29th Annual International Workshop on Control Mastery Theory in Partnership with the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis.

March 7-11, 2017
(Tuesday – Saturday)

Morning Case Conference

Tuesday – Friday morning case conference (10:00-12:00)

Fort Mason Building C, Room 205
Marshall Bush, John Curtis, & George Silberschatz

Using verbatim transcripts of a single psychotherapy case, the case conference leaders will begin by formulating the patient’s plan including the patient’s conscious and unconscious goals, the pathogenic beliefs that have impeded the patient, the traumas that gave rise to the pathogenic beliefs, how the patient will test the therapist, and the insights and therapeutic “attitude” that is most likely to be helpful to the patient. The plan formulation will then be used to assess the suitability of therapist interventions, understand the therapeutic process, and to assess the patient’s progress.

Afternoon Classes

Tuesday –Friday afternoon classes (1:00 -3:00 and 3:15-5:15)

1. A closer look at the plan concept Tues 1:00 – 3:00

George Silberschatz; Kathryn Pryor, Discussant

Despite its theoretical centrality, there is considerable ambiguity and diverging views regarding this key concept. In this class we explore the plan concept more closely and take up questions about the notion of a patient’s plan that have frequently been raised. Class participants will also have the opportunity to raise their own questions about the plan concept.   Some of the issues to be discussed include the following: What is a plan and whose plan is it? Do all patients have a plan to disconfirm their pathogenic beliefs (“my patient seems quite content to hold on to his pathogenic beliefs”)? Why don’t therapists routinely share their plan formulation and make that an explicit focus of therapeutic work? Do patients work on the same plan throughout therapy or do plans change?

2. What is a test and what isn’t? How do you know when the patient is testing? Tues 3:15-5:15

Marshall Bush & Francesco Gazzillo

The testing concept is a key element of CMT and probably one of the most distinctive and important contributions to the psychotherapy literature (we have found no references to patients testing their therapists outside of CMT writings).   However, CMT teachers and therapists view testing in very different ways. For instance, some CMT therapists argue that “patients are always testing”, a position that robs the concept of its meaning and usefulness. Greater clinical and conceptual rigor would likely lead to a far wider range of clinicians incorporating this useful concept in their work. .   The aim of this class is to provide greater specificity and clarity regarding this key CMT concept.

3. Where are instinctual drives in CMT? Wed 1:00 – 3:00

Michael Bader; Francesco Gazzillo, Discussant

One widely held critique of CMT by classical psychoanalysts is that sexual and aggressive impulses have disappeared. Although the drive theory model of motivation has been replaced in CMT by an adaptive, attachment-focused model, it is incorrect to assume that CMT has no place for sexual and aggressive wishes.   This class will address how CMT understands the role of impulses in human life and how to work with them therapeutically.

4. How people master trauma in therapy and in life. Panel discussion Wed 3:15 – 5:15

Marshall Bush, Molly Sullivan, Heather Clague, & George Silberschatz

Trauma and adverse childhood experiences are central to the CMT model of psychopathology.  In this class we discuss various perspectives on how people work to master traumatic experiences and how these perspectives can be incorporated and enhance CMT.

5. CMT perspective on dreams and their interpretation Thur 1:00 – 3:00

Paul Ransohoff & Francesco Gazzillo

Freudians have typically viewed dreams as representing disguised or repressed impulses, fantasies, or wishes. Weiss understood dreams in the same way that he understood other aspects of the patient’s mental and emotional life, relying on his concepts of adaptation, safety, mastery, and the wish to disconfirm pathogenic beliefs. This class presents a systematic overview of a CMT perspective on the function of dreams, how to understand them, and how to work with them in psychotherapy.

6. Is CMT an empirically validated treatment? An overview of recent research Thur 3:15 – 5:15

George Silberschatz; John Snyder, Discussant

Many CMT hypotheses have been empirically evaluated and supported. However, the term “empirically validated treatment” generally refers to research demonstrating the effectiveness of particular “brands” of therapy. This class provides an overview of recent research showing the link between plan compatibility of interventions and treatment outcome. We will also present recent studies from the SFPRG clinic on patient feedback and the relationship between pathogenic beliefs, trauma, and psychopathology.

7. Effective Psychotherapy Supervision: What CMT and Relational Psychoanalysis Can Teach Each Other Fri 1:00 – 3:00

Joan Sarnat; Jack Bugas, Discussant

Joan Sarnat, a psychoanalyst who has written widely on the supervisory relationship, will present an excerpt of a video of an actual supervisory session and use it to illustrate her views on psychotherapy supervision.  She will show where her relational perspective converges with key CMT concepts and also address areas of divergence.

8. Is there a CMT technique of psychotherapy? Panel discussion       Fri 3:15 – 5:15

Suzanne Gassner, Michael Lowenstein, George Silberschatz, Kathryn Pryor, Steve Forman

CMT is a theory of how the mind works, how psychopathology develops, and how psychotherapy works. It does not specify or privilege particular techniques other than emphasizing the importance of helping patients to achieve their goals and to disconfirm pathogenic beliefs. This class will take up the issue of technique in CMT and show how any number of techniques can be helpful so long as they are in accord with the patient’s plan.

Saturday Conference Agenda

Listening to the unconscious Saturday (3/11/17) 9:30 – 4:30

Presidio Log Cabin 1299 Storey Ave., Presidio SF 94129

Tom Richardson, Erik Gann, Victoria Beckner, Francesco Gazzillo, Marshall Bush, George Silberschatz

How therapists listen to and attend to their patients’ unconscious communications are shaped by their implicit or explicit models of psychopathology and therapeutic process. Therapists from a variety of theoretical perspectives and treatment models will present how they listen and what they are listening for in their patients’ unconscious messages. Similarities and differences between presenters will be highlighted.

9:30 – 9:45           Welcome and introduction – George Silberschatz

9:45 – 10:05        Tom Richardson

10:05—10:25    Erik Gann


10:40—11:00    Francesco Gazzillo

11:00—11:20    Victoria Beckner

11:20—11:45    Case summary: initial sessions


1:15—1:30          Summary of specimen session to be discussed by presenters

1:30—1:45          Tom Richardson

1:45—2:00          Erik Gann

2:00—2:15          Francesco Gazzillo

2:15—2:30          Victoria Beckner

2:30—2:45          Q & A


3:00—3:15          Discussant: Marshall Bush

3:15—3:45          Panel Discussion

3:45—4:15          Audience Discussion

4:15—4:30          Concluding remarks

Faculty Bios

Michael Bader is a clinical psychologist with nearly 40 years of experience as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst.  He has contributed widely to psychoanalytic theory in major journals and has written two acclaimed books about sexuality–Arousal:  The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies and Male Sexuality:  Why Women Don’t Understand It and Men Don’t Either.  He has also written over 50 articles for major magazines and websites on the interaction of psychology, culture, and politics.  His writing can be found on his website, michaelbader.com.  He currently lives in Grass Valley, CA.

John Bugas, PhD was the interim training director of the SFPRG clinic and is currently a clinical supervisor.  He previously worked at the California Medical Facility developing a psychotherapy program for inmate/patients in the mental health program.  Dr. Bugas has a private practice in Davis.

Marshall Bush, PhD is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and is the interim director of the SFPRG psychotherapy clinic. He has a private practice in San Francisco and in San Rafael.

Victoria Lemle Beckner, PhD is a clinical psychologist and partner with the San Francisco Group for Evidence-Based Psychotherapy, and Assistant Clinical Professor at UCSF Department of Psychiatry. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialty in anxiety disorders and the neurobiology of stress and memory, completed her research fellowship at UCSF in Behavioral Medicine, and is the lead author of the book Conquering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While she has extensive experience with various cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness approaches (CBT, ACT, DBT, FAP) and experiential emotion-focused therapies (AEDP, EFT), Dr. Beckner has a keen interest in understanding the common and divergent processes across psychotherapy approaches (including Control Mastery). Dr. Beckner currently conducts workshops on common mechanisms of change in psychotherapy and research on improving psychotherapy effectiveness in clinical practice.

Heather Clague, MD is a psychiatrist in practice in Oakland and supervises trainees at the SFPRG psychotherapy clinic.

John T. Curtis, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.  He has been involved in research on psychotherapy for more than 35 years and has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on this topic.

Steven A. Foreman M.D. is board certified in Child and Adult Psychiatry and has been in practice for over thirty years in San Francisco. He has conducted research on the process and outcome of psychotherapy with adults and children. Dr. Foreman has published numerous clinical and research papers and has lectured internationally on the subject of psychotherapy. He has written a Control Mastery informed parenting book for parents and clinicians, Breaking the Spell, Why Kids Do the Very Thing That Drives You Crazy. He is past president of the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group

Erik Gann, M.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst, Faculty member, Past-President and Past-Chair of the Board of Trustees at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. The primary focus of his teaching and writing over the past four decades has been on major issues in psychoanalytic theory and its relation to clinical process and the impact of unconscious dynamics in group and organizational functioning. He is a member of the Working Party Research Group on Comparative Clinical Methods, an international group studying various aspects of the clinical situation. He is also a Principal in the Boswell Group, which is comprised of psychoanalytically trained and oriented practitioners who consult to businesses and organizations from a psychodynamic perspective. He maintains a private practice in San Francisco and lectures widely on a variety of topics related to psychoanalytic thinking.

Suzanne Gassner, PhD is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis who has published numerous research and clinical papers on psychotherapeutic change processes. She has a private practice in Sausalito and Berkeley.

Francesco Gazzillo, PhD is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with a private practice in Rome. He is Assistant Professor in Dynamic Psychology at the Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, “Sapienza” University of Rome, member of the board of directors of the Italy Area Group of the International Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR), the Psychoanalytic Research Consortium, the European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the public sector (EFPP), and of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP). He is the founder and president of the Control Mastery Theory – Italian Group (CMT-IG). Prof. Gazzillo teaches and supervises in several training programs in psychoanalytic psychotherapy and cognitive psychotherapy. He is the author of several scientific papers published in international journals and of two recent books: Internal Saboteurs (2011) and Trusting patients: An introduction to Control-Mastery Theory (2016).

Michael Lowenstein, MD is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in San Francisco and the East Bay since 1989. He is a long standing member of SFPRG and has been interested in aspects of psychotherapeutic technique since attending Dr. Hal Sampson’s case conference in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He has offered his own case conference since 1998.

Kathryn Pryor, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Menlo Park

Paul Ransohoff, DMH is a member of the Faculty of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, where he teaches and is active on committees. He practices in Menlo Park, California 

Tom Richardson, PhD teaches and supervises candidates and interns at the C G Jung Institute of San Francisco. His current project is the Self Speaks, which focuses on listening to the narrative derivatives as an avenue to being with the unconscious relationship between the patient and the therapist. He has a continuing interest in the writings of Thomas Ogden, Antonio Ferro, and Giuseppe Civitarese. He is in private practice in San Francisco. He also paints and writes poetry.

Joan Sarnat, PhD, ABPP, is a psychologist in private practice in Berkeley, California.  She is a personal and supervising analyst and a member of the faculty at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, San Francisco.  Dr. Sarnat co-authored, with Mary Gail Frawley- O’Dea, The Supervisory Relationship: A Contemporary Psychodynamic Approach (Guilford Press, 2001). Dr. Sarnat recently published Supervision Essentials for Psychodynamic Psychotherapies (APA Books, 2016), and Relational Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Supervision (APA Videos, 2016).

George Silberschatz, PhD is a psychologist and Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and a past president of the international Society for Psychotherapy Research (2012-2013). He has published extensively in professional journals and books and has presented at professional meetings and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia (some of his papers can be found on his website, www.georgesilberschatz.com ). He currently divides his time between a private practice in San Francisco, teaching and supervising psychotherapy, and writing clinical and research papers. His book, Transformative Relationships, has been widely acclaimed for the clarity of its theoretical foundations, the rigor of the research presented and its clinical relevance.

John Snyder, PsyD is a Clinical Psychologist, Research Director, and Supervising Psychologist at the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group’s Training Clinic. He also maintains a private practice in San Francisco specializing in psychotherapy with adolescent and adult males, anger management, substance abuse, and relationships. Dr. Snyder’s research focuses on the Patient’s Experience of Attunement and Responsiveness (PEAR) during therapy sessions, and the use of measure-based feedback during therapy as a means of monitoring patient progress, identifying clinical errors and therapy alliance ruptures, and enhancing therapist training. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Snyder attended the University of Washington and Pacific University. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the University of California, Merced. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife.

Molly Sullivan, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist with offices in Berkeley and San Francisco.  Her fascination with how psychotherapy actually works led her to Joe Weiss’s and Hal Sampson’s Case Conferences in 1990 — which she attended for many years.  Since then she has been very actively involved with SFPRG in many capacities.