Here is the paper I presented at the Christchurch AANZPA conference 2015:
Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals [Kindle Edition] Del Loewenthal (Editor), Andrew Samuels (Editor)
In the light of the last post I’m keen to read this book and pleased its in Kindle format. The image on the cover is evocative! It shows well the potential for psychotherapy to create ambivalence in a relationship.
They seem fine. I’m surprised these branches of the tree are even needed – I would have thought that psychoanalysis and T.A. Were already “relational” in this way, i.e. Valuing of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Understanding attachment and early relationships as primary. Apparently not.
However I realise I’m in a different school altogether. One that see the relationship as the therapy, but not only the relationship with the therapist but the relationship people have with each other out there in the world. The marriage or committed loving relationship is the dominant one. I’ve come to understand that, especially in individual therapy, the relationship with the therapist can undermine the potential of the committed loving relationship with a partner. If there is no such relationship then the relationship with the therapist can be a surrogate, or if possible a way of facilitating the search for a mate. The rest of the time the therapist is there to facilitate the consciousness that will enable a committed loving relationship to be therapeutic. They are not naturally so – though they have a natural propensity to be so.
With this relational paradigm more and more fully grasped of late I see that psychodrama has something of this philosophy well developed. Moreno speaks a lot of “in situ”. I think of that as working with the actual here and now relationships in a group.
Psychodrama does not require a theatrical setting, a frequent misunderstanding; it is done in situ – that is, wherever the subject is found.
Who Shall Survive? (1978) P86
However Moreno is not clear on this – Later in the same book he speaks again of therapy in situ
… it can take an immediate form, in situ, that is, in the course of all activities in which the individuals are en- gaged, in the home, in school, at work, for instance the handicraft shop, steam laundry, carpentry shop, department store, etc . The situations of living and working are at the same time used as therapeutic settings. We have found, however, that the analytic and activistic forms of group psychotherapy are not applicable to the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group; they require the application of deep action methods in the form of psychodrama. But they are applicable to social problems of the group in a setting in which, during the treatment, the group is artificially cut off from the community as if the rest of the community were non-existent and as if the influence coming from it could be disregarded.
He comes close to a relational paradigm, and then moves away for “the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group” to theatre where psychodrama clearly becomes treatment of or via a protagonist. Yet he stays close, because as we know, … the protagonist is a protagonist for the group. (ref?)
The idea that the relationship itself can be the source and vehicle for growth and healing, is not explicit in psychodrama – it is there in most psychotherapy, but only in the relationship between the client and the therapist. Yet this idea that the protagonist is working for the group can be translated to the protagonist working for the relationship. That helps!
The relational paradigm is still to have its major impact, like any paradigm shift it is hard to get from the perspective of the old space.
Imago dialogue is one technique for activating relational healing, one that is easy to teach to clients. However I think T.A. Has the potential for that, Marshall Rosenberg NVC, and psychodrama does as well… Concretisation, role reversal, mirroring and doubling are potent methods. Psychodrama is not so easy without a director. How make the method easily accessible is what I’m working on all the time.
So much on my mind – I can’t keep up with it!
Books to read on relationships – “Marriage is the medium”
I have been reflecting on the role of evolution in relationships.
I doubt that marriage was somehow hard wired or ‘natural’ yet what is our pairing history?
I have a hypothesis:
We became human through a process of evolutionary development where we gained an advantage of walking upright, liberating the hands, developing language, having a bigger brain. Some of these processes or all of them, involved us being born as more vulnerable infantile creatures than other mamals. We are born at what in other primates might be a more juvenile stage. This means that the parents play an important role in development and grandparents do too. Hence we live beyond our reproductive life. The group has a collective memory and redundancy in its nurturing capacity.
Psychologically this can all go haywire, evolution did not provide a fool proof post-natal environment. In fact it may be that what does not kill us makes us stronger psychologically. We have wounds and seek out souses that offer the possibility for pay healing. It may be that the fear of change leads us to seek out partners that confirm our familiar view of the world and ourselves and reinforce it. Or there may be strong out-of-awareness mechanisms that can see the healing opportunity. But for some reason pair-bonds evolve that have the potential for re-living and then repairing attachment wounds.
Some of this may happen while the partners are young, though I imagine it was more likely in the grand-parent phase of life. It may not have happened a lot, but if a tribe had sufficient elders who were somewhat psychologically head it would lead to significant advantages for the group. Hence the evolution of cultural taboos against divorce and incentives for staying together.
Whatever the reason for the power of hanging-on in a relationship, there is a process of healing that is possible if there is guidance and consciousness. This healing does not happen if at the point of difficulty in the relationship partners just move on. By staying in the relationship, and becoming conscious the marriage becomes a healing space just like a therapeutic relationship. Marriage becomes an alchemical crucible, where stages of transformation can be facilitated by conscious attention. The evolutionary basis is there but we also have reason and consciousness and we have developed capacity for depth and loving relationships. This cultural evolution can happen much faster than physical changes.
There are plenty of other, less benign forces at work such as inheritance of wealth and bonding families and tribes, however the healing potential of relationships is also there. Very recently (slowly) we as humans may be ridding ourselves of sexist elements of marriage such as ownership of women by men and becoming more conscious of the healing potential.
With this hypothesis to sharpen and examine I have a pile of books to read on my kindle:
Robert Bigelow was my teacher in 1969 at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. I was deeply influenced by his teaching. It seemed like we were getting genetics 101, but I now see that his insights were very rare, and they did not get a good grip on the orthodoxies. Sone of the details may be wrong or dated – the overall hypothesis makes sense and makes his book a worthy candidate for Peace Studies.
Time I read it again – not on the kindle unfortunately.
Then a couple by Stephanie Coontz (she is mentioned in an earlier post relevant to this discussion) here :
Diane Wolfthal Images of Rape
This book is on my list because I’m exploring the relational paradigm. Archetypes of Relational Space? What comes up is that marriage is a medium. This might be relevant?
I can get the paper version here for 1c But I want a digital one… And that is here on Google
There is a lovely video of Paul Levinson on Amazon
While on the journey I downloaded a sample of another book, this one looks like fun. The Plot to Save Socrates
(Thanks Brian for pointers)
Heard about this on Shrink Rap Radio where Dr Dave interviews the author/editor Mark Winborn. Worth listening to.
I had to get the book, it is a sort of meditation on the nature of the relational space. It focusses on therapy, but this would be so relevant for those of us who consider that the marriage is the therapy.
I like the look of this book.
Have looked inside on Amazon. I’ll get it one day. Have a few more on my plate right now.
Brain pickings has more its no 10 on the list.
One of the books that gripped me and introduced me to Archetypal Psychology was Ginette Paris’ Pagan Grace (Seem to not have a post about that book — maybe soon?) – I loved it and it was like clicking a hyperlink into a new world. So happy today to have a newish book as a sample on the kindle.