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Inquiring Deeply Newsletters


Relational Inquiry


My signature clinical approach, “Inquiring Deeply,” involves mindful exploration of the surfaces of our connection with others: the “relational field.” There is a great deal we can learn about ourselves by using the “relational field” as a mirror.

Being mindful of our experience of connection to others – the quality as well as the depth of connection – can be very illuminating. Hunger for connection is only one of many interesting experiences that can be explored. We are interpersonal beings, and in large measure the relational dynamics of self and other are the very stuff our minds are made of.  *

Because we spend so many hours of our lives talking to other people, the dance of speaking and listening is an especially rich domain for relational mindfulness. In conversation, we have the opportunity to listen to ourselves as well as to listen to the listening of the other. We have the opportunity to see clearly who we are (or how we are presenting ourselves in that particular moment). And we have the opportunity to see our reactivity as it is happens.

With self-reflection, moreover, conversation becomes a stage for observing the theatre of the mind. We can investigate what we enact with others (and what they enact with us); we can inquire about the psychological sources of those relational patterns. And we can observe the narratives we use to frame that experience. In all of these ways, we can gain understanding of our relational dynamics.

In short, we can use the opportunity of conversation to bring awareness to the experience of self-in-relation, and cultivate the practice of relational inquiry to deepen our experience of being with others.


*Chapter Six of INQUIRING DEEPLY describes some of the basic dimensions of relationality, providing a framework for understanding how relationship is held in mind.    Schuman, M. (2017)   Inquiring Deeply: Mindfulness-informed Relational Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.  Routledge Press, New York