Jacqueline Marks, Coram Chambers
This article explores through the lens of a psychodynamic framework how we, as family lawyers, relate to our clients. By using an analogy of the solicitor/client and therapist/patient relationship it considers parallels between the legal setting and the therapeutic setting. It considers key psychodynamic concepts such as the unconscious, free association, the id, the ego and the superego and the use of defences against anxiety and how these are reflected within the process of family litigation.
Psychoanalysis sees conflict as intrinsic to mental life. Attrition is inherent in family litigation, and the article considers the impact this has on the relationship between solicitor and client where unconscious feelings are evoked and transferred from one to the other. It reminds family lawyers to distinguish between what painful feelings belong to their client and what belong to themselves.
The article hopes to provide another tool in the family law setting to help us to provide a containing environment in our emotionally challenging cases where clients almost invariably have to deal with loss and be prepared to relinquish relationships and let go of the past.
The full article will be published in the December issue of Family Law.