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O'Neill, S. (2015). The Facilitating Function of the Setting. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(4):463-475.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(4):463-475

The Facilitating Function of the Setting

Sylvia O'Neill

This paper addresses the issue of what facilitates creativity in psychoanalytic work. Although creativity may seem to imply a creatively interpreting analyst therapist, dictionary usage of the term ‘creativity’ supports an alternative reading. The author finds a more apt standpoint in the theory of the analytic site that Donnet has extrapolated from Freud's papers on technique. From this viewpoint, creativity in psychoanalysis is the autonomous or spontaneously flowing analytic process, and the factor that facilitates it is the carefully constructed and maintained setting, or site, and the patient's transformational introjection of it. A comparable standpoint applies to creativity in psychotherapy and psychodynamic social work. Provided that the setting/site proper to that treatment modality is adequately constructed and maintained, the psychoanalytical psychotherapy site and the even more radically different psychodynamic social work site can both be comparably introjected, resulting in each case in a spontaneously flowing or autonomous therapeutic process that is analogous to the analytic process. The author discusses the uniqueness of each ‘site’, and illustrates, from a once weekly psychotherapy, the patient's gradual, created/found encounter with elements of the psychoanalytical psychotherapy site and cumulative introjection of them to a critical point of metamorphosis that ushered in an autonomous therapeutic process.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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