Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy

The term psychotherapy is used to describe an interpersonal process which employs a wide variety of therories, methods and techniques and whose practice is shared by a number of different clinical disciplines. The word itself means, "mind healing". All forms of psychotherapy aim at accelerating or promoting healing of the "mind". Also, all forms of psychotherapy involve a relationship at the center of this process. While this relationship may involve various kinds of interactions and exchanges, it is always characterized by one party, (ie., the therapist) providing a professional service in the form of psychological/interpersonal help, to the recipient(s) of this service, (ie., the client or patient).

Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy, like other psychotherapies, offers a professional helping relationship to one seeking such help, with the purpose of promoting psychological healing. It is different from other forms of psychotherapy because the over-all approach and observational stance of the therapist is informed a particular psychonalytic theory of the mind; the psychoanalytic self psychology of Heinz Kohut. Kohut reframed psychoanalytic thinking from a mechanistic model to a phenomenological one. He changed the focus psychoanalytic treatment and inquiry from drives and defenses against drives to the subjective experience of a self developing over time seeking psychological sustanance from it's surrondings. In self psychology, this psychological sustanance may be referred to as selfobject experiences.

Selfobject experiences are those that result in the subject feeling seen and admired, merged and uplifted, or warmly identified with. Any experience which supports the a sense of well being and proficient functioning of the self could be said to be a selfobject experience. Deficits in these kind of experiences during key developmental stages can lead to weakened self esteem and a faulty self image as well as various defensive attempts to adapt to the resulting sense of deprivation.

In Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy, empathy is not a technique, but an observational stance. The therapist's job is to bring all of their knowledge to bear upon the task of creating an empathic understanding. This means to use all of one's underatanding in attempting to re-create experientially the psychic situation of the client. The knowledge of this person's history, personality and current life situation, together with all of the therapists professional and personal knowledge about psychology is employed in an attempt to build with in the therapists own mind an understanding of how it feels to be this other person. Given all I know about this other person and given all I know about psychological process including my own, what do imagine this person feels? This is the question the introspective/empathic psychotherapist must continually ask him or herself.

This understanding is repeatedly checked out with the client and gradually honed into an increasingly more accurate empathic grasp. Progressively this understanding is brought to bear on the original deprivations in selfobject experiences. Responding even retrospectively to these deprivations initiates a process which changes the clients relationship to him or herself. As ones relationship with oneself changes so do many of the ineffective defensive and adpative stategies one has employed. Self esteem tends to improve and both anxiety and depression tend to lessen. Various obstacles to self development and growth may be overcome now. Functioning in work and relationships improves. As one understanding of oneself grows so do the meanings of one's life.

Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy is not a panacea. It's explanatory power and therapeutic efficacy is restrained only by the limits of our abilty to understand and empathize with early psychological states and experiences. While these limits can seem daunting, they are not insurmountable. It is an emotionally challenging endeavor for both participants and likewise emotionally rewarding when followed to it's logical conclusion. Some may not relish the rigors of mourning past losses and re-acquainting oneself with the unresponded to parts of oneself. These configurations of experience which lie only partly in consciousness; seeking tacit expression and finally integration, are elusive. Learning how to respond to them is difficult. Never-the-less, Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy offers one of the most potent and effective therapies for enduring improvement in self esteem and self image and in overcoming disturbances of the self including addictions, anxiety, self esteem depression and many other disturbances of emotion and behavior.

If you want to learn more about Introspective/Empathic Psychotherapy as a professional or are interested in an initial consultation for psychotherapy, please contact: Daniel Gaynor at: (413) 652-0095.