Working with Projective Identification in Couples

DON R. CATHERALL*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Couples therapists spend considerable time focused on the recurring patterns of anger and misunderstanding that occur in their sessions. These patterns usually represent projective identification sequences in which one partner disavows disturbing thoughts and feelings, and, instead, unconsciously induces similar thoughts and feelings in the other partner by behaving in such a way as to stimulate them. Conflict and misunderstanding surround the partners' shared efforts to avoid identifying with the undesirable thoughts and feelings. The underlying problem is each individual's inability to contain the disturbing material and provide holding for the other partner. This article offers a technique for interrupting the process and helping each partner to identify with and contain the disturbing material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
JournalFamily process
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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