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Clinical issues in analyses over the telephone and the internet

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Abstract

There is professional consensus that teleanalysis, the practice of psychoanalysis conducted remotely using the telephone and the Internet, is increasing in response to more mobility in the population. But there is controversy as to whether the use of technology leads to a dilution of analysis or to adaptive innovation that is clinically effective and true to the tenets of psychoanalysis. The author reviews the psychoanalytic literature and shows the development of analytic thinking about this technology-assisted practice of psychoanalysis. She summarizes analysts’ perceptions and experiences of the advantages and disadvantages, and considers the indications and contra-indications. She focuses on the clinical concerns that arise in terms of the frame, resistance, and the development of analytic process through the unconscious communication of internal objects, unconscious fantasy, transference and countertransference. She gives vignettes from the analysis of a man with trauma-related depression to address the concerns raised and to support her argument that analysis using the telephone and the Internet is a viable, clinically effective alternative to traditional analysis where necessary.

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