The potential – from series to growth

Narration by Prof. Shlomo Mendelovic

In its more popular image, psychotherapy “comes to make an order”. This image is not very far from the truth. Indeed, psychotherapy seeks to take a messy inner world and make it more orderly; It seeks to mediate unconscious internal tensions and tune the patient in a way that will allow him to manage his inner world, and take ownership of it. But, and this “but” is significant to the essence of treatment, psychotherapy does not come just to make an order, psychotherapy comes also, and perhaps, most importantly, to expand the patient’s inner world. Psychotherapy comes to allow the patient to act in new modes of action, to think in ways of thinking that he has not walked in the past, to feel in an emotional range that is outside the range to which he is accustomed, to experience himself differently than he is used to, and in the deepest way to be different. Simply put, psychotherapy not only comes to regulate, it also comes to expand the patient’s potential (to act, think, feel, experience, and be). 

He grew up in a home that had extraordinary malice. The only son of a pair of careerist parents, who were self-centered and fought – in their professional world and at home – an all-in-all war. His father was a senior lawyer, who used his sharpness to strip the skin of the woodpeckers on his way; And his mother – a ruthless financier, who gained a reputation for her in the way she created failed companies by cruel dismissals. To their perception, “Business is business, but at home we are different”; In reality, even their personal lives (marital, parental, social) were nourished by endless, merciless competition, which few survived. During adolescence, the patient felt that “something was wrong” and came to therapy “to learn to love people.” His moving request was quickly replaced by a difficult relationship between him and the caregiver, a system that was also dominated by convictions. This is the nature of therapy: it reproduces, within the relationship between the patient and his therapist, the same patterns that have been burned into the patient’s psyche in the past. And the same “extraordinary malice” burned as the “emotional operating system” in the patient’s psyche was taken out of force but also acting in his relationship with the caregiver: he belittled her, humiliated her and despised her. Each time again she was shocked to discover how cruel he, who seeks to “learn to love human beings,” can be towards her. And she survived. She did not allow him to erase it, and she did not allow herself to disappear. She tried to explain to him why “he’s like that,” and told him that “maybe this power relationship of ‘someone up’ and ‘someone down’ is the power relationship you know,” and he, honestly touching, told her, “True, I’m like that. , And that’s what I know “; She shared his feelings with him and told him that “instead of being free to give to you, I’m busy ‘surviving’, but maybe it’s not obligatory …”. And he, in spite of his habit of eroding the known and the familiar, asked her: “What do you mean? …”. “Maybe,” she continued, “here, in the room, in the relationship between us, which is so protected, and it’s all aimed at you, maybe here you can be free for other options: instead of reducing, empowering; instead of attacking, supporting.” “What”, he challenged her in his cynical tone, “you can not stand it? …”; “What,” she asked him in her soft tone, “do you not stand in this option, of ‘learning to love human beings’?”. Then, they were silent, and for the first time there was something else in the room. After a minute of silence, the caregiver looked at him and said, “It feels like the room has expanded.” And instead of shooting her another cynical remark, he smiled at her awkwardly.

The question “What cures in psychotherapy?” It is very complex to evaluate. Still, this complexity does not absolve us from addressing the answer to this difficult question. The Matrix, a surgical tool that “knows” how to distinguish exceptionally sharply between the “regulating” and “expanding” components of psychotherapy, gives us a fairly accurate answer to this question. Clients’ treatment hours from “good” treatments (ie, treatments in which the patient’s condition has steadily improved) to “bad” treatments (ie, treatments in which there was no change in the patient’s condition, or worse – treatments in which the patient’s condition worsened), Show that 86% of the explanation for the difference between the good and the bad treatments lies in the potential. While in “good” treatments there was quality and accurate “potential work” (i.e., the patient and therapist were able to talk directly and resonantly about the potential), in “bad” treatments this work was lacking. The patient and caregiver simply have not been able to directly touch on the potential, talk about it, and think about it together. And the series? – It was important too, but much, much, less. 

The claim, the stage of psychotherapy lies in expanding the patient’s potential to act, think, feel, experience and be, becomes almost natural if we change our perspective on psychotherapy. If one thinks of psychotherapy in terms of growth, and not in terms of problem shooting (trouble shooting), the matter becomes quite clear. If one thinks that the psychotherapeutic journey is designed to “grow” the patient beyond his developmental inhibitions, rather than solve problems and release mental “tangles”, the fact that potential work explains 86% of the differences between “good” and “bad” treatments sounds more logical. The perception of treatment as a “growth move”, and the empirical findings of the 86%, are also an invitation; Invitation to therapist; To deepen his knowledge of the potential, and to refine, in deliberate practice, his ability to identify potential work, and to refine it, more and more. 

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