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Holmes, J. (1997). ‘Too Early, Too Late?’: Endings in Psychotherapy - An Attachment Perspective. Brit. J. Psychother., 14(2):159-171.

(1997). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 14(2):159-171

‘Too Early, Too Late?’: Endings in Psychotherapy - An Attachment Perspective

Jeremy Holmes

Endings in psychoanalytic psychotherapy are often problematic, especially in publicly-funded therapies. Endings may be premature or delayed - ‘too soon’ or ‘too late’. This paper looks at some parallels between endings in literature and endings in psychotherapy; considers the gender bias in Freud's ‘Analysis Terminable and Interminable’; introduces evidence from psychotherapy research; and puts forward an attachment-informed approach to ending, based on the distinction between avoidant and ambivalent attachment and how this may be played out by both therapist and patient in the transference-countertransfence matrix. A controlling therapist with an avoidant patient may end ‘too early’, an over-empathic therapist with an ambivalent patient may end ‘too late’. Clinical examples illustrate these theoretical points.

[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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