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.

 

 

“Relational” TA and psychoanalysis, psychodrama and the relational paradigm 

I have been looking up anything to do with the relational paradigm  and keep bumping into relational psychoanalysis and relational T.A.

They seem fine. I’m surprised these branches of the tree are even needed – I would have thought that psychoanalysis and T.A. Were already “relational” in this way, i.e. Valuing of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Understanding attachment and early relationships as primary. Apparently not.

However I realise I’m in a different school altogether. One that see the relationship as the therapy, but not only the relationship with the therapist but the relationship people have with each other out there in the world. The marriage or committed loving relationship is the dominant one. I’ve come to understand that, especially in individual therapy, the relationship with the therapist can undermine the potential of the committed loving relationship with a partner. If there is no such relationship then the relationship with the therapist can be a surrogate, or if possible a way of facilitating the search for a mate. The rest of the time the therapist is there to facilitate the consciousness that will enable a committed loving relationship to be therapeutic. They are not naturally so – though they have a natural propensity to be so.

With this relational paradigm  more and more fully grasped of late I see that psychodrama has something of this philosophy well developed. Moreno speaks a lot of “in situ”. I think of that as working with the actual here and now relationships in a group.

Psychodrama does not require a theatrical setting, a frequent misunderstanding; it is done in situ – that is, wherever the subject is found.

Who Shall Survive? (1978) P86

However Moreno is not clear on this – Later in the same book he speaks again of therapy in situ

… it can take an immediate form, in situ, that is, in the course of all activities in which the individuals are en- gaged, in the home, in school, at work, for instance the handicraft shop, steam laundry, carpentry shop, department store, etc . The situations of living and working are at the same time used as therapeutic settings. We have found, however, that the analytic and activistic forms of group psychotherapy are not applicable to the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group; they require the application of deep action methods in the form of psychodrama. But they are applicable to social problems of the group in a setting in which, during the treatment, the group is artificially cut off from the community as if the rest of the community were non-existent and as if the influence coming from it could be disregarded.

He comes close to a relational paradigm, and then moves away for “the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group” to theatre where psychodrama clearly becomes treatment of or via a protagonist. Yet he stays close, because as we know, … the protagonist is a protagonist for the group. (ref?)

The idea that the relationship itself can be the source and vehicle for growth and healing, is not explicit in psychodrama – it is there in most psychotherapy, but only in the relationship between the client and the therapist. Yet this idea that the protagonist is working for the group can be translated to the protagonist working for the relationship. That helps!

The relational paradigm  is still to have its major impact, like any paradigm shift it is hard to get from the perspective of the old space.

Imago dialogue is one technique for activating relational healing, one that is easy to teach to clients. However I think T.A. Has the potential for that, Marshall Rosenberg NVC, and psychodrama does as well… Concretisation, role reversal, mirroring and doubling are potent methods. Psychodrama is not so easy without a director. How make the method easily accessible is what I’m working on all the time.

The Soft Edge — Paul Levinson

This book is on my list because I’m exploring the relational paradigm. Archetypes of Relational Space? What comes up is that marriage is a medium. This might be relevant?

The Soft Edge

Screenshot

I can get the paper version here for 1c But I want a digital one… And that is here on Google

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There is a lovely video of Paul Levinson on Amazon

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While on the journey I downloaded a sample of another book, this one looks like fun. The Plot to Save Socrates

(Thanks Brian for pointers)

My review of James Hillman biography – Goodreads

Archetypal Psychology (Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman)Archetypal Psychology by James Hillman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved the book, learned so much. Finished up disliking him more. Never liked him, always awed by his genius, and impacted. His attitude to his affair and his relationship with women is not just of its time – it is callous and a-psychological, out of touch and this is so disappointing. It shows a flaw in his professional as well as personal life, not one that I can forgive. I sort of knew this but here it is laid out – blatant. Even though the author seems to be sympathetic, colludes.

So I rate the book 5 for illumination and remove stars for an ultimate disdain for the character.

View all my reviews

Time for a talk? Create a good warm up.

You are fed up. This is been on your mind for a while. You need to tell the other person. Its not fair. They are a problem. You’ve been meaning to do this but they’d never listen…

Those thoughts and feelings are your warm up. A warm up like that needs some attention. The other party is not likely to listen. When the time comes to talk you need better warm up. The six steps will create a good warm up for a productive conversation. “It is all in the warm up.”

Create a Topic

What is the title of this conversation? One that is of interest to both parties. Create a topic that is constructive. Do this well before you approach the other person. This will determine everything from here on.

Begin with the impulse for the talk, e.g. “Your careless behaviour over the years has made me resentful and bitter and it is time you changed.”

Remove blame: “I think you are careless and I resent that and I’d like you to change.” Notice the subtle difference with the words: “I think…”

Remove resentment: Resentment is something you have allowed to build up, own it. “I think you are careless and I have found this difficult to raise with you, and I’d like you to change.”

Convert judgmental words, and be specific about outcomes: “I think the jobs can be done more efficiently.”

Make it collaborative: “I think we can do this more efficiently.”

Topic: “How we can do some things more efficiently”

Make a Request

How you do that also creates a warm up. More on that soon.

Evolution of emotional literacy

Kevin Kelly (What does Technology Want? p196) quotes George Lucas:

Evernote Snapshot 20121129 225558

Just maybe that is about to change (Perhaps on December 21?? 🙂

I think we are in a rapid change right now. It will be more visible soon. I think the feminist consciousness, the decline of religion, urbanisation, education are all leading to a shift in consciousness that means there will be ever more psychotherapists.

See also:

Evolution of consciousness