1st Edition

What is This Thing Called Love?
A Guide to Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Couples

ISBN 9780415433846
Published August 29, 2007 by Routledge
176 Pages

USD $39.95

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Book Description

What is This Thing Called Love? provides a clear how-to guide for carrying out psychotherapy with couples from a psychoanalytic perspective. The book draws on both early and contemporary psychoanalytic knowledge, explaining how each theory described is useful in formulating couple dynamics and in working with them. The result is an extremely practical approach, with detailed step-by-step instructions on technique, illuminated throughout by vivid case studies.

The book focuses on several key areas including:

  • An initial discussion about theories of love.
  • Progression of therapy from beginning to termination.
  • Transference and countertransference and their unique manifestations in couples therapy.
  • Comparisons between couples therapy and individual therapy.
  • Step-by-step instruction on technique.

What is This Thing Called Love? is enlivened with humour and humanness. It is crucial reading for psychoanalytic therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, couples therapists and students who want to learn about--or augment their skills in--this challenging modality.

Table of Contents

Introduction. The Psychoanalytic Perspective.  Getting Started: The First Three Sessions.  Interlude: On Love. The Ongoing Therapy: Technique.  Transference. Countertransference. Denouement: Working Through and Termination. References.

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Sarah Fels Usher is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Toronto.  She is the President of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society, founding director of the Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program and a faculty member of the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis. Her first book, Introduction to Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Technique, is a psychotherapy guide for students and beginning therapists.  Sarah Usher is also book editor of the Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis.


"This book is an important contribution that will help these clinicians develop the skills necessary to work with troubled marriages. Numerous clinical case presentations bring this work to life, clearly illustrating each phase of treatment." -  Lewis Aron, Director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, USA

"... this is a valuable book. There is a dearth of good introductory texts in the field, and despite the omissions and questions that I have highlighted, I would recommend it to clinicians who are new to the area and wish to have a helpful, practical guide alongside them as they begin the arduous but rewarding discipline of working with couples. Reading this book will, I believe, both help them to think, and stimulate further questions, as it did for me, about the complex but fascinating clinical situation of couple psychotherapy." - Andrew Balfour, Journal of Family Therapy, Vol. 31, 2009