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Why the idea of allowing ourselves to be constructed by the client’s unconscious is a necessary ingredient in the therapeutic position if we want transformations of deeply held character patterns to become possible
If we are serious about wanting to work with ‘the unconscious’ as therapists, we need to be capable of allowing ourselves to be constructed. If we want the therapeutic space that we provide to invite and make room for the unconscious (which is then not going to be restricted only to the client, but will include the therapist and the whole system of the therapeutic relationship), then we need to develop the capacity to allow the unconscious to construct that therapeutic space, including us as the therapist (including our personal reactions as well as our professional responses). This is a consequent formulation and application of what has been a basic psychoanalytic principle for decades. An integration of humanistic and psychoanalytic traditions would crucially need to include this principle.
Being constructed is as complex as the psyche itself and it means we can become all kinds of objects. But for most of us, the crucial sticking points are becoming the ‘bad object’ and/or the ‘idealised object’.
Unlike in classical psychoanalysis, the implication of this principle then not only means we will at times be perceived and experienced - in the transference - as the ‘bad’ wounding object. Beyond that and more intense than that, within a two-person psychology paradigm, it means we will be caught in enacting that object, i.e. becoming that object – thinking, feeling, behaving and – crucially – therapeutically intervening like and as that object (don’t broadcast this indiscriminately! - it's not an attractive proposition).
In a nutshell:
• inviting the unconscious requires the principle of allowing ourselves to be constructed
• which in turn in an embodied two-person psychology paradigm requires that we embrace the full bodymind enactment of the wounding.
At this point in the development of our profession, most available counselling and psychotherapy training does not comprehensively prepare us for that experience.
This experiential CPD day is meant to be an introduction and exploration of the principle, and how it fits and can be included in your own way of working.
Inevitably, we bring our whole being, conscious and unconscious, personal and professional to this exploration, including our experience of our own therapy. In engaging in that exploration, we will want to be mindful both of the potential and the risks, our limitations and curiosity, our willingness and our boundaries within the context of the OTS community of practitioners.
For detailed background to this topic, see this blog post.