June 17, 2017 @ 10:00 – 16:30
Quaker Meeting House
Bristol BS2 9DB
Organised by the Association for Core Process Psychotherapy:
This workshop is an ideal opportunity for an introduction to Michael’s work, and specifically how he approaches the integration of the paradigm clash between the humanistic and psychodynamic traditions. It is an affordable workshop on a crucial topic, as many integrative therapists struggle to integrate these paradigms rather than oscillate between them, both in their work and in supervision.
There are still a few places (at this time: about 7) left on this workshop, which was initiated by the Association for Core Process Psychotherapy. Most participants, therefore, will be a Core Process therapists, which will give the day an emphasis on the body-mind and psychosomatic connection, and how attention to the two bodies in the therapeutic relationship (or better: the two ‘bodyminds’) can provide the experiential foundation for the integration of paradigms.
Exploring the tension between ‘authentic’ and ‘transference’ relating
In the lineage of Body Psychotherapy, we come across a set of diverse and to some extent confusing and contradictory assumptions as to what we mean by therapeutic relating and the therapeutic relationship. On the whole, the whole range of body-oriented work as practiced today clearly belongs to the humanistic tradition, with its emphasis on authentic/dialogical and empathic/reparative relating. This sits alongside influences from the psychoanalytic tradition, notably the work of Reich and his ideas about working with transference, as well as his quasi-medical and scientific attitude to treatment (which he shared with Freud). These different paradigms of relating are quite difficult to integrate and bring together, as they are based on polarised attitudes and stances in terms of one-person and two-person psychologies.
That raises the question as to what we mean by being ‘relational', especially in recent years, when that notion has become increasingly fashionable, and is in danger of becoming diluted. As psychotherapists working in the body-oriented traditions, we have the potential to bring a more substantial, embodied and complex notion of relating to the talking therapies.
This workshop is an opportunity to explore your own experience of the tensions between the polarised humanistic and psychoanalytic traditions, and how you integrate them. This tension hinges around the essential conflict between ‘authentic relating’ and 'working with the transference' - two principles which many of us find equally valid and want to equally do justice to in our work.
It has been understood and acknowledged for decades that any direct and directive work with the body, especially if it includes touch, intensifies the transference. However, psychoanalysts have contested that by using directive body-oriented interventions, body-oriented therapists are minimising and sidestepping the transference. In fact, all therapies that are relying exclusively on an empathic, attuned, heartfelt connection are open to that psychoanalytic challenge (keeping things too cosy, encouraging regression or over-dependency, avoiding the negative transference) and the question of whether this is in the client's best interests.
When our intention is to work with the client’s ‘character’, i.e. with all the embodied levels of developmental injury, across the whole bodymind, how do these different traditions and paradigms of relating get in each other's way or complement each other and how might they create an integrative synergy?
Recommended preparatory reading:
Relating To and With the Objectified Body: This was my first public attempt at spelling out some of the difficulties and pitfalls of Body Psychotherapy, as I had increasingly become aware of them in the late 1980's and the early 1990's. From being securely ensconced in the body-oriented subculture, it took years to recognise and formulate the hidden 'medical model' assumptions, the implicit idealisation of the body, the simple reversal of mind-over-body into body-over-mind and how I was in the habit of turning my therapeutic position into an "enemy of the client's ego". Here I state for the first time how it is perfectly possible for Body Psychotherapy to exacerbate the body/mind split whilst intending to 'heal' it.
Humanistic or psychodynamic - what is the difference and do we have to make a choice ? by Lavinia Gomez: This brilliant and helpfully clarifying article by Lavinia Gomez tackles the difficult theme 'humanistic or psychodynamic' in a non-dogmatic and fairly comprehensive fashion. Lavinia poses some challenging questions, especially for integrative therapists: how free and fluid can we allow ourselves to be in terms of combining, mixing and matching different therapeutic traditions, and what are the possible negative effects of switching approaches, especially in terms of the client's sense of containment? - This paper is essential reading for this workshop, as is my response at the time:
Is it Possible to Integrate Humanistic Techniques into a Transference-Countertransference Perspective? (2004): Whilst agreeing with Lavinia's challenges to the integrative project and the mixing of humanistic and psychodynamic paradigms,
I argue against one of Lavinia's central conclusions, based on a different interpretation of what we might mean by 'containment' and 'enactment'.
What therapeutic hope for a subjective mind in an objectified body? This is my first attempt at formulating the 'relational turn' in Body Psychotherapy, and taking the integration of humanistic and psychodynamic paradigms further. This is the abstract: Our modern attempt to re-include the body in psychotherapy – as necessary and promising as it is – brings with it the inevitable danger that we import the culturally dominant objectifying construction of the body into a field which may represent one of the last bastions of subjectivity, authenticity and intimacy in an increasingly virtual world. Edited from my presentation to the UKCP conference 'About A Body’, this paper addresses the question how embodied subjectivity – Winnicott’s “indwelling of the psyche in the soma” - can be found within a relational matrix pervaded by disembodiment and self-objectification.