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Marian – a clinical illustration

Example describes two contrasting experiences in psychotherapy.

Individual psychotherapy

     Marian was 24 when she sought individual therapy. A professional woman from a conservative family, she was struggling to come to terms with being homosexual. Her attempt to share this with her family was met with shock and disappointment.

     The psychotherapist was female and analytically trained.

     Therapist’s main approach was to interpret the patient’s rivalry towards her, particularly around relationships with men, the implication being that Marian’s homosexuality was a defence against anxieties associated with heterosexuality.  Marian found this invalidating of what she considered to be a deep-rooted and integral part of her.

     Her discomfort was exacerbated by her feeling attracted to the therapist physically and sexually. She wanted to be touched, held, stroked by the therapist. She was unable to tell the therapist about this for fear of rejection.

     The therapy reached an impasse. Marian felt in a double bind. She left therapy          after approx. three years.

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