). Additionally, he has been repeatedly recognized by the Washingtonian magazine as one of the top psychotherapists in the Washington, DC area.

Guest Presenter



Cancellations and Refunds

Refunds will be made for cancellations received at the School office in writing at least 10 days before the seminar date and are subject to a non-refundable administrative fee of $50.

Who should attend?

The workshop is intended for psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, physicians, medical students, and other graduate students.


The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Washington School of Psychiatry maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The Washington School of Psychiatry has been approved NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6388. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Washington School of Psychiatry is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates each session for ___
AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.