Is the analyst central to the process of therapy?

How do we use dreams?

In our September meeting, we explored the transference that occurs between therapist and client which, put simply, involves the client projecting onto the therapist feelings about significant figures in their own past. The therapist’s counter-transference is their response to those feelings and can be a useful tool in the therapy.

The article we read was entitled: “Mapping the landscape: Levels of transference Interpretation” by Priscilla Roth from the international journal of psychoanalysis, 82:533-543, 2001

The article looked at transference in a deeper and more complex way and defined four different levels of transference which may be used in the psycho-analytic process and which are considered key to that way of working.  These levels were summarized at the beginning of the article as ranging from:

“ interpretations that point to links between current events in the analysis and events from the patient’s history, through interpretations that link events in the patient’s external life to the patient’s often unconscious phantasies about the analyst and the analysis, to interpretations that focus on the use of the analyst and the analytic situation to enact unconscious phantasy configurations, sometimes pulling the analyst into the enactment”.

We grappled to understand these concepts and how they would operate, in particular the phantasy “configurations”. a  It was helpful that four consecutive sessions of the analysis of a client were presented and demonstrated how the level of interpretation could shift as the level of understanding on the part of both analyst and patient deepened also.

We did, however, have some reservations. We questioned whether the analyst was always such a central figure for the client but could at times be more tangential without this being a form of defensiveness on the part of the client/patient!

We also prefer the more person-centred notion that it is preferable for the client to make sense of their experience

before the therapist offers an interpretation. We had some distrust of the certainty shown by the analyst in the way interpretations are stated and given to the client almost as fact while respecting that this method is based on extensive training and clearly can be effective with long-term clients

who are being seen three, four or five times a week.

The article also contained a fascinating analysis of a dream which was seen as an integral part of the therapeutic process and did yield some rich material.

That led to a brief discussion of how we all work with client’s dreams in different ways, two of us liking the gestalt notion of each part of a dream representing something about the client.

As always, we had a useful sharing of views and support for each other.

Rosemary Pitt, Fells and Dales Counsellors

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Is the analyst central to the process of therapy?