By Ann Marie Sacramone (USA)
At the recent IARPP conference in Rome, The Child, Adolescent, and Parent Psychotherapy Committee offered its inaugural pre-conference workshop entitled “Forms of Vitality at Play between Children, Adolescents, Parents, and Therapists.” During this workshop panelists from all over the world engaged with the audience and with each other about their work with children, adolescents, and parents.
Neil Altman (USA), the founder of the original Child and Adolescent Interest Group, served as interlocutor for our program, a format instituted to facilitate discussion among all the participants instead of having just one discussant. I felt that Neil did this by prompting the presenters to develop their own thinking, live, as part of the presentation. Marco Bernabei (Italy) and Amy Joelson (USA) both commented on how the use of videotape by Rosa Velasco (Spain), Aleksandra Misiolek (Spain), Laura Molet (Spain), and Fabia Eleonora Banella (Italy) influenced their thinking right at that moment, and how that change would inform their clinical work going forward.
Amy Joelson presented her work with a selfie-taking adolescent patient, taking the experience further by enjoying a selfie moment herself during her presentation, as seen in the photo above. This moment enabled Amy to imagine what her patient’s experience might have been like had she been present, enjoying the full house comprised of audience members interested in our committee’s inaugural program. In this way we could imagine experiencing Amy’s patient experiencing us. I think Amy’s patient might have taken satisfaction, as I do, in the joyful engagement among us all that you can see in the photographed faces.
During our workshop Aleksandra Misiolek reported a feeling of belonging to a team that was cohesive from the moment we first collaborated to create this program, as we coordinated internationally by phone and email. That feeling of belonging in our group of presenters continued as she presented her work along with the other panelists. Aleksandra resonated with Amy, as both reported feeling unsure about sharing their work in this format. I was particularly struck by Aleksandra’s comment that the cases that oblige us to search for creative and alternative ways of approaching them are the ones that contribute to the development of psychotherapy. She considers this process a form of vitality.
I feel that the members of our committee who could not attend the pre-conference, Susi Federici (Italy), Esther Bamberger (Israel), Macarena López (Chile), and Frances La Barre (USA), nevertheless actively belonged to our group, as they were involved in building the program, reading the papers, and sharing their responses as our committee developed its presentation. Susi, of course, was not present as she was working on orchestrating the entire conference to which we all belonged!
For me, it felt magical to be able to watch the investigative, responsive, and open sharing process of the new Child, Adolescent, and Parent Psychotherapy Committee as it unfolded. The learning that took place during our panel felt like a Dan Stern “moment of meaning.”