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Arundale, J. (1995). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 11(4):504-505.

(1995). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 11(4):504-505


Jean Arundale

In everyday life, those instantaneous, very first impressions can be so important that they, quite unfairly, form the basis of all future judgements of the other person and dictate the nature of the relationship. Crucial, too, for the course of a relationship are expectations of the other, and there is a large literature in psychological studies that shows the role played by expectations in shaping and predicting relationships. The particular kind of expectation that we find in psychotherapy, conceptualised as the transference, is believed to be present even before the first meeting. The concentration of energic forces focused on to the first psychotherapy session, a highly-charged mixture of excitement, fear, hope, despair, need, desire and defence, can create the circumstances for seminal communications, from the subtle to the dramatic. Interestingly, in an audiotaped study of a five-year, five-times-a-week analysis (by Hartvig Dahl in the USA (personal communication, 1990)), a content analysis revealed that all the themes and conflicts that were important to the analysis were present in the very first session. Two papers in this issue look at ‘beginnings’: Gail Yariv writes of being receptive to the transference-countertransference impact in the first moments as a valuable point of reference for understanding ‘core object relations’, and Charles Rycroft discusses the procedure for conducting a patient into treatment, ‘classical’ and revised.

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