Dr. Risha Henry has spent the past five years training to become an
ISTDP psychotherapist under the supervision of Dr. Josette ten Have-de
Labije and Dr. Robert Neborsky. At a recent seminar in London arranged
by ISTDP-UK, Dr. Henry recounted the obstacles she had faced and her
ongoing efforts toward overcoming them.
Dr. Henry’s talk centered around a key point from her training: That
the therapist’s path to the unconscious is the same as his or her
patient’s – there is no shortcut.
Following this principle, she learned to look at herself through the
triangles of conflict and persons, particularly in interaction with
her patients. Importantly, she became increasingly able to block her
own countertransference defenses of passivity as well as omnipotence. By taking an active position toward blocking her own defenses and monitoring her own anxiety, she found that she was more able to see her patients with clarity. With far fewer defenses operating at “input,” she was able to differentiate in her own mind her patient’s ego from pathological superego parts, and firmly ally in an empathic and realistic
partnership with her patient’s healthy part in order to investigate
her patient’s mental processes with love, care, and precision.
In her accompanying video case presentation, Dr. Henry demonstrated
how this approach enabled her to develop an unconscious working
alliance with her patient, ultimately achieving multiple unlockings of
the patient’s core neurotic structure during which the patient
experienced full breakthroughs of rage, guilt, grief, and love
sufficient to enable both symptom relief and character change.