Reconciliation of Time Perspectives as a Criterion for Therapy Completion

Gestalt Theory 43 (1):101-119 (2021)
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Summary Giancarlo Trombini presents the continuation of his research on the question of which criteria can be used to assess the progress of therapy in an objectively verifiable way and to make the decision on the completion of therapy. In the first phase of his research, the phenomenological criterion of a qualitative change in the patient’s relations toward the positive and higher complexity was proposed for this purpose. In terms of the working method in analytic therapy, this meant concretely: attention should be paid to what development is shown in the comparison of the relationships that occur in the dream narrative and in the subsequent associations. This criterion was therefore given the name manifest dream/association comparison (MDAC)—comparison between the manifest dream and the subsequent associations. The idea can easily be transferred to those therapy methods, which do not primarily work with reports of dream memories and subsequent associations—also, in other ways of working, it is possible to pay attention, in the way suggested by Trombini, to the qualitative development of the relationships which are thematized by the clients in the course of an hour. To this first criterion, another phenomenological criterion is now added in the present article: that of the “concluding therapeutic turn” (CTT). If the patient’s development reaches this turn in the course of the therapy in one session, this indicates, according to Trombini, that the therapy can soon be concluded. The fulfillment of this criterion can be recognized by the fact that in the sequence of dream narration and subsequent associations in a session, a relational dynamic toward the positive and higher complexity becomes recognizable and that is, at the same time, connected with a reconciliation of the three temporal reference systems (past, present, and future). The achievement of this CTT indicates that the patient is aware of the changes made in therapy and makes it evident to the therapist that the therapy is nearing completion.

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