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The Author Section is a useful way to review an author’s works published in PEP-Web. It is ordered alphabetically by the Author’s surname. After clicking the matching letter, search for the author’s full name.

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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.]

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