The following are the speaking events and readings by Polly Young-Eisendrath. If you are interested in booking her for an event, click here.

Previous Events

September 27 – 30, 2018

Foundational Skills in Dialogue Therapy/Session 1

Vermont Center for integrative Therapy
75 San Remo Drive, Suite 204
South Burlington, VT 05403

September 27 – 30, 2018


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October 18 – 19, 2018

Love Between Equals: Relationship as a Spiritual Path

Summit for Clinical Excellence
Atlanta, GA

October 18 – 19, 2018


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November 29 – December 2, 2018

Foundational Skills in Dialogue Therapy/Session 2

Vermont Center for integrative Therapy
75 San Remo Drive, Suite 204
South Burlington, VT 05403

November 29 – December 2, 2018


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February 15 – 18, 2019

Befriending the Enemy: Liberating Yourself from Shadow Projections

The Rowe Center
22 Kings Highway, PO Box 273
Rowe, MA 01367

February 15 – 18, 2019

In difficult times, and in challenging relationships, do you label others as the enemy? Join Polly to discover how to work with your shadow energies and projections.

How is it going in your family? Are you relating to and speaking with all of the people you love? Are you able to solve problems and conflicts with your partner and adult children? If it’s hard for you to avoid blaming someone, if you disavow your own aggressive motives and project them onto others — you’re not alone. Everybody does this. It’s possible, though, to free yourself from projecting your shadow (the unconscious parts of yourself that you repress) onto those you perceive as enemies. Drawing on Jungian theory and other models, Polly will facilitate mindfulness exercises about identity, belonging, and “othering” as well as conversations about family patterns rooted in the need for a scapegoat, and what you can do about it. You’ll learn to become skillful and wise through gaining insight into the “enemy-making factors” in yourself, develop compassion for these factors in all humans, and create mindful space between your cherished “self” and threatening “others” in your dyadic relationships.

This program last an extra day and costs an extra $150. REGISTER

Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD, is a Jungian psychoanalyst, a psychologist, and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont. She is the founder and director of the Institute for Dialogue Therapy and the author of 16 books that have been translated into 20 languages. In addition to a full speaking schedule, Polly maintains a private practice in central Vermont and is a mindfulness teacher. She has been a practicing Buddhist since 1971. Her newest book is Love Between Equals: Relationship as a Spiritual Path.

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June 22-24, 2018

Trauma + Transcendence Conference: Depth Psychology, Spirituality and the Sacred

Trauma + Transcendence Conference Polly Young-EisendrathPacifica Graduate Institute
801 Ladera Lane,
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

June 22-24, 2018

The Gates of Mercy: Portals of Transcendence According to Jung and Buddhism

This presentation draws principally on two models of substrate consciousness: Jung’s collective unconscious and the Buddhist (Yogacara) alaya-vijnana or store-house consciousness. Looked at from the perspectives of everyday life and psychotherapy, these models of mind are mapping the way to an awareness that is wiser and more transcendent than mundane consciousness. When we collide with loss, trauma, failure, pain, hurt, and some aspects of dreaming and meditating, our sense of a continuous self is disrupted. These disruptions are potential openings to a transcendent reality. I will present and compare these two models of mind and talk about how and why the human mental construct of self creates an illusion of control and how dropping that control is the only true path to grace and healing.

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June 2-8, 2018

Shadow Selves: Becoming Skillful and Wise in Our Response to the Human Need for an Enemy

Mind and Life Summer Research Institute 2018
Garrison Institute
Garrison, NY

It is well known that human beings are both profoundly interdependent and profoundly unconscious — a dangerous mix. In our conscious and unconscious desires to protect ourselves, we “need” an enemy whom to fight against, control, or withdraw from. In my decades-long profession as a Jungian psychoanalyst and a couples therapist, as well as my decades-long practice of Buddhism (especially Zen and Vipassana), I have observed how difficult it is for us to step back from the impulse to blame someone when our hopes and ideals are dashed. In a close relationship or in a community or neighborhood that we care about, we embrace ideals that foster both the disavowal of our own aggressive motives and the projection of these motives into another. Drawing on Carl Jung’s theory of a shadow complex and Melanie Klein’s theory of projective identification, this presentation will ask us to examine the arising of self/other within a dynamic field of ideals and blame. We will also see how to become skillful and wise when (1) we gain insight into the “enemy-making factors” in ourselves, (2) develop compassion for these factors in all humans, and (3) create a mindful space between our cherished “selves” and the threatening “others” as we live together in all our relationships. Drawing especially on couples therapy and other dyadic relationships (e.g. teacher-student), we will discover how to work skillfully with the enemy-making factors in ourselves.

About the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute:

The 2018 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute extends the arc from the 2016 and 2017 programs that addressed themes of context, social connectivity, and intersubjectivity by engaging critical topics relevant to cultural difference and human diversity. The week-long immersive program will examine social and psychological patterns, both implicit and explicit, to discuss how difference is constructed at personal, interpersonal, and socio-structural levels. Scientific, humanistic, and first-person contemplative perspectives will give attention to processes of othering and how we can overcome conflict by embracing difference.

Plenary faculty presentations from neuroscientists and psychologists will describe basic mechanisms of distinguishing self and other as well as cultural and developmental factors providing our sense of security and provoking our common fears. Discussions from the social sciences will explore cultural, historical, and structural factors that complexify conditions for disparity and inequity across social groups and communities, often contributing to conflict and dissonance. Philosophical presentations will discuss worldviews through which the other is interconnected to one’s self, how difference is a source of power, and the process of perspective-taking through dialogue. A training workshop and small group breakout sessions will explore practical applications for reflecting on biases and engaging difference. Through first-person practice, we will query contemplative traditions as a resource for compassion and redressing injustice.

The 2018 Summer Research Institute will be held at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York, 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson River Valley. Please see the Garrison Institute website for more details.

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May 2, 2018

Love and Marriage in the 21st Century

Vermont Humanities Council: First Wednesdays
Brownell Library
6 Lincoln Street
Essex Junction, VT  05452

May 2, 2018  |  7:00 pm

Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath looks at the transformation of marriage over the past century from a traditional contract between families to one that celebrates idealization in the form of “true love,” and suggests why the latter may be harder to fulfill than many thought.

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April 29, 2018

Falling In Love and Taking It Personally: Couple Relationships in the 21st Century

Center for Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis of New Jersey
April 29 8:15 am – 3:30 pm
Lenfell Hall, Fairleigh Dickenson University, Madison, NJ

Registration: 8:15am – 8:45 / Program begins: 8:45 -3:30pm


Intimate and reciprocal love between adults – in marriage and committed partnerships – is in many ways more problematic and unhappy now than anyone thought it would be after decades of struggle for gender equality and sexual freedom. Marriage has moved from being a vow of impersonal loyalty (“in sickness and in health, until death do us part” for the sake of the family and property) to a vow of personal desire (“as long as this meets my needs”). In fact, partners now feel almost obliged to break up if their image and values are no longer reflected in the other person: “How can I be with someone like this?”

Commitments based on desire, equality and reciprocity are destabilizing because they require on-going negotiations of conflicts and needs. We may all feel more secure in a hierarchy in which one or the other person makes the decisions. But we no longer want hierarchy in our personal lives. We want to be equals and to be respected. We want to be witnessed and held in mind, to be found desirable and cared for.

This presentation will introduce you to personal love and its first stage of development when a partner becomes the “intimate enemy” as disillusionment gets trapped in toxic unconscious communication. Effective couple psychotherapy must then address the problem of chronic projective identification and the necessity of creating a differentiated space in which each partner feels confident and free to be respected and autonomous, even in the midst of emotional security. As an intimate enemy becomes an intimate friend, personal love becomes true love.


In the afternoon, Dr. Young-Eisendrath will turn her attention to Dialogue Therapy, a form of couples therapy developed in the 1990’s with her late husband, Dr. Ed Epstein. Dialogue Therapy is a program of just six therapeutic sessions that extend over a year’s time in which a couple is evaluated and then showed how to relate in conflict without entering into active or passive aggression. Dialogue Therapy addresses more than “communication problems,” however. Combining psychoanalytic methods and theory, with aspects of psychodrama and mindfulness, Dialogue Therapy addresses the fact that, in times of confusion and conflict, partners tend to perceive each other as an “intimate enemy” with the consequence of casting the relationship into a chronic pattern of “victim” and “victimizer” that has to be broken open before communication problems can be solved.

Learning objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, you will be able to:

  • Define “personal love” and describe how it differs from an attachment bond, romance, and traditional contractual marriage
  • Describe the movement from personal love to true love in which both partners experience themselves as able to witness and to be witnessed, to accept limitations and flaws in self and other, and to remain interested in each other over time
  • Define “projective identification” and apply the definition to helping couples create a “mindful space” for dialogue

Target Audience: Suitable for Psychologists, Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Psychiatrists, Advanced Practice Nurses, Graduate Students, Marriage and Family Therapists.

Level of Program Sophistication: Intermediate – some prior knowledge is required

Contact: Cathy Van Voorhees
Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis of NJ
[email protected]

March 23-24, 2018

Lecture and Workshop: C.G. Jung Society of Montreal

The John Molson School of Business
Montréal, Canada

Falling In Love and Taking It Personally: Couple Relationships in the 21st Century

Friday, March 23
7:30-10:00 p.m.
The John Molson School of Business
1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1, Canada
Room MB 3.210

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Members $20
Non-Members $25
Students/Senior Members $15

This presentation will introduce you to personal love and its first stage of development when a partner becomes the “intimate enemy” as disillusionment gets trapped in toxic unconscious communication. Effective couple psychotherapy must then work to create a differentiated space in which each partner feels confident and free to be respected and autonomous, even in the midst of emotional security. As an intimate enemy becomes an intimate friend, personal love becomes true love.

Dialogue Therapy: Helping Couples Move from Disillusionment to Intimacy
A Training Seminar with Polly Young-Eisendrath

Saturday, March 24
10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The John Molson School of Business
1450 Guy St, Montreal, QC H3H 0A1, Canada
Room MB 3.435

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Members $60
Non-Members $70
Students/Senior Members $40

Order of Psychologists CE credits (additional $20 for lecture credits/$50 for workshop credits)

This seminar will introduce and demonstrate some basic principles of Dialogue Therapy (DT) by showing videotapes of co-therapists working with a couple and presenting the theoretical and clinical ideas that shape DT. Originally developed by Polly Young-Eisendrath and Ed Epstein in 1982, Dialogue Therapy has been practiced, taught, and supervised by Polly since the mid-1980s.

Need more information? Email [email protected]


November 1, 2014: The Art & Science of Mindfulness Conference: The Las Vegas Compassion FACES Conference

Red Rock Casino and Resort
11011 W Charleston Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89135

Call for reservations: (702)797-7777 or (866)767-7773
Ask for the FACES Compassion Conference Rate

1:30 to 3:00pm Workshop: The Gifts of Suffering: Finding Insight, Compassion and Renewal

 When we have lived through a transformative experience of deep suffering in our lives– loss, upheaval, failure– what are the earmarks for valid psychological development as result of our change? This workshop will look at the topic of “resilience” from the perspective of increased optimism and compassion as a result of transforming hardship. Polly Young-Eisendrath – a psychologist, Jungian analyst and mindfulness teacher – is the author of 15 books, including The Gifts of Suffering (1998). She has worked with both military and therapeutic populations in the last 15 years to apply and expand the insights explored in the book. Her main interest has been in resilience as the capacity to thrive after adversity. This workshop will introduce some basic frameworks for understanding and teaching resilience.

At the end of the workshop, a participant will be able to:

 (1)understand how and why resilience is different from survival.

(2)define and apply the model of compassion and self-compassion in working therapeutically or educationally with the transformation of adversity.

(3)apply the idea and practice of “insight” in both therapeutic and mindfulness settings.

3:15 to 4:45pm Workshop: True Love Ways: The Importance of Maintaining a Mindful Gap in Intimate Relationship

These days almost every therapist uses some “mindfulness techniques” in working with couples. And still, we find that couples habitually return to the same stuck relational habits, even after participating in a full course of couples therapy. Why is that?

This workshop will introduce a key concept from psychoanalysis: projective identification. It will show specifically how and why well-meaning couples who “know how to communicate” still get caught up in harmful emotional patterns if they do not understand their inner lives, as individuals.

Drawing on object relations, Jungian theory, Dialogue Therapy for Couples (originated and practiced by the speaker), as well as mindfulness and Buddhist teachings, this workshop will give an overview of what has to happen in order for couples to change their emotional behavior and learn how “mind the space” between them with respect and compassion. If a mindful gap is not maintained, couples become fused and embattled.

At the end of this workshop, a participant will be able to:

(1) define and apply the concept of projective-identification in couples therapy.

(2) describe and apply the concepts of “sankaras” (from Buddhism) as they refer to psychological complexes, as defined by Jungian theory.

(3) appreciate the significance of a “mindful gap” between people in an intimate relationship and apply this concept to couples therapy.

Official Website

Spiritual Perspectives on Death and Dying

July 26, 2014

Wake Up to Dying Project
Montpelier, VT
Christ Episcopal Church Courtyard, 6- 7:30 pm

Polly will present as one of three speakers on Spiritual Perspectives on Death and Dying in Montpelier, VT on Saturday July 26, with two other speakers from 6-7:30 pm. It’s part of the Wake Up to Dying Project, which asks “What would happen if we paid more attention to the fact that we die?” It’s a three-day event, and you can find out more information on their website at


enlighteningA New Series Exploring the Intersection of Buddhism & Psychoanalysis

Presented by Spring Journal and the Tricycle Foundation. Hosted by Enlightening Conversations founder and director Polly Young-Eisendrath

Opportunities and Obstacles in Human Awakening
May 9-10, 2014
New York Blood Center
310 East 67th St, New York

The debut conference of the Enlightening Conversations series, in which psychoanalysts and Buddhist teachers will speak openly and honestly about the nitty-gritty of liberation.

$250 early bird registration ($200 for students)
$300 regular admission ($275 for students. Please bring student ID to the event)

In this groundbreaking series there will be no prepared papers from any speakers. Instead, there will be structured conversation that is open and impromptu. You are welcome to join the conversation between the audience and the speakers whether or not you have knowledge or experience of Buddhism or psychoanalysis. If you have an interest in what these two contemplative disciplines do, please consider joining us.



FACES Conference on Compassion

February 27 – March 1, 2014
FACES Conference on Compassion
San Diego, CA

Polly will deliver two lectures on March 1:
The Gifts of Suffering: Finding Insight, Compassion and Renewal
Unwelcome Change: Embracing the Lessons of Loss


Health and Madness in the 21st Century: Psychoanalytic Perspectives from Literature, Media, Medicine, Science, and Clinical Practice

February 5, 2014
William Alanson White Institute
8pm @ William Alanson White Institute, 20 West 74th Street, New York, NY
Between Columbus Avenue & CPW

Polly is speaking along with Dr. Anne Harrington. Polly will deliver a lecture titled “Taking ourselves less seriously: Buddhist and psychoanalytic views of subjective freedom.”


What Women Want

January 8, 2014
Vermont Humanities Council
7pm @ The Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street Montpelier