On Regressive and Progressive Forces in Therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the basic dynamics underlying some of the spontaneous developmental changes created out of the unique structure of analytic therapy. These dynamics include two types of basic forces working in the therapeutic setting: regressive and progressive urges and thrusts, which set opposite processes in motion. The progressive forces, highlighted in the article, are derived from developmental pressures. These forces create the conditions for people to seek new ways of experiencing the self and of connecting to significant others in what they sense to be a more mature and authentic manner. The literature describes how, through the healing power of therapeutic transference and regressive states, therapy can help to release obstructions to these developmental thrusts, which are created by childhood traumas caused by care takers. In this article, however, the release of obstructions is examined through meta-communication, an analytic clinical intervention that can enhance expression and realization of patients’ progressive wishes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-364
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 BPF and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Developmental Thrusts
  • Intersubjective
  • Meta-Communication
  • Progressive
  • Regressive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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