NEW ASPECTS OF OURSELVES COME INTO BEING THROUGH OUR CONNECTIONS TO OTHERS….
Deep connection is how human beings change, heal, and evolve. It is how the psychological self first forms during psychological development, and it is a process which is ongoing throughout the self-delineating experiences of adulthood.
Psychotherapy contributes to transforming the patient’s self by fostering new experiences of self-delineation: the therapist sees what is valuable in the patient and this seeing is instrumental in bringing forth that potential. The patient comes to see him or herself in the eyes of the therapist. New structures of self are birthed in intimate moments of meeting.
In psychoanalytic language, what we can say is that psychotherapy provides new (corrective) relational and attachment experiences: needed selfobject functions of empathy, mirroring, and validation. Taken together, these provide “earned attachment security”. Pragmatically, what this means is that the therapist looks for and supports the core of what is sane in a person — their strengths as well as their constructive intentions — to help them discover strategies that support change and growth. We see who the person has the potential to become and, in that seeing, those qualities are invited into being.
These are the “corrective relational experiences” in psychotherapy which are essential in helping the patient learn to contain experience, modulate feelings, and rest in a place of going-on-being. While mindfulness practice also facilitates this change, it may often be difficult for patients to access deep layers of psychological wounding and metabolize the associated trauma without the support of a healing connection.
As people grow and develop, change occurs not only as a function of what they choose to do but also as function of who/what they come to be. This process of healing in relational psychotherapy is one of co-creation, always reciprocal albeit asymmetric.