Posted by Dr. Vollmer on September 10, 2015
Moments of decision-making in psychotherapy: how are decisions made? What do you comment on? What do you ignore? When do you interrupt? When do you listen? These are the daily questions which arise for a psychotherapist. The New Center for Psychoanalysis, under the brilliant leadership of Lynn Kuttnauer PhD has initiated these monthly meetings to talk openly about how to think about how to listen. I am honored to be invited to do the last one for the 2015 calendar year. Now, I need to think about how to shine a light on this question. I could illustrate a brilliant decision I made, or make it look that way, or I could present from a point of humility, where I am honestly not sure what to do. As Freud says about dreams, the telling of a dream is a secondary revision, as the dream is the first draft. So, too, in teaching, I am consciously and unconsciously framing my clinical vignettes with an agenda to make myself look both competent and questioning. This is a delicate balance, particularly in teaching psychotherapy where the road map is clouded with conflicting theories as to how the mind works. Candor has always been my strong suit. I have counted on authenticity as my strongest tool, both in the struggle of psychotherapy, and in the struggle to convey complicated ideas. Not knowing, I teach my students, is our strongest foundation. We know, we do not know, and as such, we can enter into contemplation and reflection without rigid ideas or preconceived outcomes. This humility is what distinguishes us from other practitioners, particularly the “T” therapies in which they convey a confidence about how to heal. I have no such confidence, only Irving Yalom’s notion of the “fellow traveler”. I can accompany you on the journey, but I can’t say I know where we are going. “Clinical Moments” gives me the opportunity to push this idea forward. I will take it.