Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist

Categories Supervision Dialogs

On unwanted attention

A man keeps putting the attention on me. He threatens to quit therapy if I won’t answer personal questions or if he discovers he is more spiritual than I. I reflect everything back to him but it is really difficult for me, since I would like to be more spiritual.

You manage to stay out of the system in session, so get out of the system outside of session. Say goodbye to this person now. Yes, here in supervision. Let go of needing him to continue to see you. In your heart, give up your attachment to him as your client. That way, he can’t threaten you with leaving. (Because your psyche thinks he’s already gone. Get it?)

Isn’t it interesting how clients seem to have intuitive knowledge of our personal issues? Well here is your chance to be more spiritual. Begin by expanding your perception. Unhook from this client’s desires and demands. Individuate. Get bigger than the session. Find a metaphor within which to hold both him and yourself without judgment.

From your description so far, I see him as three years old and angry that you (as a primary nurturer substitute) are not how he wants you to be. My guess is that because his habit is directing blame because the world isn’t to his liking, he will probably be angry for quite awhile. One of his processes may be pleasuring Self by discrediting Other. He may enjoy looking for a reason to reject you.

Agree that everything he guesses about you is true. Even the bizarre stuff. Confess to being completely unspiritual. Anytime he asks you a question, exaggerate the answer. Keep putting the focus of attention back on him.

He’ll know I’m not telling the truth.

In session, both telling the truth and not telling the truth are interventions, nothing more. “Telling” is the medium you use to invite him to explore his responses.

Make the telling into an enactment.

Thst: Yes you’re right. I do tell your mother-in- law everything you say in here. What’s your response to that?

Clnt: That’s not true. Is that true?

Thst: So your first response is not to be sure. No, it’s not true. How do you respond to that?

Clnt: Well what IS the truth?

Thst: So you continue to think I have the answers. Well, I’m not going to tell you the truth. What happens for you when I say that?

Clnt: Well now I’m angry.

Thst: How do you experience that in your body?

Clnt: You never answer my questions.

Thst: You are correct. On a scale of zero to ten, how angry are you right now? Is that more or less than it was a minute ago?

Encourage him to protect himself if he does not feel safe with you.

Wonder if he can think of ways other than leaving to make himself feel safe.

Wonder if he threatens to leave every relationship every time the other person is not doing what he wants.

Wonder who taught him to relate this way.

Stop scaring yourself. Notice that he threatens to leave but, in fact, he does not leave.

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