Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 78 Issue 4 (December 2005), Pages 331-569

Ripley's Game: Projective identification, emotional engagement, and the counselling psychologist (pages 449-464)

Counselling psychology's dual emphasis on the use of the self as both vehicle of therapeutic change and legitimate focus of inquiry and research is one of the features by which the profession may be distinguished from related fields such as clinical psychology or psychotherapy. This paper discusses the relevance of the psychoanalytic concept of projective identification in understanding the extent, nature and subtlety of the ways in which the therapist's ‘self’ and emotions may be deployed within the therapeutic relationship. Illustrated with reference to the film ‘Ripley's Game’ and a clinical case vignette, Searles's (1978) advocacy of ‘a richness of emotional participation’ within clinical work is discussed in relation to the pluralist philosophy of counselling psychology; implications for the training and personal development of counselling psychologists are also briefly explored.

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