Language in couple therapy.

I am highly conscious of the language in couple therapy I do at the moment. I used to use the Imago language in couple therapy for many years. I was resistant to the rather ugly “sender and receiver” words.  Though not as accurate for what was actually happening I preferred talker and listener in the last few years.  However after listening to audios by Hedy Schleifer I’ve shifted to the “crossing the bridge” language of “visitor and host”.  As one client told me, that is a bit fruity, whatever that means.  

The thing is that is not just a change in language, but a whole different mode of being. Sending is a metaphor for posting something into space and it is then received like an email. This is not a metaphor that is very connecting. It also leaves the receiver wanting to respond… it invites reply.  Responding is close to reactivity, and replies are close to argument and debate.  

Host and visitor are quite different.  Each person is having a turn at the same time, one as visitor, on a trip to another land, as a learner, a witness as an explorer a learner.  The other as a host, a presenter, a storyteller.  with this metaphor for the work there is not the same need to coach appreciations… I just say, be a good host and be a good visitor, and immediately they say such things as “Thanks for inviting me into your world, I appreciate you taking the initiative, I know it might not be easy for you.”

In the visit I use the exact mirroring , summary, validation and empathy structures.

In every culture there is some protocol and ritual for crossing the bridge into another persons territory or space.  The protocols for visiting a neighbour apply.  The leave taking can be quite lovely.  I’ve heard people say.”Thank you for having me.”  or more fully, such things as: “Thank you for inviting me, I appreciate you showing me how things work in your land. I will be much more aware how not to stomp on those areas that are so sore.  I enjoyed meeting your little child and seeing how burdened your mother was while she had three under four.”

The language and the change facilitates dramatic enactment.  Show me your world is an action cue for sculptures and role reversals with the social and cultural atom.  

With maori clients and some other kiwis as well I have used some of the concepts from a meeting on a marae. The visitors are: manuhiri and the hosts the, the people of the land, the tangata whenua.

The depth of meaning of the pōwhiri or welcome could well be used to make the crossing into each others worlds more meaningful. For example the concept of Pōwhiri – the Māori welcome carries with it all the richness of the english word dialogue and more: “… po can be translated as a venture into ‘the unknown’ or a new experience, while whiri is derived from whiriwhiri meaning the act or experience of exchanging information and knowledge.

Pōwhiri – the Māori welcome

 

 

Worth listening to

I love listening to podcasts. But only some! I have a selection I keep, and they are of value to me as they come from a list in Google reader I have pruned and added to over many years. Then from Google reader I select about one-in-100 podcasts that arrive. I listen to these on on the iPhone and delete most of those once I’ve listened. Then a few remain and I save them… I’ve put a few on the blog, and there are some below in this post.

I can’t even remember them exactly, but I’ll summarise these in this post. In each case I’d like to discuss them, to recall them for things I’m writing and so on.

Click to play & download
Helen LaKelly Hunt – Kim Hill

This one is relevant because she is the co-creator of Imago – the method that informs a lot of my work.

Click to play & download
The Pelagian Controversy – In Our Time

Simply here because I see such a parallel with the main controversies in psychotherapy today. We have the same debates in secular language.

Click to play & download
Leo Bensemann_ A Fantastic Art Venture – Nine to noon

Love anything about The Group. And of course these people were around even while I was at the university here in Christchurch.

Click to play & download
Peter Sunde _ file-sharing and micropayments

? Must listen again.

Click to play & download
Playing Favorites with David Vann – Kim Hill

? Must listen again.