The Healing Connection: How Women Form Relationships in Therapy and in Life

Jean Baker Miller, Author, Irene Pierce Stiver, With
Jean Baker Miller, Author, Irene Pierce Stiver, With Beacon Press (MA) $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-2920-6
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Separation or individuation need not be the goal of therapy, contend Miller (Toward a New Psychology of Women) and Stiver, former director of the psychology department at McLean Hospital. Focusing on a range of everyday interactions from women's perspectives, the authors find our culture biased toward producing experiences of ""disconnection""--of feeling misunderstood by, and cut off from, another person--that hinder or disrupt psychological development. These experiences can occur in any relationship and at any age. (One woman discussed here is humiliated by her boss, and then spurned by a co-worker for being too soft.) The goal of therapy thus becomes the creation of a ""connection,"" a ""mutually empathic and empowering"" interaction wherein the patient can safely experience her own true ""thought-feelings"" and realize, for perhaps the first time, a ""growth-fostering relationship."" This requires, as one chapter heading proposes, ""Changing Traditional Psychotherapy Concepts,"" such as transference and resistance, to allow the therapist more freedom in responding to the emotional ebb and flow of therapy. It may even mean empathizing with the very ""strategies of disconnection"" the therapy seeks to remove. While most of the text concerns the doctor-patient relationship, and a bit of it seems engaged in an internecine turf war (""several more traditional therapists have said that what we propose is that a person need simply be `kind' or `nice' in order to do therapy""), this book does provide a possible alternative for those who find the traditional psychotherapist too much of a ""blank screen."" (Sept.)
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