by Peter Goetz, MFT
connection formed between therapist and client is a primary foundation
that any psychotherapy encounter is built on. Positive regard,
mutual respect, attunement speak to this but central to it all
is compassion. Dimensions of this are given profound voice in
many spiritual writings, especially those from Buddhist traditions
but compassion as a human value spreads wide in other religions
and cultures . It is from these realms that spirals can be drawn
into the everyday human contact of psychotherapy.
utilized skillfully is resonance; a knowing that individuals
have the resources and capacities available to them for their
healing and as such, it’s self led. Compassion implies
that each one of us is responsible for ourselves. That can be
challenging. Who at one time or another hasn’t wanted or
needed to be rescued? Or to do the rescuing? As Self led action,
compassion begins at home; it’s a practice, not a result.
as a way of being in the world, has to be active and engaged
with. It’s not about identification or merger. We’d
all like to undo the harm we hear others having fallen to but
that’s not something we’re able to do. Bearing witness
to the traumatic past of others carries the risk of vicarious
traumatization (also known as secondary stress response) in caregivers.
That risk rises as the presence of boundaries goes down. Boundaries
form an essential element of compassion. They give form and contour
to experienced events vs. we becoming the events themselves,
as in no separation. Boundaries form a demarkation of space between
us as individuals as well as defining our personal space. A boundaried
compassion allows us to hold an experience fully in all its intensity
and aliveness vs. events and history enveloping us. This requires
intention, attention and some risk.
offers us the potential to tap into the knowledge that suffering
is inevitable, suffering alone is not. It differs from pity or
sympathy which are subtly judgmental. It opens the field to the
common ground that joins us as people - we’re all in this
together - if we make the choice in heart, mind and gut to attend
this unfolding life itself.
2009, by Peter Goetz
top | articles