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 argues 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 discusses the key aspects of the relational model and offers clear and practical guidelines for therapists.
About the Author:
Peter Buirski, Ph.D., is Dean Emeritus of and Clinical Professor in 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. He is on the editorial board of Psychoanalysis, Self and Context, the journal of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. He regularly teaches courses and presents at conferences in China and South Africa, and Making Sense Together 1e was translated into Chinese and Japanese.