Interpretation Viewed Through the Lens of Attachment-Informed Couple Psychotherapy
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Interpretation Viewed Through the Lens of Attachment-Informed Couple Psychotherapy

Interpretation Viewed Through the Lens of Attachment-Informed Couple Psychotherapy

Lectures from the Tavistock Model

With Christoper Clulow

Historically, the mutative power of psychoanalysis has been attributed to interpreting transference. The site of transformational change has been located in the patient-analyst relationship; the medium for bringing it about has been language: psychoanalysis as the ‘talking cure’.

There is much wrong with this formulation, not least for therapists whose ‘patient’ is the adult couple – itself constituting a powerful site for past conflicts to find a home. Moreover, psychoanalysts of all persuasions accept that fundamental assumptions about relationships are formed at an unconscious level before experience can be symbolised through language. 

John Bowlby’s theory of attachment has driven much research in developmental and social psychology, providing evidence for many psychoanalytic beliefs. It has also laid the foundations for subsequent theoretical and therapeutic developments that highlight the mutative potential of relationships in which both parties are involved in the mutual process of creating something new. This transformational capacity is not the preserve of any one therapeutic approach, but belongs in the realm of what have been described as the ‘non-specific’ factors that have accounted for change identified in many psychotherapy outcome studies.

This talk will consider some of these – if you like, the ‘mood music’ of psychotherapy – as part of the interpretative process that stems from, as much as results in, change. The talk will last for around 40 minutes, and there will then be the opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions.


Christopher Clulow
Interpretation Viewed Through the Lens of Attachment-Informed Couple Psychotherapy 

Historically, psychoanalysis has been credited for its transformative influence through interpreting transference within the patient-analyst relationship, employing language as the medium—the 'talking cure.' However, this framework poses challenges for therapists working with adult couples, where conflicts from the past resonate powerfully. Psychoanalysts recognise that foundational relationship assumptions form unconsciously before language symbolizes experiences. John Bowlby's attachment theory has fueled research, validating psychoanalytic principles and contributing to the understanding of transformative potential in relationships. This transformative capacity extends beyond specific therapeutic approaches, aligning with non-specific factors identified in psychotherapy outcome studies. This discussion explores these factors as integral to the interpretative process, shaping and resulting in therapeutic change.