The Symposium and the Psychology of Shopping

The Symposium and the Psychology of Shopping

Highlights from Symposium 2018

By Rich Simon

May/June 2018

In Networker editor Rich Simon’s introduction to the conference, he likened it to a deeply stimulating marketplace of ideas, where clinicians get an expanded opportunity to embrace a fuller range of therapeutic identities. Check out photos from Symposium 2018 here.

Last year, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of this conference, which turned out to be a grand lollapalooza of an event. We heard from the innovators in our field, we danced, we sang, the conversation flowed like Niagara Falls. And as I watched the excited crowds explore the array of keynote topics and workshops and booths at the Exhibit Hall, it occurred to me that I was watching therapists on a kind of professional shopping spree. Here was a unique opportunity to try on and sample a dizzying range of therapeutic methods, and even identities. This may sound like a bit of a stretch, but allow me a moment to indulge this line of thought.

We spend a lot of time in our consumer society shopping in one way or another. But what is it we’re really looking for? Rarely these days do we shop exclusively for what we need to get along in life—a hunk of meat and some bread to keep starvation at bay, a heavy Soviet-style coat that has no other function than to ward off cold. No, we shop for all kinds of reasons, and chief among them, even if we don’t often acknowledge it directly, is a chance to explore…

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