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McCann, D. (2017). Response to The Role of Interpretation in the Assessment Phase of Couple Psychoanalysis by Timothy Keogh and Cynthia Gregory-Roberts. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 7(2):181-184.

(2017). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 7(2):181-184

Response to The Role of Interpretation in the Assessment Phase of Couple Psychoanalysis by Timothy Keogh and Cynthia Gregory-Roberts Related Papers

Damian McCann, D.Sys.Psych.

By way of opening my response to Timothy Keogh and Cynthia Gregory-Roberts’s paper “The role of interpretation in the assessment phase of couple psychoanalysis”, I feel the need to remind ourselves that the main body of thinking and development with regard to interpretation still comes from analytic work with individuals; we are therefore constantly faced with the challenge of translating that which is applicable to individuals to our work with couples. However, it is generally recognised that interpretations that resonate with patients are an essential part of most assessment interviews, since interpretations convey to patients the fact that they are understood. Interpretations also help in establishing rapport, which, in turn, assists in the search for; more meaningful information, a deepening of the transference, and, of course, insight.

Part of the translation from individual to couple therapy lies in the therapist being able to hold what Morgan (2005) refers to as “a couple state of mind”, since the couple therapist will inevitably be searching for some preliminary understanding of the area in which the couple’s shared anxieties and unconscious phantasies lie. Indeed, the authors suggest that, “… interpretation was primarily used as a means of engaging them (the couple) in a transformative psychoanalytic process”.

What is specific to psychoanalytic, and indeed all psychotherapeutic work, including that of first encounters, is how therapists listen and respond to the patient and, perhaps even more importantly, how he or she reflects on his or her mode of listening and responding. With that in mind, I think it is worth considering the nature of the reflective function offered by the authors’ co-therapy relationship and its particular contribution to the question of interpretation in the assessment of their couple’s presenting problem, as a gateway to the ongoing therapy.

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