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Here is another delightfully simple way of using PEP - combining it with the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme [CCRT]

Over a period of many years, the leading psychotherapy researcher, Lester Luborsky, and his team, developed the concept of the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme [CCRT]. They found that if the numerous narratives and stories that clients tell during psychotherapy sessions are examined for the dynamic themes, a recurrent pattern can usually be found for each client. This consists of [1] a wish, desire, or need; [2] a feared reaction of the other person if this is expressed; [3] a defensive or protective reaction in response to this fear. Luborski and colleagues denoted these as: W (wish); Ro (feared or actual response of the other); Rs (defensive response of the self).

The researchers found that, running through many different interactions, each person has one recurrent psychodynamic theme, which they call the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme. This is discernable in a wide range of narratives, including adult interactions with family and at work, childhood memories, dreams, and the relationship with the therapist. They also found that when the therapist consistently addresses the CCRT, the client tends to improve - but if the CCRT is not addressed clearly or consistently there is less improvement. As the person makes progress in psychotherapy, he or she becomes more free in relation to the CCRT - there is more flexibility in the response of the self.

CCRTs tend to be variations on a small number of human themes. Simple examples include:

  • W: wish to be loved; Ro: rejection; Rs: avoidance of relationships, or active sabotage of relationships, or reject the other first.

  • W: wish for autonomy and freedom; Ro: attempts to exert control and restriction; Rs: avoidance of dependence on others, attempts to be self-sufficient

The way to use PEP with the CCRT is as follows:

  • Listen to the client's narratives, looking for the recurrent dynamic themes constituting the CCRT. Any narrative of conflict that is bothering the client is likely to contain the CCRT.

  • Form the CCRT into a simple phrase that captures the components as a pattern. This could be:

  • 'All the times and ways I wanted to be included as part of the family or group, but felt rejected by others as if I did not belong, and so I withdrew into a state of angry, sulky, depression.'

  • Then the underlying meridian and chakra sequence is tapped (using the principles and procedures described elsewhere on this website and taught in workshops). Alternatively, the lung meridian breathing procedure can be used - this often works very well.

The helpful phrase 'all the times and ways' is taken from Asha Clinton's Advanced Integrative Therapy, and I gratefully acknowledge that source.


Luborsky, L. & Crits-Christoph, P. 1997. Understanding Transference: Core Conflictual Relationship Theme Method. American Psychological Association. New York.

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