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  • 1.
    Bimont, Diane
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Werbart, Andrzej
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.
    "I've got you under my skin": Relational therapists' experiences of patients who occupy their inner world2018In: Counselling Psychology Quarterly, ISSN 0951-5070, E-ISSN 1469-3674, Vol. 31, no 2, p. 243-268Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this study was to conduct an in-depth exploration of therapists' experiences of patients who affect them more than others and occupy their inner world beyond the context of therapy sessions. A phenomenological analysis was performed on semi-structured interviews with five relational therapists. All the therapists had a strong experience of a particular patient getting "under their skin". In all these cases, the patient was a traumatized woman. The distinctive characteristic of the phenomenon was a sense of blurred or too permeable boundaries between the therapist and the patient. This was associated with fear and anxiety, but also with feelings of love. The therapists' reactions to having a patient "under their skin" varied from resistance to symbiotic relatedness. The therapists' ideas of their professional role influenced how the experience of carrying the patient's suffering was interpreted. The phenomenon of the patient's presence in the therapist's representational world might be interpreted as a distinct countertransference phenomenon when working in a more "thin boundary" manner with particular cases. The therapists' ability to effectively manage their vulnerabilities, activated in the countertransference, seems to be crucial for therapeutic progress. Implications for research, clinical practice, and training are discussed.

  • 2.
    Wang, Mo
    et al.
    Karolinska Institutet.
    Werbart, Andrzej
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
    Not starting psychotherapy is more often initiated by the therapist than the patient2014In: Counselling Psychology Quarterly, ISSN 0951-5070, E-ISSN 1469-3674, Vol. 27, no 1, p. 75-95Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The phenomenon of not starting psychotherapy is seldom investigated. The present study of psychotherapy in the Swedish mental health services differentiates between patients applying for and being offered psychotherapy but choosing not to start (n = 69), patients recommended to receive no treatment, another type of treatment or treatment at another clinic (n = 133), and therapy starters (n = 1294). After the initial assessment, nearly twice as many patients did not start based on the therapist’s decision than on the patient’s. Cases of not starting psychotherapy decided by the therapist were more frequent among patients whose occupational status was less stable, presented a danger to others, had lower levels of initial therapeutic alliance, and by therapists with lower levels of psychotherapy training and those at less structured and more unstable clinics. Patients choosing not to start therapy had lower levels of mental ill-health than both starters and therapist-initiated nonstarters. The most frequently presented reason for a patient-initiated decision to not start therapy was “patient wished another treatment or therapist,” whereas the most common therapist-initiated reason was “recommended or referred to another treatment or clinic”.

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