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Stern, D.B. (2013). Relational Freedom and Therapeutic Action. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 61(2):227-255.

(2013). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 61(2):227-255

Original Papers

Relational Freedom and Therapeutic Action

Donnel B. Stern

Therapeutic action depends on our freedom to allow ourselves novel, unbidden experience. How does this novelty arise? What is the process by which some portion of the possibilities inherent in any moment's unformulated experience are created or selected and emerge in consciousness? And what does it mean to think of freedom in this context? What does it mean for the formulation of experience to be free? In the frame of reference adopted here, the formulation of experience depends on the conscious and unconscious events of the interpersonal field. The field facilitates some formulations of experience and prevents others. Thus, whatever we can do to make it possible for the analytic relationship to evolve freely, without constraint or constriction, is the best way we have to encourage the freedom to experience. “Relational freedom” underpins therapeutic action. A clinical case is described at length to illustrate these ideas.

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