“Still practicing” has several meanings. Still practicing suggests that the balance of heartaches and joys must not deter us from pursuing a clinical practice. At the same time, still practicing suggests that for the clinician “practice” never “makes perfect.” We continue to refine our clinical instruments over our entire working lives.
Framed by her previous work on the concept of emotional balance, Sandra Buechler investigates how vicissitudes in a clinical career can have a profound and lasting impact on the clinician’s emotional balance, and considers how the clinician’s resilience is maintained in the face of the personal fallout of a lifetime of clinical practice. At each juncture, from training to early phases of clinical experience, through mid and late career, she asks, what can help us maintain a vital interest in our work? How do we not burn out?
Aimed at the nexus of the personal and theoretical, Still Practicing concentrates on the sadness, feelings of shame, and satisfactions inherent in practice, and encourages newcomers and veterans alike to make career choices mindful of their potential long-term impact on their feelings about being therapists. It poses a question vital to the life of the clinician: How can we strike a balance between the work’s inevitable pain and its potential joy?
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Personal Impact of Lifelong Clinical Practice. Part I: Hardships in Training. Failing to Cultivate Clinical Strengths. Emotional Hazards of Clinical Training. Part II: Early Career Vicissitudes. Traumatically Overwhelming Professional Settings. Difficult Patients as First Cases. Part III: Evolving Requirements. Ongoing Challenges to the Clinician’s Sense of Self. Cocreated Dysfunctional Patterns of Relating. Bearing Isolation and Sorrow: Chronic Mourning in Clinicians. Part IV: Sustaining Practice. The Ordinary Tragedies of an Analytic Life. Transcending Shame and Sorrow. Analytic Resilience. Epilogue: Still Practicing.
Sandra Buechler, Ph.D., is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City, and supervises at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. A member of the editorial board of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, she is the author of Clinical Values: Emotions that Guide Psychoanalytic Treatment (Analytic Press, 2004) and Making a Difference in Patients’ Lives (Routledge, 2008), and has written papers on the analyst’s experiences of loneliness, loss, joy, and other aspects of the clinician’s feelings.