Scope of Private Practice

  • Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Psychoanalysts – in Individual, Couple’s, and Group Settings
  • Mentor and Clinical Supervisor for Mental Health Practitioners – in Individual and Group Settings
  • Psychotherapy, Support, and Writing Groups for General Public and Mental Health Practitioners

Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler is a practicing clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst for 40 years, who works with individuals, couples, and groups. She is also a clinical supervisor of mental health practitioners, as she conducts supervision groups, as well as individual supervision sessions. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is a prolific author, as well as a consultant for those involved in the wish to write for personal healing or for writing projects.

Psychology Today: The Therapy Directory

I have found that the most efficient avenue to life progress can be the connection between the psychotherapist and the client. Such connection promotes an evolving internal connection with one’s most true passions, and offers the company of another in facing fears. I would help you to deal with conflicts that block your motivation and passion and help you open to new ways of engaging with your inner resources and with the significant people in your life. In order to do this I address any blocks & resistances that interfere with deep and authentic feeling contact.

Once the avenues to deep feeling contact are open I am more receptive than active allowing you the experience of just being, with memory fantasy and thought emerging along with the feeling state of the moment.

I practice individual group and couples therapy. I work with trauma, anger, and fear. I am acutely sensitive to all ranges of feeling, and to the critical need for all those who have difficulty sustaining work and love to surrender to facing the pain of grief from past losses and disappointments.

— Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD. ABPP

Unique Approaches as a Psychotherapist

Underlying all forms of anxiety and depression are deep seated fears of pain, pain related to loss, (abandonment, betrayal, bereavement, separation, a feeling of emptiness), pain related to guilt and shame, and pain related to coming out of hiding behind one’s own walls and defenses that may have been held onto for a lifetime. Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s feeling-level approach to clinical work – in which internal and external disruptions in connection are always carried through to a developmentally progressive mourning – allows for the gradual tolerance of all forms of pain, with the support of the therapeutic healing environment. This is an organic approach in which all talents, capacities, intellectual and creative abilities are freed to emerge naturally, as the resistances against feeling of blocked and repressed pain are overcome within the supportive relationship with the psychotherapist. As the creative talents in the self emerge, so do the capacities for intimacy in interpersonal relationships; so that commitments that can support an expanding and successful life in the world can be made.

No matter what the initial problem is that brings anyone to psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, the underlying pain and fears related to involvement in life are pressuring and stressing one’s body, mind, heart, and soul through their inhibiting power. Whether one’s relationship is failing or ending, or he/she feels suffocated, controlled, or trapped within a relationship, or yearn for a relationship that one can’t attain, Dr. Kavaler-Adler is able to engage them at the feeling level, and with the whole range of irrational beliefs and self-sabotage that go with the problem – by giving support in opening the resisted pain and longings, and by helping to move forward instead of continuously repeating frustrations, inhibitions, and failings over and over again. She also helps individuals face the denied or feared anger that haunts them and makes them afraid of others, from whom anger is feared.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler has gained her clinical expertise as a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst over a span 40 years of practice in New York City. She is not only attuned to the thoughts, feelings, despairs, and behaviors of those who seek her help as a psychotherapist/psychoanalyst, but – as a dancer and a dance therapists – she is also attuned to the sensory level of their experience.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler is a prolific author who is extremely familiar with the strife and struggles of the creative process. Her literary side also adds to her clinical dimension as she is sensitive to the metaphors and symbols within dreams, daydreams, musings, and ordinary thoughts that float through one’s minds, and which sometimes start to haunt by repetition. She can help translate these metaphors and symbolic fantasies into meaningful awareness of the hopes, fears, dreams, and longings of each individual, so that each person can come to understand the conflicts and blocks that inhibit them, as different parts of themselves block each other through their friction.

Through the years of practice, Dr. Kavaler-Adler has developed an original guided visualization technique, which she uses in her groups and workshops, to help participants reach the depth of their internal worlds, and to then engage with those who come to them from within in an active dialogue that can be shared and translated into the meaning of conflicts, inhibitions and blocks to further development and progress in life. Occasionally, this same psychic visualization technique can be used in individual therapy sessions, to facilitate contact with both the conscious and unconscious levels of the internal world that exists within all of us. In this way, Dr. Kavaler-Adler also helps individuals to reach their spiritual sides and dimensions, as well as their loving and creative sides.

In her book, Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change (Routledge 2003), which won the Gradiva® Award (2004), Dr. Kavaler-Adler has demonstrated her profound engagement with the spiritual sides of individuals, along with their creative, intellectual and sexual sides. In the meantime, Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s first two books, The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (Routledge 1993, Other Press 2000) and The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (Routledge 1993) illustrated her deep understanding of the creative process, as she’d described how many well-known women artists and writers struggled to compensate for early trauma that damaged and aborted their interpersonal and love relationships in the world.

When addressing self-sabotage in individuals, Dr. Kavaler-Adler helps each person to see how unconscious loyalties to early figures in one’s life, especially to parents and siblings, can be the prime cause of repeating self-sabotaging behavior in work and love. Dr. Kavaler-Adler also addresses how fears of the envy of oneself and of others can intensify such self- sabotage, and how fears of success are related to these unconscious loyalties as well.

Supervision for Psychotherapists and Psychoanalysts

Dr. Kavaler-Adler is a Training Analyst and Senior Supervisor who has supervised many psychotherapists and psychoanalysts since the early 1980s. She received a certificate in the supervision of psychotherapists from Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in 1985 after completing her own psychoanalytic and psychotherapy training in 1981 at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP). She served as a faculty member at both Postgraduate Center for Mental Health and NIP for many years until she founded the state chartered psychoanalytic, relationship oriented, training institute for psychotherapists (in 1991) – the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis of New York City. Currently, she is serving there as a Board member, Executive Director, and Senior Training supervisor.

Besides Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s teaching and supervising for psychoanalytic psychotherapy training institutes, she also has been practicing supervision for clinicians on a private basis since 1983. Given her role in the field as a theorist and author of more than 58 journal articles and edited book chapters, and of three well known published professional books, she is particularly aware of the clinical struggles that each individual psychotherapist must face. This allows her to both empathize with the difficult experience of processing clinical work that each individual clinician must face, as well as to educate the individual clinician with her extensive theoretical knowledge and her own integration of how to apply this knowledge to clinical work. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is available for supervisory consultations on clinical work in the field of psychotherapy and she conducts group supervision as well in her practice, where each participant can get feedback from the group about their work, along with Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s guidance.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler can tune into the plight of each clinician in processing the often inarticulate, and sometimes toxic (in terms of hostile feelings) messages that they experience, not only through words, but with a whole range of feeling states received by the clinician through sensory, affective, and body level experience, which her background in dance therapy and nonverbal forms of dissociated psychic expressions has prepared her for.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler is also able to help clinicians with differentiating their own subjective history as it is triggered by patients (“subjective countertransference”) and the more objective aspects of countertransference that any clinician sitting with the patient would feel and experience. This helps clinicians to understand what their patients are trying to induce in them, and to see more clearly what and how things are truly related to the patient, as opposed to what needs to be processed and understood by them as “their own stuff.” Since everything we feel with patients is somehow related to the patient it is a real art to decipher how to make use of what we feel in the room with the patient to understand the patient, while not projecting on to the patient our own stuff that might get triggered along with the feelings we feel in the room with the patient. Dr. Kavaler-Adler has helped clinicians work with these dynamics for some decades now, and she has also written and published some of her insights about the supervisory process as in her 1985 article in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis on “The Supervisor as an Internal Object.”

Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s special sensitivity (and 35 years of experience) with the mourning and grief process also allows her to help clinicians in supervision with her to mourn the pain of losses and disappointments, and separations, that get triggered while with their patients, and to sort through the grief, guilt and shame that often takes them by surprise when sitting with patients, particularly with patients who have so much of their unprocessed losses and grief. Her astute attunement to the mourning process needed for development in all of us allows her to sense if there is pain ridden sadness in the background that needs conscious processing. Likewise, she can sense if there is alternatively the pain of one’s own rage, or the sadness of a loving grief that has not yet met with the final curtain of saying “good-bye” to someone one has, or still, loves. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is not only known for her astute and sustained memory of all the aspects of her patients’ and of her supervisees’ histories and experiences presented to her, but she also is known for her acute sensitivity to feeling the most subtle levels of grief and sadness that peek through the background of the minds of those she works with. Bringing such “out of awareness” sadness and grief to the attention of her supervisees, just as she would bring such to the attention of her patients, allows them to release the burden of unprocessed mourning that may be blocking their full presence in the room with their patients and clients.


For the past 20 years, Dr. Kavaler-Adler formed a few therapy and support groups. One of such groups is the monthly intensive therapy and mourning group, which has been running for 16 years. This group meets from September through June; and it meets for four hours (12pm-4pm) on the first Saturday of the month (with a half hour break). Each group is begun by Dr. Kavaler-Adler with asking everyone to close their eyes and breath as she guides each person in the group through a psychic visualization that helps each group participant to see who comes to them from within whom they need to talk to. She helps the group individually confront those who emerge from their internal worlds, so they can manifest the conscious dialogues that have never yet been said as these internal figures might haunt them in the background of their minds. By engaging with these internal figures each group member then comes out into the external world of the group, and each person is free to share their visualization with the others in the group throughout the afternoon as the group proceeds and as interactions between members evolve. Each group member finds their individual group process, and its natural feeling, connecting and mourning evolution, as they engage with the others in the outward group process and share their individual process. This group is unique in allowing considerable time for each person to speak and get feedback from the group, since the group process is in the background as the individual within the group emerges and shares with the others. Significant mourning, and renewing of connection with the others in the external world, can then take place. This group will be accepting new members (only two spaces available) — starting September 2012.

This group approach to fears of envy, success, and self-sabotage offers new, unique and creative experience in sharing individual forms of self sabotage in the pursuit of growth, love, and success that may relate to unconscious loyalties to past figures in one’s life that still haunt the individual in his or her internal world. Often, these self sabotaging loyalties to early figures in one’s childhood can be identified in the course of the psychic visualization and sharing experience in a group. Having twelve weeks for this process will help individuals to fully discover the attachments they have to figures whose beliefs and attitudes towards them and towards life have been undermining their conscious wishes to have success in love and creative work in the world. At times, envy from others has been rationalized away, and one’s own painful and shame ridden envy may have been totally denied and projected onto others as well. Often, people who think they are afraid of failure, continue to fail because they don’t realize that their deeper fears are about the fear of success, since success threatens to injure, humiliate, or enrage others from their past, or those in the present, who react to their successes with covert hostility or overt undermining. Sometimes the fears of success are based on an even more early childhood abandonment fear, fearing that the very mother or parents they so totally needed during their childhoods would unconsciously threaten to abandon or attack them if they were to succeed in life, especially if they were to succeed at a level of surpassing their parents. All this can be discovered in a group in which psychic visualization, and the sharing of such psychic visualization is promoted.

This group can be requested by email at or by phone 212-674-5425.

Schedule: 1st Friday of the month, 1:15-2:45pm; September through June
Location: 115 E 9th Str., 12P, NYC
Fee: $85/ month. Group is ongoing & open for new members. All mental health practitioners are welcome!

In this monthly group, group supervision is combined with experiential role-playing, as well as with Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s own teachings on object relations theory as applied to clinical and developmental processes. Members of the group benefit from explanations of concepts related to borderline, schizoid and narcissistic character disorders, distinguishing between splitting, projective identification, and neurotic modes of blocked affect and blocked psychic fantasy, due to repression and unconscious psychic conflict.

Other important concepts of the object relations clinical theory are discussed, such as: “projective-identification,” therapist’s “object survival,” the analyst as a “psychic container,” “the holding environment,” “primitive” vs. neurotic transferences, “primal envy” and its manifestation in treatment, “the transformational object,” “object internalization,” “objective vs. subjective countertransference,” empathy developing through the Winnicottian “capacity for concern” and Kleinian “depressive position,” capacity to process loss, and “existential guilt,” self-sabotage related to “unconscious loyalties” to patient’s internal parental objects, “the true self,” and “the capacity to be alone,” as well as such challenging topics as developmental mourning, envy, and erotic transference.

During the role-play, Dr. Kavaler-Adler takes the role of the psychotherapist, allowing the presenting group member to experience the process of being “inside the skin” of the patient. This allows the group member who is presenting a case process to feel his/her patient from the inside out, while this allows other group members to vividly experience the presented case, so that their own thoughts and feelings can become part of the dialogue about the process with the patient. Objective and subjective forms of countertransference are discussed. References to readings in the psychoanalytic and object relations literature are offered.

Schedule: Second Friday of the month, 11:30am -2:00pm (NB: New time!); September – June
Location: Virtual participation -via Internet/phone – using Go-to-Meetings
Fee: $85/ month. Group is ongoing group & open for new members. All mental health practitioners are welcome!

This virtual group was begun at the request of two practitioners in Chicago. It operates through audio-video “Go to Meetings” (through Internet or phone) and offers all the benefits of the other monthly Friday supervision group, in terms of role-playing with Dr. Kavaler-Adler and theoretical teachings related to psychopathology, developmental issues, and clinical process theory. Members take turn presenting as in the other monthly Friday group.

This group is open to mental health professionals both outside the New York area, such as our Chicago members, and also to all those in New York City. Computer expert is on call for technical support, if needed.

2nd Friday of the month, 2pm-3:30pm
 115 E 9th Str., 12P, NYC
 $85/ month. Group is ongoing & open for new members. All creative practitioners are welcome!

One of first groups created by Dr. Kavaler-Adler was a writing group, which existed for 28 years. At present, due to working with other forms of therapeutic groups, Dr. Kavaler-Adler is offering individual consults for those involved in writing projects and/or those involved in using writing as a healing self expression process. Whatever form of writing that the person consulting her might be engaged in, Dr. Kavaler-Adler helps the person with the flow and development of their own unique creative process. She has worked with people doing fiction, memoir, personal essays and poetry, and with those doing professional writing for journals institute papers, dissertation papers at universities. She has also worked with those just beginning to put their thoughts down on paper, helping those feeling the thrill of writing for the first time to preserve their excitement, and to face their resistances and fears in relation to that excitement as it brings hopes and dreams to life. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is particularly skilled and experienced at listening to the flow in the writing, and in then tuning into moments when, and areas where, the writing is blocked. She can pick up on blocks, resistances, and inhibitions within the writer and within the writing process, and she also can sense where and how the work can be expanded and developed. Since Dr. Kavaler-Adler is both a psychoanalyst and a writer herself (3 books and over 58 published articles), she combines her skills from both areas of expertise in the feedback she gives to clients who come to her for writing consultations. She not only tunes into the writing process, as well as the blocks to its development, but she also tunes in as a skilled psychotherapist and psychoanalyst who can sense the feelings of the person as they share their writing, and can help them sense what they are conveying through their way of reading their writing, as well as in the actual writing itself. Often, she helps her clients discover that they are full of passions and ideas that have not yet entered the realm of the clients’ actual written work. This helps clients put their full passionate selves into their written words rather than just talking about the writing with all kinds of feelings, thoughts, and attitudes, which are disconnected from their actual creative process and their actual writing.

Consultations can be requested by email at or by phone 212-674-5425.