Dec. 6, 2017    ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING followed by: Encounter at the boundary     

            Gemma Marangoni Ainslie, PhD

            Private practice, Austin, TX    1.5 CE/CME/CEU/PDs (Clinical)

The boundaries around therapeutic dyads are constituted by factors on a continuum from external to the dyad to internal to each of its members. In addition to what is communicated consciously, even directly about the therapeutic frame, patients also inevitably discern the limits, the perimeter, of the treatment via information that is not consciously offered. In the case I will describe, the patient encountered information about me on the internet and withheld this knowledge from me. When this was communicated, it both shed light on a particularly overarching transference dynamic and also led to the uncovering of meanings related to what he “knew” about me, what he imagined, how he had “found out,” and his concerns about and history with “illicit” knowing. The presentation will focus primarily on clinical material, including some “verbatim” excerpts from the treatment.  In addition, I will define what I refer to as boundary “encounters.”  A particular focus will be the psychoanalytic appreciation of process in understanding how, when, and with what motivations boundaries in the treatment dyad are approached, encountered, and sometimes breached.  In the process of inviting our patients to form and elaborate images of us that become apparent, indeed palpable, within the treatment, psychoanalytic clinicians understand that both content and process are meaning-laden, and that it is the therapeutic dyad’s joint endeavor to explore the boundary encounters as an instance of concerns and theories constructed in the patient’s life prior and external to the treatment, and heightened by the analytic milieu.

Gemma Marangoni Ainslie, PhD is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Austin, TX. Dr. Ainslie is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Ainslie completed her psychoanalytic training at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston, TX, where she is current faculty.

Learning Objectives:  At the end of the presentation, participants will be able to:

      Describe how boundaries in psychotherapy are on a continuum.

      Describe at least two different ways of considering the meaning of patient access of online information about therapist


Goldberg, A. (2008). Some limits on the boundary concept. Psychoanal Q., 77(3):861-875.

Tarnower, W. (1966). Extra-analytic contacts between the psychoanalyst and the patient. Psychoanal Q., 35:399-413.

Weiss, S.S. (1975). The effect on the transference of ‘Special events’ occurring during psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:69-75. 

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