1st Edition

Making Room for the Disavowed Reclaiming the Self in Psychotherapy

By Paul L. Wachtel Copyright 2024

    In this uniquely integrative book, Paul L. Wachtel describes powerful clinical strategies to make roomfor aspects of the self that were sidetracked in the course of development. Wachtel explores how early attachment experiences can lead people to turn away from certain thoughts and feelings, building a sense of self and ways of interacting on only a limited range of adaptive resources. His approach draws on psychodynamic, humanistic, systemic, and acceptance-centered cognitive-behavioral perspectives, as well as attention to the impact of race, class, and culture. Filled with rich case material, the book illuminates how a therapeutic approach anchored in the present can help heal the wounds of the past.

    See also Wachtel's Therapeutic Communication, Second Edition: Knowing What to Say When, as well as Mastering the Clinical Conversation: Language as Intervention, by Matthieu Villatte, Jennifer L. Villatte, and Steven C. Hayes.

    I. Introduction
    1. Making Room for Thoughts and Feelings: Attachment, Self-Acceptance, and Emotional Immediacy
    2. Silos, Stereotypes, and the Evolutionary Links between Diverse and Competing Approaches
    3. What Is the Appropriate Evidence Base for Responsible Clinical Practice?
    II. Beyond Pathologizing: The Dialectics of Acceptance and Change
    4. From Interpreting Wishes and Feelings to Making Room for Them: The Problem with Uncovering “the Truth”
    5. The Roots of Pathologizing and Accusatory Interpretations
    6. Anxiety, Exposure, and the Path to Self-Acceptance
    7. Making Room in CBT: From Beck and Ellis to the Dialectics of Acceptance and Change
    III. Attachment and the Lifelong Dynamics of Development
    8. Self-Acceptance and Self-Rejection: The Critical Impact of Attachment
    9. Working in the Present on the Consequences of the Past
    IV. Living-in-the-World
    10. Experiencing, Emotional Immediacy, and Self-in-Action
    11. Living in Contexts: From the Relational Matrix to the Impact of Culture and Society
    12. The Many Faces of Psychotherapy


    Paul L. Wachtel, PhD, is Distinguished Professor in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at The City College of New York. Dr. Wachtel has been a leading voice for integrative thinking in the human sciences and is a cofounder and past president of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration. He is a recipient of the Hans H. Strupp Memorial Award; the Distinguished Psychologist Award from Division 29 (Psychotherapy) of the American Psychological Association (APA); the Scholarship and Research Award from Division 39 (Psychoanalysis) of APA; and the Sidney J. Blatt Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychotherapy, Scholarship, Education and Practice.

    "Wachtel eloquently presents a wonderful integrative approach in which making room is the pivotal process. Making room does not involve interpreting, modifying, or educating; it is about helping the person gain access to parts of self they have shied away from. This is the work on theoretical integration that the field has been waiting for."--Leslie S. Greenberg, PhD, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Psychology, York University, Canada

    "This is a groundbreaking volume from a giant of psychotherapy who has long sought ways to build bridges between psychodynamic thinking and other traditions. Wachtel's focus on making room challenges some aspects of traditional psychodynamic approaches; at the same time, it makes the psychodynamic methods described here immediately accessible and valuable to practitioners of humanistic approaches, third-wave cognitive-behavioral therapy, or many other varieties of modern psychotherapy. The book is brilliant and challenging--I highly recommend it."--Steven C. Hayes, PhD, Foundation Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Nevada, Reno; codeveloper of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    "A necessary companion for practicing clinicians and students alike. Wachtel's book is like a microfiber cloth to clean our psychotherapist-lenses. It highlights the delicate and dynamic relationship between therapist and patient--and is a lesson on how to build a sturdy enough room to house it."--Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, private practice, New York City; podcast host, Where Should We Begin?

    "This readable book embodies its own subject matter--expanding therapeutic conversations rather than forcing them into the narrow paradigms into which contemporary researchers and clinicians are socialized. Whether trained in DSM diagnoses, symptom-focused manuals, or authoritarian rules of interpretation, mental health professionals will find Wachtel’s book both incisive and liberating. Long admired for his deeply knowledgeable, respectful treatment of competing ideas, Wachtel breaks new ground in this integrative discourse on psychological healing. Beginning therapists will benefit from Wachtel's clarity, practicality, and humanity; seasoned clinicians will benefit from penetrating insights that support their best therapeutic instincts."--Nancy McWilliams, PhD, ABPP, Visiting Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-