Contemporary Psychotherapy & Psychoanalytic Self Psychology
Contemporary Psychotherapy including Psychoanalytic Self Psychology is a meld of Relationship and Trauma Theory-both of which are based on and supported by developmental studies of infants in their natural setting as well as neuroscience and clinical experience with psychotherapy patients.
Contemporary Relationship Theory recognises the centrality of relationships in psychological development and in health and attempts to understand the complexity of relationship interactions and how this influences our subjective experience and behavior in everyday life.
Relationship Theory draws from psychoanalytic self psychology, attachment theory, intersubjectivity theory, motivational systems theory, affect/emotion theory, infant studies, neuroscience and the clinical experience of psychotherapy.
Psychoanalytic Self Psychology places great importance on the therapist’s use of empathy and introspection in the therapeutic process, with the aim of developing an experience-near understanding of the person and their experience of themselves and of themselves in relationships with others.
This means that the therapist sees him/herself as part of the therapeutic system, including the intersubjective system and relationship involving him/her and his/her patient.
The therapist does not see him/herself as isolated from the patient and utilises both empathy and introspection in the somewhat ‘sloppy’ process of relating and understanding the patient’s subjective experience.
Therapy is understood as occurring not only in the verbal realm but just as importantly, in non-verbal realms of relating. For example, infants are now understood as extremely capable of mutual social interaction and learning from birth. For the first 18 months of life infants build up new ways-of-being-with-others in the natural process of interaction with caregivers-without the need for relating in the verbal realm.
In therapy we develop an understanding of the ways-of-being-with-others that contextualise our behavior and experience in everyday life.
This understanding of existing ways-of-being-with and learning new ones, occurs at verbal and non-verbal levels as well as at conscious and unconscious levels of experience.
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