Saying the unsayable
For the past thirty-five years I've been studying and teaching the intricacies of the kind of relatedness that deepens inner life - making the unsayable, sayable; the unbearable, bearable; and the unimaginable, possible. Beginning as two strangers, meeting as little as once or twice a week, a complex web of caring connectedness is developed. There are opportunities for new life to emerge. This unique kind of intimate partnership is surprising and unpredictable, yet grounded, I believe, in skillful, thoughtful spontaneity.
What Makes Psychotherapy Work?
Before we consider this question we have to ask what we mean by "work." Although each therapist might answer that question differently, most of us probably recognize the same kind of moments as instances of "working." Something in the patient and the therapist comes alive. There is a sense of meaning, movement and unfolding, of "going somewhere." We can usually feel in these moments that together we are on a path of opening and deepening. We are making emotional sense.
From my perspective, therapeutic "working" is generated in a particular unique kind of relationship, one that is heartfelt and spontaneous as well as mindfully intentional. Both partners find their way together into the meeting places where words can open to the life struggles and strivings that underlie the issues that are being explored. The therapist has a special role here of seeking and invoking the inner life of the patient, of meeting the client on the delicate edge of a meaning-making encounter.
I call my approach Focusing-Oriented Relational Psychotherapy (FORP). It's an integration of Gendlin's experiential focusing approach along with new relational psychoanalytic understandings. Gendlin's focusing approach – which sheds light on the bodily felt meanings of the moment-to-moment therapeutic interaction – brings depth, vitality and momentum to the process. Relational Psychoanalytic theory guides and illuminates the complex healing partnership.