Past Conferences

Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies

Thank you to all that attended Morality vs. Ethics. You can read the details of our most recent conference below.

April 30, 2016

Morality versus Ethics: Moral Development in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

with Elio Frattaroli, M.D. Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia


Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies Faculty Members:

Kali Erskine, Ph.D., Melinda Haas, L.C.S.W., Debra Lopez, M.D., Melvin Miller, Ph.D., Jean Pieniadz, Ph.D., Elizabeth Seward, M.D. and Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016
Multi-Purpose Room
Kreitzberg Library
Norwich University
Northfield, Vermont

Continuing Education (CE) Credits–ALL APPROVED–as follows:
Psychologists: 4 Ethics CE credits, plus additional 2 (non-ethics) CE credits
Mental Health Counselors:  6 Ethics CE credits
Social Workers: 6 Ethics CE credits

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this conference, participants will be able to:

1. Describe the difference between instrumental goodness, hedonistic goodness, beneficial goodness and moral goodness.

2. Explain why psychoanalytic psychotherapy requires an ethic of acceptance, respect and empathy in the therapist and inevitably leads not only to emotional growth but to moral growth in the patient.

3. Explain how Freud’s refusal to acknowledge morality as integral to psychoanalytic theory and practice has led to a century of us-them controversies, and “excommunication anxieties” between different schools of psychoanalytic thought, and to identify the buried moral and ethical codes within these schools.

4. Describe ethical issues involved in obtaining informed consent to conduct psychoanalysis and analytic therapy, including the content of informed consent agreements.

5. Describe moral/ethical dilemmas and possible resolutions in considerations of therapeutic neutrality, interpretation, and termination in work with sociopathic and other personality problems.

6. Describe ethical and clinical/treatment complexities involved in the publication and presentation of patient material, and the ways in which these are related to moral development in the therapy.


Registration: 8:30 a.m.

Introduction: 9:00 a.m.
Melvin Miller & Polly Young-Eisendrath

Presentation: 9:10 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.
(with a 10-minute break at 10:30)

What is Good for our Patients? What is Good for our Profession? What is Good? How Do We Know?
—Dr. Elio Frattaroli

Morality requires a compassionate self-reflective consciousness, with an inner sense of right and wrong, that can make free choices based on introspectively recognized qualities of good and evil. Ethics, when understood as rules imposed from the outside, can be explained by internalizing prohibitions and restrictions–the function of Freud’s superego. The psychoanalytic process depends on the introspective discernment of a higher consciousness and leads to moral development in becoming more compassionate and accepting of self and others, more discerning of the knowledge of good and evil, and more capable of exercising free will in an ethical manner. Yet Freud himself prohibited any conception of a higher moral consciousness as “unscientific.” Unfortunately, Freud’s prohibition has become internalized in the group superego of psychoanalysis, leaving analysts and therapists with no legitimate way to discuss morality or describe the transformative moral dimension of treatment and how it leads to ethical action. Most psychoanalysts after Freud have remained unconscious of, and conflicted about, the moral values and commitments that inform their work. Dr. Frattaroli will discuss how this unconscious conflict plays itself out in divisive psychoanalytic controversies between orthodox and heretical schools. These controversies are a kind of group repetition compulsion that is attempting to bring into consciousness our unconscious confusion about moral values and ideals that are vital to psychoanalytic practice, but are difficult to talk about directly.

Lunch (on your own): 12:20 – 1:20 p.m.

Panel Presentation I: 1:20 – 2:50 p.m.

Deepening the Inquiry: Clinical and Theoretical Explorations of Dr. Frattaroli’s Paper

Debra Lopez, Mel Miller, Jean Pieniadz, and Polly Young-Eisendrath will explore with Dr. Frattaroli the ways in which moral development in psychotherapy and analysis leads to ethical action in both the therapist/analyst and the patient: They will discuss:

– The complexities of informed consent in the therapy/analytic process

– Informed consent in the publication and presentation of patient material

– Ethical conflicts regarding notions of “neutrality”, and termination, in working with sociopathic and other character issues

– Making conscious, and revising, the buried moral codes of training institutes

– Methods for helping both new and experienced therapists/analysts examine their own moral development, and its ethical treatment ramifications

Break: 2:50 – 3:05 p.m.

Panel Presentation II: 3:05 – 4:35 p.m.

The Expression of Moral Development from Different Perspectives: Notions from Relational Psychoanalysis, Modern Psychoanalysis, Self Psychology, Object Relations and Jungian Psychoanalysis

Kali Erskine, Melinda Haas, and Elizabeth Seward will speak about their own various approaches to the clinical issues arising during the development of morality in psychoanalysis. Each analyst from the Vermont Institute for the Psychotherapies will speak from her or his own perspective, differentiating the ideas, values and qualities of her or his own training experience and professional development and current clinical practice. They will discuss:

– Uses of transference and countertransference interpretation in moral-ethical dilemmas
and development

– Technical considerations (e.g., uses of dreams) in the facilitation of moral development and ethical decision-making

– “Neutrality” in the face of ethical concerns

– Parallels between moral codes and ethical codes in different schools of psychoanalytic thought

– Moral codes and ethical codes in different training institutes and implications for trans-theoretical ethics

Closing Remarks: 4:35 – 4:50 p.m.
Dr. Kali Erskine

Dr. Elio Frattaroli:

Dr. Elio Frattaroli is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is on the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia where he teaches both psychoanalytic candidates and psychotherapy students. He has a full-time practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy with adults, adolescents and couples in Bala Cynwyd, PA. Dr. Frattaroli has studied Shakespeare at Harvard and trained with Bruno Bettelheim at the University of Chicago before turning to medicine. He has written and lectured widely on topics including Shakespeare, Bettelheim, Buddhism Freud and Jung, neuroscience and psychoanalysis, the mind-body problem, free will and American culture before and after 9/11. His book, Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Becoming Conscious in an Unconscious World, was first published on September 10, 2001. His website is


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