Contemporary Relational Theory

The depth of your therapist’s theoretical understanding matters!

“The theory behind Relational Analysis helps me to understand in greater depth what is going on in a client’s life, in myself, and within the therapeutic interaction”

Historical Sea Change in Psychoanalysis

In a revolutionary surge away from psychoanalytic models based on Freudian drive theory, Relational Analysis has recently become the leading edge and driving force for continuing development in psychoanalytic theory and technique. Relational Analysis was formed when leading proponents of several post-Freudian psychoanalytic theories decided to work under a unified banner. The contemporary analytic schools, from which this unified theoretical base was comprised, include Object Relations, Self Psychology, Intersubjectivity, Attachment, and Interpersonal theories.

Some Basic Understandings

Underlying all therapy done from a Relational perspective is a belief in every human being’s fundamental need for intimate emotional connection with significant others. As children, as a result of less than optimal interactions with parents and others, we all developed deeply engrained mental organizing patterns that guide or misguide our relational efforts throughout our lives. These patterns determine, in large part, how we perceive, give meaning to, and emotionally respond to all of our relationships. Thus, In spite of our best attempts to make our relationships grow and improve over time, we invariably discover that our old relationships don’t improve as we had hoped, and that each new relationship becomes, in unfortunate and surprising ways, too much like previous ones.

Our minds, not unlike computers, function from both hardware and software programming. Our minds became programmed when we were very young children. That programming can only be changed with outside help. We cannot merely will our ongoing organizing structures to change.

This is where deep psychodynamic therapy, relational analysis, comes in. With the aid of a highly trained and experienced therapist, and with a lot of hard work over time, therapist and client together can change destructive patterns. Through the analytic process the client’s relationships can become truly transformed. With a good and sustained therapeutic experience, important relationships can emerge from the heavy imprinting of childhood experiences to become deeply satisfying and relatively free from bitterness and destructive conflict.

Individuals in therapy do not enter treatment in order to work on the relationshlp with their therapist. However, clients invariably attempt, without awareness, to engage the therapist as a new actor in their historic relational dramas. By remaining, on the one hand, empathically attuned and constant, and on the other hand, authentic and emotionally responsive, the therapist enables the client to explore new and healthier ways of creating highly satisfying emotional connections with those whom they yearn to love and to be loved by in return. As new patterns begin to replace the old in the therapeutic setting the client can then experience positive carryover in his or her life outside the therapy. This process can and usually does result in truly positive changes in one’s significant relationships.

Relational Analysis is hard work. It may require two or more individual sessions per week. And so, it is costly in terms of time and money. But, it may be the one thing a person can do that will make his or her life significantly better in just about every way.