The Case of Yael by Louis Breger, Ph.D.
Some psychoanalytically-oriented therapists would undoubtedly propose that the transferential (and counter-transferential) issues were never fully resolved in this case. They would probably also suggest that Lou’s disclosure (about his divorce) and his providing gifts to Yael (e.g. the CD of music they both liked) reduced the chances of a successful resolution of the transferential relationship. They would suggest that boundaries had been violated (or at least stretched) and would offer as evidence Yael’s invitation to Lou that he and his wife might attend her son’s bar mitzvah.
Is there an inevitable tension between those psychoanalytically-oriented therapists who support an inter-subjective perspective and those who subscribe to a model of transference and countertransference. The traditional model seems embedded in an assumption of only two parties engaged in the therapeutic process. Each party holds a unique perception of and reaction to this process based on their own past (often infantile) experiences. Conversely, the inter-subjective perspective would seem to require that the transference and counter-transference never be fully resolved–because these perceptions and emotional reactions are embedded not just in the two individual psyches, but also in the third party (the relationship). There is nothing inherently pathological about a rich, complex and sustained relationship — be it forged in a therapeutic engagement or continuously enacted in a friendship or enduring intimate relationship.
Social Neurobiology and the Therapeutic Process
From a social neurobiological perspective, we can ask what is doing on in Yael’s brain and body during the therapy sessions. Given what we are beginning to understand the brain and body’s reactions to intense social interactions, we can now ask: what are the possible physical dynamics operating in Yael’s brain and body during the therapy sessions (and perhaps what is happening in Lou’s brain and body at the same time)?