Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Sandra Buechler spoke on March 17, 2018 at the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society’s Speaker Program meeting.

An interesting paper (1993) of hers talks about the analyst’s emotions and whether, and when, to share them with the patient. Some of the benefits which may be gleaned by sharing the analyst’s feelings about the patient include:

they may evoke from the patient additional, illuminating data;
they may allow the patient to feel he or she has an impact;
they may de-mystify the interaction;
they may communicate the analyst’s dedication to the analytic process;
they may be taken as expressing a sense of caring, even if they are negative emotions;
they may generate new experiences: new emotions, and that emotions can be explored;
they may convey that the analyst can survive [Winnicott: survival];
they convey respect, acknowledging the patient’s responsibility for her/his impact on the analyst;
they may relieve the analyst of interference from unexpressed negative feelings;
they may acquaint the patient with her/his potential for affective interchanges;
they may acquaint the patient with the joy of mutual regulation rather than control imposed by the other;
they may allow the patient to vicariously experience forbidden affects which the analyst carries for both;
They may communicate to the patient the therapist's involvement;
the patient may be better able to explore intolerable feelings with an emotionally responsive person;
[and may foster authenticity and intersubjectivity, of which emotions are a part]

Buechler, S (1993). Clinical Applications of an Interpersonal View of the Emotions Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 29:219-236

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I look back at the successes and growth I have experienced in my therapy, it has frequently occurred when my therapist has made disclosures, particularly emotional disclosures. I believe I have grown most when she has acknowledged the reality of both my and her emotions. For me, these disclosures have been blindingly vivid affirmations of the power my presence. It was truly an empowering feeling for me, the patient, to know that I have had an impact; that I—the neglected child, the anonymous cog in a bureaucratic machine, the nobody who lives out his day going to work, loving his wife, and not making waves—can reach someone emotionally.

It’s not that she lost her therapeutic objectivity. Rather, it was mostly that she revealed her humanness in the ways that reflected back my participation in the “co-creation” of the “transference.” That is, mutual feelings of affection and respect were recognized and, moreover, were recognized as partly due to who I am. Wow! For a patient, this is an amazingly important reality. I am not just another patient, not just her 8:00 am Tuesday appointment, not just another billable hour.

Regardless of whether the emotions she allowed herself to express were positive or negative—even when she expressed anger (which, by the way, she does pretty well)—it was an opportunity for growth and healing. Because she had the courage to express her authentic human emotions, we were able to explore my role in their co-creation and how the insights therefrom were applicable outside the therapeutic setting. On the same token, because she had the theoretical framework and the technical concepts provided by her profession, the explorations never devolved to explorations of her psyche (as much as I wanted them to), but remained singularly focused on the therapeutic mission.

I am grateful, therefore, that my therapist has had the courage to disclose. I am grateful that she has the training and professionalism to maintain her therapeutic objectivity, but I am especially thankful that there were occasions that she acknowledged that we are both real people, with real emotions, and the emotional work is not all on my side.