The study of human personality has shed light on the undeniable impact that attachment relationships, as well as early traumatic experiences – and the consequent dissociation – have on the construction of the Self. Psychological suffering can be analised from two different, but interrelated, perspectives: the level of integration of the Self, on the one side, and the individual’s ability to interact with the external world, on the other side. Starting from this premise, identifying and defining the various parts of the client’s personality –especially if the latter has experienced trauma and starts therapy with severe symptoms –is crucially important. As a matter of fact, Psychotherapy is more and more conceived as a series of interventions aimed at integrating the dissociative parts of the client’s personality, in order to support them building a unified Self. At the same time, the therapeutic relationship plays a central role in the treatment of the dissociation caused by early relational traumas, regardless from their seriousness.
To work in front of the mirror is a completely innovative therapeutic approach based on the use of a mirror within the therapeutic setting, which is placed in front of both the client and the therapist, thus allowing them to interact through their reflected image. The validity of this unique modality of intervention is supported by its theoretical underpinnings, which include not only the most recent research studies in the field of Neuroscience, but also a series of effective clinical studies.
The construction of the Self and the individual’s relational reality – starting from the very beginning of the identity construction process, that is the ability to identify themselves in front of a mirror, to the capacity to acknowledge the other’s emotional states – are two parallel processes characterizing each human being’s development. Therefore, Therapy in front of the mirror can be seen as a unique combination of therapeutic interventions helping the client reconstructing an integrated Self, while at the same time working on the relationship with the other.
Over the past five years, this approach has been studied in depth and a specific procedure of intervention has been created; additionally, therapists have discovered a new and extremely accelerated way to connect with the client, as well as an effective approach to help the latter integrating their inner parts through a deep, transformative self-compassion. Finally yet importantly, the theoretical and application aspects emerging from clinical practice offer new opportunities of intervention that Research can keep supporting and validating.
About the Presenter:
Alessandro Carmelita, Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Trainer and Supervisor certified by ISST. He introduced the Schema Therapy in Italy teaching in more than 56 editions of the International Training in Schema Therapy, supervising dozens of Therapists and teaching in Clinics and several Hospitals. He has developed together with Marina Cirio the procedure of working with with different parts of the patients in front of the mirror to boost the integration and the recovery from trauma.
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