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Being is the Doing: Therapeutic presence in AEDP with Ben Lipton, LCSW

Presence is essential to developing a highly attuned and mutually coordinated relationship—a fundamental requirement for deep human connection.  Therapeutic Presence is a way of being that reflects a therapist’s full, embodied engagement in the present moment in relationship with their clients.  This workshop will address the specific role of Therapeutic Presence in AEDP in the service of psychological healing and transformation. 

AEDP considers therapeutic presence not only as a relational precondition to therapy, but also as a deeply healing, affective change process in its own right.  From the get-go, AEDP therapists strive to actively and explicitly foster secure attachment by offering a new experience of emotional safety in the context of a relationship with a therapist who actively embodies the characteristics of a loving, attuned and self-possessed Other.  Rooted in attachment theory, the therapeutic stance of an AEDP therapist is welcoming, encouraging, affirming, transparent and explicitly emotionally engaged. It is focused not only on the patient’s intrapsyhcic experience, but also on the relational “we-ness” of the therapeutic process.    Parallel to the implicit processes of caregiver-infant security engendering attachment relationships, the explicit cultivation of Therapeutic Presence allows clients to acknowledge, explore and process the difficult and often painful terrain of relational trauma from the base of a safe and supportive therapeutic connection.  

Additionally, in the service of therapeutic change for the better, AEDP therapists allow themselves to be affected by their patients, and then harness these experiences, make them explicit, and work to help patients process the experience of having a real and meaningful impact on the therapist.  At the apex of AEDP’s conceptualization of therapeutic presence is the concept of the True Other, the relational counterpart to the True Self.  A patient experiences the therapist as a True Other in moments when s/he feels optimally understood, seen, felt, and validated. By making these moments explicit and processing their affective content dyadically, the AEDP therapist catalyzes True Other experiences to become agents of deep psychological transformation. 

This presentation will include clips from actual sessions of psychotherapy to illustrate work with Therapeutic Presence in AEDP and bring it to life in engaging and exciting ways.  By attending this seminar, you will:

  1. Specify 3 techniques for increasing Therapeutic Presence.

  2. Practice the skills of Therapeutic Presence to enhance your clinical practice.

  3. Identify the link between neuroscience research and Therapeutic Presence.

  4. Differentiate “being” from “doing” in the clinical application of Therapeutic Presence to AEDP.

  5. Summarize 2 ways that AEDP utilizes Therapeutic Presence in clinical treatment of attachment trauma.


Earlier Event: July 17
Portland AEDP Summer Salon