DISCERNING THE ‘NEEDED RELATIONSHIP’ AMIDST A SEA OF COMPLEXITY
As clinicians we all grapple with how to optimally respond to our patients’ needs. With the proliferation of theories and concepts of therapeutic action, the question of how to respond to our patients has become increasingly complex. With this in mind, Steven Stern in his book, Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing, puts forward the concept of ‘needed relationships’ as an organizing framework for our clinical thinking. Building on the paradigm shift inaugurated by the advent of non-linear dynamic systems theory and/or complexity theory into our field, Stern embraces a holistic approach to our understanding of the therapeutic relationship. Drawing on the work of Louis Sander, Stern utilizes the concept of ‘progressive fittedness’ from early infant development to enhance our understanding of the therapeutic process. Addressing the central issues being debated in our field, Stern brings the concept of dialectical thinking to the fore, stressing the importance of holding in tension opposing poles of thought, enabling each pole to inform and enrich the other. In this spirit Stern addresses the interconnectedness between understanding (insight) and relational engagement and between implicit relational knowing and explicit verbal communication. Viewing each therapist/patient dyad as unique, Stern presents us with a framework for understanding both the patient’s subjectivity and the ever-evolving intersubjective dynamic between patient and therapist. This includes holding the often experienced tension between the patient’s felt need and the therapist’s sense of what is needed. Our clinical work is perceived as having a future, generative orientation in conjunction with our tendency to get caught in repetitions of the past.
Through ample, engaging clinical material Stern brings to life the many dilemmas and questions he faces in his clinical work. Amidst the sea of uncertainty how do we navigate the unique therapeutic journey with each individual patient? How do we think about our intention to achieve progressive fittedness and promote our patients’ emotional development given the non-linear, unpredictable complexity of the therapeutic process? How do we create the space needed for healing when our efforts to do so are frequently undermined? These and related questions will be addressed through weekly readings, clinical narratives, and class discussions as together we explore the challenges involved in providing the ‘needed relationship’ amidst the uncertainty and complexity that permeates our clinical world.
Presented By: Virginia Hendrickson
50 E St. SE, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20003
Dates: Twelve Sessions
Fridays: 10:30-12:00 noon: Feb. 5, 2021 – April 30, 2021
Please buy Steven Stern's book: Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing - available from Amazon.
(Copies of other course material provided)
We will begin our meetings on Zoom.
If interested, please fill out and return the bottom form to Virginia Hendrickson at the above address or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please call 703-750-3647 if more information is required.