How the Wayne Institute Helped Me Grow as a Therapist

By Jeff Yocom, LCSW


I cannot overstate how much my work at the Wayne Institute has increased my skill and confidence as a therapist. The greatest benefit I received is that the Institute expanded my therapeutic toolkit by providing a practical model for integrating psychodynamic theory into my practice.  However, my year in the Institute has helped me evolve as a therapist in ways that benefit my clients regardless of the theory or technique I am employing at any given time. I feel much more comfortable and confident in session, and clients respond to that. They stay engaged in treatment and refer new clients, which has really helped me build my practice.

Prior to starting the year-long program, I felt comfortable employing techniques from a variety of therapeutic models, including Motivational Interviewing, CBT, DBT and REBT. I also considered myself empathetic by nature and training, which helped me provide an emotionally safe therapeutic environment for clients. However, the Wayne Institute has given me tools to evaluate and work with clients at a deeper level than I could have previously imagined.

The Wayne Institute curriculum is built around a four-quadrant model for conceptualizing psychodynamic development and dysfunction. This model was developed by the late Jack Danielian, PhD, and Patricia Gianotti, PsyD, who is also the Institute’s academic director. It applies the most recent iterations of psychodynamic theory to map elements of the human psyche across four quadrants:

  • How I view myself (Aspirations, belief systems, self-imposed standards)
  • Symptoms (Depressive, behavioral, anxiety, somatic)
  • Loyal waiting (For the idealized other, fantastical happiness, recognition, answers and rescue)
  • Revenge enactments (Against self and others)

This four-quadrant model provides the framework for the Wayne Institute curriculum, but it is only one of the tools taught in the program. Through the Institute, I have learned several essential therapeutic techniques that I use daily, including slowing down the client’s experience, listening for entry points, moment-by-moment tracking of affect, and forecasting future discussion topics.

While the four-quadrant model and its psychodynamic underpinnings are at the core of the Wayne Institute curriculum, the program covers a wide array of information important for therapists. Topics covered in significant depth include the science and treatment of trauma, transference and countertransference, ethics for therapists, spirituality and therapy, and the neurophysiology of therapy. While covering all these critical topics, the instructors have always provided up-to-date research and theory while translating that information into practical applications for working therapists.

Covering all this valuable content requires time and attention, and the Institute’s schedule is designed to integrate into the busy schedules of working therapists. The Institute employs a “brief residency” model, in which students and faculty from across the country meet in person at three residencies spread over a one-year period. Each residency is three days long, meets on the Bellarmine University campus in Louisville, and is packed with interactive classroom sessions. Between residencies, students participate in group supervision sessions with faculty via web conferences. Students also attend faculty-led webinars on specific topics every other month. Continuing education credits are provided for residency classes and bi-monthly webinars.

Personally, I have found my experience as a Wayne Institute student to be worth every minute and dollar I invested. In addition to all the practical tools I have gained, my classroom and supervision work has profoundly affected my in-session presence as a therapist. Though I didn’t realize it, before I started the program I was an impatient therapist. Whether it was due to my personal desire for positive feedback or the pressure for results created by today’s managed-care environment, I cannot say. All I know is that a session without documented progress felt like a failure on my part.

Thanks to the tools and the perspective I acquired in the Wayne Institute, I now feel much more comfortable and relaxed during sessions when the client is not demonstrating obvious progress. The tools and models provided by the program have also significantly improved my ability to conceptualize cases. I now feel able to evaluate and describe cases with a level of detail and nuance that makes my conceptualizations much more useful than the more demographic and symptomatic descriptions I used to produce.

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