The Power of Resonance in Psychotherapy

As psychotherapists our most poignant sessions occur when we are in a state of presence and attunement with our clients. At these moments, we are not focused on fixing a problem or remedying a symptom. We are not in the role of expert, but rather of compassionate collaborator or guide. There is a sense of “oneness” with our client’s experience. The connection between us helps to catalyze healing, and true wisdom emerges from an inner knowing rather than from analysis or theory.

Welcome to Partners in Healing’s new blog, “Resonant Reflections.” In this forum, we offer creative thought and dialogue about the transformative power of attunement and resonance in psychotherapy. In our experience, the mindful offering of loving-kindness and hope, within the context of safe and respectful boundaries, provides the soil where healing can take root, regardless of the therapist’s theoretical orientation.

In earliest development, our interactions with caregivers shape our nervous system and psyche. The same qualities that promote secure attachment—attunement and resonance—facilitate healthy emotional, social and intellectual development. “Good enough” responsiveness in our first relationships provides the foundations for love, work and play.

When children or adults struggle in any of these domains, they may seek psychotherapy. Bessel van der Kolk, a pioneering psychiatrist and researcher in the field of trauma, posits that most human suffering is related to challenges in emotion regulation or interpersonal functioning. It makes sense then that the same qualities of attunement and resonance can help, within a psychotherapeutic relationship, to re-tinker or re-calibrate the ways our bodies, minds, personalities or spirits experience and adapt to the world.

While the concept of resonance may sound simple, the application is complex and nuanced. Future entries will consider how to adapt a resonant stance to account for challenges presented by a client’s history of insecure or disorganized attachment, emotional dysregulation, or by the impact of PTSD or complex trauma. In addition, we will discuss factors that may limit a therapist’s capacity for acceptance, compassion, tolerance, intimacy or emotional equilibrium.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Sharon, César and Carrie

Photo by Kayla Steinberg