Learning from Experience : Guidebook for Clinicians book cover
1st Edition

Learning from Experience
Guidebook for Clinicians

ISBN 9780881634105
Published June 10, 2004 by Routledge
142 Pages

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Book Description

An important task facing all clinicians, and especially challenging for younger, less experienced clinicians, is to come to know oneself sufficiently to be able to register the patient's experience in useful and progressively deeper ways.  In an effort to aid younger clinicians in the daily struggle to "know thyself," Marilyn Charles turns to key ideas that have facilitated her own clinical work with difficult patients.  Concepts such as "container" and "contained," transitional space, projective identification, and transference/countertransference are introduced not as academic ideas, but as aspects of the therapeutic environment that elicit greater creativity and vitality on the therapist's part.  In Charles's skillful hands, the basic ideas of Klein, Winnicott, and Bion become newly comprehensible without losing depth and richness; they come to life in the fulcrum of daily clinical encounter.

Table of Contents

Foreword - Nancy McWilliams
1. Introduction
2. The Role of Theory
3. Myth: Models of Reality
4. Container and Contained
5. Symptoms: Marking the Spot
6. Klein's Paranoid Schizoid and Depressive Positions
7. Transitional Space and the Use of an Object
8. Projective Identification
9. Truth and Lies
10. Patterns
11. Patterns as Templates: Understanding Transference
12. Empathic Resonance: The Role of Countertransference
13. Play: Opening up the Space
14. Conclusion

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Marilyn Charles


"Learning from Experience goes to the heart of important psychoanalytic theories, integrating them with clinical material. Written beautifully and with feeling, it will help novice therapists to appreciate the opportunity for growth as well as service that our profession remarkably affords. The need for this book will be renewed with every new class of students. Surely it will become the classic it deserves to be." 

- Johanna Tabin, Ph.D., ABPP, Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis

"Marilyn Charles' lively and profound focus on the essential ingredients of the psychoanalytically based psychotherapeutic process provides the reader with an original approach to psychotherapeutic interventions.  She outlines a theory of technique from the viewpoint of the subjective processes activated in the therapist/patient interactions, and the therapist's transformation of this subjective containing" of this subjectivity into interpretive interventions.  Starting from a theoretical frame strongly influenced by the British psychoanalytic schools - particularly Bion and Winnicott, she successfully conveys to the reader the experiential aspects of the mechanism of projective identification, the patient's identification with hostile introjects in the transference, and the vicissitudes of countertransference containment and acting out.  Her clinical illustrations combine clarity with depth, and she convincingly stresses the need for therapist to tolerate uncertainty in the efforts to penetrate the unconscious layers of the mind. This book should be very helpful to all psychoanalytic therapists, a valuable counterpart to the more "impersonal" outlines of theory of psychoanalytic technique presently available." 

- Otto F. Kernberg, M.D., Director, Personality Disorders Institute

“Charles has crafted a book about psychotherapy that is as elegant and efficient as any haiku.  But it is more than mere Zen flesh and Zen bone.  It is Zen spirit and Zen soul, communicated with a clarity, compassion, and art rarely found in the professional literature today.”

- Jay Memmott, Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"Learning from Experience translates a range of complex psychotherapeutic concepts into a narrative useful to clinicians at virtually any point in their development. The book is simultaneously broad in scope and integrative in exposition, anchoring ideas to therapeutic action and illustrating concepts with clinical vignettes. Charles's 'teacher's text' has been a particularly useful addition to my supervisory book shelf."

- David Ramirez, Ph.D., ABPP, Director, Swarthmore College Psychological Services