The Flatirons on the Front Range

The Flatirons on the Front Range

Friday, July 3, 2015

The 37th Annual Meeting of The Society for Descriptive Psychology

37th Annual Meeting  
Society for Descriptive Psychology

October 22 - 25, 2015
American Mountaineering Center
Golden, CO
The Society for Descriptive Psychology is a Community exploring the Person Concept: The interdependent conceptual framework of Person, Behavior, Language, and World to create common ground for the Human Sciences.

This year's diverse topics range from clarifying the concept of Social Justice, discussion of appropriate treatment approaches for the  variety of Dementias, and the place of embodiment and biological "explanation" in Descriptive Psychology. Other presentations will examine the concept of Alief, elucidate science denialism, explore the contribution of Descriptive Psychology to conflict resolution, and present a variety clinical cases that are conceptualized using a Descriptive Psychology framework.  

The goal of this year's conference is to continue the exploration of Descriptive Psychology as a conceptual approach to a broad range of topics within the behavioral sciences, neurobehavioral sciences, social sciences, and humanities, continue building the Descriptive Psychology Community, and to promote further discussion about new approaches to disseminating Descriptive Psychology concepts and applications.

Registration Information

Attendees will be able to earn up to 12.5 Continuing Education credits during the meeting.

Registration on or before September 15th includes the Banquet and meals.

The fee for the Banquet will require a separate payment of $80 after that date.

In-person registration
will be available
at the American Mountaineering Center
on the days of the program.

October 22-25
The American Mountaineering Center Golden, CO


3:30 - 5:25 Board meeting  (AMC Drumwright Board Room) 

5:30 - 6:30 Check in/Meet and Greet (AMC)
A light dinner buffet will be served
6:30 - 7:00 The Conference will be convened
Introduction of the President

7:00 - 8:30  Presidential Address
Wynn Schwartz, PhD


8:15 - 9:00 Breakfast
(served in the AMC Conference Room)

9:00 - 10:00 Why is Behavior Not Reducible To Biological States of Affairs?
Ray Bergner, PhD

Abstract: This talk, after very briefly reviewing Ossorio’s conception of behavior, uses his formulation to demonstrate why human behavior per se is neither explicable in terms of, nor reducible to, biological states of affairs, and thus why the claim from certain quarters that the science of psychology will  be superseded by that of biology — that in the end it’s “all really biological” — cannot be justified. 

10:00 - 10:10 Break

10:10 - 11:10 When in Doubt, Get Descriptive: Using Descriptive in the Philosophy of Science Class to Understand Science Denialism
Timothy Doyle, PhD

Abstract: This presentation shows how Descriptive Psychology concepts are used in a Philosophy of Science course in order to help students both gain an overview of, and understand similarities and differences between, the wide array of arguments employed by ‘science denialists’. Mirroring in some ways the ‘scale of justified belief’, a scale of doubt is developed, ranging from healthy skepticism to patent absurdity.

11:10 - 11:20 Break

11:20 - 12:20 Difficulties in Establishing A Working Definition of Social Justice
Matthew Cohen, M.S.W.
Abstract: This discussion will revolve around the two basic American concepts of Social Justice: one that focus more on groups and is defined in terms of basic human rights; the other that emphasizes individuals and focuses on buying power in the market place. Using the two poles we would like to open up a discussion that can help us synthesize these two, figure out what is missing and establish a more precise working definition that can inform fields such as Social Work, Politics, Criminal Justice

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
(served in the AMC Conference Room)


1:30 - 2:30 Free Will, Persons, and Alief
Ryan Scherbart, PhD
Humanities & Religious Studies Instructor
Chabot College

Abstract: There appears to be substantial agreement among descriptive psychologists that a person is more than mere physiology.  A person, they say, is something over and above a highly organized bio-chemical system of cells, tissues, organs, bones, fluids, neurons, synapses, neurotransmitters, etc.  Persons are not 'meat machines'.  Human bodies -- fine -- are just physical objects; however, this is not the case for persons.  I will not so much argue that persons are merely physical beings but rather will suggest that those who claim otherwise face difficult, perennial questions about causal interaction between physical and nonphysical things and questions about free will.  These queries are intended to promote fruitful discussion.  I will provide an overview of how philosophers have generally grappled with these issues, including a presentation of my own work on free will and the concept of alief.  

2:30 - 2:40 Break

2:40 - 3:40 The Internet as a Medium of Community
Boston Study Group

3:40 - 3:50 Break

3:50 - 4:50 Significance and Aggression:  A Reconceptualization of "Anger Management Training"
Erol Zeybekoglu 

5:00-7:00 Free time for dinner on your own and enjoying Golden.


7:00-7:30 And the Beat Goes On
Carolyn Zeiger, PhD

Abstract:  This is an informal opportunity for conference participants to briefly share the ways they are using Descriptive Psychology, invite discussion or just give an update on their continuing work.

7:30 - 8:30 Society Business Meeting
Moderated by Wynn Schwartz, PhD
SDP President

The major topic, as introduced and moderated by Wynn Schwartz, President, SDP, will be discussion of strategies for fostering the survival of Descriptive Psychology and the Society for Descriptive Psychology


8:15 - 9:00 Breakfast
(served in the AMC Conference Room)

9:00 - 10:00 Descriptive Psychology, Personhood, and Neurocognitive Disorders - Lessons Learned, Next Steps
Aladdin Ossorio, PsyD

10:00 - 10:10 Break

10:10 - 12:20 Clinical Case Presentations
Sonja Holt, PhD, Fernand Lugubuin, PhD,
and Graduate Student Presenters from the University of Denver Clinical Psychology Program

12:30 Lunch (on your own) and afternoon free for personal business, meetings, and recreation


7:30  Society Banquet
Announcements and Celebration


8:15 - 9:00 Breakfast
(served in the AMC Conference Room)

9:00 - 10:00 Conflict Resolution – Using Descriptive Psychology to Negotiate Relationship Change
Paula Holt, Esq., LLB

10:00 - 10:10 Break

10:10 - 11:10 Critique
C.J. Stone

Abstract: Actors have actions, Observer/Describers have observations and descriptions, Critics have...what? In the past, we have only used the term "critic talk", but critics do a lot: identify phenomena, highlight assessment,  separate appraisal from other phenomena, and so on. We can explicate what they do and use it to conceptualize what is happening.

11:10 - 11:20 Break
11:20 - 12:20 Sense and Significance in the Human World
Tee Roberts, PhD

Abstract: Making a distinction between the Performance of a behavior and its Significance is essential for the scientific study of human behavior.  The validity and value of the distinction is first demonstrated by a set of empirical studies, dealing with sex roles, intrinsic value, developmental disabilities, and alcoholism treatment.  Then two methodological devices — parametric analysis and calculational system — are introduced. The use of the devices is illustrated, culminating in the presentation of a concept of Behavior in which both Performance and Significance have a place.  The implications of the package as a whole for neuroscience are briefly discussed.  (This is a shortened version of a presentation given in March, 2015 at the first International Convention of Psychological Science in Amsterdam.)

12:30 - 2:00 Lunch
(served in the AMC Conference Room)

12:30 - 2:00 Board Meeting
(AMC Drumwright Board Room) 

Further Information about the Society, Descriptive Psychology and Student Support
Please consider donating to the student support fund!
Information on The Society for Descriptive Psychology can be found on the Society's website: 

Please consider supporting student presentations by donating to The Student's Fund. The Society for Descriptive Psychology is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible, but please consult with your tax advisor.

Support a Student:

Peter Ossorio's masterwork, The Behavior of Persons,  and his  volume of status dynamic maxims, Place, are now available in paperback from the Descriptive Psychology Press

A brief orientation to Descriptive Psychology can be found in the postings, People Make Sense: Foundations for a Human Science and A Short Course in Descriptive Psychology.

Information about Lodging

Lodging is available at the Golden Hotel and the Hampton Inn. Call the hotels directly to make reservations.

Conference Discounts are available at:

The Hampton Inn (303-278-6600) under "Society for Descriptive Psychology" $109/night

The Golden Hotel by the deadline of 9/21/15 (303-279-0100) under "Society for Descriptive Psychology" $162/night for a King Suite, or
$192/night for a Deluxe Double Queen Suite with a sleeper sofa, sleeps 3 people – a great option for students or anyone who wishes to share a room and save (equates to $64 a person/night)

Other hotels in the area that have competitive rates:

Denver West Marriot:
Table Mountain Inn:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Program of the 36th Annual Meeting of The Society for Descriptive Psychology, Golden, Colorado (2014)

Clarke Stone's Presidential Address from the Moon Base. 

The Society for Descriptive Psychology

1. The world makes sense, and so do people. They make sense now.
2. It's one world. Everything fits together. Everything is related to everything else.
3. Things are what they are and not something else instead.
4. Don't count on the world being simpler than it has to be.  
Peter G. Ossorio, The Behavior of Persons

The Society for Descriptive Psychology is a Community exploring the Person Concept: The interdependent conceptual framework of Person, Behavior, Language, and World in the service of creating common ground for the Human Sciences. 

Presentations, Discussions and Workshops will be offered, with Continuing Education Credits. Workshops are free for Graduate Students. Free half day attendance for those who register for the Saturday afternoon workshops. 

This year's presentations and discussions range from a clarification of the concepts of Social Justice to the varied nature of the Dementias and their appropriate treatments to Motivational Interviewing for Chronic Pain. Other presentations will examine the parameters of Community, the concept of Alief, the elements of Environmental Aesthetics, the Unwanted Persistent Pursuit of a romantic partnerthe Ideology of Empirically Supported Therapy, I to Thou Parenting, Love Across Differences and Dramatic Improvisation to Enhance Social Competency.   

Workshops will target the understanding and treatment of  severe Humiliation and the use of Descriptive Psychology for effective Executive Function Coaching  

The fundamental goal of this year's conference is interactive community engagement employing Descriptive Psychology in establishing clear and workable conceptualizations of problematic social issues, complex empirical problems and difficult pathologies and their treatments. 

(Click here to register for Workshops, Conference and Continuing Education Credits!)

Registration on or before September 15th includes the Banquet and meals. The fee for the Banquet will require a separate payment of $80 after that date.

October 23-26
The American Mountaineering Center, Golden, Colorado 

Co-sponsored by


5:30   Board meeting  (AMC Drumwright Board Room)  
7:30  Old Timers Club at the The Golden Hotel. A reunion and new union. Come join us!


9:00 Welcome and Description of the Conference.
Introduction to the themes of the morning (Wynn Schwartz, PhD) and the presenters (Laurie Bergner, PhD).

9:20 A Revolution in the Conception of Empirical Research in the Behavioral Sciences: 1964-66. Peter Ossorio’s Contribution.
Keith Davis, PhD 

10:30 Forms of Community Description.
Anthony Putman, PhD

11:30 Drama Club: Utilizing Status Dynamic concepts to enhance authenticity and social competency with at-risk children. 
Bryan Harnsberger, MA

12:30 Lunch and Discussion of CJ Stone's President's video address.
"The 86th Annual Meeting of The Society for Descriptive Psychology" (click the link) Please post comments on the Descriptive Psychology Facebook page.

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1:30 Introduction to the themes of the afternoon (Wynn Schwartz, PhD) and the presenters (Carolyn Zeiger, PhD). 

1:40 Are Descriptive Psychologists Pragmatists About Concepts? A Pragmatist's Case for the Concept of “Alief”.
Ryan Scherbart, PhD with commentary by Ray Bergner, PhD 

2:40 How to See the Forest for the Trees: Using Descriptive Psychology Elements to Understand Environmental Aesthetics.
Tim Doyle, PhD

3:40 Break for cookies!

4:00 Why do some women coerce and persistently pursue men when in a violent relationship: Love, vengeance, and fear? What can be done in treatment with these women? 
Christopher Allen, PhD with commentary by Keith Davis, PhD 

5:00-7:30 Free time for dinner and enjoying Golden. 

7:30-9:30 Making Descriptive Psychology Real: A Master Class in Being a Descriptive Psychologist.
Anthony Putman, PhD



9:00 Welcome and introduction to the themes of the morning 
(Wynn Schwartz, PhD) and the presenters (Laurie Bergner, PhD).

9:20 Problems with “Empirically Supported Therapy” Ideology.
Ray Bergner, PhD

10:30 A Conceptual Foundation for Motivational Interviewing for Chronic Pain.
Jordan Backstrom, MA, Zachary Delcambre, MA & Matthew Kobs, MA  (A presentation of The Boston Descriptive Psychology Study Group)

11:30  Understanding Neurocognitive Disorders: Using Descriptive Psychology to Clarify Treatment and Care of the Dementias.

Aladdin Ossorio, MA with commentary by Ned Kirsch, PhD

12:30 Lunch and Business Meeting

Jim Holmes Workshops (2 hours each)

1:45 Understanding and Treating Severe Humiliation in Life Contexts—Workplace Bullying, Professional and Personal Disgrace, and other Circumstances. 
Walter Torres, PhD

4:00 "If You're So Smart…”: Using Descriptive Psychology to Inform Executive Function Coaching 
Aimee Yermish, PsyD

7:30  Society Banquet, Announcements and
Celebration of the Endowment in Memory of Peter Ossorio  in support of Graduate Study in Clinical Psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. (click the link)


9:15 Introduction to the themes of the morning (Wynn Schwartz, PhD) and the presenters (Carolyn Zeiger, PhD). 

9:30 The “I-Thou” Connection Between Parents and Children:  
Creating shared worlds.
Heather Holmes-Lonergan, PhD 

10:30 How to apply Descriptive Psychology at work: A retrospective view (Archetypal situations in which DP is likely very useful).
CJ Peek, PhD 

11:30 Love Across Differences.
Anna Berin, PsyD with commentary by Keith Davis, PhD
12:30 Lunch & Board Meeting.

Information on The Society for Descriptive Psychology can be found on the Society's website: 

Please consider supporting student presentations by donating to The Student's Fund. The Society for Descriptive Psychology is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible, but please consult with your tax advisor.

Support a Student:

A brief orientation to Descriptive Psychology can be found in the postings, People Make Sense: Foundations for a Human Science and A Short Course in Descriptive Psychology.

Peter Ossorio's masterwork, The Behavior of Persons,  and his  volume of status dynamic maxims, Place, are now available in paperback from the Descriptive Psychology Press.

Click here to register for Conference, Work Shops and Continuing Education credits!

Registration on or before September 15th includes the Banquet and meals. The fee for the Banquet will require a separate payment of $80 after that date.

Lodging is available at the Golden Hotel and the Hampton Inn. Call the hotels directly to make reservations.

Conference Discounts are available:

@ the Hampton Inn (303-278-6600under "SDP" $109

@ the Golden Hotel by the deadline of 9/12/14 (303-279-0100under "Society for Descriptive Psychology"

Conference questions can be addressed to

Conference Abstracts 


A Revolution in the Conception of Empirical Research in the Behavioral Sciences: Ossorio’s Contribution.   
Keith Davis, PhD 

      In two short years (1964-66), Ossorio laid the foundation for a revolutionary way of thinking about and conducting behavioral research. Why haven’t you heard about this before? Inside the Descriptive Psychology community, we knew about it but were often focused on other aspects of his contributions.  I have set out to present Ossorio’s original ideas about how to conceptualize and engage in research. His ideas about the conduct of research were a direct outgrowth of his formulations of the Person Concept, especially the notions of Deliberate Action, Significance, and acting as a member of a Community. He carefully distinguished the classical Semantic Paradigm of research (theory-hypothesis-operationalization-confirmation) with its focus on empirical truths from his Pragmatic Paradigm (conceptualization-decision-action-vindication), which was concerned with expanding a person or groups’ behavioral potential—with what they could do in their worlds. As he emphasized, no automatically followed rules for doing research guaranteed the relevance or general applicability of one’s research findings.
The merits of the pragmatic approach over the Semantic Paradigm were shown in a brief overview of Ossorio’s Classification-Space study (1966). This approach produced highly statistically significant and practically useful information about the creation of efficient information indexing and retrieval systems.  In short, the methodological prescriptions of the traditional semantic paradigm would have significantly impeded the development of the next generation of automatic information retrieval systems and thus the next generation of information science.
Also relevant was his notion of the Person as simultaneously acting in three logical roles: Actor, Observer, and Critic/Appreciator. These provide the basis for rational self-regulation and hence for the Precaution Assurance Paradigm of research methods.  He elaborated the Precaution Assurance Paradigm by identifying 6 parameters, each of which is capable of having wide variation. These are (a) who performs the research, (b) how the process is conceptualized, (c) what interventions/procedures are varied, (d) on what populations of person/groups, (e) with what effects , and (f) as indicated by what observations, measures, etc.  He showed the importance of a rational justification of the precautions that one indeed takes.
       The Simulation Paradigm is more complex in that it requires an appreciation of the Basic Process Unit from Ossorio’s State of Affairs System (Ossorio, 1971/1978/1998). The representation of a process involves the assignment of a name, A; a description of that process with all of its components (stages, individuals, elements, eligibilities, contingencies, and versions).  The most complex simulation study was done by Jeffrey & Putman and dealt with the simulation of an automated system to answer questions about soft-ware development for a large-scale information processing corporation—after its original approach failed. The merits of his approach to simulation has been illustrated at the corporate level and in three theses and dissertations conducted on the problem of individual differences in person perception Mitchell (1967 & 1968) and Putman (1969).  I have used a few examples of Ossorio’s own research to illustrate the implications of his thinking about research and for his creativity in taking on issues in automatic document location, the analysis of astrophysical data, and the design of representational systems for NASA’s exploration of Moon. 

Keith E. Davis, PhD
Keith E. Davis is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Psychology Department of the University of South Carolina, Columbia. He has twice served as the President of the Society for Descriptive Psychology and serves as the Series Editor for Advances in Descriptive Psychology, which has just published its 10th volume. His research interests include friendship and love relationships, stalking and intimate partner violence, and the foundations of the behavioral sciences.

Forms of Community Description
Anthony Putman, PhD

“Community” is one of the central paradigms of Descriptive Psychology. Formulated by Anthony Putman in 1979, it has been the foundation of a great deal of conceptual and practical work. Community is articulated as a set of parameters, which, like the parameters of Intentional Action, have been elaborated into a few forms of Community description, for example Ossorio's paradigm of Culture and Putman's articulation of Organizations. Ossorio expanded the scope of Intentional Action descriptions considerably in his 1969 paper Notes on Behavior Description; in this presentation I intend to offer a similar expansion of the forms of community description.

Anthony O. Putman, PhD
Tony Putman is Chairman of The Putman Group. He is an internationally-known consultant to organizations and coach to their leaders, and the author of best-selling books on marketing and business relationships. He currently focuses on coaching professionals in marketing their mastery.

Tony studied with Peter Ossorio from 1965 to 1973, when he earned his PhD under Dr. Ossorio's direction. He is a founder of The Society for Descriptive Psychology and has twice served as SDP's President. In 1990 he founded Descriptive Psychology Press, and as Director of the Press has published Advances in Descriptive Psychology Vols. 5-10, and The Collected Works of Peter G. Ossorio which to date consists of 7 volumes. He has contributed to the canon of Descriptive Psychology as the author of Communities, Organizations, Being Becoming and Belonging and others papers in the Advances series. His current interest is in deepening our understanding of the world and the person's place in it.

Drama Club: Utilizing Status Dynamic Concepts to Enhance Social Competency with at Risk Children
Bryan Harnsberger, MA 

This past summer a 2-week pilot program, funded by The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, employed drama-based practices with the goal of enhancing social competency in at-risk children ages 8-13. Improvisational exercises and practices were designed to improve affect and emotion recognition and regulation, authentic self-presentation, and self-esteem  through practicing “a better version of yourself.”

Descriptive Psychology's Status Dynamic concepts provided a coherent framework to employ Stanislavski’s, An Actor Prepares, Goffman’s, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and Zimmerman’s More Theatre Games for Young Performers in designing a short-term cost effective program for at-risk youth.

Bryan Harnsberger, MA
Bryan Harnsberger is a 6th year doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.  He is a staff clinician at the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, Massachusetts.  Bryan has extensive experience working with children ages 5-24 in a variety of different settings – in various schools in the Boston Public School system, in-patient dual-diagnosis psychiatric hospital, residential treatment for juvenile sex offenders, and college counseling.  His specific clinical interests include child psychotherapy, cognitive testing, substance abuse treatment, and ADHD treatment.  He enjoys surfing, golfing and playing soccer in his spare time.  Bryan is a member of the Boston Descriptive Psychology Study Group.  He can be contacted at


Are Descriptive Psychologists Pragmatists About Concepts? A Pragmatist's Case for the Concept of “Alief”.
Ryan Scherbart, PhD with commentary by Ray Bergner, PhD

Descriptive psychologists are in the business of clarifying and being explicit about concepts employed in psychology.  Philosophers of psychology are in a similar line of work.  Those who are realists about concepts maintain that some concepts track features of the world that are independent of minds, cultures, linguistic practices, etc.  Paradigm concepts of this sort include tree, horse, gravity, and noble gas.  Pragmatists about concepts argue that even if a concept does not track a feature of the world in this way, it may still deserve a place in our conceptual schema if its employment is practical or fruitful (consider gender, disability, and concepts in string-theory).  My aim in this paper is two-fold.  First, I will invite descriptive psychologists to reflect on whether the realism/pragmatism distinction is useful for their general project.  Subsequently, I will discuss alief -- a concept in psychology (named by Tamar Gendler) that has received a lot of attention of late in philosophical literature.  A characteristic alief, on Gendler's view, is a mental state consisting in a pre-parceled bundle of representational (R), affective (A), and behavioral (B) components.  A person about to throw a dart at a photo of a loved one, for instance, would likely 'alieve': "harmful action directed at beloved [R], dangerous and ill-advised [A], don’t throw [B]" (Gendler 262).  The second aim of this paper is to argue that even if the concept of alief tracks no real feature of the world, it would be imprudent to jettison it from our conceptual framework because its employment could potentially solve a problem I call "the new problem of free will."  There are findings suggesting that disbelief in free will is increasingly commonplace.  The new problem of free will is the untoward consequences empirically linked with a disbelief in free will, including increased cheating, stealing, aggression and decreased workplace productivity and satisfaction. 

Gendler T.S. (2010). Intuition, Imagination and Philosophical Methodology, Oxford University Press, New York.

Ryan Scherbart, PhD

Ryan Scherbart is a faculty member of College Ten at UC Santa Cruz, where he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy. Dr. Scherbart is also an adjunct instructor of philosophy at Cabrillo and Gavilan Colleges.  He earned an M.A. in philosophy at San Diego State University and a B.A. in philosophy and psychology at UC Santa Barbara.  His research interests include free will, ethics, philosophy of mind, and moral psychology.

How to See the Forest for the Trees: Using Descriptive Psychology Elements to Understand Environmental Aesthetics.
Tim Doyle, PhD

      Environmental Aesthetics is a young field of study, and there is much discussion as to what model of aesthetic appreciation is most appropriate. Alan Carlson develops a ‘Natural Environmental Model’ which closely follows the structure of the traditional models of aesthetic appreciation of art. Yuriko Saito seeks to build upon those insights but also to incorporate an element of environmental responsibility into any adequate model of environmental aesthetics. Arnold Berleant develops an “Engagement Model’ of aesthetics which would reconceptualize even the traditional models of art appreciation.

        Using the traditional ‘Object Model’ and ‘Landscape Model’ from the art world as paradigm cases, we can locate parameters (e.g. boundaries, composition, form, line, associations, etc.) to help gain an overview and understanding of the range of environmental aesthetic models on offer. New parameters will be brought in where necessary to assist in understanding how various aspects of the models are similar to or different from one another and from the traditional aesthetic models of art appreciation.
       This is important because it is easy, especially for students, to get caught up in the details of the theories and to lose sight of the big picture. Using a descriptive approach to the filed will help them to be able to ‘see the forest for the trees’.

Tim Doyle, PhD
Tim Doyle, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Northland College, Ashland, WI.  He did his graduate work at Free University, Berlin, and at the University of Potsdam, Germany, receiving his PhD in Philosophy in 2007. His areas of interest are Philosophy of Language and Environmental Philosophy. He worked on the translation of H.J. Schneider’s recent book, Wittgenstein’s Later Theory of Meaning: Imagination and Calculation. He is currently completing the design and installation of a Japanese style sunken courtyard garden at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Ashland, WI. In his spare time he is working on a new volume of Rilke translations.

Why do some women coerce and persistently pursue men when in a violent relationship: Love, vengeance, and fear? What can be done in treatment with these women? 
Christopher Allen, PhD with commentary by Keith Davis, PhD 

      Unwanted persistent pursuit (UWPP) has been defined as, “ongoing and unwanted pursuit of romantic relationships between individuals who are not currently [romantically] involved with each other or who have broken up with each other” (Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Palarea, Cohen, & Rohling, 2000; p. 212). Interestingly researchers have also found that UWPP behaviors also occur in intact romantic relationships, especially in relationships that are violent (Logan, Cole, Shannon, & Walker, 2006).   Within ongoing relationships, these behaviors function as means of coercive control, that is: a pattern of attempts at controlling all aspects of a partner’s life (Stark, 2007).
      Researchers have recently re-conceptualized UWPP behaviors as part of a broader social practice commonly referred to as intimate partner violence (Goodman & Dutton, 2005). More specifically, UWPP behaviors are systematically used to: (1) a) facilitate attachment then, use that attachment to create/exploit vulnerabilities, (2) make demands (with a credible threat of harm if the demands are not met), (3) conduct surveillance of a target’s relevant behaviors, (4) deliver of threatened consequences for noncompliance and, (5) exert continued control over the target’s (in order to prevent avoidance of consequences for noncompliance).
Starting from Ossorio’s Dramaturgical Model for understanding behavior (Ossorio, 2006), we discuss the functions of UWPP behaviors by women’s in violent intimate relationships. In the current study, a diverse community-drawn sample of 408 women in on-going violent relationships reported on their perpetration of unwanted pursuit behaviors, and their male partners’ perpetration of those same behaviors toward them. The sample was characterized by high levels of mutual violence, emotional abuse, coercive control, and stalking (Swan & Snow, 2004). Factor analytic techniques were used to identify the following factors related to women’s UWPP perpetration: threatening persistent pursuit perpetration, jealousy-motivated persistent pursuit perpetration, and reciprocal familial relationship control.   Clinical and prevention implications from a Descriptive Psychology perspective are discussed.

Christopher T. Allen, PhD
Christopher T. Allen completed dual bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology at Dartmouth College. His research interests in the areas of gender, violence and prevention developed while pursuing his master’s degree in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His doctoral work in Clinical-Community Psychology at the University of South Carolina focused primarily on how gender socialization of men and boys has contributed to their underrepresentation in efforts to prevent violence against women. After leaving South Carolina, Dr. Allen became the first postdoctoral associate in the history of the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University. He has worked on the development, implementation, or evaluation of multiple programs designed to prevent intimate partner violence. 


Making Descriptive Psychology Real: A Master Class in Being a Descriptive Psychologist.
Anthony Putman, PhD

Consider two situations: 
1. You have learned the complex conceptual framework of Descriptive Psychology and have some reasonable competence in using it. With some effort you can apply Descriptive Psychology to good effect to what you see of people and their behavior. In using Descriptive Psychology, you are an Observer/Critic. For you, Descriptive Psychology is true – not analytically, but practically. 
2. You see the world as a Descriptive Psychologist. You don't apply DP to what you see because you already see the world in those terms. You use Descriptive Psychology as an Actor. For you, Descriptive Psychology is real.

This workshop is about moving from situation 1 to situation 2: Making Descriptive Psychology Real for participants. This is a workshop, not a presentation. Participants will benefit to the extent that they check their Observer/Critics at the door and engage as Actors in being Descriptive Psychologists. Along the way some useful chunks of Descriptive Psychology may well become real for you.


Problems with “Empirically Supported Therapy” Ideology.
Ray Bergner, PhD

Chambless and Hollon (1998) have defined empirically supported treatments (ESTs) as "clearly specified psychological treatments shown to be efficacious in controlled research with a delineated population". This presentation will be a critique of the highly dominant and taken-for-granted EST "best practice" ideology.  I will argue that this ideology contains a partial truth, but that in its usual form embodies a number of impractical, incomplete, and even downright wrong ideas.  Included in my critique will be: (a) comments on EST's very limited notion of what "empirical" includes; (b) a listing of the many epistemic elements necessarily at work in psychotherapy, some of which rest on more secure evidential grounds than the typical therapy outcome study; and (c) some remarks on how many of the core ideas in psychotherapy (e.g., the basic principle behind cognitive therapy) are not empirical to begin with, and so not reasonably subject to experimental test. 

Raymond M. Bergner, PhD
Ray Bergner received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado under the direction of Peter Ossorio.  He is currently Professor of Psychology at Illinois State University.  His work in Descriptive Psychology has been concerned with its applications to psychopathology, psychotherapy, and various philosophy of science issues.  He is a two-time President of the Society for Descriptive Psychology (1984 and 2004), a member of the Editorial Board of Advances in Descriptive Psychology since its inception, and the co-editor of four volumes in this series.  Dr. Bergner has published over 80 articles, book chapters, books, and edited books.  Many of these articles have appeared in such national and international journals as Psychotherapy, Clinical Psychology:Science and Practice, Family Process, The American Journal of Psychotherapy, The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, and The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.   

A Conceptual Foundation for Motivational Interviewing for Chronic Pain.
Jordan Backstrom, MDiv, MA; Zachary Delcambre MA; & Matthew Kobs, MA 
(A presentation of The Boston Descriptive Psychology Study Group)

Motivational Interviewing (MI) was originally developed in the early 1980’s as a client centered psychotherapeutic approach to addiction treatment. In the intervening years, MI has become an evidence-based practice promoting behavior change across a variety of areas including criminal justice, medical treatment adherence, and chronic disease management. Of these populations, one of the most challenging to work with clinically, are those who experience chronic pain. This presentation offers an analysis of MI using some of the tools of Descriptive Psychology in reference to those of experience chronic pain. Specifically, it applies the central concepts of social practice, social practice negotiation, and the relationship change formula to describe the relationship between the client and motivational interviewer. Additionally, it highlights the relevance of the judgment diagram, presenting a conceptualization of the way that acute and sub-acute pain experience may be psychologically generalized into what is typically referred to as "chronic." The presentation offers specific interventional examples through a series of case vignettes.

Jordan Backstrom, MDiv, MA
Jordan Backstrom is a fourth year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He received his dual undergraduate degrees from the University of Georgia in philosophy and psychology and his MDiv from Harvard Divinity School.  His primary area of interest is in the realm of health psychology and the development of a coherent philosophy of patient-centered medicine. His other research and clinical interests include Motivational Interviewing, the treatment of anxiety disorders, and acceptance based therapies for persistent pain conditions.

Zachary Delcambre, MA
Zachary Delcambre is a third year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP). Zachary earned three majors at the University of New Hampshire, which included Psychology, Spanish and International Affairs as well as a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology at MSPP. He has dedicated his clinical time to working with Latino populations using Motivational Interviewing strengthened by a conceptual background of Descriptive Psychology. He is currently an intern at the Roger Williams University Counseling Center. 

Matthew Kobs, MA
Matt Kobs is a fourth year doctoral student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. His current internship placement is with the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. In 2003, he graduated from the University of New Hampshire with an Associate degree in horticulture and in 2011, he graduated from Rivier College with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology.  He earned his Master's degree in Clinical Psychology in the spring of 2013. In the past, he has worked with a wide variety of persons suffering from varying degrees of mental illness in populations ranging from early childhood to the elderly. His current interests lie in better understanding the role repetition compulsion plays in behavior potential, the unconscious effects of degradations that occurred during a person's early developmental stages of life, the possible trauma associated with job termination, and the role Motivational Interviewing can play in helping high school guidance counselors who are working with adolescents experiencing ambivalence toward continuing their educational careers. Another significant interest he has is the role nature and horticultural practices can play in a person's ability to better cope and manage stressors they are experiencing. Psychodynamically oriented and having a strong horticultural background, he would one day like to work with clients within horticultural settings such as arboretums and nurseries. He works nights slinging beer at a local watering hole and is a proud husband and father of two without whom none of this journey would have been possible. Other interests involve New England sport teams, fishing, hiking, music and playing in the dirt. 

Understanding Neurocognitive Disorders: Using Descriptive Psychology to Clarify Treatment and Care of Dementia
Aladdin Ossorio, MA with commentary by Ned Kirsch, PhD

 Neurocognitive Disorders (NCDs; formerly called “dementias”) are typically defined as biologically-based conditions characterized by progressive neurological decline (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).  Through much of the 20th century, symptoms associated with NCDs were thought to directly reflect the progression of underlying pathology. Accordingly, efforts to reverse symptom expression were often considered misguided; after all, it was thought, as the underlying pathology was immutable, so too must be the symptom expression. 
In the later 20th century, social psychologist Tom Kitwood and colleagues published a set of empirical research and theoretical elaborations centered on the variability of symptom progression in people with NCDs. At the heart of Kitwood’s work sits the concept of “personhood.”  Kitwood and others demonstrated that depersonalization (affronts to personhood) resulted in poor clinical outcomes for those with NCDs, while treatments aimed at restoring and preserving personhood could reduce disruptive behaviors and, in some cases, improve cognitive functioning. 
While the contributions of Kitwood, the Bradford Dementia Group, and others have significantly advanced treatment for those with NCDs, generally absent from this personhood movement in NCD care has been a clear conceptualization of “person” or “behavior.” As a result, treatment prescriptions tend to be broad (see, for example, Brookner, 2007), with little guidance for systematically discerning among dementias and tailoring treatment accordingly. 
In the present analysis we aim to open the conversation on applying various tools of Descriptive Psychology to help clarify the range of deficits to personhood that result from Neurocognitive Disorders, to begin distinguishing among them, to understand how they might factor into impairments in a person’s ability to competently participate in the Social Practices of his/her community, and to begin using this knowledge to inform a more individualized approach to care. DP conceptualizations of Intentional Action, Community, Social Practices, Pathology, the Actor-Observer-Critic Model, Self, and Behavioral Potential may be considered. 
To simplify the discussion, two notably different NCDs have been selected for consideration: Alzheimer’s Disease (the most common NCD for those over 75) and Frontotemporal Dementia (the most common NCD for those under 60). 

Aladdin Ossorio, MA
Aladdin Ossorio is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Newton, Massachusetts. Mr. Ossorio has focused his research on issues of aging and his clinical training on working with older adults.  Mr. Ossorio’s Doctoral Project, overseen by Dr. Erlene Rosowsky, focuses on applying the tools of Descriptive Psychology to clarifying treatment for people with NCDs.  
Having previously trained in Geriatric Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance – A Harvard University Teaching Hospital, and with Vietnam era veterans at the Edith Nourse  Rogers Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Bedford, MA, Mr. Ossorio is a current intern at the Leon O. Brenner Center for Psychological Assessment, where he is parlaying specialized training in differential diagnosis of NCDs into helping develop a new assessment, cognitive preservation,  and therapy practice for Older Adults. 
Mr. Ossorio is a member of the American Society on Aging (ASA), the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), and the Boston Study Group on Descriptive Psychology sponsored by Dr. Wynn Schwartz.


2 Hours CE Credits Each

Saturday at 1:45 pm

Understanding and Treating Severe Humiliation in Life Contexts—Workplace Bullying, Professional and Personal Disgrace, and other Circumstances. 

We might wonder if humiliation is the ugly child of psychological science. Although most of us have dreaded it, experienced it, been stung or devastated by it, kept it firmly hidden in the recesses of privacy, and always been dismayed by its recollection, its presence as a topic in our training has been curiously hushed. We might wonder if the pain that comes to many of us with the topic has veered us away from its study and discussion. As a result, humiliation and its effects are often missed and the treatment of these effects is often less than optimal. With the heightened recognition of the devastating effects of bullying on both the young and adults, the topic of humiliation has gained some prominence, but primarily in relationship to these specific scenarios. 

Walter Torres, PhD
Dr. Torres came upon the significance of humiliation when treating a special population that showed unusually severe depressions, many treatment refractory, many marked by suicidality, homicidality and psychoticism. He discovered that humiliation was the central factor accounting for the severity of these depressions. He has published on the nature, the consequences and the clinical treatment of humiliation.  Humiliation remains a central focus of Dr. Torres’ clinical and forensic practice.  

The workshop is intended to develop in its attendants a keen understanding of:
a. humiliation, both other-inflicted and self-generated; 
b. the effects of humiliation on behavioral functioning and the basis for these effects; 
c. the factors that mediate the severity of humiliation; 
d. some cultural factors associated with humiliation;
e. treatment methodologies adapted to specific humiliation scenarios, including workplace bullying;
f. the long term course of recovery from major humiliation. 

Saturday at 4 pm

"If You're So Smart…”: Using Descriptive Psychology to Inform Executive Function Coaching

Most interventions for ADHD and other disabilities affecting executive functioning involve the imposition of adult will or cultural hegemony upon an unwilling and uncooperative client.  However, they rarely work well in real life, for many reasons. In this workshop, I will show how Descriptive Psychology can help us understand the pitfalls in this practice and figure out how to work more effectively.  Ideas including status dynamics, behavior potential, the actor-observer-critic model, and the parameters of intentional action, can all be used by a helper (therapist, coach, teacher, parent, or friend) to better understand what is getting in the way for the client and to design appropriate interventions. 

Helpers will learn how to communicate clearly, both with the client and with other helpers, in order to come to a shared understanding of what the nature of the problem is and what strategies are likely to be helpful.  They will also learn how to engage the client as a partner in their own development and build their motivation to change. Through clear descriptions of what is going on, we can collaborate with clients to help them learn new strategies, practice intentionally, improve their self-monitoring, increase their behavioral potential and confidence, and be the ones in control of their own long-term independent behavioral change.

Aimee Yermish, PsyD ( is a clinical psychologist and educational therapist in private practice. She works primarily with clients who manifest giftedness, disability, or multiple exceptionality (including ADHD, Asperger’s, learning disabilities, psychological disorders, and trauma responses), offering a wide variety of services, including assessment, therapy, coaching/mentoring, consultation, and public speaking.  She draws on her analytical background as a research scientist and her practical background as a classroom teacher, and focuses on building self-understanding, self-regulation, independence, and range of choice in life. 


I-Thou and Parenting.
Heather Holmes-Lonergan, PhD 

Dr. Holmes-Lonergan will present a framework for parents who wish to create an “I-thou” connection with their children, beginning in infancy. Through the use of vignettes, the presentation will illustrate the different types of connections parents create with their children using descriptive concepts such as Status Dynamics and the Actor -Observer -Critic model. Parents will recognize how to approach parenting from an “I-thou” perspective and learn tools to allow them to create close emotional connections as they get to know their children as persons and create a shared world with them.

Heather Holmes-Lonergan, PhD
Dr. Heather Holmes-Lonergan holds a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Florida, and has taught courses in infant, childhood, and adult development for nearly 20 years. She is currently enrolled in iPEC’s Certified Coach Training program and will begin private practice this fall. 

How to apply Descriptive Psychology at work: A retrospective view (Archetypal situations in which DP is likely very useful).
CJ Peek, PhD with commentary by Julia Peek
Descriptive Psychology (DP) affords powerful ways to organize one’s thinking about almost anything encountered at work—whatever that work is. In the presenter’s case that has been health psychology, healthcare organizations, leadership and research. In retrospect, most of the presenter’s applications of DP were archetypal—not specifically tied to those subject matters. As a well-known physician once said, “from my experience, Descriptive Psychologists help you become much clearer about what you are looking at—whatever that is”.

This presentation is aimed primarily at students and those early in their careers who want to quickly apply DP as a discipline to practical situations commonly encountered at work.

This session describes archetypal work situations in which DP was found especially useful—a taxonomy of common situations such as: 
1. Bringing clarity to different ideas at different levels heaped up after a “good discussion” 
2. Establishing good enough common language to get through a phone call, meeting, or project 
3. Clarifying the subject matter of an emerging field to ask consistently understood research questions
4. Describing complex subject matters or projects at several “altitudes” and dimensions in a way that preserves both top line meanings and bottom line details (ability to ‘zoom’ in and out)
5. Representing on a page how a complex organization works—leadership roles and forums, teams

A handout with a variety of actual examples of DP-inspired work products for these and other archetypal work situations is provided—along with a challenge to the audience to quickly recognize and apply DP to archetypal situations across subject matters, as a generalist Descriptive Psychologist.

Web-published consensus lexicons—definitional frameworks for emerging fields
Integrated behavioral health:
Lexicon for practice-based research agenda:
Palliative care:
Health care home:
Shared decision-making:

Articles / chapters, web-publications that sharpen definitions of common concepts:
Patient complexity:
Harmonizing clinical, operational, and financial worlds:
Research and evaluation of natural experiments:
Collaborative Care:
YouTube on Colorado integrated behavioral health:

C.J. Peek, PhD
C.J. Peek is Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He focuses on care system transformation, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development in healthcare systems, clinics, and residencies. Particular concentrations include the integration of biomedical and behavioral healthcare, development of usable vocabularies for "patient complexity", patient-clinician communication, productive conversations and dialogue across disciplines or organizational areas, and development of shared lexicons and definitional frameworks in emerging healthcare fields.  He graduated from the University of Colorado in clinical psychology in 1976, under the mentorship of Peter G. Ossorio PhD, founder of Descriptive Psychology.

Love Across Differences.
Anna Berin, PsyD with commentary by Keith Davis, PhD

Using structured interviews based on a Descriptive Psychology conceptualization of Culture (Ossorio, 2006; Putman, 1981), and Bergner and Roberts’ conceptualization of love relationships, significant themes in the romantic lives of 13 interracial couples (eight Black/White, four White/Asian, and one Black/Asian) are described and explicated. This study had two objectives: First, to describe the various ways in which these interracial couples navigate dilemmas of family, community, and culture in maintaining a loving partnership;  second, to explicate the multiplicity of meanings attributed to love within these relationships.  Ground research procedures (Mertens, 2005) were used to interpret the detailed couple and individual interviews. Themes that were agreed up by the author and two doctoral level psychologists were counted as present.

Six themes were identified: 1) Salience of idiosyncratic qualities as the basis for the mutual attraction of the couples (in 9 of 13 cases); 2) Appraisal of what romantic love meant to each couple, in all but one case, the couples endorsed caring about the welfare of their partner as a primary factor in their love relationship; 3) Attitudes towards gender roles and the division of household tasks; 4) Color-blindness vs. a confrontation of the effects of racism on one or more partners; 5) Racial prejudice within the families of the spouses; and 6) The continued power of tradition and culture to shape relationship experiences.

Anna Berin, PsyD
Anna is one of the 34.2 million foreign born people who immigrated to the United States during the turn of the 21st century.  As a child of the former Soviet Union, Anna has been greatly influenced by my Eastern European, Jewish roots. She has found as much shaped by the American and Russian-Jewish culture as by her privileged status in the world. Since adolescence, Anna has self-identified as being a member of a multicultural group although her racial identity by default placed her into the majority of European origins. She has taken experiences from each of these vastly contrasting and often contradictory socio- cultural systems to develop a professional identity that embodies the ingredients necessary to be a conscientious and multicultural practitioner  Given her personal experiences in multi-cultural America, she found a niche and desire to explore the importance and intersection of love and race. Her life story was the purveyor of her Doc Project, entitled, “Love Across Differences: A Study of Interracial Couples.” 

Prior to receiving her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in February 2013,  she graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 2004 and from Antioch University, New England in Keene NH in August 2007.  Currently, Anna is employed at Community Healthlink Inc as a Program Director at the Burncoat Family Center, a Community Based Acute Treatment Center. While at the Burncoat Family Center, Anna has worked tirelessly to shift the culture of the residential community to be consistent with evidence-based practice and trauma informed models of care. In her spare time, Anna enjoys globe trotting and participates in kick boxing.