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Bilingualism in therapy (Litmaer, 1999)

Saturday, December 8th, 2007 @ 11:04 pm
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Lijtmaer, R.M. (1999). Language Shift and Bilinguals: Transference and Countertransference implications. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 27:611-624.Abstract:

A bilingual female patient started a session in Spanish. She had been in therapy for a year, and previously English had been her language of choice. At first I was startled and did not know what made her switch to her first language. I wondered what had happened during the previous session to make her switch languages. I questioned her about it. The patient’s response was that remembering the childhood experience of not being heard by her mother (which she related half in English and half in Spanish), made her aware of all the things that she could tell me more emotionally (“from my guts”), in Spanish. She also became conscious of her cautiousness of using Spanish for fear I would not understand her. With this statement, the patient was cognizant of the emotional connotations of her first language and after some time, the transferential implications of her statement. Is this kind of interaction, language switching, a common occurrence in a bilingual analysis?

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