Questions for Clinical Inquiry and Self-Reflection

What to Inquire Deeply About

Psychotherapeutic inquiry begins with problems. It examines the direct experience of problems; the felt sense of problems; their story line; their developmental origins; and the narrative meaning we give to them. In this kind of psychotherapy, there is no attempt to follow any pre-conceived path or model, apart from the underlying clinical assumption that what emerges in psychotherapy is always co-created and is engendered by the patient-therapist relationship.

As a therapeutic approach grounded in contemporary psychoanalysis, inquiring deeply endeavors to show the patient how experience is organized in the psyche, including how the mind relates to itself.1 The relational dimensions of experience are emphasized. As a Buddhist-informed psychotherapeutic approach, inquiring deeply also focuses attention on how the mind gets stuck in grasping, clinging, and aversion. The two theoretical frameworks are interwoven but come together in a focus both on the stories in the mind and on the functions of storytelling. This exploration also highlights subjective beliefs, values, and world view.

Buddhist and Western psychology have been likened to different lenses through which we may view the mind (Rubin, 1996).2 Despite differences in how wide or how narrow the angle of view, and despite differences in the “depth of field”, both psychologies are concerned with similar phenomena. Relational therapy emphasizes an understanding of how our minds function psychodynamically, but, similar to Buddhist practice, its overarching goal is finding a wise and harmonious relationship to our experience.

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