Varieties of Encounter

Facilitating interaction was the dictum I used for the first couple therapy I did. I recall, as an untrained social worker in a hospital being asked to work with a couple who had difficulties. The night before I read a gestalt based book on couple therapy and facilitate interaction was the central practical guide I took away. I could have done worse.

I have written on dialogue and encounter in the AANZPA Journal more recently: The Imago Affair. Let me quote a relevant chunck from that paper as I wish to further reflect on encounter.

Encounter

At their heart, both Moreno’s and Hendrix’s work go beyond technique and are an invitation to a profound experience. The aim of a dialogue is not a specific outcome, nor is it reliant on one method. Here is the section of Moreno’s well known poem that encapsulates the idea of encounter.

A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
and place them instead of mine,
and you will tear my eyes out
and will place them instead of yours,
then I will look at you with your eyes
and you will look at me with mine.
Moreno

Harville Hendrix introduced the validation step into the Imago structure with an eye to facilitating just such an experience. It is often taught as understanding or making sense. The lead-in line goes like this: “You make sense. And one thing that makes sense is…” The listener is invited to cross a bridge into the world of the other, and to see what they see, and feel what they feel in that world. Note the similarity to Moreno in Hendrix’s idea.

Buber clarified for me that a “Thou” relationship with others required honouring their “otherness” as an “I” distinct from me and any concepts I might have of them. This required a willingness to look at the world of another through his or her eyes.
Hendrix

Linger on the moments of connection described here:

I will look at you with your eyes (Moreno)

look at the world of another through his or her eyes (Hendrix)

Are they the same?

Both Imago and in the work of Moreno there is the idea of a special meeting. Not just any meeting, but something profound, where you become the other…

How to facilitate, or operationalise encounter is different in the psychodramatic sphere than in the I Imago sphere. They use different contexts for their techniques as well, psychodrama: the stage. Imago: the couple in dialogue and Hedy Schleifer has a variation:  Host / Visitor to the other’s world.

There are techniques/concepts in these modalities that are sometimes akin, but differently nuanced, and sometimes unique to the method. There are other modalities and have techniques for interaction, of importance is the variation of Imago developed by Hedy Schleifer and her husband, and the work of Dan Wile.

My friend and colleague Dan Randow and I are working on describing the varieties of techniques for encounter. Here is a beginning.

Here is a list of techniques/concepts:

Doubling: in Psychodrama

Mirroring — Psychodrama

Role reversal — Psychodrama

Doubling in Imago:  Related to the use of lead-lines

Doubling in Dan Wile’s CRT

Mirroring in Imago

Validating,  Imago

Empathy as used in Imago

Dialogue (Imago)

Host, Visitor (Hedy Schleifer)

 

Notes:

How does role reversal relate to encounter? In role reversal and in doubling you become the other to the best of your ability. You take the physical position of the other, quite literally in role reversal and by being alongside and slightly behind the other when doubling.

Is it useful to distinguish the inter-psyche from the intra-psyche; what goes on in our subjective world and what goes on between us?  Maybe sometimes, all these encounter processes aim at improving the relationship and healing and growth of the individuals at the same time.

 

 

Outcomes in Small Group Process

My recent post: Can we Survive? is a draft for an item in a psychodrama publication. In that post I link Wisdom Councils and – Creative Insight Councils to the Sociometric methods of J.L. Moreno. The main idea is that there is a lager community and the small group resonates with the larger group in isomoprhic harmony, and can thus give back compelling insights and wisdom.

In this post I want to add a related idea.

From Dynamic Facilitation and the Wisdom Council theory I have got it clear that a small group can achieve something in addition to personal therapy for its members, and assist an organisation or community in developing its life, and in its decision making.

Jim Rough calls it “option creating”, I am not yet sure exactly what he means by this but it is not just a list of possibilities or wild ideas from a brainstorming session. The breakthrough in a group happens when there is an insight into a real option – something the whole group would like to see happen.

Such breakthroughs are possible over the longer time frame of a group, of diverse members, meeting for several days and sharing at a deep level. Traditional meetings can’t achieve this depth.

For a group to be of use to a larger community there needs to be a thorough warm-up before the event as to the purpose and context. While in psychodrama we are aware of the importance of the frame, I have not experienced a group in that tradition that has the focus of leading to outcomes for the whole community. In our organisations we tend to make decision in meetings, and while there is plenty of interaction and depth work, it is not specifically an clearly focussed on future actions. There may be specialist sub-committees, or work groups, but they tend to be by the people with special positions an ongoing positions within the organisation.

Imagine randomly selected diverse small group – from an organisation or community – doing depth work groups with the task of one or two of the following topics:

What is our strategic plan?
What is our vision?
Principles for the Constitution.
Who should be a member?

The group would present its findings to all members of the community or larger organisation and its governing in one a4 document, and 20 minute audio file at a special hui for the occasion.

“The use of space has a profound effect on the audience”

I am reflecting on the use of space and how it influences dialogue, and more broadly communication (though they are essentially the same thing… flow of meaning.) Found an interesting article:

UNDERSTANDING THEATRE SPACE
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (2002)

I have been wondering how courts and juries fir into the history of all of this… and there is a clue here!

How might a restorative justice space look?

The biggest question on my mind though is how we use space in cyberspace – and how we can create more intentional dialogue.

Quote follows

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OnlineGroups.Net

In the last post I wrote about my Thousand Sketches project – and how it has its roots in many things I have done. One of those projects was “Psybernet” it predates my involvement with the Internet – it began on Fidonet. That project hit me with a bang just like the Thousand Sketches just has. It was the realisation that the online communication I was involved in (in CompuServe at that time) was intrinsically psychological. I was familiar with Psychodrama and knew – from experience – how groups could be an incubator for psychological transformation.

Cyberspace was full of groups! I wanted a group that was consciously exploring this online space in a psychological way and Psybernet was it. That original group began on the Psybernet BBS, then moved to L-soft mailing list, and then to eGroups which were bought out by Yahoo groups.

While my focus has been on the dramas that unfold in groups – I also found out a lot about the infrastructure of online groups. Some software was better than others, and there are many more mature forms now. Caucus is a web forum that is the best I have experienced for conversation online. There are plenty of good email lists, but some do not handle files or the web all that well. For the best of all worlds for online groups using the Web & email is OnlineGroups.Net. It is very good as a web based forum and excellent for email, groups can all be accessed either way, and they can cohere on a site to form a community.

All this is on my mind as I am thinking about Thousand Sketches because the first person I shared my Psybernet ideas with as they emerged in the early 1990s was Dan Randow the main developer of OnlineGroups.Net. He was in both IT and Psychodrama and he immediately saw the online group potential for very productive work. Dan went on to develop a career facilitating groups online for organisations, for a while I worked in the company he established, GroupSense.

The initial philosophy was to use available technology. eGroups were a mainstay for GroupSense, but that went sour when Yahoo! pruchased them. It became much harder to integrate the tech into a group’s life. People needed a Yahoo ID and the messages carried ads. Something new was needed.

That led to GroupServer an open source project which has well a developed implementation at OnlineGroups.Net

I have been using the sevice for may years and have felt at home there for professional & personal groups.

OnlineGroups.Net is now offering sites with groups to the public, this is a new development and I find it fascinating how those discussions over the years with Dan about creating forms to enhance group life has led to us making public our endeavours, though different, at the same time! In the case of Dan, excellent software for groups, and for me Thousand Sketches.

Of course I have an Announcement Group for Thousand Sketches at OnlineGroups.Net.

Collaborative Design

The Road to Natural Digital Collaboration
By Elliott Masie, The MASIE Center

Just as there is a process of Instructional Design for developing instructional experiences, we believe that there is a parallel process of Collaborative Design to create the best uses of digital collaboration technology. We need to learn how to assess the needs of the groups involved and select media that is appropriate to the outcome objectives. And, we envision the development of collaboration templates that will embody a design for ideal use of tools in a given situation (e.g. A template that walks the group through a highly interactive video conference for an employment interview, including application sharing of resume and job description documents.)

Finally, there are new roles that we must invent and perfect to make Digital Collaboration really soar. Facilitators, community builders, virtual coaches and other roles will evolve that will make Digital Collaboration work effectively and naturally.

This is a great time to start the experimentation process. We should find teams within our organizations to lead pilots for leveraging existing and new technologies for effective collaboration. It would be great if the “owners” of collaboration technology were not techies but rather process-oriented folks in the HR, Training or Business areas.