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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Aug 8, 2021

A decade ago I started to tell my colleagues that there is something big here in the therapeutic room and if we don’t talk about it in the room and in supervision there’s something we are missing here. We are not talking just about two people who can speak only on the humanistic level - just to be human one to the other or a good object one to the other. We have to talk about what is going on outside and how every one of us in this therapeutic dyad is coming from a threatening group to the other.  


Episode Description: We begin by appreciating how ethnic affiliations have a presence in the therapeutic encounter. Whether therapist/patient cultural allegiances are manifestly similar or different, when the therapeutic space allows for exploration internal meaning can be revealed. These possibilities become fraught when the external representations of these ethnicities are at actual war. Dr. Srour describes working through his countertransference struggles which he felt was essential in coming to empathize with the internal experiences of his Jewish patients. He characterizes this as 'political countertransference' and feels that the freedom to speak of outside realities in the treatment dyad is an essential aspect of a deepening psychotherapy. 


Our Guest: Dr. Roney Srour, a Palestinian-Israeli clinical and educational psychologist is married and the father of 2 sons who lives in Haifa and works as a clinical psychologist in the Israeli Ministry of Health and in private practice. Dr. Srour teaches and researches “psychodynamic psychotherapy with cultural and political competence” at the University of Haifa and is a lecturer and supervisor in two post-graduate programs of psychotherapy. He is an activist in the field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 


Recommended Readings: 

Gorkin, M. (1986). Counter-Transference in Cross-Cultural Psychotherapy: The Example of Jewish Therapist and Arab Patient. Psychiatry, 49, 69-79. 



Srour, R. (2015) Transference and Countertransference Issues During Times of Violent Political Conflict: The Arab Therapist-Jewish Patient Dyad, Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(1). 



Baum, N. (2011). Issues in Psychotherapy with Clients Affiliated with the Opposing Side in a Violent Political Conflict. Clinical Social Work Journal, 39, 91-100. 



Altman, N. (2000). Black and White Thinking: A Psychoanalyst Reconsiders Race.  Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(4), 589-605. 



Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun Lynne Rienner Publishers 1999