Basis therapy

For the development of basis therapy, just as for the other methods of treatment, the symptoms were first analysed: with many clients we looked into how the problems were expressed, what the similarities were, what the backgrounds were and what the similarities were there. This was done in order to discover what the treatment should be directed towards.

One of the first symptoms the therapist noticed was that of being overwhelmed by feelings, especially feelings of sadness (Holmes, 2000). This came out mostly when talking about the past (youth) and about relationships they had or still have. There were usually several intimate relationships; these clients found it difficult to be alone (Dozier, 1990). In relationships they claim on the one hand, and resist on the other. This is most clearly expressed in their sexuality. They often ask their partner to pet and cuddle without intercourse; tenderness (stroking, massaging) is seen as important; intercourse is often resisted. The claiming aspect usually takes the form of wanting attention, wanting to hear that the partner loves them, wanting to hear that they are important to the partner. And these questions are also accompanied by a great deal of emotions. On the other hand, they resist being touched in daily life saying that they want to initiate it, do not want to be taken by surprise.

Being overwhelmed by feelings indicates suffering that has not been dealt with and a lack of boundaries in their emotional life. In the area of relationships we can see ambivalence: desiring closeness and resisting closeness. The manner of attachment corresponds with the description of anxiety/preoccupied attachment. In the description of the relationally disturbed, this manner of attachment is mentioned along with ambivalence in experiencing closeness.

In developing basis therapy, use was made of what was learned from differentiation and phase therapy. Particular attention was paid to the necessity of building a framework. Setting boundaries and building up a sense of security are connected with this. As with the other two forms of therapy, the therapeutic relationship with the therapist is of overriding importance. The availability of the therapist expressed by his attitude (you are a valuable person) and his techniques are hereby essential.

In basis therapy attention is paid to (mostly from the very beginning of the treatment) being overwhelmed by emotions, whereby the lack of boundaries comes to the fore. By sorting the symptoms and placing them in a framework, the problems become treatable. By connecting the treatment to the sorting of the symptoms, the client gains a hold on his feelings. That is a step-by-step process and there are regular relapses resulting in becoming overwhelmed (sinking to the bottom). One of the therapeutic techniques is that the therapist keeps a grip on the process and indicates the progress of this process. The relapses are often related to a concrete event with a traumatic character for the client. In cases like this I make use of EMDR as I do with learning to cope with youth traumas.

Basis therapy seems to work in practice, but it is not a panacea. It was developed for a difficult type of problem, which infers that it is a process which requires a great deal of attention and patience.

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