Issues of Aging and Mortality: Clinical Reflections of a Psychoanalyst by Nancy McWilliams, PhD.

3 CEU’s

Issues of mortality and limitation affect both therapists and patients. This workshop will focus first on issues of aging in the therapist, including practical and ethical concerns related to cognitive decline, hearing loss, diminished energy, and similar challenges, noting also some clinical advantages of elderly clinicians (e.g., breadth of knowledge, wisdom, humility, sense of proportion, increased compassion). It will then address aging in patients, with special reference to the “Later Life” section of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, 2nd ed. (2017). Therapeutic benefits of acknowledging and mourning limitation will be emphasized. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify three professional challenges that confront aging
  2. Articulate three common professional misperceptions about working with elderly patients.
  3. Use the “Later Life” section of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (Guilford, 2017) to conceptualize central psychological issues in elderly patients.

Nancy McWilliams, PhD. teaches at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology and practices in Lambertville, New Jersey. She is author of Psychoanalytic Diagnosis (1994, rev. ed. 2011), Psychoanalytic Case Formulation (1999), and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (2004) and is associate editor of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, 2nd ed. (2017). A former president of Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of the American Psychological Association, she has been featured in three APA videos of master clinicians, the most recent being “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy.” Her books are available in 20 languages; she lectures widely both nationally and internationally.


Baum-Baicker, C., & Sisti, D. W. (2012). Clinical wisdom in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy: A philosophical and qualitative analysis. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 23, 13-40.

Del Corno, F., & Plotkin, D. (Eds.) (2017). Later life. In V. Lingiardi, & N. McWilliams (Eds.) Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, 2nd ed. (PDM-2) (pp. 751-888). New York: Guilford.

Kernberg, O. F. (2010). Some observations on the process of mourning. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 91(3), 601-619.

McWilliams, N. (2017). Psychoanalytic reflections on limitation: Aging, dying, generativity, and renewal. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 34(1), 50-57.  Also in C. Masur, (Ed.) (2018), Flirting with death: Psychoanalysts consider mortality (pp. 25-40). New York: Routledge.

Parens, H. (2018). Mortality – the inevitable challenge: The development of acceptance of one’s mortality. In C. Masur (Ed.), Flirting with death: Psychoanalysts consider mortality (pp. 72-96). New York: Routledge.

Date(s) - April 4, 2020
9:00 am - 12:30 pm

The Hope Club
6 Benevolent St.
Providence, RI 02906

(please no jeans/sneakers)

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