Closeness and distance dynamics in the therapeutic relationship

Hadas Wiseman, Dana Atzil-Slonim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter draws on attachment theory and contemporary relational psychoanalytic concepts in order to shed light on the dynamics of closeness versus distance in the development of the therapeutic relationship in psychodynamic psychotherapy. It addresses the issue of the subjective sense of closeness and distance in the relationship during the course of therapy as depicted in relational narratives and how it relates to therapist's and patient's attachment styles. In the clinical case that the authors analyze, they focus on the encounter between a client and her therapist, in which at the beginning of treatment, when one party tended to use deactivating strategies, the other party tended to use hyperactivating strategies, without being aware of the opposite pole within herself. The authors examine the interplay between the relational processes of the client and the therapist and shifts in closeness and distance as key for the development of a therapeutic relationship. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping the therapeutic relationship
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating case studies, research, and practice
EditorsO. Tishby, H. Wiseman
Place of PublicationWashington DC
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association Inc.
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)1-4338-2931-2, 978-1-4338-2931-4
ISBN (Print)1-4338-2922-3, 978-1-4338-2922-2
StatePublished - 2018


  • *Attachment Theory
  • *Psychoanalytic Theory
  • *Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes


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