The Transformative Power of Optimal Stress: From Cursing the Darkness to Lighting a Candle


Publisher: International Psychotherapy Institute

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“Martha Stark, a master clinician and gifted writer, offers a comprehensive integration of theory and clinical application in order to formulate a deeper understanding of three modes of therapeutic action of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The chapters contain many creative contributions, including novel characterizations of the differences between defense and adaptation and divergent and convergent conflict, of optimally stressful psychotherapeutic interventions, and of healing cycles of rupture and repair. I highly recommend this book to clinicians of all schools who are interested in expanding their therapeutic skills with challenging patients, especially those with a history of early relational trauma.”(208 pp.)

Allan N. Schore, Ph.D.


“Dr. Stark’s vignettes are wonderfully transparent stories of her own work. They consistently remind me of my own growing edges as a therapist. She makes it clear that our humanity—with its gifts, failures, and limits—all contribute to the therapeutic equation. The more we, as therapists, recognize what we are doing as we do it, the better off everyone concerned is.”

—Edward J. Gutfreund, Jr., Cincinnati, OH

“Martha Stark’s course represents sharp scholarship, rich integration of theory, and the exceptional work of application. Her course presents an elegant review of major theories and new ideas about their real-life implementation. It is unusual for such material to be available in such an accessible way. After more than 30 years in the field, I am pleased to say that I learned a tremendous amount from this course!”

—Susan F. O’Neill Psy.D., Northampton, MA

“Dr. Martha Stark’s course on “The Transformative Power of Optimal Stress” was truly the best continuing education class I have ever taken—and I have practiced psychoanalytic psychotherapy for over 30 years. Not only was Martha’s class a theoretical masterpiece, but also it was incredibly useful in the real application of psychoanalytic treatment models. Martha’s class helped me to think about my cases differently—and I have been able to apply my learning already to many of my patients. I can’t express how rare this is after taking most continuing education courses. This experience was worth the tuition many times over!”

—Gail Hartman, Minneapolis, MN

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3 comments on “The Transformative Power of Optimal Stress: From Cursing the Darkness to Lighting a Candle

  • Bermuda:

    If you are looking for an accessible synthesis of Psychodynamic thought as well as the clear distillation of theory into practice, in the form of therapeutic interventions, look no further, this is as good as it gets !

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