The art of interpretation is considered a cornerstone of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and counselling. By means of ‘the interpretation’ the therapist will observe and comment on actions and motivations just outside the awareness of their client.
In the best version of this approach the therapist will make gentle suggestions that can offer a new angle on the issue at hand that somehow feels right-enough or certainly-possible to their client, and in this way the therapist can assist their client to increase their level of self-insight and knowledge. Less helpful versions of this mode of intervention certainly exist, and can be experienced as clumsy, uncaring, and critical by clients.
In this video three leading thinkers in the field of psychoanalytic thought, question the nature and value of ‘the interpretation’. The training questions the psychoanalytic focus on ‘the interpretation’ and asks what other interventions might be equally valid. We also look at the meaning of interpretation within the context of the therapeutic relationship, and ask questions such as ‘Who benefits?’.
Dr Maggie Turp: The chilli in the curry? Finding a balance between transference interpretation and narrative repair in psychodynamic psychotherapy.
In some schools of psychoanalytic thought – most notably but by no means exclusively the Kleinian school – the transference interpretation is regarded as the single mutative factor in the therapeutic encounter. Following on from this, interventions revolve exclusively around the transference/countertransference dynamic. Other potentially therapeutic interventions are dismissed as irrelevant, since they are not considered capable of bringing about deep and lasting psychological change.
At the same time research using the Adult Attachment Interview has repeatedly shown that a coherent and emotionally informed self-narrative, or set of self-narratives, is at the very heart of mental wellbeing. Such findings suggest that ‘narrative repair’ (Turp 2012), whereby the patient is encouraged to elaborate his or her self-stories, both with regard to the level of detail and the extent to which they are emotionally informed, is likely to be at least as important a part of the work as interpretation.
Maggie describes in her presentation how she attempts to blend these two vital elements in her practice. Drawing on clinical examples, she outlines the factors that influence her choice of intervention with a particular patient at a particular moment in time.
Dr Aaron Balick: Using the Relationship in Therapy: What makes a relationship with “me” so special?
We’ve all heard that it’s the quality of the relationship that is the most important thing in therapy – but what does that really mean? After all, every single one of us will have a different character style, and this style is based on our own personal attachment patterns, our unique psychodynamics, and our individual personalities. So if all our therapist-client relationships are different, what can we say about “the relationship” that makes any sense? Furthermore, the origin of any intervention, be it an interpretation or something different, will also emerge out of the unique relational matrix between therapist and patient.
In this presentation, Dr. Balick seeks to understand the very nature of an interpretation as something unique to any given therapeutic dyad at any given time. For example, the way Aaron is in any particular therapeutic relationship will create an entirely different therapy than if it were carried out by anybody else. So what can we say about the relationship that makes any sense to help us learn what makes an intervention create positive movement, fall flat, or even cause potential harm?
Drawing on clinical experience and relational theory, Dr. Balick engages with this question by frankly describing how encountering his own fallibility in relation to his clinical work enabled a moment of meeting that sheds light on the broader question, “What makes a relationship with me so special?”
Patrick Casement: Why do we interpret?
Patrick Casement is a retired analytic psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and training analyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is the author of a number of seminal texts that have become required reading on many counselling and psychotherapy training courses. His first book On Learning from the Patient (1985) was an international best seller and introduced the concept of the ‘internal supervisor’.
In his presentation Patrick tries to answer a number of questions about the craft of interpretation, such as: Who benefits? Whose mind is being expressed? Are we making connections or finding connections? How much is useful to say in an interpretation? What follows from an interpretation? And what is a patient responding to?
“All three speakers ‘spoke’ to me, challenged my thinking and the humility with which each person spoke of their personal experiences moved, inspired and will remain with me.”
“Engaging – reassuring – educational and exciting. Very moving account from Patrick and enlightening presentation by Aaron and Maggie.”
“So much personal insight. One of the best training days I have been to.”
Please note any mention in the video about “handouts” or “printouts” by trainers, are in reference to printouts of the PowerPoint slides, which were made available to delegates who attended the LIVE workshop. These slides are included within the videos and are the property of the trainers. They are not available for download or redistribution with any video rental purchase.
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