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Tyminski, R.F. (2006). The Week the Couch Arrived. J. Anal. Psychol., 51(5):643-659.

(2006). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 51(5):643-659

The Week the Couch Arrived

Robert F. Tyminski, DMH

Changes in the therapeutic environment can elicit intense and unpredictable responses from patients, who then react to the new elements with their own unique thoughts, fantasies, emotions and behaviours. When the change is very specific, and when it entails implications for the treatment itself, these patient responses can coalesce around more profound experiences of the transference as well as of the countertransference. The author, as a candidate or analyst-in-training, purchased an analytic couch for his office and observed the unfolding of what this new couch meant for existing treatments. Using clinical examples, he describes the three most common patient responses that occurred: rejecting, ambivalent, and embracing. The richly variant ideas and fantasies related to the analytic couch are described, and the couch's history within Freudian and Jungian contexts is reviewed. Personal determinants that could lead to the decision of whether to use a couch as part of analysis are considered from the standpoint of the analyst's preferences and own experience with the couch. The couch is discussed as a signifier of the analytic process with cultural meanings alluding not only to familiar stereotypes, but also to psychological healing and self-development.

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