Anne-Marie Sandler: International Activity

Anne-Marie Sandler Distinguished Fellow of the British Psych-Aanalytical Society.

In the course of her professional life, Anne-Marie Sandler has had several periods of prolonged contacts with colleagues abroad, having played a significant role in the strengthening of ties between the European Societies and through her contributions to many progressive initiatives.

A notable mention may be made of her important involvement with the European Psychoanalytic Federation from 1978-83 when she was nominated as the British representative on the annual EPF Standing Conference on Training. In this capacity, Sandler wrote a paper on ‘The Selection and Function of the Training Analyst in Europe’, which was to be highly influential in the active exchanges between the different European Societies. Sandler was elected President of the European Psychoanalytic Federation from 1983 to 1987.

She would have a long-standing involvement in the Franco-British colloquia, which held annual clinical conferences during which bi-lingual members presented clinical material and exchanged views on both theory and practice. With the political events of 1968, the group disbanded but was reinstated with old and new members in the 90’s and is still functioning today.

During the 1970s Sandler was also involved with the Hellenic Psychoanalytical Group, then a provisional society pending IPA approval. She assumed the chairmanship of the Sponsoring Committee over a period of a couple of years, which she would later describe as a thoroughly stimulating experience.

In the 1980’s Sandler was approached by the Swedish Society for assistance with the review and reorganization of their by-laws. She was welcomed as Keynote Speaker at the IX Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Congress held in Stockholm in 1984, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Scandinavian Society. Over the coming years she would give occasional papers in Stockholm, while her foremost contributions included the supervision of two groups of adult psychoanalysts and a further group of child psychoanalysts presenting their clinical work. Her approach to supervision made a marked impact upon the Swedish Society and was much appreciated for its contrast to the dogmatic and judgmental style which had been prevalent and had been felt to alienate a number of people.

In 1979 the late Joseph Sandler moved to Jerusalem, with Anne-Marie joining him the following year. They would stay in Israel for a period of five years during which they would attend the monthly meetings of the Israel Psychoanalytical Society. Anne-Marie Sandler was invited to give a lecture to the Society and chose to speak ‘On Interpretation’ which was well received, giving a further lecture ‘On Transference and Countertransference’. Soon she was asked to teach the students and to supervise quite a number of them.

In 1990, Sandler was nominated by the IPA to chair an international committee to help the German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG) to be reintegrated into the IPA. The DPG had fallen under the influence of non- psychoanalytical teachers during the Hitler era and had therefore been rejected during the IPA Zurich Congress in 1951.

The committee was involved with all the aspects of their Society, but mostly with the need to create a way for DPG psychoanalytically trained members to acquire sufficient knowledge to meet the minimal demands to apply to become a component Society of the IPA. A revised training curriculum had also to be conceived. Sandler gave a fair number of clinical papers, for example about questions of technique, the concept of past and present unconscious and the meaning of countertransference and role responsiveness.  Her foremost contribution had been a large number of group supervisions in Berlin, Stuttgart, Nuernberg, Göttingen, Bremen and Frankfurt and occasionally in others towns. The DPG became a component Society in 2007 during the Chicago International Congress.

Despite now becoming a recognised component of the IPA, the DPG’s interest in British Psychoanalysis continued unabated. Sandler is still invited to supervise clinical material on a yearly basis every November. This event is attended by roughly eighty participants. A Kleinian supervision seminar has been in existence for some years now and is fully booked. Furthermore a large group comes to London every June to present clinical work to selected analysts representing the three main orientations of the British Society.

Aside from her extensive work in many European countries, Sandler has given papers and presented clinical material in New York, San Francisco and Seattle, and also occasionally in South-American cities.

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