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.

 

 

Book: Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals — ed: Del Loewenthal, Andrew Samuels

Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals [Kindle Edition] Del Loewenthal (Editor), Andrew Samuels (Editor)

Relational psychotherapy

In the light of the last post I’m keen to read this book and pleased its in Kindle format. The image on the cover is evocative! It shows well the potential for psychotherapy to create ambivalence in a relationship.

“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.

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

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

 

 

Evolution of consciousness

The book by Kevin Kelly “What does technology want continues stimulate my thinking.

He is eloquent on the evolution of tech. To make his case he draws on parallels in biological evolution. He comes up with principle after principle that are deep insights into any change process. He reminds me constantly of Frederick Engles and on the dialectics of nature. There are principles of change that go beyond one sphere.

Today it is this S curve that grabbed me.

Evernote Snapshot 20121119 133549

You would need to read the chapter to fully get it, but take the example of rail road air as the three levels of technology that work together to ensure that transport increased at a constant level, of say miles, speed and lower costs.

What I do is relate this to the evolution of psychotherapy. Or lets call it conscious intimate relationships. A mere 40 years ago there were about 10 therapists/counsellors in Christchurch, now it is more like 400. What is that curve about? The psyche is on the move!

I imagine the three technologies are:

Analytical psych
Humanistic Psych
And now still in the lower reaches of its s curve, relationship psych

Why are psychological methods often known by the names their founders?

Freud, Moreno, Jung… methods are known by their founders.

This is because they are working in the realm of relationships. They are included in the science.

They are not working with things.

Marx is the same.

The objective thing they are working with is not objective in the way things are – at least things on the surface are objects.

In so far as we are part of such a modality we are part of a community around that person. We are part of a community of practice. A language community.

The Buddhists have lineage, so do psychologists but we don’t acknowledge that so easily.

It would be better to acknowledge our whakapapa in the psychological realms of our work in a more conscious way.

Later: Sunday, 7 January, 2018 

Love that idea of our psychological whakapapa.  Maybe there is a whakapapa of science too?

 

I think I’d like to research and rewrite the Moreno one.  I think it is not so much existential as relational .