While we may have a disturbing sense of patterns repeating themselves we are sometimes too caught up in how we have become affected to get a clear perspective on what might have happened, and it is sometimes especially difficult to see our own part in how we may have affected others.
Clearly we live in the present but as it turns out we are also influenced by our past. This uncanny human capacity to find ourselves responding to others in familiar but at times confusing or disturbing ways goes beyond the influence of the current relationships themselves to include one’s history of significant relationships. At its deepest levels this includes settings within one’s family of origin, especially early parenting. We are who we are today through a long history of having carved out a sense of self through formative relationships with others.
I believe that relational sensibilities are intuitive and very personal, and that when one comes into therapy for help he or she already has a sense for where the work is. I listen carefully as life stories unfold. Sometimes one knows exactly where help is needed, but more often needs become known or at least become more clear as themes emerge like threads through the telling of compelling narratives.
As I listen and track themes in their relevant relational contexts I occasionally ask questions or make comments as meaning making at this point becomes a collaborative project between therapist and client.
It is this very meaning making in a collaborative setting, I believe, that helps one to better understand his or her role in relation to others and to assume a more effective ownership of the various ways that he or she impacts or is impacted by others. This in turn leads to new levels of integration, or healing, and may be felt as a “coming home to oneself”. This more integrated owning of oneself also enriches one’s felt sense of authenticity, that is, one’s comfort level as the author of her or his thoughts and actions in relations with specific others as well as in the world at large.