Who We Are

 

A Full Description of the
Psychoanalytic Research Consortium Inc.

The Psychoanalytic Research Consortium (PRC) is an independent, Not-for-Profit Corporation(1) with the original purpose of collecting recordings of psychoanalyses and other psychoanalytically informed psychotherapies, cataloguing and safeguarding the tapes, transcripts and other materials relating to these treatments, and preparing selections of such materials in a suitably confidential form for distribution to qualified psychoanalytic investigators. Its purpose has been recently broadened to include support for research on the efficacy of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapies. This is being accomplished by joining together with a group of senior analysts(2) who have developed rating scales of essential aspects of the work being done by patient and analyst. A network of psychoanalysts from different backgrounds is being organized, in order to establish, by systematic study of their recorded work (prepared by the PRC), what contributions from patient and analyst, and the match between the two, lead to effective treatment. In this respect, the PRC stands in a pivotal position by combining a unique database of cases, available to all serious psychoanalytic researchers, and unique methods for assessing effectiveness of psychoanalysis based upon this database. This combination holds the promise of contributing substantially to our knowledge about what kind of help is effective for people in psychological trouble.

 

History

In May 1986 one of the leaders in scientific study of recorded psychoanalytic sessions, Hartvig Dahl, came to the Committee on Scientific Activities of the American Psychoanalytic Association in order to discuss his concern about the ultimate disposition of tapes and other related materials which had been collected for research purposes during psychoanalyses. He felt that such tapes, including the ones in his possession, were a valuable resource to our field, but that individuals such as himself had nowhere to leave such materials, either upon their deaths or retirement from active professional activities.

From this beginning, a year and a half period of consideration by the Committee on Scientific Activities (CSA) followed. Sherwood Waldron Jr. led the effort, in view of his experience in collecting and presenting taped analytic material for scientific purposes. George Klumpner had previously led the CSA in formulating a statement on the ethics of such scientific research. On matters of ethics, we also had helpful suggestions from Donald Burnham, Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychoanalytic, as well as from Jerome Biegler, Chairman of the Committee on Confidentiality.
The matter became more urgent when the health problems of a major researcher in the field led him to turn to one of our committee for suggestions as to ultimate disposal of his recordings. The committee members concluded that a Consortium would best be established as an independent entity, as establishment was not feasible in a short time under auspices of the American. The PRC was formed with eight directors, Alice Brand Bartlett, Robert Galatzer-Levy, Leonard Horwitz, George Klumpner, Lester Luborsky, Nancy Miller, Sherwood Waldron Jr. and Robert Wallerstein. Five were members of the CSA during the initial deliberations, and three others were invited to join. Bartlett was able to arrange for processing and storage of donated materials at the Menninger Clinic, where she is Associate Dean of Information/Media. The materials remain the property of the PRC.

The Consortium meets annually, at the American Psychoanalytic Association mid-winter meetings, since the current directors all are members. The Fund for Psychoanalytic Research provided a grant in 1989 for organizational costs. The Consortium was incorporated in Washington, D.C. in April, 1989, and bylaws were established. Forms for gifts and bequests, agreement forms with potential researchers, and consent forms were established. Tax exempt status as a public charitable organization was provisionally approved in September, 1989 and granted permanent status in 1994.
In 1994, the Board of Directors decided that the PRC needed to extend its involvement to all aspects of psychoanalytic efficacy research, whereas previously its goals had been limited to data collection, preservation and distribution. The Directors felt this broadening could be accomplished if the PRC were directed by psychoanalysts who were actively pursuing the use of tape recorded sessions to assess the efficacy of psychoanalysis. To this end, the Board appointed two new directors from the Analytic Process Scales (APS) Research Group. The APS group has spent the past eleven years developing rating scales which give increasingly reliable results in rating crucial dimensions of psychoanalyses. In past studies, either experienced analysts were not used; or samples of analytic work studied have been too short for raters to develop sufficient understanding of the process; or recorded material has been studied which is not representative of actual analytic work carried out by experienced clinicians; or the time invested in development of reliable rating scales has been insufficient. The research group is directed by senior analysts, Sherwood Waldron (chair), Robert Scharf (associate chair) Anna Burton and Stephen Firestein, all full-time practitioners who have each had more than twenty-five years experience.

The current PRC Board of Directors includes Drs. Stephen Firestein and Marianne Goldberger, and is still chaired by Waldron, with Alice Bartlett from the Menninger Foundation as the other member continuing from the previous Board(3).

The PRC has continued to supply materials to interested research groups around the country, including the APS research group itself, and will, if resources permit, support the use of its materials to study how to enhance the effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatments. (TOP)

REASONS FOR THE PSYCHOANALYTIC RESEARCH CONSORTIUM (PRC)

A well administered facility permitting access to recorded psychoanalyses by qualified investigators encourages scientific work in psychoanalysis, since problems of data collection and dissemination are such central hurdles to psychoanalytic investigators.

A central facility has the advantage of facilitating the comparison of results when different research procedures are applied to the same clinical data.

The Consortium makes possible the preservation of psychoanalytic data for research purposes after the death of the analyst, rather than losing these data because confidentiality can not sufficiently be protected.

The development of adequate procedures for safeguarding and disseminating data, and the provision of a central facility of individuals skilled in various aspects of this work, should stimulate many aspects of psychoanalytic research. We help investigators with recommendations about patient consent, measures to maximize confidentiality, and technical procedures.

The library of PRC research materials will continue to enlarge each time the PRC provides materials to an investigator. Thus grants to investigators by NIMH and private foundations to obtain materials for research from the PRC will benefit the field of psychoanalytic and psychotherapy research generally, since these materials will accumulate centrally. The end result will be the enhancement of the infrastructure of research in our field.

Direct support for and coordination of research on the efficacy of psychoanalytically informed treatmentsby an organization uniquely dedicated to this end fulfills an important function not duplicated anywhere else.

Educational use of such recorded materials in teaching psychoanalysis to candidates can be expected to have great value in promoting the scientific development of psychoanalysis. As more institutes teach issues in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy by a joint study of raw data, more research efforts may be stimulated. In turn this may encourage the collection of additional analyses by a wider group of analysts than heretofore. (TOP)

TRANSFER OF MATERIALS TO THE CONSORTIUM:

We have developed a number of legal forms, including gift and bequest forms for those who consider contributing materials to the PRC. We can help living investigators by providing organized storage space with cataloguing and retrieval of materials, in case they need such services for materials given to us while they are still active.
We can assist potential donors of recordings in legal, technical and other aspects of collection of tape-recorded data. When arranging to receive tapes or transcripts from donors, we ask for specific information in regard to consent. For those now starting to record patients, we can provide the consent form.

 

APPROVAL OF INVESTIGATORS FOR ACCESS TO MATERIALS:

Each new investigator is subject to Board approval. We initially ask for a Curriculum Vitae and a list of individuals whom we may contact as references, so that we may assess the personal and professional trustworthiness of the applicant.

 

APPROVAL OF SPECIFIC PROJECTS:

We accept in principle projects by approved investigators if these projects have been approved by an adequate form of peer review.

The Board of Directors reviews other projects which have not been funded by a respected peer review process. There may be instances in which we feel projects are not serving a potentially valid scientific purpose, although our intent will be to err in the direction of giving any investigator the benefit of the doubt. This is because it is obviously difficult to assess the ultimate scientific value of a given investigation. On the other hand, the reasons why we feel we need to assess individual projects which have not been otherwise reviewed is because we are using relatively scarce resources in the administrative time for handling projects, and furthermore, no matter how careful our procedures are for protecting confidentiality, they cannot be perfect. Furthermore, the demands of a given project on our administrative resources must be one factor in our decision whether to provide requested services and materials.

We wish specifically to encourage research endeavors by individual analysts who may not have an elaborate research design, but simply an interesting idea. We feel that much of what can be discovered in analysis is not specifiable in advance, hence, we would be depriving the field of valuable efforts at exploratory studies if we required formal proposals with elaborate methodology. (TOP)

 

PROCESSING OF MATERIALS FOR DISTRIBUTION TO INVESTIGATORS:

Processing of Audio Tapes for Research Listening: Audio tapes provide two kinds of opportunities not previous recognized: tapes enhance the interest of those studying transcripts, hence their motivation and willingness to study at length recorded materials. Therefore projects which require experienced analysts as raters are much better received when tapes are utilized. More accurate ratings of process are possible with the added information derived from listening. These provide opportunity for formal study of the prosodic elements. Such studies, particularly when aided by computer-assisted programs, hold promise of permitting the systematization of knowledge about the non-verbal aspects of speech. Another important use of tapes is for teaching. The actual voices bring the material alive to the listeners, enhancing the educational process. All investigators and teachers will be obliged to prohibit public playing ever of such material because of the risk of auditory recognition.

  1. Preparing Transcripts: We ordinarily arrange for transcriptions in cities distant from the city where the treatment was carried out. PRC secretaries use transcribing conventions adopted from the conventions used by the Ulm Textbank of Germany. While substituting proper names, the secretary keeps a separate list of substituted names, which are chosen to retain the character, more or less, of the original. This list is always then to be used for this patient in any subsequent substitution of other material, so that there is name consistency in all output about that particular patient. Substitutions are not made for names which are common property (e.g. Shakespeare); this requires judgment; names are left intact to make the meaning clear, as long as nothing is personally identifying.All material is proof-listened for errors, which are then corrected. The transcribed material needs also to be checked for adequacy of procedures to optimize confidentiality. (TOP)

 

 

RESTRICTIONS ON USES AND PUBLICATION OF MATERIALS:

  1. It is both unethical and illegal to breach confidentiality in the study of PRC records. Exposure to PRC materials in a research or educational context imposes a professional obligation to maintain confidentiality as though the patient were one’s own. This applies to all investigators, secretaries, committee members and all other personnel. Each investigator or teacher must sign an agreement undertaking this commitment. Also the investigator and teacher makes a commitment to obtain similar signed agreements from all who have access to the PRC materials, and to obtain and forward to the PRC copies of these agreements. This agreement includes as well the following stipulation: all persons involved in the research will be bound not to divulge even among themselves their surmises or conclusions about the analysts or patients. Knowing the analyst increases the danger of identifying the patient. Such identification then must not be shared. The signed agreement also specifies that any participant who happens to become aware of the identity of the patient while participating will withdraw from further study of material about that patient.B. The agreement form signed by each investigator also specifies what use the materials may be put to. We specifically forbid any public or semi-public disclosure of anything from or about a patient which has any reasonable probability of being identified, without prior approval from the Board of the PRC. Any quotation of any kind from any of the materials provided must be submitted for prior approval to the Board of Directors of the Psychoanalytic Research Consortium. This includes case descriptions or vignettes. Investigators should understand that the Directors intend to err in the direction of extreme conservatism in permitting publication of any raw materials. Furthermore, if the treating analyst is living, this material will be submitted to the analyst, and if either the analyst or the Directors disapprove the publication, there will be no publication. Materials from some patients who may have provided more extensive consent may permit a wider public use of material, and some materials are from such a long time ago that more latitude of use may be possible. All special uses must be specifically requested of, and approved by, the Board of Directors of the PRC. If an investigator has particular requirements for material, some of which might be more readily acceptable for publication, he or she should so state at the outset, so materials may be selected accordingly.C. Some of the treating analysts do not object to being known by investigators. This can have a beneficial value for investigators interested in studying the relationship between theory and practice, for instance. We will respect analysts’ wishes about keeping their identity secret. Since the revealing of the analyst’s identity decreases the patient’s anonymity, special restrictions may be necessary for such studies. (TOP)

 

CURRENT FEES FOR MATERIALS:

Fees are negotiated with the President. We ask researchers to consider paying fees to defray our expenses and the maintenance of the collection, when feasible.

Tapes are normally only available with transcripts, as the transcripts are necessary to understand deletions from the tapes for confidentiality.

 

 


 

  1. Classified by the IRS as a public charity, under IRS section 501 (c) (3), (type 509 (a) (2)).
  2. The Analytic Process Scales (APS) Research Group (see section 12).
  3. Stephen Firestein has made broad contributions to the field, including an innovative systematic study of psychoanalytic termination, as well as having had broad administrative responsibilities, including serving as Treasurer of both the American Psychoanalytic Association and the International Psychoanalytic Association. Marianne Goldberger has served on many boards of local psychoanalytic societies and institutes, as well as making seminal theoretical and clinical contributions. The Board also benefits from two esteemed consultants Charles Stinson has been the central figure in developing the procedures for archiving and safeguarding the extensive data of the Program for Conscious and Unconscious Mental Processes under the direction of Mardi Horowitz, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. This funding over many years has permitted the development of a comprehensive system of processing of data. His training is in psychiatry and Computer Informatics. Erhard Mergenthaler is the central figure in the development of the Ulm Textbank. With the substantial financial assistance of the German Research Foundation for nearly ten years, he has been able to develop a data bank of psychotherapies of various types and psychoanalyses, principally in German but with about 100 hours of English transcripts as well. The recorded psychoanalyses include about 3,000 hours in the Textbank.