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Media Advisory/Press Release

Newton Resident and Psychiatrist Dr. Larry Lifson is Honored for his 30 Years of Providing Continuing Education to the Mental Health Community

Prestigious Conference Endowed and Named in his Honor

March 28, 2012–Boston (West Roxbury), MA–—“It has always been a labor of love,” says Dr. Larry Lifson of his 40 years as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and as a teacher of mental health professionals and of his 30 years of providing continuing education to the mental health community. Last Friday, March 23, he was honored for his contributions at a prestigious conference he organizes on psychodynamic psychotherapy each year. As part of their tribute, the conference sponsors announced that they would be endowing and re-naming this annual state-of-the-art two-day conference for him.

Considered one of the most comprehensive conferences of its kind in the nation, it will now be known as “The Lawrence E. Lifson, M.D. Psychotherapy Conference on the Therapeutic Action of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy; Current Concepts of Cure,” according to Dr. Nicholas Covino, the president of Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, (MSPP) who made the announcement at the opening of the 2012 conference last Friday at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

“All of us owe Larry a debt of gratitude for the work he has done to ensure that our knowledge is constantly refreshed and that every year we meet to share our understanding of the therapeutic process,” said Covino, who headed up the committee to honor Lifson. MSPP is a major sponsor of the conference, along with the Continuing Education Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

“I can't tell you how touched I am. I feel so privileged and honored and appreciative. I also consider this honor to be shared with all the gifted teachers who have contributed so much to the success of this conference over the years” says Lifson, adding, “To be honored for doing something you love to do. I am very lucky.” Lifson has also recently been named the 2012 recipient of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society’s Outstanding Psychiatrist Award for Education. This award will be presented to him at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society on May 1, 2012.

A practicing clinician, Lifson is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical School and Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is on the faculty of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. In addition to actually teaching in various forums, Lifson has been central to the development of continuing education programs in Boston and nationally, chairing the Committee on Continuing Education Program at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute since 1982 and directing the Continuing Education Program at Massachusetts Mental Health Center since 1989.

Today, Lifson is also Director of The Continuing Education Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For 10 years, he was also co-chair of Continuing Medical Education at the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.

“Larry is an unsung hero. He just does his thing without any interest in getting credit. And, nobody does this work better than he does,” says Dr. Martha Stark, an adult/child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of three award-winning psychoanalytic textbooks on the translation of theory into clinical practice.

It was a shared passion for witnessing human transformation resulting from psychodynamic therapy, which she describes as an “insight and wisdom” process that brought Stark and Lifson together to form the first “Psychodynamic Therapy Conference” in the mid-90s. She has been his co-director of this now annual conference.

“Larry is a brilliant clinician, and he knows good teachers and presenters. He also knows what clinicians need to help them hone their skills and become the best therapists they can be,” she says.

Grounded in psychoanalytic theory, psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on how past events and unconscious processes impact a person’s present behavior. The theory is that by increasing self-awareness and understanding of how the past impacts the present, through “talk therapy,” an individual can begin to let go of dysfunctional behavior and approach life in a healthier, happier way.

“Of course, the field is not static. We are always learning more about how people learn and grow, and so therapy is always evolving. That is why these continuing education programs are so important,” says Lifson, who has edited or co-edited three books, including “Understanding Therapeutic Action: Psychodynamic Concepts of Cure.”

In recent years, the conference, which attracts 300-600 attendees, has become a collaboration of not only MSPP and the Continuing Education Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, but also includes nearly every psychodynamically oriented institution in the Boston area. (See list below).

“Our audience is a very rich blend of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and others in the mental health community,” according to Lifson who adds that the conferences also attract world-class experts and national and international leaders in psychodynamic therapy and related fields to present their perspectives.

Long-time friend and colleague Dr. George Fishman describes the conference that Lifson choreographs as “flawless” and the honor he is receiving as meaningful in many ways. “Larry and I had the same mentor, Dr. Paul Myerson, and for a number of years, there was a conference in his name. I feel that by naming this conference for Larry, the gauntlet is being passed,” says Fishman, who credits Lifson with helping to keep ongoing excitement and commitment to the field of psychodynamic therapy alive and in the mainstream.

Dr. Anton Kris agrees. “Larry is a wonder and a bit of a pied piper. He has a wonderful nature and people appreciate him, and that is why the very best in our community present and attend his conferences.” Kris is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.

For Lifson, his continuing education work, like his private practice, brings him joy. “It is still absolutely so satisfying to work with people and to help them get to a better place in their lives. And, it is equally rewarding to give colleagues and other therapists the opportunity to expand their skills and understanding as professionals who can help those in need of healing.”

In addition to formal ceremonies at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel that morning, conference faculty and invited guests continued celebrating Lifson’s contributions at a dinner that evening.

Joining the major sponsors are the following co-sponsors of the event:

  • Boston Institute for the Development of Infants and Parents (BIDIP)
  • PINE Psychoanalytic Center
  • The Center for Psychoanalytic Studies at the Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England
  • Three Ripley Street
  • Boston Institute for Psychotherapy (BIP)
  • Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP)
  • New England Society of Jungian Analysts (NESJA)
  • C. G. Jung Institute – Boston

For more about Dr. Larry Lifson, see the biography below.

For more details about the conference schedule and presenters, click here.

Lawrence E. Lifson, MD
Narrative Bio

Dr. Lifson has devoted most of his professional life to the teaching of mental health clinicians and other health professionals. He currently is on the faculties of Tufts Medical School (since 1972), Harvard Medical School (since 1978), and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute (since 1986). His academic appointments are that of Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical School and Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

In addition to the actual teaching of seminars, supervision of clinicians, presenting at grand rounds and teaching conferences, Dr. Lifson has been central in the development of continuing education programs in Boston and nationally. He has chaired the Committee on Continuing Education at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute since 1982, has been director of The Continuing Education Program at Massachusetts Mental Health Center since 1989, and is also director of The Continuing Education Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In 1993, he was appointed by the Harvard Medical School Dean to serve on Harvard Medical School’s Committee on Continuing Education. He was also co-chairman of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society’s Committee on Continuing Medical Education for ten years. Thus, for a ten-year period Dr. Lifson concurrently headed the continuing education components of the Department of Psychiatry at a major Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital (Massachusetts Mental Health Center/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. Roughly 4000-4500 mental health professionals attend on an annual basis one of the many continuing educational programs in which he has some involvement.

Academically, Dr. Lifson has also received a “Dedicated Faculty Service in Medical Education” recognition in 1998 at Tufts Medical School and he has edited or co-edited three books; Understanding Therapeutic Action: Psychodynamic Concepts of Cure (The Analytic Press), The Mental Health Practitioner and the Law: A Comprehensive Handbook (Harvard University Press), and The Psychology of Investing (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). He has also been a book reviewer for the American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Lifson has also served as a trustee of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and as a director of the Massachusetts Mental Health Institute.

In part, because of his contributions to the continuing medical education of the mental health community, he was elected in 2005 as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, now a distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. And, because of his major contributions to psychiatric education, Dr. Lifson is the 2012 recipient of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society’s Outstanding Psychiatrist Award for Education.

On March 23, 2012, Dr. Lifson was honored with the establishment of an endowed annual conference in his name- “The Lawrence E. Lifson, M.D. Psychotherapy Conference” on The Therapeutic Action of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Current Concepts of Cure.

About MSPP—Founded in 1974 as an independent graduate school of psychology, MSPP provides unique training programs for mental health professionals at the doctoral, master’s and certificate level, each designed to immerse students in both academic study and real-life clinical experience. Constantly assessing and evolving to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and diverse society, MSPP currently offers programs to train highly skilled professionals to care for Latinos, veterans, children and adolescents and families in a variety of settings, including the schools, the courts, the community and the workplace, among others.

Updated 4/17/12

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