Notice: The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society 45th Annual Symposium is cancelled.  We hope to be able to reschedule for next year. For those who have already registered and paid, your money will be refunded. Stay well, stay safe.

Michigan Psychoanalytic Society
45th Annual Symposium

Are Psychoanalysis and
Religion/Spirituality Compatible?
Challenges and Opportunities

Guest Speakers:
Donald Carveth, Ph.D.
Edward Shafranske, Ph.D.

Saturday, April 25, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center
Livonia, Michigan
5 CME/CE Credit Hours

Introduction and Practice Gap/Need

In a day and age when diversity is celebrated, religion and spirituality are not as much addressed, especially as they relate to the subjectivity and meaning they have for the clinician/analyst and patient. A majority of Americans profess religious or spiritual beliefs (PEW Research Center), and history shows us the influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of individuals, society, politics, culture, and value systems. Religious and spiritual beliefs are also present in the consulting room, but how openly do patients bring these up? And how do analysts listen to them?

Analytic clinicians are taught to listen with neutrality and non-judgment, but do we stifle patients in exploring religious and spiritual themes that are a part of their identity? Freud devoted much attention to religion in his writings, but seems to have viewed it mainly as defensive and as an “illusion” – giving an impression of pathologizing it, as if psychoanalysis was hostile to religion. In contrast, over the years there have been other analysts who have explored adaptive and creative aspects of religion/spirituality, even while recognizing that any belief system can be used defensively.

To address this gap in our conceptual framework, we have organized a program that aims to provide a balanced and open-minded perspective of psychoanalytic thinking about religion/spirituality. We are honored to have two distinguished psychoanalysts, Dr. Edward Shafranske and Dr. Donald Carveth, who are eminently well-qualified in this area to add to our understanding about the convergence and divergence between psychoanalysis and religion/spirituality. Their presentations are:

Dr. Shafranske: The Unthought Known and the Appearance of God in Clinical Psychoanalysis

Dr. Shafranske will “examine the dialectic between a ‘felt’ sense of the sacred Other, conceived as God or the transcendent, derived from transformational states and relationships. The presentation includes psychoanalytic consideration of the cultural overlay of religious/ spiritual belief and experience. Clinical material will be framed within an integrated object relations approach with reference to Freud and the contributions of Rizzuto, Meissner, Winnicott, Spero and others. Attention will be placed on clinical material, including the failures in God representational process in patients with borderline personality disorder and the role of disillusionment and reconciliation.”

Dr. Carveth: Psychoanalysis IS Spirituality

Dr. Carveth will explain that “although we have tried to disguise the fact, psychoanalysis is a moral enterprise, a value-infused rather than value-neutral science valorizing life over death, love over hate, and truth over lies. Since one’s moral compass is a central element of their spirituality, and given its concern with psyche, soul or spirit, and its promotion of personal transformation through self- observation, the development of an “observing ego” or an “inner watcher,” psychoanalysis is revealed as a spiritual practice and a type of meditation. Although analysts must not be “superego-ish” with patients; they must carry the conscience in the treatment until such time as patients are able to carry it themselves.”

Educational Objectives

1) Review historical and psychoanalytic theoretical perspectives on religion/spirituality from Freud to the present.
2) Describe the psychological, cultural, and developmental contributions to religious experience.
3) Describe the contributions of religious/spiritual experience to psychological health.
4) Describe the clinical approaches to address religious/spiritual experience in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
5) Clarify areas of convergence and divergence between religion/spirituality and psychoanalysis, such as the distinction between the superego and conscience, and the goals of treatment.

Location and Directions

Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center
39000 Schoolcraft Rd.
Livonia, MI 48150
(734) 462-0770

Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center is conveniently located near the intersection of I 275, I 96, and M 14. Go to for directions to the Conference Center from your location


8:15 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast
9:00 a.m. Welcome: Rebecca Mair, Ph.D.
President, Michigan
Psychoanalytic Society
Overview: Moderator: Patricia Plopa, Ph.D.
Presenter: Edward Shafranske, Ph.D.:
“The Unthought Known and the Appearance of God in Clinical Psychoanalysis”
10:20 a.m. Coffee Break
10:35 a.m. Discussant: Robin Rayford, M.A.
Panel/Audience Discussion
11:45 a.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Presenter: Donald L. Carveth, Ph.D.
“Psychoanalysis IS Spirituality”
Discussant: Dushyant Trivedi, M.D.
Panel/Audience Discussion
2:45 p.m. Coffee break
2:55 p.m. “Round Table”
Moderator: Patricia Plopa, Ph.D.
Questions, Clinical Issues
Panel/Audience Discussion
3:50 p.m. Concluding Remarks

Laurel Manor Banquet


Early registration is advised. Complimentary continental breakfast is included.

Early Registration (Before April 10th)
$155 Early enrollment
$ 50 Full-time student/medical resident
$ 85 Academic

 Registration after April 10th
$175 Regular Enrollment
$ 60 Full-time student/medical resident
$100 Academic

Optional Luncheon Buffet: $35.00

To register, please fill out the registration form below and send in with your credit card number or a check made payable to “Michigan Psychoanalytic Society.”

Registration Form

Our Guest Speakers

Edward Shafranske, Ph.D., ABPP, FIPA, is professor of psychology, Muriel Lipsey Chair in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, and directs the doctoral program in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University. He is a senior faculty member at the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles and a training and supervising analyst at the Newport Psychoanalytic Institute. He has published widely in the fields of the applied psychology of religion and clinical supervision and training. He is a contributor and co-editor of the forthcoming “Foundational Psychoanalytic Contributions to the Psychology of Religion” (Brill, London). He has lectured on psychoanalysis and religion at meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association (with Ana-Maria Rizzuto, M.D.) and the American Psychological Association (APA) and throughout North America and Europe. Dr. Shafranske has served as associate editor of “The APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality” and currently is associate editor of “Spirituality in Clinical Practice.” He serves as associate clinical professor of psychiatry, UC Irvine School of Medicine, and maintains a clinical practice in Irvine, California.

donald-carvethDonald Carveth, Ph.D., RP, FIPA, is an emeritus professor of sociology and social and political thought and a senior scholar at York University, Toronto, Canada. He is a training and supervising analyst in the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Carveth is past director of the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis and a past editor-in-chief of “The Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/Revue Canadienne de Psychanalyse.”
He is the author of “The Still Small Voice: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Guilt and Conscience” (Karnac 2013) and of “Psychoanalytic Thinking: A Dialectical Critique of Contemporary Theory and Practice” (Rutledge 2018), as well as many publications listed on his website and video-lectures (some focusing on questions of religion and spirituality) and on his YouTube channel. He is in private practice in Toronto.

CME and CE Credit Information

PHYSICIANS: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.
PSYCHOLOGISTS: The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
SOCIAL WORKERS: The Michigan Psychoanalytic Society is an approved provider with the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative.
The views of the speakers do not necessarily represent the views of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society.


robin-rayfordRobin L. Rayford, M.A., is a graduate adult and child/adolescent psychoanalyst and is on the associate faculty of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She is also a doctoral candidate at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. Robin is the founder of Life Restoration Counseling and Psychological Services, Troy, Michigan and co-founding pastor of Restoration Fellowship Tabernacle (RFT), an interdenominational church in Detroit, MI. Robin established the RFT Counseling Center at her church, which includes a child/infant development center. She is an instructor and supervisor for China American Psychoanalytic Alliance (CAPA) and the Henry Ford Hospital Psychiatry Residency Training Program. Robin’s interests include her passionate search for the intersecting space between race, religion and psychoanalysis.

dushyant-trivediDushyant Trivedi, M.D., is a graduate psychoanalyst in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is on the faculties of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. He is a lead psychiatrist for the Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Symposium Moderator

patricia-plopaPatricia Plopa, Ph.D., is a training and supervising analyst on the faculty of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She is past-president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society, and adjunct faculty and supervisor at the University of Detroit Mercy. She has lectured on religion/spirituality and psychoanalysis. Other areas of interest on which she has presented or written include aging and later life, mortality, mourning and loss, and transference-countertransference issues and technique in working with illness in the patient and/or analyst. Her clinical practice is in Bloomfield Hills.

Symposium Committee

Patricia Plopa, Ph.D. and Robin Rayford, M.A., Co-Chairs
Dushyant Trivedi, M.D.
Giovanni Minonne, Ph.D.
Kathleen Moore, Ph.D.
Monica Evans, Program Administrator

If you have further questions, contact Monica Evans at (248) 851-3380 at the office.