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Beyond Empathy: Attunement and Presence


In 1967 I was selected as the psychotherapist for a group of nursing students in Chicago after a mass murderer had entered the student’s dormitory and killed several of the student nurses. I provided individual and group psychotherapy for the 19 and 20 year old students who were experiencing stress reactions that included a myriad of relational problems, learning difficulties, a lack of goals and orientation and a mixture of fatigue and restlessness. At that time in my professional life I knew little about post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the ensuing years, a number of clients have repeatedly taught me about the relational importance of attunement and presence in healing the wounds of both acute and cumulative trauma.


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