At the IPI weekend ‘Inside the Mind of the Child and the Parent” October 17-19, 2014, Vali Maduro and Janine Wanlass made an interesting distinction among our therapeutic approaches with adults, adolescents, and children. We adjust our approach to their manner of communicating unconscious conflict: Adults communicate in words and dreams; children communicate in play, and adolescents communicate in actions. Jill Scharff described the importance of working with couples as parents. We open a space for them to talk about their child, hear their complaints and disappointments, help them face their fears, and develop with them an emotional language with which they can think about and communicate with their child. Some of them may work in depth, seeing how they express the link to their own parents and to each other in the way that they parent their children, and learning how their difficulties as a couple tend to reflect unconscious aspects of their couple conflict.
To see us as separate beings with minds of our own, patients must have the capacity for mentalization. But they lose it temporarily in the course of therapy. Thus at times we are seen as real objects and at other times we become transference objects, misperceived in the light of forbidden fantasies, desires and affects, our neutrality hidden under a transference veil. It is the therapist’s abstinence that encourages thickening, of the transference veil. We want it to thicken so that we can see it clearly. Working with this transference over the course of treatment draws back the veil and allows the patient to see the analyst as a new object for use in the continuing development of the person.