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Clinical Seminar I: “On the Therapeutic Act”

The practice of psychotherapy calls for a necessary and ongoing reflection on the means, aims and conduction of the therapeutic process. The manner in which therapists approach their act involves an ethical responsibility and depends on the theoretical assumptions they hold as valid, useful and truthful.

This Seminar offers an introductory frame that addresses psychodynamic as well as ethical and practical issues in the conduction of a psychotherapeutic act. We will approach such topics from a psychoanalytic perspective based on the work of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who in the span of 50 years, called a “return to Freud” and developed one of the most influential contemporary schools of thought within the field of psychoanalysis.  

Throughout the Seminar we will engage with the “Five W and one H” questions (What, Who, When, Where, Why and How) and each session we will discuss a clinical case presented by a guest practitioner. It is expected that this seminar will orientate clinicians in their practices with regards to the nature of concepts such as healing (what); the therapeutic relation (who); the concept of time (when) and space (where); as well as ethics (why) and means of intervention (how) in a therapeutic practice.

This Seminar, groundwork of my current research project and product of close to 20 years of clinical practice in both institutional and private settings, will encourage open discussion and non-dogmatic dialogue in the hope of creating a productive space in which to generate clinical inquiry about an essential practice that attends to issues of the human condition, its inherent suffering and countless possibilities.

Hilda Fernandez

Directed to: 

Clinical Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Psychoanalysts.

People interested in the clinical field within a social practice (social workers, outreach workers, health therapists, social research, education, etc.

Time and Dates:

8 sessions from October 17, 2015 – February 13, 2016

Fortnight Saturdays 10:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

SFU Woodwards 149 West Hastings St. in Vancouver

Room 2205

Detailed Syllabus Provided Upon Registration

Workload for each session will be about two primary readings (Freud and Lacan) with few optional secondary readings.

October 17 What

In this session we will situate the concept of therapy within a psychoanalytic framework. We will introduce the Lacanian three registers (Imaginary, Symbolic and Real) to map the constitutional elements of the therapeutic act. This will lead us to review concepts of truth and knowledge, but also consciousness/unconsciousness and the nature of reality.

October 31 Who

We will approach the protagonists involved in the therapeutic situation. On the one hand, the divided subject of the unconscious; on the other, the function of the analyst.  We will visit concepts such as the therapeutic relation, transference and countertransference, intersubjectivity and dialogue.

November 14 What

Continuing exploring the elements that conforms a therapeutic act, we will introduce the concepts of body and mind, as well as drive and jouissance. We will draw the differences between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and define what we understand for an act.

November 28 What

Crucial aspects to understand the therapeutic act are Anxiety, Desire, Fantasy and Symptom. We will introduce these concepts to situate the field in which the analyst/therapist intervenes.

December 12 When

Therapeutic interventions involve certain timing. We will review concepts such as logical time, timing of interventions, as well as demand and resistance.

January 16 Where

The therapeutic act occurs in a certain space. We will explore places of intervention within the psychoanalytic dispositive. What is presence/absence and what are the effects on the Real, Symbolic and Imaginary registers.

January 30 How

In this session we will discuss how a therapeutic act is oriented, through aspects such as strategy, tactics, modes of intervention as well as style versus technique. 

February 13 Why

In this session we will approach the ethical goals of the treatment and will differentiate them from moral pursues. Also we reflect on the transmission of psychoanalytic knowledge.

Guest Clinican: Dan Collins

The Facilitator:

Hilda Fernandez has extensive clinical experience in the field of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Throughout her clinical trajectory, she has worked in the medical and mental health fields alongside a private practice. Currently she has a private practice in downtown Vancouver, and has worked for the past ten years as a psychotherapist at SAFER, part of Vancouver Coastal Health. In Mexico City she worked for eight years in the National Rehabilitation Program within the Central Hospital of the Mexican Red Cross.

She has an MA in Clinical Psychology (UNAM), an MA in Spanish Literature (UBC) and more than 15 years of Lacanian training. She co-founded the Lacan Salon in 2007 and currently serves as its president.  To know more check her website www.hildafernandez.com


Lacan Salon acknowledges that this Seminar will take place on unceded territories of the Musqueam and Coast Salish peoples.

Lacan Salon thanks SFU Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

*Image: Network of Stoppages, Marcel Duchamp, 1914.