The Psychotherapy Excellence webcast series on the topic 'Relational Psychotherapy - Praises and Pitfalls' is now complete. I contributed an interview on:
The embodied phenomenology of enactment
It is in the area of subliminal, non-verbal and pre-verbal communications between client and therapist that enactments incubate, long before they become noticeable, articulated and problematic. Implicit relational knowing can help us gather perceptions, impressions and intuitions that help us understand the complexity of enactment when it finally becomes disturbingly explicit. How successfully we can survive, resolve and transform enactments depends upon how aware we can be of the many bodymind levels on which the enactment manifests, and how fully both client and therapist can be embodied in negotiating the enactment (otherwise the supposed resolution tends to remain a reflective verbal or mental narrative, that does not fully translate into everyday life).
In summary, the therapist’s awareness of the bodymind phenomenology of the enactment is important in the perception, understanding and resolution of enactments. In this session we will begin to survey the holistic-systemic phenomenology of enactment.
- re-integrate psychoanalytic and body-oriented traditions
- begin to think of the therapeutic relationship as a complex, holistic bodymind system
- attend to charged bodymind processes which reflect implicit and unconscious relational dynamics
- recognise how psychological conflicts manifest and are communicated as bodymind messages
- apprehend countertransference as continually embodied, rather than manifesting only in exceptional unusual or disturbing sensations
- recognise how the client’s conflict becomes the therapist’s conflict
- gather the bodymind fragments of the enactment appearing in the therapist’s stream of consciousness
- recognise how relational paradoxes are experienced and communicated on subliminal levels
Some quotes from the interview
MICHAEL: I think part of the difficulty in even talking about ‘embodiment’ is that in people’s minds the term cannot but acquire a compensating function against an overly verbal ‘talking therapy’ orientation and thus it acquires a
MICHAEL: We are interested in what the 'systemic configuration' is – what are the multiple dimensions of bodymind experience and how do they organise themselves? And what is the relationship between somatic and mental processes: are they dissociatedly operating alongside each other, are they in conflict in a repressive-explosive dynamic, do they oscillate and fragment, do they enhance each other?
MICHAEL: In approaching postmodern disembodiment, we want to liberate this traditionally neglected and undifferentiated issue from quasi-ideological dogmatic perception and habitual therapeutic reactions, in order to apprehend what’s actually ‘under our noses’ here and now. There are infinite bodymind configurations which all have emotional-psychological-relational functions and significance and the degree of our own embodiment is the door of perception that allows us – or restricts – access to this complex, quicksilver realm of ‘implicit relational knowing’.
MICHAEL: Within the relational movement, I think, there is confusion and a modern polarised position against the way the early Kleinians might have thought about enactment (but didn’t, of course, quite call it that, as they were still operating from within a one-person psychology paradigm) - where the enactment is very much driven one-sidedly by the patient, which is not so much taken into account these days because it’s all supposedly intersubjectively co-created.