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Ablon, S.L. (2000). “Where Work is Play for Mortal takes” The Good Hour in Child Analysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 55:113-123.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 55:113-123

The "Good Hour" in Child Analysis

“Where Work is Play for Mortal takes” The Good Hour in Child Analysis

Steven Luria Ablon, M.D.

But yield who will to their separation,

My object in living is to unite

My avocation and my vocation

As my two eyes make one in sight.

Only where love and need are one,

And the work is play for mortal stakes,

Is the deed ever really done

For Heaven and the future's sakes.

—Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”

To explore the concept of the “good hour” in child analysis I discuss an hour in the analysis of a six-and-a-half-year-old girl. Elements of this hour include a palpable therapeutic alliance, affective immediacy, surprise, and discovery, oscillating therapeutic action of action, play, and verbalization, creative accessibility to the unconscious, the transference, the countertransference, and a capacity to work with conflict, defense, and fantasy. These qualities are similar to those described by Kris for adult analysis over forty years ago. The present hour, however, illustrates

greater emphasis on affect rather than drive, the therapeutic action of play in the analytic setting, and the transformative importance of the relationship. In addition, the hour highlights a greater focus on communication by action and enactment, the highly informative uses of the countertransference, and the co-creation of the analytic process.

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