Intricate Engagements confronts a fundamental challenge of contemporary psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. At each clinical moment psychotherapists are flooded with possibilities. To manage this situation they often take refuge in preconceived ideas about psychology and change. Intricate Engagements helps therapists find their way through and out of this maze. Dr. Frankel shows how to chart a course through the moment-to-moment uncertainty of the therapeutic situation in a way that maintains the compelling immediacy and often terrifying intimacy required for two people to influence one another.
As Dr. Frankel demonstrates in a wide-ranging review, the major psychoanalytic theories conflict too much on key points to provide sufficient direction. Research in the field is rudimentary. However, by assessing and comparing these sources, consulting the literature on child development, and undertaking an extensive retrospective study of his own clinical work, Dr. Frankel is able to construct an alternative model.
His theory pictures the mind as consisting of semi-autonomous relationship units with closely linked internalized and current dimensions. Its recommendations for technique emphasize the limitations of a therapist's knowledge and the collaborative effort that is required to move beyond it. Therapist and patient work together to identify a path toward understanding and change. Overall, Dr. Frankel describes a rich, practical, and flexible framework from which to initiate the profound transformation in both patient and therapist that is the goal of psychotherapeutic work.
In this fine book, Dr. Frankel paints the portraits of his collaborating patients vividly, graphically, and with consummate compassion. Treatment for Frankel is never a discussion and surely not one filled with the therapist's abstinence; it is a vital, interactive, and changing experience for both partners. He is no less skillful in engaging and educating the reader. His review of psychoanalytic theories and research is, in itself, a prodigious and productive education. It is tempting to suggest that this important contribution to psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy is one illustration of theory finally catching up to sensitive and effective practice. Frankel closes his lovely book with thanks to the reader 'for coming on this part of my journey.' My response: 'Please add further trips and invite me along!'--Shirley Cooper, LCSW