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Two New Tentative Competencies: Race & Ethnicity and Sexuality & Gender

02/26/2021 3:54 PM | Anonymous

We have posted two tentative lists of new competencies regarding:  Sex/Gender and Race/Ethnicity which  were generously shared with ABPsa by The Psychoanalytic Association of New York, Affiliated with NYU and The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. While we haven’t yet established the specific competencies, we wanted to underscore that sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, and culture are core aspects of identity that shape the experience of the self and interactions with others. They are also accompanied by various attitudes, including potential conscious and implicit biases.

For analysts, it means that we need to be aware of these aspects of our own identities and how they affect our view of ourselves and of our patients, especially if there are differences in these identities between patient and analyst. It also means that analysts need to be open to learning from their patients about how these various aspects of identity affect individual development and how they impact patients’ interactions with the interpersonal and social surround.


Role of Race and Ethnicity

In our society, we are all members of various races and ethnicities which, by definition, include affiliations with cultures, religions and nationalities. These complex concepts do not lend themselves easily to singular understandings, nor should patients or analysts be reduced to “competencies about the other.” We recognize, however, that it is necessary for analysts to be cognizant and reflective about the many facets of an individual’s identity (race and ethnicity being part, not the whole) which must be understood and accepted for effective clinical work. This begins with the analyst developing competency in understandings of the analyst’s cultural context and identity. It is not that the patient is different- it is that the patient and analyst are different from one another.

Both analysts and patients are influenced by multiple systems within society and culture. Race and ethnicity function with and within class, gender, religion, language, et al. These influences exist within current and larger historical contexts that are significant aspects of patients’ and analysts’ psychic and social lives. Developing effective clinical knowledge and skills to consider and address the role of race and ethnicity is an on-going process that requires continuous commitment to learning about oneself and one’s patients. It is important to acknowledge that understandings and expressions of race and ethnicity, how they are presented individually and within groups and communities, are dynamic and ever-evolving.

Competencies Relating to Race and Ethnicity

  1. Aware of contemporary psychoanalytic and psychosocial theories of race and   ethnicity and how experiences of power, privilege and oppression can be analytically considered within the psychoanalytic relationship.
  2. Able to learn from the patient about their self and interpersonal experiences as shaped by racial, cultural and social factors.
  3. Aware of, and able to reflect on, the meanings and impact of one’s own and the patient’s race and ethnicity, as both intra-psychic and social experiences that are also created by the dyad within the analytic space.
  4. Able to provide analysis while acknowledging conscious and unconscious racial and ethno-cultural biases in both analyst and patient, being open to recognizing and engaging them.
  5. Understand transference and countertransference experiences related to both members of the dyad’s racial, ethnic, cultural and religious identities and how these affect the analytic process.
  6. Consider the influences of race and ethnicity in identity development through the lifecycle and how these intersect with larger sociocultural contexts.


Sex, gender, and sexual orientation competencies

Contemporary culture and psychoanalytic theory are evolving and now include expanded understandings of variant expressions of both gender and sexuality. From this perspective, defining gender by anatomical sex no longer fully defines the complexity and particularity of gender experience and sexuality for many people that it was once presumed to, nor does it automatically define a distinct difference in individual psychologies.

 Competencies Relating to the Role of Sexuality and Gender

  1. Demonstrate clinically applicable understanding of contemporary psychoanalytic and psychosocial theories of gender and sexuality.
  2. Able to reflect on one’s own and the patient’s implicit and explicit attitudes and biases regarding gender, gender roles, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  3. Aware of and able to reflect upon the meanings and impacts of one’s own and of the patient’s gender and sexuality as intra-psychic and social experiences.
  4. Understand one’s own and the patient’s experience of the sex of their body.
  5. Understand transference and countertransference experiences relating to each member of the dyad’s gender and sexual identities and how these affect the analytic process.
  6. Consider developmental aspects of gender and sexuality through the lifecycle. The role of both traditional/binary and contemporary fluid models of gender and sexuality may both be considered.
  7. Demonstrate the capacity to think analytically about changes in gender and sexuality that may occur in the analysis.


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