I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND. I AM YOUR THERAPIST": DIFFICULT HERMENEUTICS AND PSYCHODYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY
Stones, C. R., Rhodes University, South Africa
This paper argues that psychodynamic psychotherapy often fails because the therapist allows transferential issues to adversely influence the therapeutic process rather than being engaged constructively to facilitate client insight and development. The paper is predicated on the notion that there is a power differential between therapist and client since the therapist - as a result of the therapeutic relationship - tends to be idealized while, by contrast, the client carries the self-imposed belief of being, at some level, an existential failure within the broader life-world. Such ground is fertile for the rapid growth of pseudo-friendship bonds between therapist and client. It is argued that while such existential entanglements can be used constructively to promote the unburdening of a self-imposed self-concept on the part of the client, there is the real danger that the therapist's own felt existential needs might be ameliorated by the power of the therapist role so that a denied mutual dependency develops between client and therapist. Such therapy is doomed to failure if only because the therapist is opaque to the issues of transference. Tragically, it is often only through existential hindsight that such transferential issues become visible. The paper concludes with the argument that psychotherapy is not necessarily to be considered a "user-friendly" modality of intervention, and that the ripples of impeded psychotherapy continue to spread out during the client's constant strivings to rise to existential challenges that life throws their way.