Psychodynamic therapists' perceptions of uncharacteristic clinical moments

Kristin Blaisdell Webb (1999)

This is an exploratory study of those clinical moments with a specific adult patient within an individual psychotherapy hour in which psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists report that something uncharacteristic took place. The research question of this investigation is: Are there conditions common to such extraordinary events? First, the idea is presented that, in psychotherapy, patient and therapist are mutually influenced in specific ways. Following the Preface is a targeted review of the psychodynamic literature and infant research literature, with specific attention paid to mutuality and disruption-repair. Each of these ideas is introduced as one possible way of conceptualizing uncharacteristic clinical moments. The rationale for a qualitative, phenomenological research project is offered. A methodology and means of analyzing the data gathered are detailed. Results indicating that uncharacteristic clinical moments do appear to have conditions in common are presented. In addition, therapists' ways of languaging such anomalies, demographic characteristics of the subjects, and their relationship to the conditions elicited are examined, and suggestions for further research are outlined.