Spring 2013 Course: The Family Clinic

The Critical Elements of a Family Clinic


Joseph Scalia III and Laurie Thatcher

Course begins February 14, and will meet weekly on Thursdays, 1:00 to 2:30 PM.

Cost: $500.00

NRPI Registration Spring 2013

The Family Clinic, as it is being progressively conceived at NRPI, entails two fundamental and inextricable components.  The first, a social justice and liberation pedagogy and psychology aspect, considers how the symptom(s) a family presents to the clinician are necessarily an expression of society’s historical inability to have found a meaningful and dignified life for the family and its members.  The second, the psychoanalytic element, aims to open a path for the family and its members to discover how they have repressed their exploitation by society, identified with their oppressors, and blamed themselves for the indignities and/or vacuities inflicted upon them by society.   In the latter regard, the symptom is an expression of a passivity which can only be healed through a progressive realization of one’s place in society and its hard-won substitution with an endogenous drive to transform society toward a state of justice.

Most psychotherapies today treat the patient as an object of care to be helped to live well within the world we find ourselves.  What the Family Clinic posits is that one must become a subject who critiques the world and one’s part in it, through a necessarily conjoined self analysis and cultural analysis.  Furthermore, the Family Clinic takes note of the need for the individual to discover his or her own knowledge of self and culture, learning to conceptualize what is already known “in one’s bones” but which constitutes a savoir requiring an encounter with freedom and the inevitable risks that it entails.  In short, in the Family Clinic, family members gradually transform what has been an unconscious fear of freedom, of critically knowing one’s self and one’s world, into a font of passion, courage, power, and concern.

Week 1 & 2:   Why do we need a family clinic?

  1.  Injustices due to rigid institutional discourses
  2. How these injustices determine/influence psychopathology
  3. Provisions of sophisticated treatment
  4. Changing the public discourse of referring institutions


  1.  Houston, S. and Griffiths, H. (2000). Reflections on risk in child protection: Is it time for a shift in paradigms? Child and Family Social Work, 5, pgs. 1-10.
  2. The Analyst in the Inner City, Neil Altman:  Introduction

Week 3:  What is the dominant mental health discourse and counter arguments?


  1.  Watkins, M. and Shuman, H. (2008). Toward Psychologies of Liberation.Preface through Chapter 2.
  2. Martín-Baró, I. (1994).  Toward a liberation psychology.  In Writings for a Liberation Psychology. 
  3. Kirshner, L. (2009). Biopolitics and the transformation of the psychiatric subject.  In Binkley, S. and Capetillo-Ponce, J., Eds. (2009).  A Foucault for the 21st Century: Governmentality, Biolpolitics and Discipline in the New Millenium.  Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

 Week 4 & 5: Clinical orientations

  1.  Lacanian
  2. Others


  1. Willy Apollon, Danielle Bergeron, and Lucie Cantin’s (2002) After Lacan: Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious, Chapter 7.

Week 6 & 7: Systemic Violence & Structure

  1.  Discourses always have a remainder that is threatening to the maintenance of the dominant order that is repressed and returns as a perverse enactment.


  1.  Slavoj Žižek’s Violence: Epilogue and Introduction
  2. Andy Fisher’s (2013) Radical Ecopsychology, Second Edition: Psychology in the Service of Life (final chapter)

 Week 8-9:  Social Critique


  1. Paolo Freire (1970)’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, through Chapter 3.
  2. M. Eigen’s “The Age of Psychopathy”
  3. Martín-Baró, I. (1994).  Toward a liberation psychology.  In Writings for a Liberation Psychology.  

Week 10-12: Structure of a Family Clinic in Bozeman and Livingston:

  1. Brainstorm:  what do we need, what might a clinic look like for us?
  2. How to empower ourselves and patients (liberation psychology’s consensiation?and a dialectic of personal and social change, in which the personal does not have to precede social liberation
  3. Understanding the impact on Clinicians/ Analysts


  1. The Analyst in the Inner City, Neil Altman, Chapter 9