Long-standing, recurrent problems: One turn higher on the spiral ?
For each of us, there are certain themes that recur again and again at different phases of the life span. For example, we have recurring challenges, relationship patterns, and storylines. It can be useful to visualize these iterations as points on a spiral journey upward. In some ways the issue is the same, but in other ways, the context may be quite different.
Long-standing recurrent problems are frequent presenting issues in psychotherapy. In psychodynamic work, it is pro forma to inquire about the antecedents and precedents of any presenting problem. But the recurring nature of problems is an interesting topic to contemplate in its own right. Of all the possible ways that life events might be construed, why are particular themes of meaning so likely to recur?
It can also be informative to reflect about the way we see and understand something now and the way the same or similar issue felt or seemed at a prior moment in time.
Questions for inquiry:
- How is the issue similar or different in the present moment? How has the issue changed or evolved over time? What have you learned or discovered over time?
- How are you similar or different at these different moments in time?