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.
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.