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Morgan, M. (2018). Complex and Creative: The Field of Couple Interpretation. Fort Da, 24(1):6-21.

(2018). Fort Da, 24(1):6-21

Complex and Creative: The Field of Couple Interpretation

Mary Morgan

The Nature of Interpretation

Interpretation is a specific form of communication to the couple that shows them what the therapist might understand about the way they relate and what is happening in their relationship. The interpretations address various areas of the couple's relationship — for example, their projective system, transference relationship, shared phantasy, conflicts, anxieties, defences, and beliefs. Particular attention is given to what the couple create together as a consequence of their specific coupling.

Interpretation attempts to make conscious aspects of the couple relationship that are unconscious or partially so. They are not final statements but part of the developing understanding between the couple and therapist. The therapist, in different ways, puts into words aspects of, and dynamics in, the psychic life of the couple so that there is the possibility that these can be thought about. This is a way for the couple to come to “know” their relationship, aspects that they have been unaware of. With thinking comes the possibility of understanding, rather than enactment, working through, and a different perspective.

Interpretations can only be made within the context of the analytic setting. The therapist takes care of the setting and provides the couple analytic space in which she can be attuned to, think about, and analyse the couple's relationship. The setting also supports the therapist in having a state of mind receptive to the couple's unconscious, giving close attention to what they bring, the passing remarks, the affective tone of what is said, what is not being said or understood, the kind of unconscious pressure the partners exert on each other and the therapist. The couple analytic space, encompassing continuity and boundedness, also supports the couple in being able to be receptive to the therapist even though this might be difficult and not always possible.

Giving an interpretation is part of a process and takes place alongside other non-interpretive activities that aim towards understanding.

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