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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Some Countertransference and Technical Challenges in Working with Divorcing Adults

Joshua Ehrlich, Ph.D.

Discussant: TBD

April 25, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 PM
Ann Arbor

Practice Gap/Need and Course Description
Working with divorced and divorcing adults presents real emotional challenges for therapists, although these are rarely addressed in the literature. Therapists need to help these patients with often overwhelming experiences of loss, but can easily lose their way. Using two case examples, this presentation will illuminate how therapists are vulnerable to aligning with their patients’ defenses, which interferes with helping them through a critical mourning process. The paper also will examine the dynamics of the high-conflict divorce, including its disturbing effects on therapists.

Following the presentation, attendees will be able to:
1. Describe the defenses that divorcing adults use to manage painful affects
2. Discuss how these defenses lead to countertransferential difficulties that can undermine the therapist’s task
3. Characterize the dynamics of the high-conflict divorce and how these relate to divorce more generally

About the presenter: Joshua Ehrlich, Ph.D. practices in Ann Arbor. His book, Divorce and Loss: Helping Adults and Children Mourn When a Marriage Comes Apart, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in May 2014.