Course Title: Uncoupling: Psychoanalytic Approaches to Working with Divorcing Individuals (12 CE Credits)
Instructor: Ronald Rosenthal, PhD
Meeting dates (2022): January 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28; March 7
Meeting time: Mondays, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (CST), via Zoom
As psychotherapists we frequently encounter individuals struggling with questions of whether to divorce, when to divorce, and how to survive divorce. While helping them cope with the grief and mourning that often accompany the death of a marriage, the therapist is often tasked with providing practical guidance as well.
Divorce represents a distinct loss, the death of “We,” the entity called marriage. Approaching divorce as a problem of mourning provides a framework to help individuals to separate from their spouses and define new senses of self. Absent internal psychological work, people may find themselves harboring feelings of abandonment, resentment, hatred, and despair. They may experience a degree of disillusionment that can impede the formation of new relationships.
In this course, we will discuss some factors that lead to the disruption of the marriage. These may include: failures of idealizations formed early in the relationship, attachment to disappointments and traumas, progressive disillusionment, and other complex interpersonal issues. The dynamics behind these problems usually are tied to interlocking transferences from previous relationships, especially from families of origin. Enactments of dysfunctional family dynamics often grow in intensity as the marital bond disintegrates; these may occur before, during, or after the divorce itself. Awareness of these dynamics can help the therapist support the patient’s movement through the phases of mourning while simultaneously dealing with legal, financial and logistical issues.
Divorcing can be a tremendous strain on emotional as well as financial resources. Families with children have the additional burden of managing the feelings of their kids while trying to make practical plans for dividing up parenting responsibilities. This course will also address how to help children, as well as parents, with the loss of an intact family and with the psychological hazards that often ensue.
Ronald Rosenthal, Ph.D. is Visiting Faculty at the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis (CCP) and a clinical psychologist in private practice in Chicago and in Vernon Hills. He earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and came to Chicago to complete a NIMH postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Chicago, Michael Reese Hospital, and the Illinois State Psychiatric Hospital. He was the Director of Adolescent Research at the Illinois State Psychiatric Hospital from 1980 - 1992 where he co-led an ongoing seminar in diagnostic assessment of adolescents. He has taught at Roosevelt University, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and the University of Tennessee, Nashville. His research publications have addressed attention deficit disorders, adolescent delinquency, and psychiatric hospital treatment. He is past Treasurer of the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Dr. Rosenthal has presented at APA Division 39, as well as at meetings of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry. He currently mentors in CCP’s Psychoanalytic Fellowship Program.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Rosenthal participates as a Divorce Coach and a Child Specialist in the practice of Collaborative Divorce, as well as assisting in Mediation processes. He was Vice-President for Mental Health of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. He has presented frequently to that organization and has also participated as Faculty in Mediation Training courses run by the American Academy of Matrimonial Law.