The Therapist as a Person

Life Crises, Life Choices, Life Experiences, and Their Effects on Treatment

Edited by Barbara Gerson

© 2001 – Routledge

326 pages

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Paperback: 9780881633573
pub: 2001-07-01
US Dollars$52.95

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About the Book

In this collection of powerfully illuminating and often poignant essays, contributors candidly discuss the impact of central life crises and identity concerns on their work as therapists. With chapters focusing on identity concerns associated with the body-self (body size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age), urgent life crises, and defining life circumstances, The Therapist as a Person exemplifies the myriad ways in which the therapist's subjectivity shapes his or her interaction with patients. Included in the collection are life events rarely if ever dealt with in the literature: the death of family members, late pregnancy loss, divorce, the failure of the therapist's own therapy, infertility and childlessness, the decision to adopt a child, and the parenting of a profoundly deaf child.


"We are indebted to the authors of these stirring essays for sharing with us their particular, courageous struggles to alloy profoundly personal experiences with their deep commitment as therapists to their patients' well-being and development."

- Irwin Z. Hoffman, Ph.D., Author, Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process (Analytic Press, 2001)

"I found it an enormously moving and inspiring book. The contributors communicate cogently -- in action, by example--so much that we have been struggling to talk about in the psychoanalytic literature. They deserve our congratulations and gratitude."

- Owen Renik, M.D., San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute

Table of Contents

Introduction - Barbara Gerson

I. Current Life Crises of Therapists

1. Death of a Psychoanalyst's Child - Barbara Chasen

2. More Human than Otherwise: Working Through a Time of Preoccupation and Mourning - Eric M. Mendelsohn

3. Trauma and Disruption in the Life of the Analyst: Enforced Disclosure and Disequilibrium in "The Analytic Instrument" - Andrew P. Morrison

4. An Analyst's Pregnancy Loss and Its Effects on Treatment: Disruption and Growth - Barbara Gerson

5. Reflections of a Childless Analyst - Lynn Leibowitz

6. Chloe by the Afternoon: Relational Configurations, Identificatory Processes, and the Organization of Clinical Experiences in Unusual Circumstances - Michael A. Civin and Karen L. Lombardi

7. The Ongoing, Mostly Happy "Crisis" of Parenthood and Its Effect on the Therapist's Clinical Work - Claire Basescu

8. Thank You for Jenny - Jesse D. Geller

9. When the Therapist Divorces - Peter J. Schlachet

10. The Impact of Negative Experiences as a Patient on My Work as a Therapist - Sue N. Elkind

II. Childhood Life Crises and Identity Concerns of Therapists

11. The Effects of Sexual Trauma on the Self in Clinical Work - B. F. Stevens

12. The Loss of My Father in Adolescence: Its Impact on My Work as a Therapist - Susan C. Warshaw

13. Psychoanalysis In and Out of the Closet - Mark J. Blechner

14. Different Strokes, Different Folks: Meanings of Difference, Meaningful Differences - Naomi Rucker

15. The Therapist's Body in Reality and Fantasy: A Perspective from an Overweight Therapist - Jane B. Burka

16. Working as an Elder Analyst - Helen May Strauss

Afterword - Stephen A. Mitchell

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Interpersonal Relations
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General