Family Therapy beyond Postmodernism: Practice Challenges Theory

By Carmel Flaskas | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Further thoughts on the therapeutic relationship

In effect, the concluding paragraph of the last chapter becomes the introduction to this chapter, for the discussions of transference, countertransference and projective identification offer one way of understanding aspects of interactional patterns in the therapeutic relationship. This chapter will simply assume these discussions and move to a fuller consideration of the therapeutic relationship in the systemic context. Some themes already discussed will be further elaborated, other intersections will be made with analytic thinking, although in this chapter my central focus will be on developing themes which are emerging in the family therapy discussions. This is the last of the three chapters to draw on psychoanalytic ideas, and the synthesis of this work with my earlier investigation of postmodernism remains for the final conclusion.

After a long period of neglect, the therapeutic relationship has been more openly addressed in family therapy in recent years. There have been a number of discussions of the topic (see, for example, Pocock 1997; Reimers 2001; Rober 1999; and the collection edited by Flaskas and Perlesz 1996) and of the related topic of the therapist's use of self (Hardham 1996; Hildebrand and Speed 1995; Paterson 1996). However, there are also the beginning signs of a greater readiness to 'paint in' the therapist in family therapy discussions, and I think this reflects the ripples of postmodernism, and the extent to which narrative and social constructionist ideas have the capacity to lead to a greater awareness of the importance of the therapist in the therapeutic process and therapist-present practices. One sees this in Michael White's most recent book Narratives of therapists' lives (1997), and for example, in the way in which Harlene Anderson (1997), Lynn Hoffman (1993, 1998) and Kathy Weingarten (1998, 2000) all make themselves more visible in

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