Reflexively exploring the ‘therapeutic use of self’: A response to Richard Erskine’s five-chapter case study of Allan

Linda Finlay


This commentary seeks to open up dialogue and debate about the therapeutic use of self in integrative psychotherapy. Reflexively responding to Richard Erskine’s (2021a) touching and inspiring five-chapter case study of Allan, I examine some of the key processes that occur at each phase of long-term therapy, from the initial stage of assessing and engaging the client in therapy, to making contact, building deeper integrative connections (with self and the therapist), and eventually entering the final ending phase. While my model of integrative psychotherapy mirrors that of Richard Erskine, the probing undertaken here raises questions around our respective commitment to existential-phenomenological ways of working over approaches drawn from other theoretical frameworks. But while our stances may be subtly different, I salute Erskine’s exquisitely artful use of self, as revealed in the titrated choice and timing of his interventions.


Therapeutic use of self; integrative psychotherapy; therapy process; phenomenological inquiry; reflexive dialogue

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