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Pizer, B. Pizer, S.A. (2006). “The Gift of an Apple or the Twist of an Arm” Negotiation in Couples and Couple Therapy. Psychoanal. Dial., 16(1):71-92.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 16(1):71-92

“The Gift of an Apple or the Twist of an Arm” Negotiation in Couples and Couple Therapy

Barbara Pizer, ED.D., ABPP and Stuart A. Pizer, Ph.D., ABPP

This paper explores the role of negotiation in couples and couple therapy from a relational perspective, situated at the interface of psychoanalytic and systems theories, that emphasizes intersubjectivity. We consider the clinical processes through which members of a couple may be helped to develop competence in basic elements of intimate communication and negotiation, including reflective listening, mentalization, and recognition. Clinical examples illustrate therapeutic movement from projective-introjective “transference” repetitions within a couple's relationship toward a growing ability to transcend the intrapsychic “demons” that haunt the couple. Specific technical measures are described, including the use of communication “exercises” and “homework” in the context of analytic couple therapy—what we term working from the outside-in and the inside-out—as well as the potential functions of a cotherapist team for particular couples.

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