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The Art of the Practical: The Triumphs and Limits of Psychotherapy

By Richard Handler

May/June 2009


By now, we're used to huge numbers being thrown around in Washington, but, in the midst of today's Great Financial Meltdown, to get 3,600 therapists to take their credit cards out of cold storage and troop to D.C. to attend a professional conference is no mean feat. Yet with therapy conference attendance around the country down from 30 to 50 percent and clinicians everywhere complaining of declining caseloads and cutbacks in public agency budgets, this year's Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, held March 26-29 in Washington, D.C., not only set a new attendance record, but seemed to generate a communal electricity that one attendee described as a "jolt of joy."

Of course, conferences are often little more than occasions to get CE credits and listen dutifully to the latest research findings recited from behind podiums as job hunters anxiously try to sniff out new positions and wide-eyed neophytes try to figure out where they fit in the professional pecking order. But after 32 years, the Symposium has established its own distinctive following with nearly 80 percent of its attendees returning year after year, some having attended regularly for more than two decades. As Networker editor Rich Simon observed in his opening address, "Many of you have been coming for so many years that, if you're like me, you've begun to feel that you're probably related to most everyone here. Somehow, somewhere back in time, our family trees all conjoined in a vast underground tangle of…

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