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Davidson, L. (1987). The Cross-Cultural Therapeutic Dyad. Contemp. Psychoanal., 23:659-675.

(1987). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 23:659-675

The Cross-Cultural Therapeutic Dyad

Leah Davidson, M.D.

THERAPEUTIC DYADS, WHETHER LONG or short term have, by their very nature, a built in work contract, and agreed upon goals and objectives. These have been simply and cogently stated by Kenneth Colby (1951) as follows:

The goal of psychotherapy is to relieve the patient of distressing neurotic symptoms, or discordant personality characteristics which interfere with his satisfactory adaptation to a world of people and events Since psychotherapy is confined to repair work adds Colby, this limited aim may conflict with the beginning therapists ambitions, as well as the patients hopes.

In addition, the hospital psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health worker has to add to these goals the alleviation of psychotic or borderline symptoms by somatic therapies and other adjunctive therapies such as millieu, group, and behavior modification.

Whatever the pathology or method of treatment, the use of oneself as therapist brings with it certain inescapable realities. To quote Colby again: "Unconsciously the patient has a magical belief in the therapist's parental, omnipotent ability to 'make it better'." Colby defines the requirements of a good therapist in the following manner:

He should have:

1. A body of knowledge concerning normal and pathological thought and behavior in our culture.

2. A logically cohesive group of theoretical concepts which are convenient in understanding this thought and behavior.

3. Technical experience in therapeutically integrating observations with concepts through clinical work with patients.


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