Presence: A New Beginning in the Therapeutic Encounter

greystone-park-psychiatric-hospital-demolition-1024x720Historically, immorality and spiritual failings were banished from the righteous community members. Stigmatized nonconformists were exiled from the mainstream in an attempt to cure them from their transgressions:

1876-Old Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Morris Plains, NJ

As the years progressed, the old stigmatizing mentality is torn down to bring in a new mentality: Mental Illness is the cause for the transgressions and lapse of reasoning:

2005-Demolishing a shameful and horrific time of the past in an attempt to forget…

As the asylum doors opened and its walls came down: Society’s sanist mentality still remains standing strong:

As Society demolishes physical buildings to forget past atrocities, society’s  unacknowledged  shadow self , continues to project dark aspects of self onto the already pained person in the community. Could the nonconformist be acting out what others emit and do not admit?

As with the old, conformists still stigmatize and marginalize those who are different:

The mental health system may have replaced mortar and shackles with freedom, but, psychiatric medication is as bounding as iron metal:

Detachment, control, and sterility in treatment proves to many to be an  ineffective treatment approach; it is time to replace the old mentality with the new one of Compassion, Empathy, Mindfulness, and a Therapeutic Healing Presence.  It is not impossible to integrate compassion and empathy with the current medical model paradigm.  According to Emma Bragdon in her book The Call of Spiritual Emergency: From Personal Crisis to Personal Transformation, the pained other who is undergoing any type of crisis, “needs the care of someone who perceives his inner experiences as meaningful. This helper would be a support person who follows him through the full cycle of his crisis and helps him find a conceptual framework to make sense of his experience (pp. 15)”.  In terms of treating and stablizing an individual with a diagnosis of schizphrenia, J.W. Perry, an American psychiatrist,  Jungarian and transpersonal psychotherapist, explains in his book, Trials of the Visionary Mind the stark difference of treatment the  schizophrenic patient received in his institute Diabasis. Perry expounds on techniques of listening, understanding, and validating the pained person’s psychic deeper concerns and the link the presenting thoughts and language have to what Jung describes to the collective unconcious and archetypes.    Barbara Taylor states in her book,  The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times, ” …a host of studies has shown that it is the the quality of the relationship with the therapist that determines the outcome of CBT, as it does all therapeutic encounters “(pp.265).

Taking all of this into account, then, it is the clinician’s self responsibility to integrate what Jung calls the shadow self, through self care and reflection achieve a mindful, empathic state of presence and Satori.  

A clinician who is empathically present is:

  • compassionately and empathically aligns with the pained other, understanding the humanness, not, the overt behavior.

  •  listens to the pained other

  • validates the experience

  • sees medication as a means to assist the pained other to de-escalate and upholds the pained other’s self determination to either take the medication in a short or long term or none at all. The empowered clinician does not feel that medication is the cure, but, a means for acute alleviation of suffering

  • assists to unravel the deeper meaning of the pain

  • is free of judgement

  • finds an empathic spiritual connection with the pained other regardless of differences

  • respects and honors the pained other

  • is present, intuitive, in the moment

  • is empowered

And this new mentality starts with the Mental Health Practitioner:

Being in the moment allows an intuitive, empathic, compassionate, and respectful connection with another. This is the State of Presence:

The intra-relationship between two humans is more complex than a physical/verbal communication. It is an electromagnetic exchange between both and all those around.

Healing, not curing, takes precedence when presence is present in a therapeutic encounter. For the only difference between two humans are endured experiences and the accompanying perceptions.


It is in the Now that we need to acknowledge that my I, is in You, You are in Me, and that We can heal together.

For in Unity We all Heal and Empower

Picture Collage References




















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