A psychotherapeutic exploration of working with people with dementia: The therapeutic encounter and auxiliary ego - An object relations perspective

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Sullivan, Patricia
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Dementia is increasingly prevalent nationally and globally and is no longer a disease exclusively of old age. In terms of its management medical discourse is preeminent and this dissertation seeks to demonstrate that a psychotherapeutic approach is equally valid within the healthcare paradigm. Understanding early developmental processes from an object relations perspective, in terms of the impact on the prototype of the person, and the well established notion that there are analogies between feelings and experiences from early life with those that remerge in later life, - and increasingly so in dementia as cognition deteriorates, forms the kernel of this psychotherapeutic exploration of working with people with dementia. Of relevance are the unconscious processes which influence behaviour in this client group which inevitably emerge in the therapeutic encounter where the therapist can act as an auxiliary ego to manage the feeling states of the individual. Therapeutic techniques such as Holding and Containing are integral to the psychotherapeutic management of these unconscious processes.