Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice - Patient/Therapist Relationship
2. THE PROCESS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
VII. The Ideal Patient-Therapist Relationship
Paragraph 1. "Who, then, is the therapist, and who is the patient?" (P-2.VII.1:1) Every patient who comes to a therapist is not only coming for healing, he is offering the therapist an opportunity to advance his own healing. In that sense, then, the patient is offering his services to the therapist as a therapist! And every therapist must learn to heal from each patient who comes to him for therapy. In that sense, then, the therapist becomes the patient! So then, who is the therapist and who is the patient? "In the end, everyone is both. He who needs healing must heal. Physician, heal thyself. Who else is there to heal?" (1:2-5) And everyone in the world needs healing, or everyone would be transformed already.
You see, God does not know of separation. He has ONLY ONE SON. His knowledge is thus reflected in the ideal patient-therapist relationship. Any two who come together, do so for the purpose of healing, no matter the form of the relationship, the duration, or the perceived purpose. It is for HEALING.
Take a look for a moment at the "form" of the patient-therapist relationship. If both patient and therapist are a "therapist," what is the "form" that each takes? The therapist renders therapy in the more conventional sense of leading the patient to inner healing. The patient "offers therapy" by simply being seen as a holy Son of God whom the therapist can look upon, give to, and receive gratitude from. Both therapist and patient give and receive, therefore, but in different forms. The therapist receives through giving. The patient gives through receiving.
Yet beneath this difference in form, the fact remains that, on a content level, there is no real separation in their roles. This is a reflection of the fact that, on an ultimate level, there is no separation at all. The therapist and patient are two parts of the one Son. Their joining, then, is thus an earthly reflection of the oneness of God's Son, of what God knows. "What He knows is only that He has one Son." (1:12) So, earthly joining is a mirror of heavenly oneness.
Paragraph 2. "Think carefully, teacher and therapist, for whom you pray, and who is in need of healing." (2:1) Therapy is prayer, and the aim and result of prayer is healing. "Healing is here, and happiness and peace." (2:8) These are the "symptoms" of the ideal patient-therapist relationship, replacing those with which the patient came to ask for help.
You may think that your prayers are for the healing of your brother who appears outside of you. But your prayers are for the healing of God's Son, and God has only one Son, and that Son is you! So you are really praying to heal yourselves through realizing that you and your patient are one. To see your patient as outside of you, is to see TWO. And prayers for another are distant (though well intentioned), while prayers for yourselves (or for another seen as your Self) are closer to home.
"What is prayer except the joining of minds in a relationship which Christ can enter?" (2:3) And once Christ enters into minds that have joined, what other choice is there but to have Him stay? This is called a "holy relationship," one in which Christ has entered. It brings to mind the question: Is it therefore a strength to invite Christ to enter every relationship? Well, that depends, do you want some special relationships and some holy ones, some with ego and some with Christ? The answer is obvious. Christ is therefore invited and welcomed into all relationships -- henceforth.
The joining then, between patient and therapist and Christ, is all that therapy should seek. "There is no need for more than this, for it is everything." (2:7). Why seek relief of superficial symptoms when true joining can heal the root cause of the human condition? It was separation that started it all in the first place; so joining has to be the way home.
Paragraph 3. "The process that takes place in this relationship is actually one in which the therapist in his heart tells the patient that all his sins have been forgiven him, along with his own." (3:1) Notice it said "in his heart." It may not be appropriate to say this to the patient aloud, however, unless you are specifically guided to do so.
Remember that the therapist (you) are not the One doing the forgiving. "Only Christ forgives, knowing His sinlessness." (3:3) Only He knows that the patient is sinless, for He is the sinless Self at the core of the patient (and the therapist both). "His vision heals perception and sickness disappears. Nor will it return again, once its cause has been removed." (3:4-5) His forgiveness does more than temporarily remove symptoms. It removes cause, and so cures forever.
Therefore forgiveness is the true means for healing, since guilt for the separation is the root of the illness. It also stresses that what is said is not as important as what is in the therapist's heart. Thus saying you are forgiven is not enough. It may even sound arrogant to the patient. But knowing you are both forgiven in your heart is where the real communication takes place. Remember, the way for the patient to know, is for the therapist to accept this as true for himself.
Therefore truly effective therapy "needs the help of a very advanced therapist, capable of joining with the patient in a holy relationship in which all sense of separation finally is overcome." (3:6)
Paragraph 4. "For this, one thing and one thing only is required: The therapist in no way confuses himself with God." (4:1) All "unhealed healers" make this fundamental confusion in one form or another, though they are rarely aware of it. If they were aware, they would instantly become a Teacher of God and devote their entire lives to the function of true healing.
The "unhealed healer" also feels responsible for the outcome of the therapeutic process, thinking that since he is in charge of the process, he must therefore be responsible for the success or failure of the venture. This erroneous assumption of who/Who is in charge, is the cause of unnecessary guilt for the therapist, for which he, too, will need healing.
Guilt is inevitable in those who use their judgment in making their decisions.
Guilt is impossible in those through whom the Holy Spirit speaks.
So getting this right in the beginning, will truly heal (since the Holy Spirit is in charge) and will not cause the additional need of healing for guilt. It will also improve the ratio of healing to illness, since the healing will be accomplished by the Spirit working through the healer, and not the healer attempting to heal on his own.
To follow the Holy Spirit's guidance is to let yourself be absolved of guilt. (M-29.3:3)
Paragraph 5. "The passing of guilt is the true aim of therapy and the obvious aim of forgiveness." (5:1) This goes for the therapist as well as the patient. The true aim of forgiveness is to KNOW you are forgiven and finally free of guilt -- and to KNOW the entire Sonship is forgiven along with you -- that you can all go home freely, at will, taking your brothers with you!
"Yet who could experience the end of guilt who feels responsible for his brother in the role of guide for him?" (5:3) This supposition presupposes a knowledge that no one here can have: a certainty of past, present, and future, and of all the effects that may occur in them. Only from an omniscient view would such a role be possible. Even being "above the battlefield" would not be enough!
To think you know how to meet the total array of your patient's healing needs in just the right way is to claim a kind of godlike omniscience. Perception is not omniscient, yet it is what is available to therapists here. To assume an omniscient (all-knowing) view would not be wisdom, but madness. Yet many therapists are indeed mad, as no unhealed healer can be wholly sane.
Paragraph 6. "Yet it is as insane not to accept a function God has given you as to invent one He has not." (6:1) It is true you are not the omniscient omnipotent Healer, yet the Holy Spirit IS, and He IS IN YOU. So the advanced therapist walks a fine line. He never thinks that his "tiny self" (5:6) is in charge of the therapeutic process. But he also never doubts "the power that is in him." (6:2)
When you look at the confidence the advanced therapist carries, it is truly inspiring. He never doubts that "all power in earth and Heaven belongs to him" (6:4) because he is God's Son. He knows this power comes to him from God, and God's Love dwells in him, and God can never fail. (6:5) Think what this means: he has the gifts of God Himself to give to his patients. (6:6)
When the healer is in this state of mind, he sees his patients not as defective and maladapted, but as God's saints. And they have come to you to have their sanctity restored to their awareness. They do that by calling on your sanctity, and you gladly share it with them. When they are calling for it, the sanctity in you reaches out to them like a gentle magnet to draw forth theirs to join with yours. When someone calls your name, do you not lean toward him to answer? When they call upon your sanctity, it, too, will lean toward them to share. And as you bless them thus, they behold Christ's shining face as it looks back at them. This is the plan of God Himself for the healing of His Son.
Paragraph 7. "The insane, thinking they are God, are not afraid to offer weakness to God's Son." (7:1) What does this mean? We are talking here of the "unhealed healer." He sees himself as a god, possessing all the knowledge and wisdom that he perceives the patient lacks. He has a "been there, done that" attitude, and thinks he knows what this patient needs, based on his own past experiences or on his studies and training. He does not listen to the Holy Spirit, Who would tell him how to help this patient come to the truth, because he thinks he already knows it all.
This, of course, means that he does not see the patient as his brother, or as one with him. He does not actually see this patient at all! Instead he sees the patient as a reflection of his former and current unhealed self, "a stranger, alien to the truth and poor in wisdom without the god (the therapist) who must be given him." (7:7) So the "unhealed healer" sees his patient as weak and sickly, and so reinforces the sickness in him, while aggrandizing himself.
It is not hard to recognize this as an act of treachery. Your patient came to you trusting that you would offer healing. But you have betrayed his trust and reinforced his sickness instead, thus making yourself appear to be a god, and the patient as a nothing who depends upon you for his sanity. Yet to depend upon the insane for sanity is both feckless (ineffective) and foolish. With this form of therapy you as therapist will eventually see the treachery in yourself, and because you do, you will project it onto the patient and be suspicious of him as well. (7:3)
You will suspect the patient of betraying your joint project of healing because you have projected onto him your betrayal of yourself, him, and God -- by pretending to be what you are not: an omniscient healer. Patients will retreat from healing from a pushy, forceful, know-it-all therapist. Wouldn't you? Or else it may escalate to a battle between them and that will help no one.
So what is the answer? The answer is to "see the Christ in him who calls" (7:6) rather than a weak and sickly, dysfunctional projection of an "unhealed healer." The answer is to "behold your God in him" (7:8) rather than seeing yourself as his god. As you do, this will be your Answer.
Paragraph 8. "Think what the joining of two brothers really means. (8:1) This is the second time Jesus asks you to think about what something really means. (See the last sentence of Paragraph 6, second paragraph.) Thinking of "joining" rather than triumphing over your brothers, is a big step. You let go the idea of defending yourselves (knowing safety lies in your defenselessness), and let go the idea of anger (knowing you are only getting angry at yourselves, that anger brings you nothing that you want), let go of projecting your perceived faults and flaws onto a brother (as they will only be reflected back to you). Remember instead your sinlessness; the same is one, and nothing now can be remembered of a world of guilt.
Now you are both in the world, but beyond it as well. Joining with a brother lifts you both into an encounter so holy that the world around you is transformed into what Jesus calls "the holiest place on earth." (T-26.IX.6:1) "The room becomes a temple, and the street a stream of stars that brushes lightly past all sickly dreams. Sickly dreams of triumph, anger and attack have become as nothing, having been forgotten in the holiness of the encounter. In this sacred joining, you experience the perfect sinlessness that lies in both of you. What is left now to heal? ". . . and what remains to be forgiven where there is no sin?" (8:5)
Paragraph 9. "Be thankful, therapist, that you can see such things as this, if you but understand your proper role. (9.1) Trying to take the role of a god, blocks this. Why? Because it blocks the truth that you and your brother are one, so where is joining then? How can you really join with someone if you take the role of a god, and appoint them the role of a spiritual deviant or groveling devotee?
Unless you see your patient as a saintly brother who, admittedly, has lost his way (as even you appear to have lost yours as neither of you appears aware you are still in Heaven), then you will have denied that God created you both, and so YOU will not know that you are God's Son. If you see your patient as a sickly stranger, you will not see him as a saint. What saint then can come to take you home with him? You lost the way. And can you now expect to see in him what you refuse to give? Giving is receiving. Give healing to receive healing. "Heal and be healed. There is no other choice of pathways that can ever lead to peace." (9:7-8)
Oh, Son of God, let your patient in, for he has come to you of God. The Holy Spirit has sent him to you. Do not feel superior to him. Your brother is so holy than he can awaken in you the memory of God. Understand this; allow this to happen. Join with your brother. Step back now and confidently follow the Holy Spirit as He leads you both to the light -- knowing God has only one Son. AMEN
Father, many are assigned to us for help in healing and in being healed, from the briefest of encounters, to those that appear to last a year or two, and to those few that continue for a lifetime. Each one comes to us to help us see the light and to return to it. Thank you for helping us to see the Christ in all who call, and to behold you, Father, in them. Thank you for your help to step back and humbly, confidently and gratefully allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us. He has promised to bring us all home, and we would lovingly follow Him straight to Heaven -- with no detours, no delays, and no one left behind. We remember what You already know, that YOU HAVE ONLY ONE SON. AMEN