Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Blank Screen Meets the Internet: How Psychoanalysts Conceptualize the Use of Internet Searches in Professional Practice

Chaya Rubin, School of Psychology

Psychoanalytic psychologists recognize various elements involving both the stance of the analyst in practice and the maintenance of specific boundaries in the treatment as critical to psychoanalytic technique. However, as a result of the widespread engagement with the Internet over the past decade, new means of obtaining information about a patient (as well as a psychoanalyst) are now available that challenge the traditional psychoanalytic conceptualization of boundaries and of the therapeutic frame. The purpose of this study was to explore how psychoanalysts conceptualize the influence of the Internet in clinical practice and to consider whether psychoanalysts recognize Internet use as an intrusion into the psychoanalytic situation when it is employed by either patient or psychoanalyst, or if they indeed create space for this medium in their work. Using an interpretive phenomenological approach, the views of 13 participant psychoanalysts in practice are presented. Results reveal significant variability and diversity in the way the challenges are viewed and managed, indicating the importance of opening a field-wide dialogue on the subject. This study further argues for a psychoanalytic approach toward such discussion that will encourage and accept the presentation of multiple perspectives.

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