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Philips, B. Werbart, A. Schubert, J. (2005). Private Theories and Psychotherapeutic Technique. Psychoanal. Psychother., 19(1):48-70.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 19(1):48-70

Private Theories and Psychotherapeutic Technique

Björn Philips, Andrzej Werbart and Johan Schubert

The aim of this study is to explore the importance, to the therapeutic process, of the relation between the patient's and the therapist's problem formulations and private theories of pathogenesis and cure. Four cases of young adults in psychoanalytic psychotherapy were compared, two with unequivocally positive and two with more ambiguous outcome at termination. The patients and therapists were interviewed about their private theories initially and at termination of therapy, and a qualitative comparison was made between the cases. In the two more successful cases the therapists had early in therapy perceived obstacles for the therapeutic work in the patients’ ways of thinking, feeling, and relating, and made interpretative interventions focusing on these. This was not observed in the less successful cases. In the more successful cases the patient's and the therapist's private theories were more similar at termination than initially, whereas the opposite development was found in the less successful cases. One hypotheses generated is that the therapeutic process can be facilitated by a therapist listening to the patient's private theories, making interpretative interventions focusing on obstacles to the therapeutic work, including contradictions between their private theories, and monitoring the patient's reactions to these interventions.

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