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Sheridan, G. Bain, K. (2020). Living the Theory: The Complexity of Being Both a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and a Mother. Contemp. Psychoanal., 56(1):29-56.

(2020). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 56(1):29-56

Living the Theory: The Complexity of Being Both a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist and a Mother

Gillian Sheridan, M.A. and Katherine Bain, Ph.D.

Psychodynamic psychotherapists through their vocational training, and especially through developmental and psychoanalytic theories, are exposed to intense discursive and theoretical models of ideal motherhood and child development that they use to inform their therapeutic practice. In this article, nine psychodynamic psychotherapist-mothers are interviewed to examine how the identities of psychotherapist and mother shape, enrich, and conflict with one another. The results of these interviews suggest that the identity shifts involved in becoming a mother are continuous and that—alongside the negotiation of the relational demands of an infant—, psychotherapist-mothers experience transitions in their relationships to theory. The voice of theory was found to act as both an analytic and/or anti-analytic third. The experience appears to be one of the constantly evolving re-integration. Overall, the challenge for psychotherapist-mothers is to reflect on their relationships to theory, in order to acknowledge and explore those aspects that feel punitive and those that feel helpful.

[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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