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Section 2 - The Limits of Psychotherapy

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Yet the ideal outcome is rarely achieved. But psychotherapy begins with the realization that healing is of the mind, and in psychotherapy those have come together who believe this. It may be they will not get much further, for no-one learns beyond his own readiness. Yet levels of readiness change, and when therapist or patient has reached the next one, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need. Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each will progress. Retrogression is temporary. The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.

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Psychotherapy itself cannot be creative. This is one of the errors which the ego fosters; that it is capable of true change, and therefore of true creativity. When we speak of "the saving illusion" or "the final dream," this is not what we mean, but here is the ego's last defense. "Resistance" is its way of looking at things; its interpretation of "progress" and "growth." These interpretations will be wrong of necessity, because they are delusional. The "changes" the ego seeks to make are not really changes. They are but deeper shadows, or perhaps different cloud patterns. Yet what is made of nothingness cannot be called new or different. Illusions are illusions; truth is truth.

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Resistance as defined here can be characteristic of a therapist as well as of a patient. Either way, it sets a limit on psychotherapy because it restricts its aims. Nor can the Holy Spirit fight against the intrusions of the ego on the therapeutic process. But He will wait, and His patience is infinite. His goal is wholly undivided always. Whatever resolutions patient and therapist reach in connection with their own divergent goals, they cannot become completely reconciled as one until they join with His. Only then is all conflict over, for only then can there be certainty.

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Ideally, psychotherapy is a series of holy encounters in which brothers meet to bless each other and to receive the peace of God. And this will one day come to pass for every "patient" on the face of this earth, for who except a patient could possibly have come here? The therapist is only a somewhat more specialized Teacher of God. He learns through teaching, and the more advanced he is the more he teaches and the more he learns. But whatever stage he is in, there are patients who need him just that way. They cannot take more than he can give for now. Yet they both will find sanity at last.

A Course in Miracles - Urtext material - reproduced with permission from the Foundation for Inner Peace (acim.org), and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (facim.org).
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