It has been important to me to try to understand why so many IPA members in North American feel alienated and uninvolved with the IPA. While this feeling is perhaps more widespread among APsaA members, I also know it is shared by some in other North American societies. I embarked on an informal “listening tour”, seeking the opinions and perspective both of members who, to my knowledge, have not had much contact with the IPA and of members who have participated in IPA activities such as the biannual international congresses.
I discovered that too many analysts feel that the IPA is not very relevant to their professional lives. They wonder what role or purpose it serves and what benefits they get from their dues.
One person I spoke with said he had never received any communications from the IPA. Another told me that it felt to her as if the IPA was from another planet and had no particular relevance to her professional endeavors. And this is a person who as a candidate was a member of IPSO (the IPA’s candidate association) and had presented her clinical work at two IPA Congresses. There was no follow-up on the part of the IPA and she basically felt forgotten and not valued as a member of the international analytic community. This kind of neglect is shocking and has a lot to do with the feeling of disenchantment that so many people feel about the IPA.
Several of the people I talked to were completely in the dark about IPA activities even when these related directly to their own interests. For example, almost no one knew about the IPA’s work developing new institutes in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Another interesting (and little known in North America) IPA project is the CAPSA project. It provides financial help to a society (or institute) to bring in a guest speaker from another IPA region to spend a weekend lecturing, teaching and supervising. Latin American societies have availed themselves of this opportunity and invited several European analysts to visit them. Unfortunately, the majority of North American societies seem unaware of this program, have not requested these funds and have walked away leaving money on the table.
It is clear that the IPA has to do a better job of communicating with its North American members. While considerable efforts to improve IPA-to- IPA member communications have been made, they have not yet accomplished the necessary task of reaching, informing and engaging members.
Another common complaint is the high cost of registration for IPA Congresses. The registration fee is often twice the cost of regional meetings and that reality puts a dent in attendance at the Congresses. Younger analysts especially feel the cost of registering and getting to a congress is a great financial burden. The IPA has tried to address these issues, yet in spite of their efforts, every IPA congress, with the exception of the congress in New Orleans, has lost a great deal of money. One factor that increases the costs of the congresses is the need for translations in multiple languages. The high costs of IPA congresses needs to be looked into further.
I feel the issue of costs could be less burdensome if some of the younger participants felt welcome and less isolated. The IPA should make a more concerted effort to make them feel more part of the international analytic community. One way to do it would be to have some older experienced analysts help them in their efforts to get acquainted with analysts of other regions.
The IPA is facing some difficult times. The causes of these and other problems are complex and the solutions aren’t easy. But clearly the Board needs to make a much greater effort to be more in tune with the dissatisfaction in the membership.
For my part, my listening tour has opened my eyes about what needs to be done and I will do my best to get the Board to address these problems.