Reclaiming Intimacy in a Digital Age: Developing Relational Strategies for Families, Couples and Their Therapists

  • Saturday, April 27, 2019
  • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Shipley Auditorium, Newton Wellesley Hospital, Newton, MA


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 Reclaiming Intimacy in a Digital Age:

Developing Relational Strategies for
Families, Couples, and Their Therapists

Todd Essig, Ph.D.

9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Shipley Auditorium, Newton Wellesley Hospital
2014 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02462

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Technology’s influence on human relationships has become ubiquitous. No intimate relationship remains unaffected by what we do on and with screens. When families, friends, and couples gather, multiple interactive screens are typically involved. People now text instead of talking to each other; sext, or access online pornography, instead of touching each other; and video chat instead of visiting. Even psychotherapy, in all its forms, is increasingly influenced by some type of screen relation. Sometimes screens enter the therapy as a topic, sometimes as a problem to be addressed, and sometimes as the treatment setting. As therapists, we are confronted with what this all means and what to do about it. What are the gains? What are the losses? And what can we do to maximize the former and minimize the latter?

In this interactive workshop Todd Essig, a pioneer in understanding the psychological consequences of technology, will provide attendees with a clinically-focused and historically-grounded framework for understanding the current intersection of relationships and technology. Dr. Essig’s framework is also designed to adapt to the uncertainties of future developments such as robotics and other forms of artificial intimacy, the other “AI.” With lively examples and demonstrations, this workshop will empower attendees to develop their own strategies for relating to, through and with technology, applicable to both treatment relationships with patients and to the relationships patients bring to treatment.

Todd Essig, Ph.D., is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute and faculty in the adult certificate program in psychoanalysis. He has served on the editorial boards for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association and recently co-edited, along with Gillian Isaacs Russell, a special issue of Psychoanalytic Perspectives on technology. For 16 years, until 2009, he was Director and Founder of The Psychoanalytic Connection where he developed numerous innovative uses of information technologies for mental health professionals. In the aftermath of 9/11 he helped organize and served as Board Chair for the New York Disaster Counseling Coalition (NYDCC). He currently writes “Managing Mental Wealth” for Forbes where he covers the intersection of technology, public life and private experience. His clinical practice is in New York City where he treats individuals and couples, almost all of whom come to his office.


This program is open to all PCFINE members, other interested mental health professionals and students. It is intended for those with a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level of knowledge and experience.


At the conclusion of this program the participants will be able to:

1. Describe a model for intimate relationships suitable for understanding the influence of technology.

2. Outline three features of technologically-mediated relationships that differentiate them from physically co-present relating.

3. Define “technoference” and describe its primary influence on parent-child interactions.

4. List four motives driving online dating behavior other than trying to find a date or a mate.

5. Describe the problems with using an addiction model to diagnose and treat excessive and problematic Internet over-use.

6. Outline three principles of psychodynamic treatment (be it with families, couples or individuals) fundamentally altered in remote, technologically-mediated treatment contexts.

7. Articulate the “state-of-the-art” understanding of the relationship between childhood well-being and online behavior.



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