The Survival Dance that gets in the way of the Encounter

We flee or fight to avoid pain.  In psychodrama  we call those ways of being the coping roles.  The path to the progressive, being fully alive, is to be with the vulnerability of the pain and attend to it.  This can’t really be done alone, yet no-one can do it for you.

This is a universal idea and present in many modalities.

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The title of this post comes from Hedy Schleifer’s ECcT – Encounter Centred Couple Therapy. On her website she says:

“I want them to leave knowing that the “survival dance’ that they have been dancing for such a long time is “not’ who they are in their essence.”

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Psychological Eclecticism and Nothing

I recall being advised by my then supervisor, about 30 years ago, to look around for a psychotherapy modality that grabbed me and then to learn it thoroughly and not become prematurely eclectic. I followed that advice. Psychodrama was that modality for me and I am steeped in its traditions and have practiced it for decades and hope to do that for a few more.

However I have more than a passing familiarity with a some other fields of practice, I have a grasp of Archetypal Psychology and I am qualified in Imago Relationship Therapy. I have grappled with my multiple perspectives, and have written a paper about my tension with Imago for the AANZPA Psychodrama Journal: The Imago Affair. I’ve been thinking about this more of late.

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Zerka Moreno on Doubling, Tele, inter-psyche, relationship

Still thinking about the interpsyche – and found this passage from Zerka Moreno in the Psychodrama Network News from the American Society of group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama 2005  I now see the difference between empathy and doubling. Doubling in its conception includes the relationship, it is not the intuition of the therapist directly but the voice of the interpsyche – the relationship between two people.

But there is another, more important, aspect of McGaw’s presentation. When he speaks about how his doubling with a protagonist is so often correct, he interprets this as due to his intuitive ability. When pressed by Rogers to explain it more specifically while speaking of his own power in that respect, he refers to it as his “empathy.” Unfortunately, he overlooks the contribution to the process by the protagonist, as if it all comes out of the therapist’s psyche, that of a single mind. By unfortunate I mean that this is just the area of Moreno’s contribution, namely to have pointed out that it is the interaction between people – tele – resulting in the “inter-psyche,” the space between people, that is the foundation of his and our work. This observation, more than anything else McGaw speaks of, tells me he has not really grasped Moreno’s message. It is our emphasis on the moment, the here and now, the spontaneity of the protagonist, the interaction of minds, that distinguishes our own field from that of individual psychology, a lesson we must never overlook.

Zerka Moreno makes it so clear psychodrama is a relational not an individual method.

Recently while teaching doubling it was clear the person was trying to think what the other person was thinking. Close, but not quite it. I said… let yourself be him, become him, breathe like him, sit like him, look at the world through his eyes and then voice what comes up, you won’t be guessing, you don’t have a choice about what comes up.

The doubling was then noticeably different even though not always exactly right.

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Later: Saturday, 6 October, 2012

I’m now (post the Dan Wile workshop) thinking the phrase above, “you don’t have a choice about what comes up” is right, but not enough.

Many things will come up and it is useful to choose to voice those things that are progressive for the protagonist, such things as empathy for another person, declaring an inner struggle, claiming the validity of experience.

Judgement of others, blaming and self righteous anger may also come up. They could be ignored, but if they feature strongly they could be moderated with such phrases as: I know this is might not be easy for you to hear. I wish I had a way of expressing this more constructively. I have been sitting on this for a long time and my intention is to bring it out to improve the relationship.

Later: Sunday, 29 November 2015

…this is just the area of Moreno’s contribution, namely to have pointed out that it is the interaction between people – tele – resulting in the “inter-psyche,” the space between people, that is the foundation of his and our work.

This makes it so clear that Moreno had the relational paradigm, he did not call it that and he often slips into thinking of individuals, yet he is so instrumental in this as an influence on Buber and then Harville Hendrix and Hedy Schleifer.

Moreno, Buber, Hendrix

In a recent post I quote the story of how the idea of Encounter found its way from Moreno to Martin Buber. A passage follows by Harville Hendrix where he describes the roots of his idea of Validation in the dialogue process… Martin Buber.

It is no wonder then that with this sort of whakapapa, having trained in both Imago & Psychodrama that I see such connection in the approaches.

A passage from Harville Hendrix “The Evolution of Imago Relationship Therapy” in Imago Relationship Therapy: Perspectives on Theory Follows, showing how he connected with the work of Buber.

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