AUG 2020: PsiAN featured in NYT article about Talkspace

Over the last few years, PsiAN has noted a number of concerns about texting apps, ranging from lack of a substantive evidence base showing efficacy, to ethical problems, to the very concerning potential of diverting people from getting quality therapy. We’ve written to the American Psychological Association, even to Michael Phelps himself.  Here’s is an in-depth look at Talkspace, and the many problems we’ve been concerned about.

Great reporting by the NYT, and many thanks to Kashmir Hill for giving PsiAN the last word!

Here’s the article, written by technology reporter Kashmir Hill: At Talkspace, start-up culture collides with mental health concerns.

JUL 2020: Position Statement on Telehealth Coverage

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned very quickly how to put sound telehealth procedures into place.  Some of these changes need to stay in place, and be adopted as usual practice going forward, to ensure access to and continuity of care.  Here is PsiAN’s statement on telehealth coverage and the policy, insurance and licensing changes that need to occur so that people can continue to access care, even after some of the emergency orders expire.

PsiAN Telehealth Position Statement: PsiAN Telementalhealth Statement

MAR 2020:  Therapy that sticks

Our Co Chair, Linda Michaels, wrote an article on therapy that endures. She outlines the evidence base for therapies of depth, insight and relationship, and highlights the false narrative around quick fixes. Referencing her own experience in therapy, along with vignettes from her practice, she gives a moving testimonial and balanced support for therapies that stick.

Published by Aeon, here’s the article: Therapy that sticks: Why depth therapy is more enduring than a quick fix

MAR 2020:  Guidelines for Tele-Therapy Sessions

As travel is restricted during this public health crisis, many of us may need to conduct therapies of depth, insight and relationship via phone or screen. While there are unavoidable losses in doing so, there are some important ways we can stay aware of the differences of in-person therapy, and adapt to remote therapy.

Here are Remote Therapy Session Guidelines, written by one of PsiAN’s Advisors, Todd Essig, and Gillian Isaacs Russell: Remote Session Guidelines

FEB 2020:  ICE and ORR policies violate key premises of psychotherapy

In April of 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) signed a formal memorandum of agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to share its therapy notes for therapy sessions with immigrant children. This policy not only formalized these children’s betrayal, but went some way towards destroying the integrity of psychological therapy as a whole.

PsiAN drafted a petition protesting this “weaponization” of therapy notes to incarcerate and deport vulnerable, isolated and traumatized youth.  Other professional organizations have similarly protested. We all call upon ORR to revoke its Memorandum of Agreement with ICE immediately, and for an end to the use of therapy notes to betray immigrant children and the field of psychotherapy as a whole.

Sign the petition here:

DEC 2019:  WebMD fails to mention therapies of depth, insight and relationship

In its mental health blog on How to Choose the Right Type of Therapy, WebMD outlines 4 types of therapy that are variations on a (short-term, structured, manualized) theme, and fails to mention that therapies of depth, insight and relationship even exist.

Steven Reidbord, MD, PsiAN member and presenter at our recent conference in San Francisco, wrote a compelling letter showing the disservice WebMD is doing to people who assume it should be a trusted resource.

Here is Dr. Reidbord’s letter: WebMD misses the boat_12.19

NOV 2019:  APA fails to mention therapies of depth, insight and relationship — even though these therapies can cure (yes, cure) chronic pain

In its member magazine, the American Psychological Association published an article about best practices for treating chronic pain. The recommended treatments were all cognitive-behavioral and focused on symptom relief and management. PsiAN put together a team of medical and psychology experts who have decades of experience researching and treating chronic pain. They state that therapies of depth, insight and relationship can actually eliminate chronic pain. Yes, there is a cure. Why should people settle for symptom management, when they can have a cure?

Here is the letter from the experts: Response to APA article on chronic pain

OCT 2019:  Chicago Teachers Union striking for more mental health professionals in its schools

CTU is requesting increases in school social workers and psychologists, as current clinician-to-student ratios are well below what is recommended by national professional organizations. PsiAN stands in solidarity with the CTU, as these minimal mental health resources must be made available to our children — our most vulnerable population, and our future.

Here is our letter: PsiAN letter in support of CTU_10.25.19

AUG 2019:  The Othering of Psychoanalysis: Symposium given at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference (8.8.2019)

APA decided to make othering the theme of its annual conference this year, and PsiAN decided to take a look at the treatment of psychoanalytic thought and therapies through that lens. We’ve posted here the papers presented by Oksana Yakushko, Linda Michaels, and Janice Muhr, with discussion by Nancy Burke. These presentations look in turn look at the history of Freud bashing in the United States through the lens of psychology’s historic ties to eugenics; the evidence base for psychoanalytic therapies; and PsiAN’s efforts to transcend the effects of marginalization.

Freud Bashing in Psychology

Psychoanalysis in CBT-Centric Era_What does the evidence say

Transcending Otherness

Discussion of papers

JUN 2019:  Comment on the American Psychiatric’s Draft Guideline for Schizophrenia.

The American Psychiatric Association has issued a call for comments on its draft practice guideline for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. PsiAN has written a strong response, with concerns about the specific treatment recommendations, types of evidence that were considered or not, and the overall guidelines process.

Here is the document we submitted to the APA: PsiAN_Comment on proposed APA Schizophrenia Guideline


NBC posted a story claiming that CBT is the “gold standard” of psychotherapy treatment. NBC didn’t do its research.

Research studies and the experience of clinicians the world over know better: CBT is NOT more effective!   Talk therapies of depth, insight and relationship have been shown repeatedly to be equally effective.  No less than JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, along with numerous psychology researchers, backed by comprehensive meta-analyses of research studies covering thousands of patients, agree.

We aren’t sure why the American Psychological Association is disseminating the NBC article. The APA should definitely know better: it has sponsored much of the research that shows the therapy relationship is at the heart of treatments, and that CBT performs no better than other psychological therapies.

Here’s our letter to NBC: PsiAN response to NBC news article on CBT_4.30.19


Like many, PsiAN is concerned about the abrupt closure of the Argosy schools and its psychology and counseling graduate programs. We grieve for the 8,800 affected students and the many faculty members who no longer have a place to study and work. We wrote to Betsy DeVos at the Education Department and to Arthur Evans at the APA, outlining our concerns that neither institution sounded alarm bells sooner — despite the many warning signs along the way.

Here’s our letter: PsiAN_letter to APA,ED regarding Argosy


Jonathan Shedler was interviewed recently in conjunction with the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) conference “Psychoanalytic Therapy Now 2018.” It’s a wide-ranging interview about the state of our profession today. It’s been published in the British Psychoanalytic Council magazine, New Associations, and also in the International Psychoanalytical Association newsletter, IPA News.

In addition to his many roles and responsibilities, Jonathan is an Advisor to PsiAN.

Click here to read his interview: interview with Jonathan Shedler


In a nationwide class action suit, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has found that United Behavioral Health (“UBH/Optum”), the country’s largest managed behavioral healthcare organization, illegally denied mental health and substance use coverage based on flawed medical necessity criteria.

UBH developed their own internal flawed criteria, which were found to be inconsistent with generally accepted standards of behavioral health care, as a means to limit payments for medical care, thus decreasing their costs, and increasing profits. Indeed, the judge, Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, noted that UBH’s restrictive guidelines were intended to mitigate against the financial impact of parity.

This ruling is a monumental victory for patients and providers, and will certainly impact our mental health landscape for decades to come.

Congratulations to the attorneys, Meiram Bendat at PsychAppeal, Inc, and Zuckerman Spaeder, LLC, and all of the plaintiffs who came forward on behalf of thousands of individuals nationwide.

Here is the Judge’s complete ruling: Wit v. UBH

And here is PsiAN’s article published on Medium outlining our concerns: PsiAN’s take on the ruling against UBH — Why it’s bigger than it looks


Governor Pritzker presented his first budget address since taking office. We appreciate his focus on increased mental health spending, even as the state of Illinois struggles to restore its fiscal health to solid footing, and are hopeful that this budget is a harbinger of a positive trend. However, Illinois needs not just increased mental health and substance abuse funding, but increased access to individualized mental health care of depth, dedication, duration and relationship. We can no longer afford to overlook the fact that the behaviorally-focused interventions offered to those without means are insufficient to help most people most of the time.

Our full statement is here: PsiAN Statement on IL budget_2.23.19


Published by TherapyRoute, one of our Strategic Partners, this article provides an overview of the founding of PsiAN and outlines the top issues we’ve taken on to date. Call to Action: Save Talk Therapy


Calls for reform of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) have been made repeatedly, following a number of incidents of police violence and excessive force, culminating in Officer Jason Van Dyke’s shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014. The federal Justice Department investigated the CPD, and called for a consent decree in Jan 2017, citing the police force as poorly trained and prone to excessive violence, especially against minorities. Finally, the City of Chicago was sued in August 2017 to force the adoption of a consent decree.

On Jan 12, 2019, the Chicago Tribune published the Letter to the Editor written by Nancy Burke, PsiAN Co-Chair. Her letter reiterates that increasing the number of mental health counselors at CPD to 10 pales in comparison to the need, and eloquently outlines the dangers of failing to take seriously the traumas that first responders and their mental health treatment providers might experience. Her letter is here: letter to Tribune editor_1.8.19

In August 2018, PsiAN wrote in support of the letter crafted by the ACLU and other profit organizations. We specifically highlighted the needs to support police officers and others, such as 911 operators, who may be impacted by trauma, and to increase resources dedicated to mental health treatment, including supervision for those counseling first responders. Our letter is here: PsiAN Comments on CPD Consent Decree_8.17.18


Mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente have gone on strike, because they, as trained and licensed mental health professionals, “want more authority to apply their professional judgment to how often they see their patients and whether individual or group therapy is indicated.” (NUHW press release Nov. 29, 2018). They are also protesting Kaiser’s financial restrictions that effectively ration care, with some patients receiving psychotherapy only once every 3-4 weeks.

See PsiAN’s letter in support of high quality mental health care where the clinician is empowered to determine the course of treatment and the treatment relationship between clinician and patient is respected as central. Please download and share.

NUHW_Kaiser_12.12.18 letter


In the face of ongoing and increasingly lengthy detentions of families  — parents and children alike — coming into the US, PsiAN has signed onto a letter sent to the President outlining the psychological and emotional effects of such potentially damaging treatment.

To help disseminate, please download both letters below.  The “Intro for Reps” letter introduces the Detention Letter.  Please customize the “Intro for Reps” letter, and send to your congresspeople, attaching with the “Child and Family Detention Letter.”

Child and Family Detention Letter_10.8.2018

Intro for Reps for Child and Family Detention Letter



This pamphlet, in Spanish and English, has been written for immigrant/refugee parents who have been separated from and are about to be reunited with their children. It describes what parents might expect to see in their children’s behaviors and emotions, and how they might deal with being together again. The pamphlet may also prove useful to attorneys, paralegals, clergy, those working in shelters, and others who are involved with these families.

Creating the pamphlet was a collaboration between PsiAN and members of Section II: Childhood and Adolescence and Section V: Applied Clinical Psychoanalysis of Division 39 Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association, with graphic design support from Child First.

Please feel free to download and distribute to parents and interested parties.

Reunification brochure_spanish

Reunification brochure_english


June 2018: ILLINOIS: Social-Emotional Screening of School-Aged Children

Psychotherapy Action Network’s Children’s Initiative has tasked itself with responding to a new Illinois state law requiring social emotional screening of school-age children. Although the law was passed, its implementation was not specified, and a governmental Rules Committee is working on that. PsiAN members Erika Schmidt and Karen Foley wrote the following letter to the mental health representative on the Rules committee expressing our concerns–among them the lack of resources for treatment statewide, lack of an effective referral process to the resources that do exist, possible stigmatization, and possible over-medication. PsiAN will continue to work toward establishing alliances and recommendations to address these problems.

PsiAN child screening letter 6.24.18


PsiAN was formed following a multidisciplinary conference in Chicago in Jan 2017, focused on the value, and the concerning threats, to psychodynamic psychotherapy/psychoanalysis. Our key note speakers were Jonathan Shedler and Robert Whitaker. Todd Essig, Bert Karon, Allan Scholom, Claude Barbre and Oksana Yakushko presented, as did Meiram Bendat, a lawyer and psychoanalyst who challenges insurance companies and their denials of mental health treatment. We also heard from former insurance industry lobbyists, and a state congressman, among others. The conference helped to ignite many of us who are familiar with the evidence on the short and long-term efficacy of psychodynamic therapy, yet are seeing it marginalized, rationed, and incorrectly subordinated to shorter-term, manualized therapies and/or meds.

Part of our vision in starting PsiAN entails connecting with like-minded folks around the country who are already doing the work — practicing, teaching and advocating for the kind of treatment that helps many people transform their lives. We hope to amplify the strength of our voices by joining together, so that psychodynamic psychotherapy has a place at the table when significant decisions are being made.

If you are interested in protecting and promoting the accessibility and availability of psychotherapy that puts the therapist-client relationship at the heart of the treatment, please join us!