Projective identification as a form of communication in the therapeutic relationship: A case study
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This dissertation reviews the construct of projective identification and the ways in which it is used as a powerful form of communication by the patient within the therapeutic relationship. The particular model of projective identification explored in this dissertation is that of Bion (1962)_ who, through his model of containment, brought the subtle interactive processes between the mother and infant into the foreground. This has been used as a metaphor for the therapeutic relationship. Some of the theoretical constructs central to an understanding of projective identification are introduced and discussed. Clinical case material from psychodynamic child psychotherapy is used in an attempt to illustrate the patient's use of and therapist's experience of projective identification. The method used is the single case study and material is drawn from 14 sessions. Through an analysis of the therapist's experiences in the countertransference, with the help of ongoing supervision and personal psychotherapy, it is shown that patient's induce feelings and experiences in the therapist in an attempt to communicate aspects of their internal worlds. Self reflection and retrospective analysis has been highlighted with the hope that this may be useful to future neophyte psychotherapists working psychodynamically.