Following Freud, the spoken word has a privileged place in the ‘talking cure’ but, increasingly the importance of emotional and unspoken aspects of communication have been theorised. In this paper, I explore the role of the spoken and unspoken elements in making an interpretation. I use clinical material from a woman who self-harmed to illustrate that the analyst’s relationship to her own emotional resonances played a significant role in determining the therapeutic action and the outcome of interpretive interventions. I suggest that a pre-condition of a sufficiently effective interpretation is the integration of the iconic/indexical and symbolic identificatory elements of the dyadic
interaction in the mind of the analyst.