In his new book, Needed Relationships and Psychoanalytic Healing: A Holistic Relational Perspective on the Therapeutic Process,
Steven Stern’s central premise is that every patient, and every analytic dyad, is unique; thus the relationship that emerges over time to facilitate the patient’s forward movement toward his or her (partially implicit) therapeutic aims is necessarily unique and uniquely complex. Stern terms this the needed relationship
, and maintains that its defining properties transcend all of our specific theories of therapeutic action. Stern believes that we need our theories (as well as clinical and life experience) to inform our work, but that the actual therapeutic process is more patient- than theory-driven and involves meeting patients
in the full complexity of their struggles and the intersubjective interaction as it unfolds.
Stern will offer clinical examples to illustrate his general approach and some of the specific principles that emerge from it. One characteristic of clinical work done in this mode is that many of the things we actually say and do with our patients do not fall neatly into established categories of analyst participation. Rather they are contoured
to the patient and the analytic moment, guided by one’s implicit effort to meet the patient
at the point of analytic urgency, taking into account the current state of the patient, the therapist and their system.
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