Relating With Self And Others

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The emergence of a new family of collaborative therapy is a sorely needed alternative to the individualist and pathologising practices now dominating the culture. This new family of practices focuses attention on the relational processes out of which our conceptions of the real, the rational, and the good are moulded. However, in this shift in focus there remains the question of the individual psyche. What are we to do, if anything, about the psychological life of an individual –emotions, aspirations, doubts, hatreds and so on? And if private life is so rich and compelling, why should we be so enthusiastic about the shift to the collaborative? In reply to such questions I will first develop a vision of individual selves in which we are constituted within relational process, in effect, eliminating the distinction between an inner and an outer world. At the same time, as independent physical beings we do carry with us the traces of our relational history. We are multi-beings, in the sense of carrying resources from multiple relationships. And, while not an “inner world,” we do inhabit a “private world,” made up of myriad traces from the past. In this sense, we are dialogic selves – both in terms of the relationship among the various traces in our private world, and in terms of our public relations with others. New and interesting questions now emerge for the collaborative therapist. How can the therapeutic relationship contribute to the person's private dialogues? What is the relationship between these private dialogues and the individual's abilities to carry out face to face relations? How does the therapist expand the potentials of multi-being so that collaborative relations with others are enhanced? My hope is to open dialogue on these issues.