Abstract

This article critiques prevalent cultural understandings of dependency, and attempts to present a more rounded, de-pathologized conception of the experience of dependency in psychotherapy. Dependency is conceptualized as a developmental process, with the capacity for independence resting on the achievement of a “mature dependency.” Excessive self-reliance is taken up as the counter-part to problematic dependency. A case study is presented in which the therapist initially varies the therapeutic frame to help the patient to develop a greater capacity to tolerate interpersonal dependency, and later implements a more traditional therapeutic structure.

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