Jim Pretzer's description of what happened in his latest encounter with Gary--and Don Nathanson's subsequent spotlighting Gary's perceptions of the therapeutic relationship--reminds me of Don's comments on 5/6/97. Don explored then what makes for a good therapist. We can see the range of attributes which he identifies in the excellent work brought to us in this program.
We all can see that various ways of doing therapy may result in satisfying changes for our patients. It fascinates me to think that what any patient needs is an amalgam of what we all postulate theoretically. A particular combination or permutation of steps by a therapist may not be necessary for successful work. That is, the complexities that we try to account for in our theories probably do mostly exist, with different therapists emphasizing whatever their preferred theories seem to elucidate The total amalgam reflected in the totality of theorizing need not appear in the thinking of a therapist for a therapy to be successful. The whirring of each patient's "mental computer" encompasses all of the elements.
Jim seems to me to see himself as helping Gary to organize his cognitive processes more accurately in terms of reality, so that Gary can learn to use his own resources more effectively. I might say that Jim is offering Gary a good father, creating a relationship from which Gary can advance from the rigid framework he developed in childhood for interpersonal relationships. This definitely includes, of course, cognitive recognition of a new way that this father figure shows him he can safely use. Gary gained inner permission to behave constructively.
If Jim did not make time for Gary to reflect on how their relationship was of help, that does not mean that Gary did not conceptualize the relationship while talking to someone else. Or symbolize the therapeutic relationship in dream work without consciously connecting his thoughts about it.
It is pretty hard for me to conceive of human behavior in or out of therapy that is without affect at some level. If Jim helped Gary to realize that a good father fostered a sense of trust in the larger world, instead of weakly standing aside so that Gary's infantile distrust of himself became overwhelming, or instead of being both severely dominant and yet seductive to Gary--or whatever contrasted with Gary's biological father, that is pretty powerful affectively.
Who was it who said that we might learn more about what is general--and required for understanding the therapeutic process--by understanding each others' successes than by examining each others' failures? I think this might be the greatest value in the Behavior OnLine forum.