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Oedipus for Everyone: Revitalizing the Model for LBGTQI Couples and Single Parent Families

  • 01/07/2023
  • 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Nova Southeastern University - DeSantis Building - Room 3000


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Presenter: Shelley Nathans, Ph.D.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

TIME: 9:00am - 12:30pm ET


LOCATION:  Nova Southeastern University

DeSantis Building - Room 3000

Also available virtually on Zoom



The misguided application of Oedipal theory has led to the pathologizing of those with different gender identities or sexual preferences. Despite this harm, Oedipal dynamics are often viewed as a central organizing schema for understanding the dynamics of couples and families. In this paper, Dr. Nathans will revitalize Oedipal theory, divorcing it from its historical heterosexist bias, and highlighting its relevance for working with all couple and family relationships, including LGBTQI and single parent households. Rather than using classical Freudian Oedipal theory which situates Oedipus in the psycho sexual development of children, she will use a contemporary Kleinian/Bionian model to orient the discussion to the relevance of Oedipal issues when working with diverse couples and families. Problematic Oedipal dynamics are not always present, but when they dominate or underlie adult relationships, they can be stifling, destabilizing, and destructive. This perspective emphasizes the importance of considering Oedipal triadic structures when working with diverse couples and families. Three clinical vignettes will be presented to illustrate the application of Oedipal theory to a variety of different types of couples and families, highlighting how these ideas may be used to understand the relational dynamics and facilitate our clinical work.


Shelley Nathans, Ph.D., is on the faculties of The California Pacific Medical Center, The Psychoanalytic Couple Psychotherapy Group, and the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. She is the director and producer of the film, Robert Wallerstein: 65 Years at the Center of Psychoanalysis. She is on the international advisory board of the journal, Couple and Family Psychoanalysis and is President of the Board for the Psychoanalytic Couple Psychotherapy Group. Her publications include “Oedipus for Everyone: Revitalizing the Model for LBGTQ Couples and Single Parent Families,” “45 Years,” "Whose Disgust is it Anyway?: Projection and Projective Identification in the Couple Relationship,” and “Infidelity as Manic Defense.” She is co-editor (with Milton Schaefer) of Couples on the Couch: Psychoanalytic Couple Psychotherapy and the Tavistock Model and the editor of the forthcoming book More About Couples on the Couch: Approaching Psychoanalytic Couple Psychotherapy from an Expanded Perspective. She is in private practice in both San Francisco and Oakland, California.


  1. Participants will be able to describe and apply a contemporary view of Oedipal theory to LBGTQI couples.
  2. Participants will be able to describe and apply a contemporary view of Oedipal theory to single parent families.
  3. Participants will be able to describe how historical heterosexist bias in psychoanalysis has led to the misapplication of Oedipal theory and the pathologizing of non-heteronormative relationships.
  4. Participants will understand how to apply Oedipal theory to facilitate clinical work within couples work and family cases.



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 This program, when attended in its entirety, is offered for 3.5 CE credits. 

SEFAPP is an approved continuing education provider by the Agency for Health Care Administration of the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling (BAP #587, expires March 31, 2023). Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Division 39 is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities.  SEFAPP and Division 39 are committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. Please address questions, concerns and any complaints to SEFAPP Administrator at (954) 637-3883.


In order to receive CE credits for this conference, participants must attend the event in full. Due to potential unforeseen technical issues that may arise, registration will open 15 minutes prior to the start of the event and we encourage you to connect in advance to avoid tardiness. Please verify that your name appears in your Zoom window as you would like it to appear on your certificate of attendance. To receive CE credits, you must arrive no later than 10 minutes of the start time and must stay until the end of the event when a moderator will take a final tally of complete attendance. Please note that it is not possible to award partial credit to any APA sanctioned CE event. In order to register, you must acknowledge and agree to the terms described above.


*Ensuring the confidentiality of all clinical material presented at our meetings is of the utmost importance to SEFAPP.  Attendance is contingent on an agreement to adhere to the following guidelines: Clinical material must not be discussed outside of the session in which it is presented and furthermore must not be recorded, conveyed, or disseminated in written or electronic form.  Participants must agree to maintain a secure environment to be utilized solely by the registered participant and protected from intrusion by, or exposure to, unauthorized persons.  Presenters of case material must have either obtained informed consent from the patient (or guardian) or taken other carefully considered measures to safeguard confidentiality.  If at any time a participant suspects he or she may recognize the identity of a patient in a case presentation, the participant must leave the session immediately.  Failure to observe these guidelines constitutes a breach of APA’s ethical principles and may be cause for disciplinary and/or legal action

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