Relating in Psychotherapy: The Application of a New Theory

Relating in Psychotherapy: The Application of a New Theory

Relating in Psychotherapy: The Application of a New Theory

Relating in Psychotherapy: The Application of a New Theory

Synopsis

In his earlier book, How Humans Relate, John Birtchnell proposed that relating occurs along two axes, a horizontal one concerning becoming close versus being distant and a vertical one concerning being upper versus being lower. He called closeness, distance, upperness, and lowerness the relating objectives, and he proposed that people need to acquire competence in attaining and maintaining these objectives. In this book, he argues that the task of psychotherapists is to identify and correct, within these axes, people's relating incompetencies, and to enable people to cope with the relating incompetencies of others. He considers this to be the case across all psychotherapies.

Excerpt

This book is a sequel to my previous book, How Humans Relate: a New Interpersonal Theory. the previous book was about a theory. This book is about an application of that theory. the theory grew out of a preoccupation with the concept of psychological dependence. the breakthrough came when I realized that dependence had two parts, one to do with getting close and one to do with being lower. Once that became clear, I could see that there had to be other kinds of relating that involved becoming distant and being upper. It occurred to me that being close, distant, upper and lower must be the only possible ways we could relate. So that was it--everything we do has to involve becoming either close or distant, or lower or upper.

It does not diminish the study of relating to point out that it can be reduced to these four activities, any more than it diminishes the study of mathematics to point out that it can be reduced to the four operations of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. in fact, there is almost a correspondence between being close and adding, being distant and subtracting, being lower and dividing and being upper and multiplying. Relating, just like mathematics, can become extremely complicated, but it helps to understand both relating and mathematics if one can identify the basic processes upon which that complexity is constructed.

It can be, and has been, said that there is nothing original about my ideas about relating. in the opening paragraph of the previous book I wrote that Newton did not discover gravity. It was always there. He simply drew our attention to it. in the same way, I did not discover relating. I simply drew the reader's attention to it. in his review of the book in the British Journal of Psychotherapy, Robert Royston (1995) pointed out that we have always known that people are aware of the distance, and the power asymmetry, between themselves and others.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.