Therapeutic Presence Within Supportive Housing Settings
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Therapeutic presence is a concept which has been discussed within therapeutic literature for many years as an important or even essential aspect of therapeutic encounters. Recent literature has attempted to bring a unifying definition to therapeutic presence and examine its specific function within clinical settings. This discussion has produced various elements and descriptions of therapeutic presence ranging from empirically accessible to metaphysical and transcendent. The elements of intrapersonal, interpersonal, transpersonal, and transcendent presence are identified within current literature as making up the construct of therapeutic presence. Each of these elements is both foundational to therapeutic presence and sustains the construct during therapeutic events. Intrapersonal presence allows a therapist to maintain contact with internal events such as feelings and thoughts without becoming lost or disrupted by them. Interpersonal presence is being present to and maintaining contact with the meanings created between individuals on all levels of communication and conveying information congruent with such meanings. Transpersonal presence is experiencing connectedness to what is other than self and maintaining contact with the conscious and unconscious information gathered from such experience. Transcendent presence encompasses the inherent paradox in which human beings live in day to day existence: sustaining contact with an individual’s continual process of being and becoming and to empirical sense and transcendent perception as ways of knowing. These four elements create the conditions for therapeutic presence to emerge and should not be seen as techniques to be mastered but rather as a stance to adopt in relating to others. As therapeutic presence is discussed mainly in a clinical setting the author proposes and explores the potential application within supportive housing settings including but not limited to housing first programs, emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and recovery programs. Though therapeutic presence is an observable construct it is at the same time dependent on transcendent, a priori qualities to occur. Future research must accept and account for this dynamic within empirical explorations therapeutic presence.
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