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Can you be a relational analyst who is unobtrusive at the same time? In this book, Robert Grossmark makes a claim that you can and you should! He identifies a vulnerability of the relational style—being that it can place too much emphasis on reflective interactions between patient and therapist, where each party is working to put experience into words. This can be a problem for classically trained analysts too, who put a heavy emphasis on interpretation and insight. Grossmark makes a case that the analyst can be fully engaged and even interactive with her patients, without necessarily operating on the register of language and linguistic symbolization.
In his new book The Unobtrusive Relational Analyst: Explorations in Psychoanalytic Companioning (Routledge, 2018), Grossmark draws from the Object Relations tradition, especially Balint, Bion, and Winnicott, and integrates it with theories from the Relational world of contemporary psychoanalysis. He values the regressive processes which psychoanalysis can induce in patients, returning them to “areas of the self that are unlikely to be reached by dialogic engagement.” And he also values contemporary ideas about how these areas of the self can sometimes only be known through the “flow of enactive engagement” rather than through verbally driven representational modes of communication. Multiple extended clinical vignettes help the reader “live through” the points that Grossmark is making by showing how they work in practice. This illustrates his idea that the most powerful way to reach patients can be by “companioning” them as they show us, rather than tell us, about their internal worlds.

Philip Lance, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles. He is candidate at The Psychoanalytic Center of California. He can be reached at PhilipJLance@gmail.com.


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