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Keywords:

  • dialogue;
  • intersubjective systems theory;
  • attunement;
  • gadamer;
  • buber

The intersubjective field concept is a doorway to a dialogical sensibility. A dialogical attitude recognizes just how thoroughly and intimately any effort to understand another implicates both parties in the dialogue. The therapist's task is to engage in a dialogue that stands the greatest chance of enabling the therapist to understand how our patients’ experiences—and ours—make perfect sense at this time in this situation together, even when our patients’ statements challenge our equilibrium or raise our defenses. In addition, many patients also struggle toward an engagement with their analyst not just as a repetitive figure (and not even as someone who merely serves their developmental needs). I think they strive for a more complex experience of the analyst in his or her subjectivity. Our ability to welcome them into our experiential worlds is often transformative in restoring a sense of dignity to emotionally alienated patients. An extended case example demonstrates these ideas.