In this article I focus on the intersection of client and therapist experiences, and highlight the significance of reciprocity in the therapeutic relationship. Specifically, I attend to the process of joining and shared experience. I pay particular attention to contextual factors that shape the dynamics of interpersonal processes from a psychoanalytically informed framework—namely, Intersubjective Systems Theory (IST). From this vantage point, the interplay of client and therapist’s experiences of transference co-create an intersubjective system that, when acknowledged and attended to, creates the relational space for the client to explore his or her own “worlds of emotional experience” more fully (Stolorow, 2013). IST’s admonishment to attend to the contextual factors that shape the therapeutic relationship makes room for a broader, and deeper, form of clinical case conceptualization. A complimentary theory that has received increasing attention in the last two decades is intersectionality theory. Originally coined in the context of legal scholarship, intersectionality theory calls for a more holistic acknowledgement of, and appreciation for, the multiple factors (e.g. gender, race, religious affiliation) that shape personal identity, and the inextricable links that enable these factors to influence each other. Drawing on a clinical case, I highlight the ways that these theories can work together in a therapeutic relationship.
Journal of Psychology and Theology – SAGE
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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