Desire and the Female Therapist: Engendered Gazes in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy

Desire and the Female Therapist: Engendered Gazes in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy

Desire and the Female Therapist: Engendered Gazes in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy

Desire and the Female Therapist: Engendered Gazes in Psychotherapy and Art Therapy


b /b b i Desire and the Female Therapist /i /b is an exploration of desire in the transference and countertransference in clinical practice, particularly the erotic transference experienced between the female therapist and the male client. While this transference is frequently understood as a maternal response to the infantile origins of the transference, author Joy Schaverien acknowledges that adult sexual feelings are often central in the dynamic as well. If these feelings are left unacknowledged, there is potential for unconscious acting out and resulting sexual abuse. br br The countertransference effects of the meeting of gazes of artist/picture/therapist are investigated, drawing on psychoanalytic and aesthetic theory, particularly Lacan, Winnicott and Jung. This leads to a significant new approach to pictures in therapy through the development of the "aesthetic countertransference." Richly illustrated with pictures, as well as clinical vignettes, b /b b i Desire and the Female Therapist /i /b follows on from Schaverien's innovative book i The Revealing Image. /i It connects psychotherapy and art therapy theory and offers a new contribution to both.


The two main threads which run throughout this book are desire and the gaze. The book is an investigation of the erotic transference and countertransference explored through the female therapist/male patient dyad and through the aesthetic effects of desire, made visible, in art objects in analytical forms of art psychotherapy.

The book builds on ideas first developed in The Revealing Image (Schaverien 1991); this offered a new theoretical approach to considerations of art in analysis and psychotherapy as well as art therapy. In it I introduced the term analytical art psychotherapy and analysed the central role of art objects in the transference and countertransference relationship in clinical practice. Desire and the Female Therapist is intended as a further bridge between the disciplines of psychotherapy and art therapy. The interplay between these is constant throughout; in some chapters the main discussion is based on my present psychotherapy practice whilst, in others, it is developed from art therapy experience in psychiatry. I hope that there is a useful cross-over between these different experiences and that the links between the psychological states discussed transcend any particular therapeutic setting.

The desire of the female therapist is present throughout the book although not always explicitly. To some degree I have written about my own desire as therapist, client and artist, but the implications are wider than this would seem to imply. Beginning from my own experience, I have researched widely and attempted to demonstrate that the erotic is an essential element in the appreciation of art, as well as in psychotherapy. The emergence of eros, which is generated in the transference in psychotherapy or in relation to pictures, is purposeful. It is a sign of life and a move towards individuation for therapist as well as client. Many before me have indicated that it is the therapist's desire which comes first; in this sense we start from the countertransference.

Thus, as a way of introduction, it seems relevant to offer a little of my own background. I trained as an artist at the Slade, and then some years later became an art therapist. I worked as an art therapist in a number of

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