IN THE THERAPY ROOM, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "UNSPEAKABLE" OR "SHAMEFUL". MY AIM IS TO HELP PATIENTS REORGANISE OLD WAYS OF NEGATIVE THINKING SO THAT THEY DO NOT FEEL A NEED TO REPRESS, WITHHOLD, FEEL ASHAMED, OR SHUT DOWN THEIR FEELINGS.
[C. COMFORT SHIELDS]
One existential theorist is particularly influential to my therapeutic approach: Robert Stolorow. A key premise of existential philosophy is that within certain constraints, human beings have an enormous amount of freedom.
Robert Stolorow’s psychodynamic approach to existentialism is developmental in nature. According to Stolorow, people only exist authentically if they are able to dwell in the emotional pain that is part of the finitude of human existence. This non-evasive emotional dwelling, according to Stolorow, requires patterns in one’s life of healthy relationships so that individuals can develop the capacity to incorporate the painful emotions that are part of human existence into their lives. Without healthy relationships, people are more likely to experience what Stolorow calls traumatic temporality, or an inability to integrate the past, present, and future, and instead a feeling of being ‘stuck’ in time.