Best Saturday Learning Moment or Workshop?

What a unique opportunity I was given today, to be able to participate in William Doherty’s ethics workshop based on the popular TV show The Sopranos!
It was so interesting to participate in a class with so many therapists with diverse backgrounds, all of us discussing and analyzing ethical dilemmas together. 

We watched clips from episodes and discussed ethical implications as a group. Even though I haven’t been a long-time Sopranos fan--I’ve only seen a few episodes--the discussion was very easy to follow and extremely engaging.

The complex issues brought up by Soprano’s framework as applied to contemporary therapy were really mind-boggling. It just makes me want to go home and watch every single season!

What were some of the best parts of today’s workshops for you? 

03.19.2010   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
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    • 0 avatar Anna Bowman 03.27.2010 17:30
      Saturday Learning Moment

      It had to be during the Kagan/Taffel Workshop on Temperament. A lively discussion ensued when Daniel Siegel joined in the dialog. I think this gave me a chance to think deeper about the topic of attachment. I look forward to the continued discussion in the Networker magazine. It is not often we get to listen in on the intricacies of the masters in a field of work.

      Hi PNetworker, some of my colleagues said the Soprano's conference was great. aloha
    • 0 avatar Zachary Taylor 03.28.2010 03:43
      I was not in the Kagan/Taffel workshop when Dan joined in...and so I tried to buy the audio and Kagan wouldn't let anyone buy it! What?!?!?

      What was it that Kagan didn't want anyone to hear? Would love to hear from someone about what exactly happened between Dan Siegel and Jerome Kagan from anyone who was there...
    • 0 avatar Theresa Myers 03.28.2010 11:47
      I was there and am not sure if I completely understood what was happening but would love to hear other opinions from those who might know more about the debate on attachment theory.

      Siegel initially asked Kagan about adult attachment and what Kagan thought. I don't remember exactly how Kagan answered that question but there was nothing odd about that transaction. Later Kagan was talking about a conference in Baltimore where he stated that there was only one paper in the entire conference about attachment theory and that appeared to indicate to Kagan that attachment theory was irrelevant.

      Siegel raised his hand while he basically walked up and onto the stage. There was some awkwardness but both Taffel and Kagan yielded the mic without hesitation to Siegel. From I remember and I am paraphrasing as it was all rather surreal and it is not my intention to put words into anyone mouth but I remember Siegel saying that it was "intellectually dishonest" to make this claim in front of all of these people. It was worded rather strong and the room really went hush. Seigel went on to question the "politics" behind the conference in Baltimore.

      The debate went back and forth with each taking the mic 3-4 times. In those exchanges, Kagan stated that there is no known correlation between the mother's sensitivity to the infant and behaviors that the infant will then display as an adult.

      Siegel was shaking his head the whole time...no..no....no...Siegel was mentioning the research that said differently. Kagan would respond the research Seigel was talking about was based on mother's narratives and was basically unreliable. Seigel continued to disagree.

      Kagan took the mic back and restated his point that attachment could be a bad thing if the infant attaches to a mother who holds values that are not healthy for the individuals development...he cited such examples of a mother than might think it is only important for a girl to think about looks, not be in a serious physical relationship until marriage. So to me it appeared that Kagan backed down from the initial claim about the irrelevancy of the mother's sensitivity.

      Ultimately they decided that Seigel would send the aforementioned research papers to Kagan and Kagan would read them over and they would have dinner to discuss...someone suggested writing and article for the Networker after the dinner. I didn't see anything out of Seigel or Kagan that signaled they would write the article.

      It was fascinating to witness. At times uncomfortable and at times inspiring. In my ten years at the symposium, I have never seen anything like it.

      In my opinion...again just my opinion as an observer that doesn't know much about this debate, it looked to me a lot that Seigel was there for a reason and this was his intention. It all happened so quickly. I can't imagine that Seigel, with is work being so connected to attachment and pointing out the "politics" of the Baltimore conference that he wasn't just sitting and waiting for this moment. Why he chose to do it in such a public forum, I wonder. He didn't quite present himself in the most "mindful" of manners. While possibly being intellectually honest going up against something he believes the research supports, it was borderline crass and aggressive, in my opinion. Seigel is the golden boy of the symposium and is loved by everyone but there was something that was not quite smooth about how this challenge went down.

      That being said, they were emotionally cordial during the debate and in a time when we are witnessing such craziness in public debate it was fascinating to watch these two go at so content aggressively but so emotionally polite.

      There were really two levels of interaction that I found myself going back and forth on. One was the debate of the actual information and the other dynamic was the emotional response of each which was certainly testy and watching to see if it would lead to some kind of problem…which it didn’t.

      I would like to have been inside Taffel's head to see what he thought about it all. It appeared to me that he wanted to give Seigel the space but might have eventually preferred to have Seigel sit down and be quiet. Taffel jokingly referred to it as an episode of "Jersey Shore"

      I would love to hear some other more knowledgeable impressions of what went down. It was without a doubt surreal.
      • 0 avatar Mia Mantello 03.30.2010 23:36
        Thank you so much for giving your account of this. It took a lot of time and effort to do so. I was not there but a fellow attendee mentioned to me hearing about it via the blog so i checked it out.
    • Not available avatar mcades 03.28.2010 14:05
      Until the Taffel/Kagen(/Siegel) workshop, I had not felt more intrigued, fascinated, & mentally stimulated at a conference since I was in college. I loved the (mostly) respectful academic debate between Kagen & Siegel. Unscripted and spontaneous, it was the finest illustration of the evolution of thinking in the field of mental health. If every workshop could be half as "real", I would be on the edge of my seat the entire time. Hooray to Kagen & Siegel (& hopefully Taffel recovered relatively soon thereafter, too). Oh, to be a fly on the wall during Siegel & Kagen's upcoming dinner discussion!!!
    • 0 avatar Ramona Clifton 03.29.2010 09:03
      Hi all - tmyers, your description and observations are well put; here is another perspective from my notes and memory - I am hoping that others who were there will also offer their thoughts! Dr. Siegel's first question about adult attachment did not seem provocative, Dr. Kagan responded that what we has been described are 'personality types, not temperaments, and that adult temperaments are not understood'... but the fire started when a woman asked Kagan a followup question to a statement he had made during his lunch address - that our concept of "attachment" wouldn't exist if women hadn't gone to work after WWII. He said that theories like attachment arise in a cultural context; he began to say that Bowlby had misinterpreted Robertson's results, mentioned Ainsworth's 'strange situation' research and said that it was not predictive - around that time is when Dan Siegel rapidly approached the stage, asking to be on the mic. It wasn't clear to me until he got on the stage and took a breath just how upset he was. He said that attachment was extensively documented(and that he has studied with the researchers), and told Kagan that he was shocked and disappointed that a scientist like Kagan would dismiss the research and discredit it in front of an audience, (that's when he called it intellectually dishonest). Siegel referred to an article (by Schrof?), questioning if Kagan had read it, Kagan responded that he had but felt it did not collect objective data, that measures of temperament by maternal report are not sensitive enough - they went back and forth, then Ron Taffel stepped up and lightened the heated discourse by offering that there is hope, agreeing that a parent's ability to connect with the child is beneficial... Kagan said he agreed w/ Dr. Siegel that infants can establish an emotional connection when a parent is attuned, caring etc., but that even when an infant becomes securely attached to a parent, if that parent teaches maladaptive values for their society, that child will have difficulty. Kagan said that he doesn't deny attachment, but he denies the use of the "strange situation" as predictive for that child in later life. He also said that he has trouble with research that Siegel mentioned, using mother's reports about their child's temperament, because the language, context etc are subjective. Siegel disagreed, saying the interview instruments don't measure content but observed the way things are said, and that there is high correlation... Things were flying fast and furious, and Siegel seemed to backpedal his criticism by giving Kagan credit for other valuable research; Kagan was gracious although he seemed caught off guard by the rather personal attack. I couldn't follow all of the details as they were referring to specifics about attachment research that I am not familiar with, but it was amazing to witness two "giants" going head to head. Siegel commented that he wished he'd studied with Kagan, there are points that he'd like to discuss, and Kagan offered to read some data that Siegel had referred to, and then would take him to dinner to discuss it further. Ron Taffel did a great job of being 'mediator and moderator', and he then offered some examples of his work to tie the workshop back together, but I think that many of us were still stunned by what we had witnessed... As an audience member, I also would love to see an article that addresses the outcome of their conversation, but it's true that neither seemed to commit to this. It was a powerful and complicated exchange that was emotional, even theatrical, and fascinating on many levels. It showed the level of passion and commitment to meaningful exchange that the Networker and it's guests bring to the Symposium. Thank you to Jerome Kagan, Ron Taffel and Dan Siegel, for powerful and inspiring food for thought.
      • 0 avatar Mia Mantello 03.30.2010 23:37
        Thanks to you too, for your detailed account of this. You must have been taking incredible notes!
    • 0 avatar Susan Osofsky 03.29.2010 16:30
      I wasn't at the workshop but WOW! I wish I was. It sounds like it was fascinating. I hope we'll be able to purchase the audio.
      • 0 avatar Mia Mantello 03.30.2010 23:49
        Dr. David Wallin had us spellbound with his Saturday workshop on how the THERAPIST's attachment patterns influence and shape the way in which we provide therapy. One quote fragment/descriptor from his opening remarks was "Therapist's attachment patterns as a source of insight, impasses, inspiration" (I believe he quoted another scholar here, do not have the name in my notes). This is an interesting, vital topic and one I believe should be being taught in every graduate school. Wallin focused on the interaction of the therapist's and client's attachment patterns in a given session and how unconsciously we may be leading or responding from a place related to our attachment history.My office mate and colleague went to Wallin's website and we plan to get the book and form a study group. I will look for and attend other workshops by Dr. Wallin and plan to attend a longer version of this one which he sometimes provides. Mia from Maine
    • 0 avatar Polly Drew 03.31.2010 20:54
      I've heard from a reliable source that the audio for the Kagen/Siegal exchange is unavailable which is very disappointing. I had a friend there, a child psychologist and she too agreed it was an intense, exciting and very respectful exchange. She reports that both men agreed to meet and collaborate in an upcoming Networker piece. If I were the editors, I'd be ALL OVER this to make sure they follow through, passions still high. Out of a live candid exchange, it's this kind of controversy: live, unrehearsed and real that will sell magazines and keep us old-timers coming back for more. The same-old, same-old gets well, old.
    • Not available avatar mels44 06.05.2010 07:50
      I have not yet seen any blog entries (or statements from Siegel or Kagan)that actually clarify the relevant points of disagreement and agreement regarding attachment theory. I think it might be in order to have each of them define attachment as they are currently using it - since the concept has now been over-used. As with the word "mind" - the word "attachment" may be assumed to be understood without being clearly defined in any descriptive atatement about recent research or its applications. Maryhelen (Mel) Snyder
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