Warm up to Dialogue

I’ve been listening to the Gottmans for hours on the CD as they talk at the 2010 Imago conference. I’m finding it very useful, perhaps their research is somewhat sociometric! I appreciate mostly the language and processes they add to the field:

  • Soft start
  • Four Horseman
  • Repair
  • Questions
  • C L Alt

And lots more…

… more to integrate/translate into psychodrama interactive relationship therapy.

I’m really interested in warm up. Thinking as the Dialogue as a tool for repair is useful. That also makes more of an event than just good communication, its therapy. The dilemma I had re the self help and therapy (see post about Stolp) is reduced.

So to see the Dialogue as repair is a warm up and also leads to the need to create a good warm up to it. … Its all in the warm up.

In my draft handout for the training I have this:

  • Appreciation
  • Collaboration
  • Intention
  • Identify feelings under anger & frustration
  • Yearning
  • Self soothing
  • Kindness

Warm up is a central concept in psychodrama, it means ready, willing and able. It can describe a state, eg they were warmed up to fighting, for example ready, willing and able to fight! Or as something we can create, individually or as a group. For example the director with a few crisp instructions warmed people up to being aware of their physical sensations, and a willingness to name them. The director can play a big part in creating a warm up. As a therapist every move we make helps create what will come next. How then does a the couple prepare to work on their relationship? How can we assist them in their warm up? It is complex in that if they have a constructive warm up we could just go with it, tweak it enhance it. Or if they are full of blame and stonewalling then there are many ways to assist the couple to cut across that warm up and engage and prepare them couple to be more conscious and constructive. It might take a while!

(I began this post a while back and it is related to the last one on warm up)

Validating Mirror and Evaluative Mirror

I have been reflecting on a while on what appears to be different uses of the term “mirroring’ in various psychotherapeutic modalities. It was useful to come across Peter Felix Kellermann’s distinction between two types of mirroring.

Validating Mirror

“When I look, iam seen so I exist.” – Winnicott

Evaluative Mirror

Learning to see how others see you

Kellermann, Peter Felix 2007, Lets Face it, Mirroring in Psychodrama in Psychodrama Advances in Theory and Practice. Baim, Burmeister and Maciel, Routlidge

F. David Peat

Listened to F. David Peat on Future Primitive. I liked him after a while. Student of David Bohm.

His central metaphor (from item below):

In terms of social or economic systems, action would emerge out of the natural dynamics of the whole system, arising in a highly intelligent and sensitive way and consisting of small corrective movements and minimal interventions. Rather than seeking to impose change externally and at some particular point in a system, gentle action would operate within the dynamics and meanings of the entire system.

As usual made me wonder why he had not taken on board Marx on these questions. The system is biased, not natural.

Found this item: Gentle Action_Surviving Chaos and Change.pdf

Later: Friday, 20 May, 2016

Listened to a podcast about Hannah Arendt Partially Examined Life

The social in here schema is natural, not political which distinguishes us from animals. Bohm may have the same idea.

Not sure I’ve got it but the whole episode is interesting on social roles.

Misses the idea of “bringing your self into a social role”??

Just keep talking

This is an inspiring story by Tom Atlee.  It is one that changed his life it seems as he bases his whole philosophy of creativity on this experience.

How to Make a Decision Without Making a Decision:

Years later I read that Oren Lyons, faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onandaga Iroquois, said of his tribal council tradition: “We just keep talking until there’s nothing left but the obvious truth.” Once “the obvious truth” has been found, there is no need for a “decision.” Such truth not only sets people free — it allows a group or community to self-organize.

Differentiation is a birth

I wrote up a lot of the talk Harville Hendrix gave in march. Here is a bit of that in more detail, in its own post, as I’ve been reflecting on it.

Move from imagined connection to participating in felt connection.

Getting to this togetherness can be terrifying and you have to surrender. To abandon the world you have imagined is terrifying.

You can’t connect with a person you are merged with. Differentiation is a sort of birth for each. The self emerges not by saying “I am me!” It is done by releasing the other, and this is where my birth happens as I am the remainder, what is left as I surrender. Learning to tolerate the differentiated other. It is a sort of birth. Imago is a process of giving birth to the other person. I’m the mother of their birth.

Locus of therapy… locus of communication

I posted about the Locus of Psychotherapy here. Today it occurred to me that the whole notion of Psyberspace is about the locus of communication.

I write about relationships, forms of communication, the therapeutic frame, the shape of the seating arrangement, and the difference between a typewriter and PC. All these things matter to me. The space creates the psyche.

And in that sense the psyche evolves, and manifests in various ways in different places. Religion and therapy have strong hold on the word soul or psyche because they are so focussed on spaces. Then Marshall McLuhan comes along with the huge exploration of the impact of communication on the psyche. Medium is the message, global village via electronic communication. beautiful insights. Then in the sixties, the importance of set and setting on the impact of hallucinogens becomes understood (and severely misunderstood as they create an impossible set and setting called war on drugs).

This thinking I am sketching here is highly systemic. It means context is integral to the meaning. I’ve been very insistent that in my psychotherapy online I use only email. This is to keep the constancy of set and setting and medium. Is that important? In the earthquake here I see how it tests our metal as the contexts are focibly changed, new rooms, new modes, I’ve for the first time conceded to phone sessions in addition to f2f work. Its ok, but id sooner stick to the one context.

The original ‘locus’ discussion was to distinguish between two very systemic approaches, both of which value set and setting; Psychodrama and Imago Relationship therapy. When it comes to that discussion I am well beyond the question of the need for valuing context, medium etc. Now it is a case of which medium is good for what sort of communication? There are two modes, group and dyad. Not mutually exclusive, there can be dyads within a group.

I’m not sure if a group, or a dyad is a medium? Perhaps the actual distinction here is between a social atom and an imago. These categories of the psych are such slipery things. We only know them backup being with them, in them, as they are ‘virtual’ in some sense. Of course there are real people in real actions, but the social atom or cultural atom is the pattern that exists in that realm. the Imago is much the same, these are patterns of the soul we can be with, attend to, but they come up, arise in certain contexts. OK maybe that is the question then, what is the set and setting required to evoke the Imago? What is the set and setting to evoke the Original Social Atom? Conversely we may ask does the set and setting of the Freudian couch evoke?

What is this blogging doing? I am typing on a PC (in XP if that matters?) in a blog (WordPress) that is hosted on a server (DreamHost), and apart from one or two people I don’t know who reads it. About 30 hits a day probably people googling (the wrong) stuff. For all that it is one to many. It is also possibly going to be around for a long time, so somebody some Time may find these musings of interest.

I’ve been thinking of cross posting to an online community I am in. There it would feel very different. The locus would immediately transform. Blog posts, entries like this in the context of this Psyberspace blog are not the same in the context of a connected community. This blog is not a community, though some may be.

I’ve written it here. I could quote it elsewhere, I could use it in an essay (as I did with the original post, which led to a section in this Paper, I could use it in a book or podcast. Perhaps there is an optimum place, perhaps one unique space in the world where it grows and builds and yields fruit. I can ask this as is see one-to-one psychotherapy as totally the wrong place for relationship psychotherapy, it is detrimental to it. Group work might be too. Both could be adapted, but with out the benefit of an Imago style relational paradigm they are counter productive. Could there be a parallel here? Is this idea I’m returning to time after time better places elsewhere? Sometime I yearn for a department in a university where they would love this stuff and I could expound all day and it (I) would be part of some sort of community of practitioners pounding this stuff together.

Specific media are needed for specific tasks. Where in the landscapes of the psyche is there the right psyberspace for psyberspace discussions.

Harville Hendrix 3 questions

I just read Maya’s three questions she asks before commencing relationship therapy.

How do they compare with Harville Hendrix’s ones we just heard in the Auckland workshop?

1. What do you want in this relationship when you finish with me?

2. What have you done to prevent this from happening? (You, not the other partner)

3. What has to be taken out? What has to be put in? What will you take out, put in?

If you have the power to make it this bad, you have the power to make it good.

This couple could be creative and take self responsibility”

Just compared them and you can see who taught her!!

Maya’s three questions : https://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/2009/three-relationship-questions/

Helen LaKelly Hunt

Radio New Zealand National : Programmes A-Z : Saturday Morning with Kim Hill : 2011 03 12:

Helen LaKelly Hunt Author and activist, and founder of Women Moving Millions, an initiative for the advancement of women’s lives through a massive change in giving to girls and women. She also co-founded the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy and has co-authored several bestsellers with her husband, Harville Hendrix. (duration: 34′59″) Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3

Interesting, and interesting how well she puts the idea in my previous post on relationships being the healing force. (Of course I learnt it via Imago… but it is not just an idea, we have expereiice in common about this stuff)

The relationship has the answer to the relationship problem

I like the related posts feature in this blog. Just noticed one that had this passage. Fits well indeed with the previous post:

… right here, now, in the relationship is the solution to the relationship problem. How to get there might be painful and hard, you will need to learn skills, make effort, but individual therapy or leaving, or searching for a better mate has all those problems and will lead to similar relationship problems, or to no relationship at all.

(me quoting myself)

Language of life

NVC Non-Violent Communication, how to identify needs in self and others and how to speak without shaming, blaming and criticising is one of the four or five disciplines that I’d like everyone in the world to know how to do.

Language is important, but as Moreno said:

The analysis of language, useful as it is in itself. does not lead to any change in behavior. It has to be followed up by methods of action learning which train the pupil to think and act below and beyond the boundaries of language.

That’s why I think there are four or five disciplines, but none of them sufficient alone.

There is no such thing as a person

Winnicott famously said “there is no such thing as a baby.” (reference?) meaning of course there is always a baby and someone. Jacob Moreno’s notion of a social and cultural atom (reference?) is similar and more startling. There is a minimum set of roles (interactions) that need to be present for survival. In other words there is no such thing as a mother either, there is always a mother and a father (absent or not). The reference to role systems and dynamics is important here. We are not talking about people but relationships and ways of relating. People who don’t do anything are dead. Primacy of the relationship is not an uncommon idea in psychotherapy, even when the word ‘object’ is used in some schools of therapy, it is the ‘object relations’ that are important. For all that it is a big mind-shift to go from the every-day world of things and entities into the psychological world of dynamics.

The physical body, physical reality, so easily belies psychologically potent reality. Psychodrama has the power to reveal all the subtle bodies usually invisible, the use of the term surplus reality facilitates this. But even in psychodrama the mind-shift can be hard to make. Imagine a group of people, with their bodies invisible, see them as three dimensional movie programs of archetypal dramas, developmental processes and graphical depictions of experience of ecstasy & trauma in the cellular memory. The current state of warm-up is the movie that is playing right now. At any moment other movies could grab the screen, all the programs are networked. The body does not betray the soul, but it can fool us into thinking there is no soul. No wonder we have the idea of the eternal soul, it is collective, unconscious and interconnected back to the big bang.

The implications for psychotherapy are well known but difficult to fully implement. One potent central idea, is that the therapeutic relationship is the source of healing. Even that one, well established and standard in most definitions of psychotherapy is always under threat by talk of dependency, measurable evidence, behaviour, genes, chemicals, brains. And of course the demand for reports and videos introduce more elements into the relationship. The third eye kills the diad and creates a group. This may not be a bad thing if it were consciously embraced. If we said there is no such thing as a diad, however it often advocated that the third presence should be ignored. “After a while we forget there is a video camera in the room.” Denial of surplus reality. In the face of all these onslaughts psychotherapy has survived, and the healing power of relationship is constantly experienced and valued.

More important is the idea of social atom repair. In therapy all too often people warm-up to working on the relationship with the mother, and then later the father. As a psychodramatist I work, even in one-to-one settings with the idea of repairing the social atom. Whatever the medical mental health diagnosis people come with relationship difficulties. DSM style diagnosis are always blind to the psychological as they are totally fooled by and perpetuates the idea individual people. Those difficulties are present in the parental diad in some form. An investigation of the role system in the parental diad often sheds light on the current relationships. The most successful work I have done is where the “parents” enacted by the client, come to relationship psychotherapy. The client then, in the regressed state of the child, experiences their renewed parents. A new social and cultural atom is available to them.

This is similar to the TA idea or “re-parenting the parent”, but taken to a relational level.

Couple therapy, working directly with a relationship follows from the fundamental idea of a dynamic psyche. Yet therapists often talk of individual work as needed for a healthy relationship. Harville Hendrix’s Imago therapy, and Moreno and psychodrama before it, as well as all forms of family therapy with a systemic approach are more in tune with the psychological reality. In making the ‘imago’, the unconscious images operating in the relationship, the unit of therapy is a major breakthrough in psychotherapy. Hendrix’s phrase “The purpose of marriage is to heal childhood wounds.” (reference?) is profound. If we in the psychotherapy field embraced this we would use the healing potential in the couple relationship rather than the therapeutic relationship for psychological repair far more than we do.
There are time when couple work is not indicated, apart from when people are not in a couple. When attachment wounding is so strong that taking turns with each other and with a therapist is unbearable and leads to disruptive behaviour, I think it is rare.

People are myth. What is significant is ‘surplus’ to the physical entities, it is imaginal and systemic.

(Below is a quote that I found of interest, though a bit peripheral to my main points)
Perspectives – Vol. 6, No. 1 – A Primer on Narcissism – Page 3 of 3:

The first to seriously consider the similarity between Narcissistic and Schizoid pathologies was Melanie Klein. She broke with Freud in that she believed that we are born with a fragile, easily fragmentable, weak and unintegrated ego. The most primordial human fear is the fear of disintegration (death), according to Klein. Thus, the infant is forced to employ primitive defence mechanisms such as splitting, projection and introjection to cope with this fear (actually, with the result of aggression generated by the ego). The ego splits and projects this part (death, disintegration, aggression). It does the same with the life-related, constructive, integrative part of itself. The result of all these dynamics is to view the world as either “good” (satisfying, complying, responding, gratifying) – or bad (frustrating). Klein called it the good and the bad “breasts”. The child then proceeds to introject (internalize and assimilate) the good object while keeping out (=defending against) the bad objects. The good object becomes the nucleus of the forming ego. The bad object is felt as fragmented. But it is not gone, it is there.

Role of the Therapist with Couples

There is a continuum with two extremes.

Its all in the dialogue between the couple
Education is the main focus.
____________________________________ Its all in the safety of the relationship with the therapist. The therapeutic relationship with each partner and the relationship is the main focus.

Of course it is both, I doubt anyone holds the extreme positions. However it is an interesting question as to when one of these aspects needs to be to the fore.

This discussion with Rick & Sherry Stolp addresses this question very well, among other things.

Click to play & downloadListen or download here

Rick Stolp website



Later : Saturday, 6 October, 2012

I have further clarified that there are some criteria that indicate readiness for dialogue. The ability to move from adversarial positions is required for a dialogue. We do not want to foster something that is dialogical in form but adversarial in essence. As dialogues involve mirroring, the psychodrama principle that doubling comes before mirroring comes into play.

The therapist may be needed to double the couple for some time. Longer work is indicated for them to get to the dialogue stage.


Later: Sunday, October 17, 2010

About 20 minutes into the audio they talk about research based on ideas of “Duncan & Miller” on outcome research. http://www.talkingcure.com.

They now have separate websites:

Scott D Miller

Barry Duncan

I’ve made another post on Outcome research here.

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.

“Who Shall Survive?” Can we survive? Maybe.

War and climate change crisis are on my mind. I am cynical and despairing most of the time with respect to these issues, but I want to share thoughts that give me some hope! Maybe they will inspire you and us as a community.

How a small group can impact a large community!

Small groups, well facilitated have a level of insights to truth that is quite unlike what is common in community meetings or in parliaments and so on. Whatever mode of facilitation is used in a group, however the group is seated, whatever methods are used, small groups can access human depth. Often this is for personal development or training. There is always an important step that happens before a group meets. The group’s statement of purpose and scope is created. Who can attend the group. What its bounds of privacy are. What are the expected outcomes? This aspect of group design is vital!

The importance of the broad frame, and how innovative we can be in its creation came home to me through my interested in Wisdom Councils. These were developed by Jim Rough, who uses a method called Dynamic Facilitation. The purpose and frame of these groups is radically different from groups I am used to. The inner working of the group is familiar, but its context is profoundly different. He adds or emphasises some important dimensions that may not have been developed in the Morenian sphere of influence.

1. Microcosm and macrocosm

1. A group can be designed to be a microcosm of a larger community. Random selection from the larger group may be one way to achieve this. Note this is not representation, people are in small groups in their own right, authentically themselves. A small group, working for a longer time, in depth is working for the whole community. Not because the community has chosen them, or even know about them, but because of the principle of isomorphism between the part and the whole.

The small group carries the diversity of the whole within it. Resolutions in the small group are likely to be acceptable to the whole.

2. Purpose related to larger organisation.

The purpose of the group may be to present wisdom or insights to the larger community. The group may have a topic, in the pure Wisdom Council the topics arise from the group, when the group has a specific topic “Creative Insight Council” or CIC is used. Just how to relate the group to the larger community is part of the design of the group, and it would be clear in the purpose statement.

3. Planning the group in its context

Preparation of the larger community and its connection to the group is part of the design. Jim Rough has advocated that a Wisdom council be enshrined in the constitution, as a voice for “We the People”, and they can also be on a much smaller scale. A group could be formed by randomly selecting 12 willing participants from an organisation of 200 people. The group could have a specific topic for example: “How to best use available assets.” How to promote such an event, fund it, and host it is all part of the preparation and plan.

4. Presentation of the findings.

This needs to be clear from the start, so that privacy concerns are addressed and not breached. What is the plan for publication of groups breakthrough statements, if there are any? Follow up meetings where the group presents its insights? Web presence, during and after the event, is there a blog? Who can post? Twitter? Media involvement? Video, podcasts and movies?

Through my sociometric * eye it occurs to me that the whole of Jim’s work fits within the sociometric frame work. I am exited to think that all these matters are highly sociometric, and the Wisdom Council and CIC approach could well be a way in which the original sociometry as a form of scientific social investigation of working with society at large can be furthered. The ability to do create such a group for a larger whole needs to be part of a sociometrists ability.

The key understanding I have from this reflection on the relationship between Wisdom Councils and the groups we are used to in psychodramatic circles is that we can consciously identify the larger organisation as a group that is being served by a small intensive microcosm of itself. It is a group within a group. The small group’s work is to the larger community, as is the work of a protagonist in the small group. Isomorphy within systems is leveraged to work at great depth with groups that would otherwise have no voice.

Members of a wisdom council work authentically on their own concerns, they are not representatives, they need only present their own thoughts and feelings and act only in accordance with the dictates of their own heart. Systemic resonance between wholes and parts are already part of the sociometric systemic understandings we have and heightening that awareness and finding ways to make use of that would be a great step. Fits well with the theme of “Who Shall Survive?”

I am interested in how you see this as a form of sociometric work. Have you had experiences that bear on these ideas? How might we take this further in the community and in our own organisation?

From the ANZPA Training and Standards Manual:

A sociometrist intervenes in social systems and organisations from a basis of research data provided by informal or formal sociometric surveys of groups. The interventions are usually directly related to organisational structure. The sociometrist makes use of abilities in research, negotiation, consultation and strategic planning, to relate to group structures in clinical, educational, community, industrial, commercial, political, economic, religious and international affairs. The purpose is to facilitate group task effectiveness and membership satisfaction.

Related Links:
Moreno’s “Who Shall Survive?”
Sociometry on Wikipedia
Wisdom Councils
Dynamic Facilitation
Diana Jones’ Sociometry page
Anne Hale’s Sociometry site

The Wisdom Council

This was very good to see. 2003, already a bit dated, a bit “American”, but it brings out some of the potential inherent in the Dynamic Facilitation process. Worth downloading the crappy Real player to watch if you are interested in Wisdom Councils.

The importance of this process does not shine through as strongly as I envisage it. It important to notice that a group that meets for a weekend is a microcosm of a larger community, and they bring back their “breakthrough” to the community, and notice how well it goes down. They were able to mirror the community concerns accurately.

Where else can you see this?

Society’s Breakthrough! – Audio & Video:

1) Democracy in America — VIDEO (22 min)—In November 2003 three people from the Rogue Valley in Oregon heard Jim give a radio interview on their local NPR radio show, The Jefferson Exchange. After contacting Jim, they decided to meet one another and to try an experiment with the Wisdom Council. Joseph McCormick, a former conservative Republican politician, filmed the event and created this 22 minute documentary, Democracy in America, which is available as a streaming video.