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Keywords:

  • unconscious marital dynamics;
  • Chinese couples;
  • marital assessment;
  • social unconscious;
  • cultural differences;
  • countertransference

ABSTRACT

To illustrate the impact of culture on intimate relationships, we will describe couple therapy with a Chinese couple. This treatment was one element in our teaching for students, clinicians, and trainers in China, where we taught workshops in Object Relations Couple and Family Therapy and a continuous course in Psychoanalytic Couple Therapy at the invitation of Professor Shi Qijia at the Wuhan Hospital for Psychotherapy and Dr Fang Xin of Peking University in Beijing, respectively. Our hosts arranged for serial translation of our concepts, slides, videos, and group discussions – and of therapeutic consultations with various couples, to be observed live or on video feed to an audience of 70 mental health students, clinicians, and trainers. We taught our Chinese participants the Western view of relationships and unconscious dynamics. They taught us to understand couples’ verbal expressions, imagery, and culture.The couple we will present attended for a series of five couple therapy sessions. With Gao Jun, our translator, seated between us, and the couple across from us, we made a semicircle facing the audience and used microphones so that we could be heard. It was unfamiliar, somewhat uncomfortable for all of us, and the necessity for serial translation slowed down the treatment, but it provided some insight for the couple, a learning experience for the audience, and a powerful lesson about intimate relationships in China for us. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.