Buber and Dialogical Therapy: Healing Through Meeting

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Abstract

All depth psychotherapies rely on the effectiveness of human conversation to bring about therapeutic change that benefits the patient. However, many approaches to therapeutic conversation focus on techniques of listening and interpretation. In this article, the author, an internationally known scholar on the life and work of Martin Buber, grounds his understanding of therapeutic dialogue in an ontological understanding of what he calls the interhuman, an understanding within which the essence and meaning of the self is interrelatedness. Beginning with this radically interhuman ontology, the author goes on to delineate 10 central elements of an approach to existential depth psychotherapy that he calls healing through meeting or dialogical psychotherapy. Following his elucidation of each of these 10 elements, he illustrates his approach to dialogical psychotherapy with a description and analysis of his work with a woman who suffered with a deep sense of inferiority, which stood in stark contrast to her outwardly evident superior functioning and intelligence. The author concludes with a brief survey of some contemporary forms of psychotherapy that are also grounded in human dialogue, not as a methodology, but as a way of being or, better, interbeing.

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