IASP Conferences


Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing – 

A  Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process

presented by:

Steven Stern

 Saturday, April 28, 2018      9:00am – 3:30pm 

George Ignatieff Theatre   15 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON M5S 1H8

For the first time, our annual conference will offer simultaneous English/French translation to our audience.  We enthusiastically welcome our French speaking colleagues!  

Online registration is now available.

For English registration, please click here.

Pour vous inscrire en français, cliquez ici s’il vous plait.


Conference Program

In his new book, Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process, Steven Stern’s central premise is that every patient, and every analytic dyad, is unique; thus the relationship that emerges over time to facilitate the patient’s forward movement toward his or her (partially implicit) therapeutic aims is necessarily unique and uniquely complex. Stern terms this the needed relationship, and maintains that its defining properties transcend all of our specific theories of therapeutic action. Stern believes that we need our theories (as well as clinical and life experience) to inform our work, but that the actual therapeutic process is more patient- than theory-driven and involves meeting patients in the full complexity of their struggles and the intersubjective interaction as it unfolds.

Stern will offer clinical examples to illustrate his general approach and some of the specific principles that emerge from it. One characteristic of clinical work done in this mode is that many of the things we actually say and do with our patients do not fall neatly into established categories of analyst participation. Rather they are contoured to the patient and the analytic moment, guided by one’s implicit effort to meet the patient at the point of analytic urgency, taking into account the current state of the patient, the therapist and their system.

The telos of treatment is thus the achievement of progressive approximations of relational fittedness (Louis Sander) between the patient’s evolving therapeutic aims and needs, and the relationship that evolves to meet them. However, this movement is always fitful—involving trial and error, disruption and repair, negation and recognition, enactment and emergence from enactment, and confusion or uncertainty and illumination, as the dyad gropes toward more inclusive forms of fittedness and,  hence,   greater system competence.


About Steven Stern

Steven Stern, a graduate of Amherst College (BA 1970), the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (Psy.D.1981), and the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis (1999), is a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine.

He is a member of the International Council of the International Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, and was Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology until 2015.

He has been a frequent contributor to the contemporary psychoanalytic literature, with a particular interest in theoretical integration. His first book, Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process, was released in March 2017.

He practices in Portland, ME with specializations in psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, couples therapy, and clinical supervision.


Conference Schedule

·         8:15 Registration

·         9:00 Welcome and Introduction

·         9:15 – 10:00  “Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing”

·         10:00 – 10:30 Questions and Discussion

·         10:30 – 10:50 Coffee Break

·         10:50 – 11:30  Continuation and Clinical Vignettes

·         11:30 – 12:00 Questions and Discussion

·         12:00 – 1:15 Lunch (included)

·         1:15 – 3:00 – A case presentation centered on the therapeutic process by an IASP member, followed by a discussion with Steven Stern.

·         3:00 – 3:30 Questions and Discussion

·         3:30  Closing Remarks


Learning Objectives

    The attendee will have the opportunity:

  •  To learn to shift one’s clinical frame of reference to one based on the higher-order construct of the needed analytic relationship.
  • To learn nine principles which sustain the analytic process viewed as the progressive co-creation of needed relationships.
  • To learn through clinical examples what it means to meet the patient and to contour one’s interventions to the patient, the state of the system, and the analytic moment.
  • To develop a beginning understanding of two of the advanced concepts that grow out of this framework: a) the forward edge of the relational unconscious; and b) the principle of necessity as the primary driver of the analytic process