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Self-Relations — A Powerful New Approach to Psychotherapy

Self-relations focuses on the crucial relationship between a person and their own self. This approach to healing is fascinating and I’ve been privileged to study it in-depth with Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D. He came up with this new vision for psychotherapy and shared his finding in his book: The Courage to Love: Principles and Practices of Self-Relations Psychotherapy

Self- relations is so effective, I’ve been utilizing it as a foundation to my therapeutic approach. Self-relations draws upon many distinct forms of therapy and healing. Dr. Gilligan derived much of his inspiration from, Milton H. Erickson, M.D., the father of American clinical hypnosis. However, self-relations primary objective is to awaken soul and love in a person’s experience of themselves and others. I’m able to utilize other techniques, such as hypnosis or NLP, to guide someone’s process of self-awakening.

Traditional therapy often jumps immediately into practicing specific techniques to fix or eradicate symptoms. In contrast, self-relations views symptoms as a sign of something trying to wake up within a person. Gilligan describes symptoms as an awakening of the soul from a person who has in some way been wounded or scarred in the process of living. By acknowledging the purpose of a symptom, such as depression or anxiety, a person is in a much better position to seriously reexamine their life and begin the process of living with renewed purpose.

Self-relations asserts that therapeutic work should always be centered on supporting this awakening process. The therapist’s job is to be there as “sponsor,” to support this awakening by holding a safe space open for a person to enter, explore, and test out their feelings, thoughts, and intentions. I look forward to sharing the principles and benefits of sponsorship in my next blog post.

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