Background/Goals: Mario, an eighteen year old patient, tells his therapist, “I like to talk with you because you ask me the right questions,” expressing the reasons for his interest in his own psychotherapy. What are “the right questions?”
Method: This paper explores the meaning of the questions that a psychoanalyst has to ask in his own mind and in the treatment dialogue to promote the subjectivation process of the adolescent. In it we describe some of the special features of the internal setting and mental attitude of the psychoanalyst working with adolescent patients in treatment. These features seem to be kindling in the adolescent’s mind a thinking process that is necessary to allow him or her to bear the mental suffering related to the developmental tasks and to the search for one’s own uniqueness. The achievement of one’s own subjectivity is often mingled with the acceptance of schematic and adaptive ways of escaping the mental suffering and the grief related to the individuation process.
Results: In our work with adolescent patients we think of ourselves as researchers, not pretending to deny or suspend our internal emotional reactions. We try to work through these reactions in our mind, in a countertransference sense, and to use them consciously, assuming a position of active partnership as co-producers and co-writers of a text waiting to be recognized and interpreted. In other words, we work beginning with the first session to create the relational situation in which the adolescent patient feels that we are working together on her/his own “right questions”.
Conclusions: We conclude that such an internal setting is deeply and meaningfully related to the work of the interpretation function in the psychotherapy with adolescent patients.