As a reflection on two roundtable discussions published in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis in 1957 and 1965, the author seeks to provide historical context for what has taken place within the culture, within the profession, and within himself over this period of time. The struggle to define “effectiveness” is addressed and an argument made for the inclusion of empirical research into our work, but with simultaneous appreciation for the difficulty in objectively defining and measuring what takes place within the therapeutic relationship. This difficulty is hypothesized, in part, to be a function of the non-verbal and preverbal experiences of both patient and therapist.

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  1. 1.

    The Roundtable Discussion, “What is effective in the therapeutic process?” took place at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Chicago, IL on May 1, 1956. Bella S. Van Bark, M.D. moderated the panel. Other presenters were Elizabeth Kilpatrick, M.D., Lewis Wolberg, M.D., Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D., Frederick A. Weiss, M.D., Leslie H. Farber, M.D., Louis E. DeRosis, M.D., and Silvano Arieti, M.D.

  2. 2.

    The Scientific Program Committee of the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, under the chairmanship of Dr. Frederick A. Weiss, arranged the Roundtable Discussion, “What Leads to Basic Change in Psychoanalytic Therapy?” at the New York Academy of Medicine in the Spring of 1964. Melvin Boigon, M.D. moderated the panel. Other participants were William V. Silverberg, M.D., Frederick A. Weiss, M.D., and Alfred H. Rifkin, M.D.


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Correspondence to Larry M Rosenberg.

Additional information

This reaction paper is part of the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Special Issue, guest edited by Dr. Robert Prince. Other responders to the 1956 and 1964 AJP Roundtables are: Drs. Steven Axelrod, Sheldon Itzkowitz, Emily Kuriloff, and Larry Rosenberg.

1Larry M. Rosenberg, Ph.D., is supervisor and former Clinical Director of the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut. He is past Co-Chair of the Education and Training Committee for Connecticut Association for Mental Health Clinics for Children and presently sits on the Boards of Sections II and V of Division 39 of the APA. Dr. Rosenberg also has a private practice in Stamford, Connecticut.

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Rosenberg, L. WHAT IS EFFECTIVE IN PSYCHOANALYTIC PSYCHOTHERAPY? SOME THINGS CHANGE, SOME STAY THE SAME. Am J Psychoanal 75, 139–144 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2015.18

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  • effectiveness
  • therapeutic process
  • preverbal
  • psychoanalysis
  • mutuality