This type of therapy is described above. The client does and says various things (1) and the therapist has his unconscious and automatic reactions to that(2). In this type of therapy the therapists focuses on his own reactions to the client rather than observing the client directly(3). The therapist observes the client through his own unconscious and intuitive reactions hence my comment about the therapist spending his working hours gazing at his own navel rather than observing the client.
However I am really missing the point of this post. I had an interesting unconscious reaction to a client recently. This woman came to see me for the first time a few months ago. I had met her before at various workshop, meetings and so forth. I knew she had seen a number of therapists before so she was by no means a novice client or a person who had never been counselled before.
One of my first reactions to her was one of disquiet. I felt she was presenting as a client and for some reason I felt dislike of this. I found her interesting but there was something about her that I didn’t like. This troubled me for a while because I could not understand why. Everyone who seeks my counsel presents as a client but there was something different here. The words that kept coming into my mind was, “She is being a client”. I felt that she was not being ‘real’ with me in that sense. I was getting all the right words that clients say as she knew them well. It was like there was a bit missing.
I did not say anything to her at the time but I have since expressed to her my original disquiet in reaction to her. Her response to this was one of relief. She stated that her husband had at one point said a similar sort of thing to her.
The Pitts. Being real?
This led to an interesting discussion about her relationship with her mother when she was a child. Here is a list of the usual parenting styles that one hears clients report.
The authoritarian parent which uses mainly Critical Parent ego state.
The smothering or doting parent who uses mainly the Rescuing Parent ego state.
The permissive Parent who does not use any Parent ego state and relates to the child as its friend or associate.
The Adult ego state parent which is ‘parenting by the book’. When mother has to discipline the child she consults the expert’s book on discipline, or when she has to do toilet training or deal with adolescent rebellion she gets out the parenting manual and follows the expert’s plan.
The healthy parenting style is to use mainly a combination of Nurturing Parent and Adult ego state.
However she presented a bit of a different one. She stated that her mother parented her as though she owned her. Like one would own a dog or a race horse. One is caring and kind to it and looks after it but you also own it. So one could sell it or give it away as a present, not that her mother would have attempted to do that but that is what ownership also entails. The parenting style was one of ownership. An interesting notion. She was properly fed and housed and so forth but was never seen as human and daughter but rather seen as a ‘thing’ that mother owned.
This could explain my disquiet about her. When she came to therapy she knew how to be a client but did not know how to be ‘human’ and my Child ego state reacted to that. In her relationship with me she presented herself as case #325 and I reacted to that but did not know why at the time.
Of course humans can own other humans, that has happened throughout history. Baring the moral objections to humans owning other humans it was interesting to see the psychological fallout of a person who has lived in a relationship where she was owned at least psychologically. That played itself out in the therapeutic relationship with me and I got to experience a relationship where the other party had a background of relationships where she felt she had been owned.
Slave girls with Jabba the Hut
I like this type of therapy where I can spend all day thinking about myself and my reactions to people. However in this instance it also allowed her (us) to discover and discuss something that she had never before addressed.