Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To restrict search results by languageā€¦

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

The Search Tool allows you to restrict your search by Language. PEP Web contains articles written in English, French, Greek, German, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Erdman, A. (2017). The Powerless Therapist and the Helpless Borderline: Acceptance, Aloneness, and Dyadic Joining. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 24(2):114-130.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 24(2):114-130

The Powerless Therapist and the Helpless Borderline: Acceptance, Aloneness, and Dyadic Joining

Andrew L. Erdman

The encounter between therapist and borderline patient brings with it a humbling experience of powerlessness. The therapist or helping agent must confront her or his own feelings of inability to change anything in the patient's mental or material life. With this comes a corresponding reality that the locus of therapeutic action remains very circumscribed indeed. Many therapists, particularly new ones to the field, may feel overwhelmed by anxiety, grief, guilt, and fear, tempting them to jump precipitously into interpretations or thinly veiled advice-giving—or, alternatively, to deflect emotion with hollow “empathic” mirroring. By actively getting in touch with and using his or her experience of powerlessness, however, the therapist can find a way forward that relies on dyadic joining and a more useful conception of the therapist/patient system (whose dynamics, as we will see, are also increasingly clarified thanks to emergent neuroscience findings). Central aspects of this approach have been present since borderline first appeared in the literature, continuing through more recent contributions, notably those of Marsha Linehan and the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) school.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

Copyright © 2018, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.