A Safe Space

For Winnicott, and those who were influenced by his work, psychoanalytic treatment was not exclusively interpretative, but first and foremost the provision of a congenital milieu, a 'holding environment' analogous to maternal care.

... [a] setting in which the patient does not undergo authoritative translation - having his unconscious fed back to him, as it were - but is enabled by the analyst, as Winnicott wrote, 'to reveal himself to himself'.

The risk was that interpretation in analysis would be formative in a way that actually pre-empted the patient's own half-formed thoughts and feelings. Interpretation could be merely a way of hurrying - on the analyst's behalf - and analysis, like development, was, for Winnicott, about people taking their own time.

The therapist must have 'a capacity ... to contain the conflicts of the patient, that is to say contain them and to wait for their resolution in the patient instead of anxiously looking round for a cure'.

Cure was not something that the therapist did to the patient. In his consultations with children Winnicott found that the significant moment was the one in which the patient surprised himself.

In fact the development of a capacity to be surprised by oneself could be said to be one of the aims of Winnicottian analysis.

[Adam Phillips]
Winnicott, p.11, 12


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Psychotherapy is at bottom a dialectical relationship between doctor and patient. It is an encounter, a discussion between two psychic wholes, in which knowledge is used only as a tool.

The goal is transformation - not one that is predetermined, but rather an indeterminable change, the only criterion of which is the disappearance of egohood. No efforts on the part of the doctor can compel this experience.

The most he can do is to smooth the path for the patient and help him to attain an attitude which offers the least resistance to the decisive experience.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East ('Foreword to the Introduction to Zen Buddhism'), p.171


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An important tool in this process is the Gestalt experiment.

The client (individual, team or organization) is invited and encouraged to “try on” behaviors that feel alien, frightening or unacceptable within the secure container of the intervention.

The Gestalt experiment seeks to draw out and stretch the habitual self (or system) boundary by allowing the client to experience what a new way of being or doing, and to experience a different outcome as the result.

In co-constructing the experiment with the client, the Gestaltist aims to create what Polster and Polster call a “safe emergency,” -- a minimally-threatening boundary-challenging situation within a supportive container of contact.

[Herb Stevenson]
'Paradox: A Gestalt Theory of Change'


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Related posts:-
The Colour Wheel 
Entertaining Ideas
Negative Capability
Fiction from Fiction
My advice? No advice!
Holding the Conflict Within
Reverie
What do you think? 
Boxed Off
Walk a Straight Line
Fucking in Ritual Space 
Firm Foundations

1 comment:

  1. You become transparent to yourself, and are thus more able to hold conflict within yourself; to see all aspects of humanity - dark and light - within the self.

    ReplyDelete