1st Edition

The Theory and Practice of Psychoanalytic Therapy
Listening for the Subtext

ISBN 9781138364356
Published October 7, 2019 by Routledge
270 Pages

USD $42.95

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Book Description

The Theory and Practice of Psychoanalytic Therapy: Listening for the Subtext outlines the core concepts that frame the reciprocal encounter between psychoanalytic therapist and patient, taking the reader into the psychoanalytic therapy room and giving detailed examples of how the interaction between patient and therapist takes place.

The book argues that the therapist must capture both nonverbal affects and unsymbolized experiences, proposing a distinction between structuralized and actualized affects, and covering key topics such as transference, countertransference and enactment. It emphasizes the unconscious meaning in the here-and-now, as well as the need for affirmation to support more classical styles of intervention. The book integrates object relational and structural perspectives, in a theoretical position called relational oriented character analysis. It argues the patient’s ways-of-being constitute relational strategies carrying implicit messages – a "subtext" – and provides detailed examples of how to capture this underlying dialogue.

Packed with detailed clinical examples and displaying a unique interplay between clinical observation and theory, this wide-ranging book will appeal to psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and clinical psychologists in practice and in training.

Table of Contents


Preface to revised edition


Part I Theoretical foundation

Chapter 1 Key concepts

Chapter 2 Epistemological questions

Part II The Clinic

Chapter 3 A model

Chapter 4 The frame

Chapter 5 The psychoanalytic space

Chapter 6 Therapeutic listening

Chapter 7 The affective quality

Chapter 8 Egofunctioning

Chapter 9 Dynamics

Chapter 10 The analytic attitude

Chapter 11 The therapist's interventions

Chapter 12 Clinical moves

Chapter 13 The end of the road

Chapter 14 On the curative

Chapter 15 On validation



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Siri Erika Gullestad, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway, is a practising psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, and an experienced teacher and supervisor.

Bjørn Killingmo, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway, was a practising psychoanalyst and psychotherapist for many years, and an experienced teacher and supervisor.


"There is the old saying about not really understanding something until you have taught it to someone else. The two authors, in this innovative psychoanalytic textbook, provide an in depth analysis of foundational psychoanalytic ideas followed by an original systematisation of complex clinical concepts. The book offers deep insight into the theory and practice of an open-minded modern psychoanalysis as well as its epistemological foundations. In a unique way, Siri Gullestad and Bjørn Killingmo, university professors and internationally renowned psychoanalysts, also open a window into the concrete practice of psychoanalysts, directly quoting verbatim dialogues from psychoanalytic therapies. This is certainly an extraordinary book!" – Professor Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, University of Kassel, IDeA Excellency Center in Frankfurt and the University of Mainz, Training Analyst of the German Psychoanalytical Association

"This book brings us to the core of clinical experience: how to listen to the latent content of our patients’ communications and how to make timely interventions that reach deep emotional experiences. Making difficult clinical situations comprehensible it is a textbook that works as a reference book for all psychotherapists. The book provides updated knowledge on advances in psychoanalysis as well as in research on psychoanalysis. It brings profound clinical insights and make psychoanalytic theory clinically useful. This book will be ideal for any training program in psychoanalytic psychotherapy." –Professor Sverre Varvin, Oslo Metropolitan University, Training Analyst and past president of the Norwegian Psychoanalytic Society

"In this book the authors draw attention to an important aspect of the psychoanalytic dialogue, the Subtext. The therapist listens not only to the content but also to the form of the patient’s speech – to intonation, mimics and ways-of-being. The book provides detailed examples of how to capture this underlying dialogue, and provide at the same time the theoretical foundation for the therapist’s interventions. A distinguishing feature of the book is the interplay between clinical observation and theory. The book is of interest for a wide audience, for university students, psychoanalytic candidates as well as teachers and practicing psychoanalysts." –Susanne Lunn, Senior Researcher at the University of Copenhagen and former president of the Danish Psychoanalytic Society