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Ziman-Tobin, P. (1989). Consultation as a Bridging Function. Contemp. Psychoanal., 25:432-437.

(1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 25:432-437

Consultation as a Bridging Function

Phyllis Ziman-Tobin, Ph.D.

THIS PAPER IS LIMITED TO SOME initial generalizations about the impact on patients of consultations offered to them with another analyst after learning of the death of their own. The observations are drawn from two groups: (1) from analysts who saw the patients of a colleague who died and (2) from analysts and patients who were themselves in treatment and were seen in psychoanalytic consultation when their analysts died. These consultations, it is thought, provide a very special bridging function.

One of our preliminary observations is that these consultations are rarely refused when offered, usually by the person who informs the patient that his/her analyst has died. To our knowledge, this initial contact is always by telephone. A few patients, having gone to their analysts funerals themselves initiated contact with an analyst who had been prominently part of the funeral service.

Our second, and what we feel to be our most important observation, is that these aftercare consultations, at best, provide a "bridge" either to terminating treatment (at least temporarily) or to a referral to yet a third analyst. The patient whose analyst has just died is best served by this very special "bridging" function, not by the continuation of treatment, per se. Further, these sessions can facilitate the grieving process.

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