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Warren, S.C. (2002). Serving Ambivalence: Commentary on Paper by Jeremy Safran. Psychoanal. Dial., 12(2):197-206.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(2):197-206

Serving Ambivalence: Commentary on Paper by Jeremy Safran Related Papers

Seth C. Warren, Ph.D.

In this commentary it is appreciated that in his approach Safran avoids some of the common pitfalls of brief therapy discourses, namely, the extremes of therapeutic grandiosity and therapeutic nihilism. Instead, seeking to maintain a “middle way,” he strives to balance the pragmatic and instrumental aims of time-limited psychotherapy with an appreciation of the existential and human dimensions of the therapeutic encounter.

Safran also works to extend the full implications of relational theory to the theory and practice of brief psychotherapy. In this effect he relies on the contributions of constructivism, interpersonal psychoanalytic theory, and relational clinical theory. In this commentary some tensions and even contradictions are remarked upon between certain aspects of Safran's approach and the fundamental assumptions of relational theory. A tension is noted between the instrumental aims of brief therapy and Safran's goal of radical openness to patients. The importance of therapist decentering is acknowledged, along with paradoxes in the use of the concept of metacommunication. Finally, a question is raised as to the compatibility of empirically oriented approaches to psychotherapy research with the philosophical assumptions of a two-person psychology.

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