Therapist’s use of the disintegrated self: getting lost in power, vulnerability and incoherence
Relational therapies often require the therapist’s wholehearted and conscious use of self as essential to the therapeutic process. I argue that the self I bring to a client is disintegrated and often shattered and that the expectation of integration in the therapist’s self is impossible to meet. This study is aimed mainly towards practitioners as readers, in an attempt to uncover the vulnerability of therapists in light of the complex power relationships we enter into and to deconstruct the myth of the undifferentiated, fixed self of the therapist. I do this by using writing as a method of inquiry, within a post-structural research paradigm, to create a detailed exploration of inter-cultural and inter-gender therapy with a fictional client, written from my perspective as a therapist who assumes a minority identity. The writing is left deliberately disjointed and disconnected to embody this deconstructive stance. From a post-colonial and feminist angle, I explore various themes around presence, voice, gender, race, shame, disconnect, dissociation, spirituality, consciousness, sex, integration and oneness within the context of using my self to work therapeutically with the fictional client. The jumbling and jolting experience of moving through the various realms of self is my whole world. I am left fragmented, lost and incoherent as I write into these experiences, which leaves me true not only to the method, wherein “getting lost” becomes key to creating knowledge, but also to the confusing and painful process of psychotherapy itself.