Study Groups

The interests represented within the membership of the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas are quite broad. From time to time, one or more PCC members offer study groups that bring a psychoanalytic perspective to bear on a topic of their own choosing (e.g., eating disorders, bereavement, fatherhood, inter-ethnic conflict, etc.).

PCC Study Groups are open to PCC members. Study groups generally run from September to June. If interested in participating in a Study Group but you are not currently a member, please reach out to our membership co-chair about becoming a member of the PCC. We welcome interested participants from all fields. If you would like to propose a topic for a Study Group, please contact us by phone 919-490-3212 or e-mail: [email protected].

Contact: Peter Buonaccorsi, MD

Description: This Study Group will explore the concept of Mentalization as described by Fonagy, Target, Busch and others and how attachment issues might impair a client’s ability for mentalization. Mentalization is, put simply, the ability of “holding mind in mind”. This ability to mentalize can be related to early impairments in attachment. The group will explore various attachment styles, how they might be recognized in a client, and how these might impact a client’s ability to mentalize. Treatment problems and stalemates might arise if traditional approaches to “interpretation” are used in working with patients whose capacity for mentalization is impaired or limited. It is helpful for clinicians to recognize and understand the signs of such impairments and to be able to use this understanding in shaping their interactions with their patients.

Contact: John Riley, LCMHC


This group will meet monthly to explore the relationship of race and culture through the reading of books, short stories, and poetry.  Participants will utilize their psychoanalytic skills to better understand the characters and themes in these readings and discuss how to apply these themes in relationship to their patients.  The group will encourage active discussion among participants as they expand their analytic skills and apply them to the materials read. Readings from books  and articles by such authors as Toni Morrison, Stacey Abrams, Zora Neal Larsen, and others will be reviewed.  Additional readings may be assigned as agreed upon among the participants.   

Contact: Laurie Pahel, MD

Description: If ever there was a need to discuss the vital topic of self-care and self-compassion it’s during the pandemic which changed the course of life for ourselves and for the people everywhere.  How do we care for the patients on our couch during a time of global crisis? Has psychoanalytic training prepared us adequately for the task? Learners in this course will dive into the theories and methods of evidence-based practices which improve individual’s well-being and health.  This group will discuss the practicalities and implications of incorporating practices into our work which have not traditionally been considered psychoanalytic. Should we help people gain insight into the innermost workings of their mind, understanding the root causes of self-defeating behaviors/interpersonal interactions without offering healthier methods and ways of thinking?  In contrast with many professional mental health-care training programs, psychoanalytic/psychoanalytic psychotherapy training requires that students have their own personal treatments. To extrapolate from this wisdom the premise of this course is that we as mental health care providers must learn methods which optimize our well-being. Only if we show up as our best selves will we be able to help those who, more than ever, need us to help them to find greater contentment with daily life and relationships. In this course we will read and discuss the recent research on self-care practices such as mindfulness, yoga, gratitude, and self-compassion. In the process of learning about new methods, we will individually select one or more practices which we’d like to establish as habits to promote our own improved daily well-being.

Contact: Terri Onstad, LPC

Description: In our diverse society, clinicians must be aware of issues related to of multiculturalism, LGBTQQI, race, class, immigration, and sexual diversity in a psychoanalytic practice. Mental health professionals should be able to recognize how our identities have been shaped by our class experiences as children and how our experiences affect transference and countertransference in working with patients. Clinicians need to be cognizant of changing ideas about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender presentation. Physicians also need to consider techniques for working with potentially “taboo” material including race, self-disclosure, sex and economic inequities. Finally, clinicians need to consider the immigration status, identity and possible immigration-related trauma for patients in their practice. This seminar, through a series of analytic articles and book chapters will study areas of multiculturalism, LGBTQQI, race, class immigration and sexual diversity

Contact: Peter Perault, MD

Description: This seminar will discuss contemporary psychoanalytic writings of Beebe, Lachman, Lichtenberg, Winnicott, Bion, Fairburn, Klein, and Ogden. This topic was chosen after the leader and participants were polled and they reported a need for improved competence and understanding of these authors and other object relations teachers in treating couples and individuals in their practices. The articles by the above authors and other object relations theorists will be discussed by the leader and participants in this seminar·, with participants also bringing clinical material into the seminars for discussions related to the writings. In this way, the participants will gain greater understanding and gain greater competence in the application of these object relations theorists to their patients' difficulties.

Contact: Roni Cohen, PhD

Description: This Study Group was formed to address the need for participants to understand and develop competence in current and emerging issues in the psychoanalytic literature. This is accomplished through identification, review and group discussion of current emerging issues and developments in this area. The group was convened after the Study Group participants discussed a common desire to learn more about the emerging issues in psychoanalysis. For this specific Study Group, the facilitator polls the participants on a weekly to monthly basis about areas in current psychoanalytic literature that the participants identify as being areas they wish to explore to increase their competence after reading recently published development in psychoanalytic literature. The group discusses the area(s) identified and vote on the clinical relevance and the need of further education to reach competence in the proposed topic. The topic(s) of most interest are then reviewed and discussed in greater depth. In this year, our focus will primarily be on describing, explaining, critiquing and applying emerging ideas and technical developments in the role of enactments in psychoanalysis.

Contact: Michael Macklin, MD

Description: This Study Group is designed to improve the participant’s competence in observing patients’ inner critic and the role the inner critic has in psychopathology. The inner critic is of particular importance when working with clients who have been traumatized or have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Another vulnerable population of individuals who have problems of narcissism, of the insecure or deficit type, who have developed patterns of self-hatred and self-criticism common to those who have an inner critic. This Study Group will identify primary source materials during the course of the academic year to use as a basis for discussion. The group will also provide an environment for clinicians to present and discuss clinical materials.

Contact: Teresa Greco, LCSW

Description: This specific seminar is designed to improve physician and staff communication between understanding of children’s ways of dealing and communicating about emotional problems. The seminar attempts to improve competence in communication and interacting with children in a therapeutic situation in order to help the child improve effective interactions with others outside of this setting.

Contact: Roger Spencer, MD

Description: This group meets monthly and the focus includes the following: 1. Reading novels, short stories and poetry and apply their analytic skills to understanding the characters and themes and apply this to examples from patients. 2. Active discussions among the group members as they apply their analytic skills but also explore and apply analytic concepts to the material read. 3. Readings from books and articles by Jill McCorkle, Gary Shteyngart, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, et al. Other reading materials will be decided upon during the group meetings.

Contact: Sandra Bennett, LMFT

Description: This study group was created to include discussions of psychodynamic theory and practices to improve basic knowledge, technique, understanding and competence with applications of psychoanalytic theory and technique in the practice of ethical patient care. Participants are expected to integrate their improved competence and knowledge in their practices. As practicing clinicians, participants in this study group self-reported a lack of understanding of the basic psychoanalytic psychotherapy theory, technique and ethics of clinicians. Participants in this study group have discussed with clinical peers and recognized that basic psychoanalytic psychotherapy theory, technique and ethics of clinicians was not given adequate attention in their graduate education and/or residencies. The study group was designed after participants observed a need for an explanation and discussion of psychoanalytic psychotherapy theory, technique and ethics of clinicians demonstrate a better competence in this area of clinical treatment and understanding.


Contact: Elissa Murphy, PhD, LCSW

Description:     This study group will read and discuss literature related to race and psychoanalysis and is open to any member of the PCC. Topics of race and racism are more often than not excluded from psychoanalytic conversations, course readings, and clinical work. These omissions alienate ourselves and our clients from the depth of understanding psychoanalysis has the potential to offer. This study group will have a dual focus. First, members will read and discuss psychoanalytic literature related to race, racism, oppression (including the topic of whiteness). Second, the group will assist teachers by helping to identify and discuss pieces written by psychoanalysts of color and/or that address race and psychoanalysis on any topic requested. Teachers may approach the group on a consultation basis or participate as ongoing members. By utilizing this group, even on a one-time basis, faculty and group members will have a chance to read, discuss, practice teaching, and receive feedback on difficult-to-discuss content before taking the material to the classroom. The ongoing group will also discuss and work with the PCC anti-racism task-force on identifying practical ways to dismantle structural racism in our Center and in our practices.

Contact: Carolyn Lee, LCSW

Description: This Study Group identifies emerging issues of interest in psychoanalysis. The participants were polled, and it was determined that the participates had an interest in exploring aspects of mind-body therapy as adjunctive to traditional “talk” therapy typical to psychoanalytically informed treatments. A current literature review focused on issues on treating traumatic stress and attachment disorders which lend themselves well to an integration of mind-body awareness. This is of particle importance for the treatment of traumatic stress because most of the impairment resides in the body and presents itself in somatic or dissociative symptoms that impair traumatized individuals.

Contact: Angelika Rapaport, PhD and Herman Rapaport, PhD

Description: This Study Group explores psychoanalysis as an explanatory discipline concerning individuals, society, and culture. Social life cannot be reduced to empirical social meanings related to rules and norms, legal and ideological. Whereas for sociologists the social subject is a social fact--a subject defined by rights, status, and markers of identity--for psychoanalysts, the social subject is also part of a social unconscious that is desiring and thus invested in social fantasy--for example, the fantasy of a lost paradise of white America whose Black and Native American victims cannot be mourned and are therefore subjected to attack in fantasy. Psychoanalytic concepts such as desire, sublimation, repression, loss and mourning, and trauma are applicable to cultures, given that people psychologically share their experiences and want them recognized by others.