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May 11, 2020

Adelphi Grad Student Paper Wins Prestigious Award From Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology

John G. Tanner_Headshot

John G. Tanner, MA ’19, a doctoral candidate at Adelphi University, has won the 2020 Stephen A. Mitchell Award for his paper “Symmetry and Mutuality in the Imaginary: Analyzing the (Lack of) Structure.” The award, established by the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, also known as Division 39 of the American Psychological Association, honors Stephen A. Mitchell, PhD, an esteemed late colleague, and is awarded to a graduate student whose paper is deemed exemplary by a panel of judges.

Tanner’s work focuses on psychoanalysis, a branch of psychotherapy that deals with a person’s unconscious mind. He argues that therapists shouldn’t decide how they should act with their clients—how much they share about themselves, how reserved they are in their mannerisms, for example—before the relationship even begins.

“Therapists should be fluid in how they work with clients, not try to determine any set standards for how to behave,” Tanner said. “This has implications for all branches of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.”

Tanner has worked with many along a diagnostic spectrum in clinics throughout the New York City area. His empirical research concerns socioeconomic dynamics between patients and psychotherapists at low-income clinics. He also writes about psychoanalytic theory and is passionate about Lacanian psychoanalysis, in particular its applications to psychotherapy.

“I wrote the paper as a final project for one of my classes at Adelphi; I certainly had no intention of submitting it for publication, let alone an award,” said Tanner. “My professor, Dr. Joseph Newirth, encouraged me to submit it, and even identified the Stephen Mitchell Award as something I should strive for.”

The paper is available with open access online and in the April 2020 print issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology.

“I am touched by the encouragement I have received in Adelphi’s psychology program not just from Dr. Newirth, but from the faculty in general. I am certain that my clinical and writing skills have benefited in ways I may not fully comprehend for years to come.”


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