Counselling an Elderly Man Who Could Not Talk

  • Paul Terry
Part of the Basic Texts in Counselling and Psychotherapy book series (BTCP)


Valerie Sinason has written of long-term psychotherapy with a severely handicapped young woman called Maureen who had no speech (Sinason, 1992). It is a marvellous piece which inspired me to undertake the work reported in this chapter. Sinason described her work with Maureen as ‘finding meaning without words’ and explained that ‘It is precisely the weight of meaning behind every gesture that we can find unbearable’ (1992, p. 223). She draws attention to a particular method in working with patients with no speech, little symbolic play or other means of communication: ‘It means working far more with the counter-transference feelings and checking them out by the response of the patient. These intuitive responses are clearly honed and deepened by training, [personal] analysis and supervision’ (p. 251).


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© Paul Terry 1997

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  • Paul Terry

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