“A Tender Mother May Be There for Me!”: Forms of Vulnerability and Relational Processes Promoting the Integration of the Self

Isabella Nuboloni


Developed by Richard Erskine and his colleagues, integrative psychotherapy (IP) rests on a deeply relational view of the person. The case study presented in this article demonstrates how the application of IP theories and methods facilitates the establishment of a healthy therapist-patient relationship and the implementation of relational processes promoting the healing of the self. The story of Stella, a 40-year-old woman suffering from a severe form of dissociation, withdrawal, and body armoring, provides a clinical, theoretical, and methodological reflection on how the therapeutic approach of IP as integrated with other theoretical and methodological contributions facilitated her therapeutic process. Among these contributions are Stern’s fundamental dynamic pentad and Levine’s somatic experiencing.


Integrative psychotherapy; dissociation; relational needs; contact in relationship; keyhole diagram; vital forms

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