Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist

Categories Supervision Dialogs

On being premature

I think maybe I was premature when I encouraged my client to do a deep piece of work.

A:. If you felt you were premature, then maybe you were. Take ownership however, and know that you were premature for yourself, not necessarily for him.

Trust yourself. Invite only work you can invite without worrying or being otherwise countertransferred. Do not be too surprised though, if your client moves into his deep work without you. Your task, then, will be not to get in his way.

Once you get a little more separate from the idea that the client is supposed to do what you say, remember that this person has entered psychotherapy to be encouraged to do deep work. Part of your job is invite as deep a piece of work as possible.

When you meet with resistance, either work with the resistance or back up and invite the work to be done at less intensity. A person works only as deeply as he is willing. What if he blames me for making him work too deeply?

If he blames you for making him work too deeply, don’t take it personally. Remember that it is not possible for you to “make” him work at all, let alone “too deeply.” Heck if it were, you could “make” him resolve all his childhood issues and be done with psychotherapy in a week or two. Back up and get some distance. Pay attention to how he is being right now and work with his process. In this case, two of his processes are blaming and refusing-to-take-responsibility. Shouldn’t I wait until a person trusts me to encourage deep introspection?

Trust yourself. If trust is his issue, then whatever he appears to be working on, whether it is deep introspection or talking about what to do regarding his homework, trust is what he is will be trying to resolve. All the rest is content. Ultimately he cannot trust anybody besides himself.

Well, I’d like him to be able to trust me, anyway.

The path from not-trusting Other to trusting Other goes something like this:

• He watches you trust yourself.
• He comprehends from the way you treat him, that you perceive him as trustworthy, too.
• He introjects that he may be a little trustable.
• He begins to trust himself more and more.
• And the more he trusts himself, the more often he thinks of you as trustworthy. So whatever his issues are, invite whatever your intuition offers. He’ll use your invitation to do “deep work” or not. It really isn’t up to you. ¯

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