During Pandemic, Analysts Offer Hope to Colleagues

Gillian Isaacs Russell (left) and Gennifer Lane Briggs (right) receiving APsaA's Distinguished Service Award via Zoom

Throughout the pandemic, psychoanalysts and other mental health professionals faced enormous pressure but thanks to a peer support program spearheaded by two analysts, many found healing and hope.

Gennifer Lane Briggs, MSW, LCSW and Gillian Isaacs Russell, PhD created and shepherded the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Peer Consultation Group Program. The groups encompassed people all over the nation, facilitated by more than 30 volunteers, helping hundreds of mental health care workers cope with stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic.

“These weekly virtual groups with facilitators let mental health care professionals focus on their own mental health. They could process their feelings and get support in a safe space,” said Briggs, a psychoanalyst in private practice in Miami, Florida.

Earlier this month, Briggs and Russell received APsaA Distinguished Service Awards, which is one of the organization’s top honors.

Psychiatrist David Scharff, M.D. of Washington, D.C. is the co-chair of APsaA’s COVID-19 Response Team offer high praise to this pair of dynamic women.

“What Gennifer and Gillian have done is the most progressive step taken to connect APsaA members with non-APsaA members. It never existed before,” said Scharff.

APsaA President Bill Glover, Ph.D. and President-elect Kerry Sulcowicz, M.D said the contributions of Briggs and Russell are “invaluable” and their “steady and calming presence” inspired volunteer psychoanalysts to help their fellow mental health care professionals cope with the suffering inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Briggs and Russell are part of the COVID-19 Team that recently produced a new resource helpful to mental health care providers dealing with these transitional times. The APsaA Roundtable “To Open or Not to Open,” features five top analysts in a thoughtful discussion around such topics as how to communicate vaccination policies to patients, issues around treating children and special populations and a discussion of the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of providers.

You can find the Roundtable “To Open or Not to Open” on the APsaA YouTube Channel.

Media Contact

Claire Meyerhoff