As in raising children, in which each unique parent and child pair emerges from the ongoing, mutually influencing relationship, so it is with therapists and patients. Peter Buirski and Pamela Haglund argue that intersubjectivity is founded on two assumptions: First, our moment-by-moment experience of ourselves and the world emerges within a dynamic, fluid context of others; and, second, that we can never observe things as they exist in isolation.
It follows, then, that therapy is not a search for some objective truth, but what is most helpful is the quality of the relationship constructed in therapy, the personal engagement of patient and therapist. Practicing intersubjectively produces an understanding and appreciation of process. Time pressures or goal-directedness do not promote unfolding and illuminating.
Patients are striving for health, attempting to correct disappointing, destructive, or traumatizing experiences with their original caregivers, and long for an antidote to ward off such painful affects as shame or self-loathing. From the intersubjective perspective, resistance, or attempts to thwart the therapist's efforts, may be seen as healthy striving for self-protection. Demonstrating these points with vivid clinical examples, Buirski and Haglund discuss the key aspects of the relational model and offer clear and practical guidelines for therapists.
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"Excellent overview of an intersubjective perspective. The essence of their tone is an empathic and attuned responsiveness toward patients that I believe will resonate with most clinicians and assist them in their work with patients."—Clinical Social Work Journal
"Buirski and Haglund have made a valuable contribution to the psychotherapy literature with this comprehensive presentation of the intersubjective approach. Both beginning and experienced practitioners will appreciate its clear exposition, its illuminating connections between theory and practice, and its well-chosen clinical illustrations. The impact of intersubjectivity on the humanity, humility, and range of contemporary psychodynamic treatment comes through loud and clear in this engaging, readable book."—Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D., Rutgers University
"Buirski and Haglund have written a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to intersubjectivity theory and practice that is lucid and systematic. Clinical illustrations bring the theory to life. The book includes a careful overview of fundamentals and basic application, a creative approach to psychotherapy supervision and detailed descriptions of clinical process that allows the reader to follow how a case is actually treated and understood. This book is a valuable addition to the library of anyone seeing patients in therapy."—Lewis Aron, Ph.D., New York University
"The dialogic nature of psychoanalytic inquiry is captured beautifully by the title of this volume, Making Sense Together. Buirski and Haglund have done a great service by providing a superb introductory text presenting the basic ideas of intersubjectivity theory in clear, down-to-earth, user-friendly language that will be very accessible and extremely valuable to students and trainees in psychotherapy. The rich clinical illustrations make the intersubjective perspective come alive for the reader. Making Sense Together will be of enormous help to therapists in their efforts to explore hitherto uncharted regions of intersubjective space."—Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D., training and supervising analyst, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles
About the Authors:
Peter Buirski, Ph.D., is Dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver, as well as Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He is affiliated with the Denver Psychoanalytic Institute, and maintains a private practice in Denver.
Pamela Haglund received her Psy.D. from the graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver, where she now serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor and Clinical Supervisor. Author of several articles on contemporary psychoanalytic theory and treatment, she is in private practice in Denver.