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.

*

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.”

Continue reading “The Survival Dance that gets in the way of the Encounter”

Relational paradigm – Bruce and Francine

I think they nail it here:

“Imago shifts the focus from the self to the relationship and posits “relationship” as fundamental reality of which individuals are derivatives. To embody this paradigm shift, partners must shift their focus from their own need gratification to the needs of the relationship. The paradoxical outcome of that counter-intuitive shift is that such a sacrifice will insure the satisfaction of their needs in a way that was not possible when the focus was on the self. When the couple becomes partners rather than opponents in the project of creating and enacting their dream relationship, they create a thriving relationship. This perspective rests on the assumption that human beings are intrinsically relational, that the human problem is relational rupture, that all emotional symptoms are expressions of relational anxiety and that relational repair is the only and sufficient path to human well being.”

Beauvoir, Francine; Crapuchettes, Bruce. Getting Back The Love We Had: Forty-Two Answers To Real Questions From Couples Who Feared They Were Losing Their Way (pp. 4-5). Kindle Edition.

Anger and Relationships

Alaine De Botton on anger:

Not sure if this really Seneca’s take on Anger. It interesting though. The essential take on anger is that it is the result of holding unrealistic expectations and that more pessimism will help calm you down.

Anger is a philosophical problem with a philosophical solution. Perhaps a bit like CBT?

My philosophical response is that it is not sufficient. Unrealistic expectations can equally lead to sadness and then it is usually framed as disappointment. However there is something to this philosophical take. Our thoughts not the other persons behaviour are at the root of anger.

A fuller take on this idea from Marshall Rosenberg:

In short: Anger is the way we get a signal that there is an unmet need. I think he uses the example of the “check engine light”.

I’m aware of another form of anger that is not really either of the above. Anger at injustice. this is from wikipedia: “Socialism is the flame of anger against injustice.” I think of this being tied in with our fight response, adrenalin rushing to survive against onslaught. This not just in the eye of the beholder as some might say. Inequality, sexism, racism, exploitation and oppression really do exist. There is a good fight. Anger at violation of human rights surely is a good thing.

There are a couple of traps here though. Take this site:

Question: “How can I know for sure that my anger is righteous indignation?”

Answer: We can know for sure that our anger or indignation is righteous when it is directed toward what angers God Himself. Righteous anger and indignation are justly expressed when we are confronted with sin. Good examples would be anger toward child abuse, pornography, racism, homosexual activity, abortion, and the like.

Makes sense if you think God is against gay rights and women’s right to choose. But it does not make sense in the real world. Investigation is the key to knowing waht is real.

~

Anger and Psychotherapy

I’ve heard this a lot in my profession:

“Anger is a socially suppressed emotion and people – especially women – need a safe place to get in touch with their anger. Expression of anger leads to discovering the emotions under the anger, being assertive and getting needs met. Anger is not the same as violence.”

The trouble with this is that it does not work like that if the person comes home and thinks it is a good idea to be angry with their partner. In some way anger can easily lead to violence verbal, emotional and physical. Marshall Rosenberg’s principle that other people are not the cause of our anger needs to be taken into the picture more fully than it often is.

It is easy for a therapist to side with the person in front of them. To see their side of the story. Much harder to concretise the “other” in the room with the other perspective.

~

Angry Couples

In psychotherapy with couples the question about the nature of anger is important. It is held by many couple therapists that people who choose to be together in an intimate relationship are in a “horizontal relationship”. The tenet is that as therapists we should not take sides, but be a catalyst to the healing potential in the relationship. From an Imago website:

Romantic love is the door to a committed relationship and/or marriage and is nature’s way of connecting us with the perfect partner for our eventual healing.

In my work with couples I can hold that trust that the couples are equally wounded and that the power struggle can be nasty and that they have equal responsibility to get out of it. Each partner can take full responsibility for the relationship.

Talk so the other will listen.
Listen so the other will talk.

Even when there seems to be abuse of power, it usually does not take long to get to the fear, hurt, powerlessness and vulnerability under the surface. All problems in the relationship are co-created. i.e. the way one partner talks leads to the way the other listens – learn to talk without blaming shaming and criticism. Learn to listen so the other will talk. Even social inequalities can be addressed with this principle. I’m amazed how far I can take that principle in my work with couples. I’m amazed because I don’t think society is an even playing field.

Male Privilege

Look at the list here “160+ Examples of Male Privilege in All Areas of Life”. This social inequality seeps deeply onto marriage and committed relationships.

Michael White years ago drew my attention to a Gregory Bateson idea: there are “restraints of feedback and restraints of redundancy” The feed back ones are created on the level playing field.

The other restraint is due to the social values that are the ruin of a relationship.

Therapist’s Values

William Doherty is very good at seeing and responding to the social forces that mess up relationships. His book Take Back Your Marriage, Second Edition: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart is excellent. All about the restraints of redundancy to use Bateson’s impossible jargon.

In the psychotherapy Networker he advocates:

The biggest problem in couples therapy, beyond the raw incompetence that sadly abounds, is the myth of therapist neutrality, which keeps us from talking about our values with one another and our clients. If you think you’re neutral, you can’t frame clinical decisions in moral terms, let alone make your values known to your clients. That’s partly why stepfamilies and fragile couples get such bad treatment from even good therapists. Stepfamily life is like a morality play with conflicting claims for justice, loyalty, and preferential treatment. You can’t work with remarried couples without a moral compass. Fragile couples are caught in a moral crucible, trying to discern whether their personal suffering is enough to cancel their lifetime commitment, and whether their dreams for a better life outweigh their children’s needs for a stable family. The therapist’s moral values are writ large on these clinical landscapes, but we can’t talk about them without violating the neutrality taboo. And for clients, there’s the scary fact that what therapists can’t talk about may be decisive in the process and outcome of their therapy.

I think this is tricky terrain. I think it best to focus on the co-creation of the relationship rather than the unequal society it is born from. That is a value I have because there is a lot a couple can do to address these issues in their relationship IF they can connect.

Still I am pleased to have the “permission” to have values, to weave them in in such a way that I am not seen as taking sides, because I am not.

Summary of Norms and Guidelines for Communologue for Communologue

Summary of Norms and Guidelines
for Communologue

1. Everyone is mirrored. This slows sharing down but develops a sense of each speaker feeling safe and being fully heard.

2. Anyone can volunteer to mirror. If no one else wishes to mirror the speaker, the facilitator(s) will do it. We suggest that if a person wants to “respond” to what has been said, they not be the one to mirror the speaker to whom they wish to “respond.”

3. Have an attitude of pre-validation.* In other words, assume that all persons “make sense” and are valid before they speak. Listeners seek to understand the “sense” that speakers are making and are trying to express.

4. The group holds the “space of validity” for all members and encourages the sharing of different points of view.

5. Avoid MasterTalk* – in other words avoid sentences that imply that only one point of view is correct. If Master Talk statements are made, “Boundary insertions” may be used to return the tone to one of sharing.

· “This is a fact” is politely mirrored, “So you believe…”
· “This is what happened” becomes “So you remember…
· “You are wrong” becomes “So you think differently. You think…”
· “I think I speak for everyone here” is met with a polite request to just state what is true for him or her.

6. Value silence skillfully. Powerful points are often followed by silence. Silence doesn’t have to be filled right away. Listen for the emerging wisdom of the group.

7. Silence, on the other hand, can be a signal that talk is going underground. If this is perceived, a facilitator may invite and encourage sharing.

8. Facilitators and group members encourage all points of view and honor real differences.

9. Work to shift the tone from “conflict” to “sharing”. Saying you want to make an “addition” can be a powerful alternative to debating and win/lose thinking.

10. Encourage a sense of seeing a larger picture by valuing each person’s contribution to the group consciousness.

11. Learn to enjoy hearing and sharing even ideas you don’t particularly like. Learn to hold the tension of differences and grow the communologue space.

12. Senders should make relatively short sends; paying attention to the needs of other’s to share the time available.

13. It is believed helpful for senders to stay with one subject per send.

MASTER/SLAVE, Two World Problem: The Essay | Al Turtle’s Relationship Wisdom

I’m studying up on master talk. Here is a link to Al’s main essay. There is also a link there to an MP3 which I bought.

MASTER/SLAVE, Two World Problem: The Essay | Al Turtle’s Relationship Wisdom

Certain words can clue you into MasterTalk:

‘is’ , ‘know’, ‘the fact that’, ‘reality’, ‘we’ or ‘you.’”

I am trying to get the idea, these little lists help a lot.

The way out, Friend/friend talk, includes phrases such as

  • I think
  • In my experience
  • I believe
  • The way I understand it is..

The are I statements about information – cognitive I statements.

I like Al’s definition:

NewImage

Note this is not a relativist position. There may well be one truth. But each of us has our own experience, leading us to our own conclusions and beliefs.

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.

Continue reading “Psychological Eclecticism and Nothing”

Dialogues and mirroring – Psychodrama and Imago

In an earlier post I tried to capture a thought I had about dialogues. I was pleased to know someone read it and emailed me to say they were a bit confused. No wonder, I just pour out something I think about late at night — when I should be fast asleep!

I will describe more clearly how I work with couples by unpacking what I think are important ideas in a snippet from the earlier post.

I like to distinguish the words of the initiator of the dialogue, the protagonist, from the response by the person who is listening, the receiver, who I encourage to think of themselves as an auxiliary.

The problem is that I’m using language from two psychotherapeutic modalities. I imagine this makes no sense to anyone really, as there are very few psychodramatists who are also Imago Relationship Therapists. Even to someone who has that background it is still a muddled sentence.

Let me start again. First I’ll use Imago terms and then I’ll describe the same work using psychodrama language.

Continue reading “Dialogues and mirroring – Psychodrama and Imago”

How do I respond, can I say anything?

When learning to dialogue people often ask how to respond to their partner after they have listened to their first “send”. What do I say, can I say anything? 

Response is central to relating. Is everything a response to the previous thing? Perhaps, but I like to distinguish the words of the initiator of the dialogue, the protagonist, from the response by the person who is listening, the receiver, who I encourage to think of themselves as an auxiliary. In responding as an auxiliary, we are not asking for anything. Of course the sender (or protagonist) might listen and mirror the response, but as a responder it is useful to keep the mind-set of an auxiliary, then the response is a form of mirroring in that the protagonist can see how they impact on the other person.

A response will reveal to the protagonist who how they are received. A response may also reveal something about the listener. Self disclosure as it is known in counselling jargon. As long as the auxiliary stance is maintained it can be useful, as long as its not all ‘Me, me, me.’ Good self disclosure on the part of the listener means the protagonist will know they are speaking with a person.  A response that is well done will have the protagonist nodding, relaxing, learning about themselves and ready to open up more about themselves. They will not feel alone and trust will build. A full response will enliven the dance, create a rich space between the two, filled with meaning.

To encourage this when they ask: What do I say, can I say anything? I offer something like this:

What was most exciting to you in what you just heard.
What touched you most deeply.
One thing I have learned about you.
What I found valuable in what I heard.

Harville Hendrix Audio

Click to play & download Harville Hendrix Helen Hunt Freud to Buddha

Note from: http://gettingtheloveyouwant.com/thinktank

The Challenge of Creating Change: Freud and the Budda in Dialogue with Imago
Join Harville Hendrix for a preview of the keynote presentation at the 8th Annual Conference

I listened to it and found it quite wonderful.

Harville places connectedness as a form of consciousness akin to or surpassing enlightenment. That is quite something. It makes sense to me as there is a resonance through the cosomos, things connect.


Spotted another Harville Hendrix one there on Behaviour Change:

Click to play & download Harville Hendrix on BCR

Social and cultural atoms – Interact

The pattern of role relations around an individual as their focus is called his cultural atom. Every individual, just as he has a set of friends and a set of enemies, – a social atom – also has a range of roles facing a range of counter-roles.

Psychodrama v. 1 p. 84

~

I am reflecting on how  the “imago match” relates to role theory.

The interpsyche occurs then when the role cluster of a couple is particularly intertwined. Love. Upon investigation I imagine there would be a particular quality to the role relationships. The tele would be strong at least in some areas. In the interpsyche the roles in a current relationship are likely to match the roles and social atom of the family of origin. The tele with the roles matched to the original social atom of each party would be strong. The mutual and positive/negative matches would outweigh the neutral?

This is a psychodramatic look at what Harville Hendrix calls the “Imago”. Sociometrically it can be explored in great depth.  In couple therapy we are looking at role relationships. The assessment is a sociometric role analysis.

It would be good to explore this on the stage as part of the role assessment, working with a couple or in a sociodrama or in supervision of couple therapy.

~

More moreno quotes follow on the cultural atom

Continue reading “Social and cultural atoms – Interact”

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.

__________________________________________________

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.

INTERPSYCHE – Relationship Therapy for Couples

Two notes from a search on “marriage” on my Moreno texts. There is a new clarity I’m getting about the principles of working with couples psychodramatically. Thes two snippets reinforce that. Interpsyche is very close to the notion of an imago in IRT.

INTERPSYCHE … Marriage and family therapy for instance, has to be so conducted that the “…” of the entire group is re-enacted so that all their tele-relations, their co-conscious and co-unconscious states are brought to life. Psychodrama v. 1 p. vii Introduction to 3rd edition

RESISTANCE TO DRAMATIZE … The two partners are on the stage, for instance, but refuse to enact any of the crucial situations which they have disclosed during the interviews. The director tries to get them started by shifting their attention rapidly from one plot to another. This may put their minds at comparative ease and make them willing to work. If this brings no result, he will suggest that they can pick any subject at random, or anything which they would like to tell one another at the moment. If this also is without effect, the director may suggest that they project upon the stage any of the more pleasant situations in which they may have found themselves in the past (when they were first in love), or any situation which would express how they would have wished their marriage to develop (perhaps having a baby or a large family), or a situation in the future which would express any change they might like to have in their life-situation. If these do not bring any results, there still remains the choice of symbolic situations and symbolic roles for which they may have affinity or which might be constructed for them. If all this does not have the effect of an actual start, the director does not plead or insist too strongly, but sends the subjects back to their seats. Psychodrama v. 1 pp. 338-339

Harville Hendrix workshop

More reports and reflections on the Harville Hendrix workshop for Imago practitioners in Auckland on 20 March 2011. Most of what he said was not new to me, and what I will note here is mostly what I heard him say. What was unexpected was the power of his ability to do, be in the moment with us what he was talking about. Present, connected, empathic, and making eye contact in such a way that if let at times he was talking just to me, in fact he was, totally there with me in those moments.

The Importance of Theory.
The theory allows the practitioner to know what to do beyond the application of techniques. H also mentioned the importance of research. Brian mentioned there was a swag of research quoted in Wikipedia Imago entry.

Relational Paradigm
The main theory he presented for most of the day was the relational paradigm. Summed up thus: being as relationship. Thus placing this as a shift in consciousness going beyond the philosophers of being such as Heidegger and Sartre and also Ken Wilbur, who has a heirachy of consciousness that is about individual beings.

“Being as relation, that is a revolution in thinking.”

Did Harville say Ken was stuck in the past? I think that he is as this relational thinking is deep and profound, and changes everything. This became really evident to me later in the day as H spoke about self. Self is a negative or remainder once all projection and judgment is withdrawn.

Relationship is a spiritual practice one can do any time when there is another.

“Empathy without judgment is my spiritual practice. Everyone offers you an opportunity.”

See the other as Thou

Observer Effect
H referred to quantum physics. I heard a new angle on this, not just that the observer changes that which is observed, but that the thinking the observer brings to the observed, the intention and attitude will change the situation. What power we have, for good or ill!

The medical model is challenged with this understanding. If we see people as sick, then they can’t get well. It might work with physical illness but not in the psychological world.

“It is important how we see people who come to see us.”

Empathy
How to be with people, we can’t be other than how we are. The essence of being in relationship is to be in empathy.

“Empathy is felt connection.”

When a group member suggested that Maori were a people who were in a connected state H noted that this was an earlier level of connection, more like fusion of the tribe. The empathy he spoke of was connection from a differentiated self.

“Move from the imagined connection to the felt connection and there is participation in that. Getting otherness is terrifying, you have to surrender. To abandon the world you have imagined is terrifying.”

The other person “experiences you experiencing them”. Or even further … They then experience you experiencing them experiencing you… the empathic stance:

“I’m experiencing you experiencing me having my experience. ”

Why people come to us…

“Something has punctured their ability to be connected. They are scared. Some are really scared.”

Thus we make a safe place and there is a transference to the space. ‘This is the place we feel safe, you won’t let us fight.’

“How we hold them in our mind is how they respond to us.”

“We can hold them if we are not anxious”

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 by releasing the other, tolerating the differentiated other. Imago is a process of giving birth to the other person. I’m the mother of their birth. and this is where my birth happens as I am the remainder, what is left as I surrender.

How to be non-judgmental with violence. (( missed a lot of this discussion))
Thou.

“You are as dangerous to them as they are to you.”

“You are the co-creator of the transaction.”

Vicarious introspection

I understood this as seeing through the violence to the wounded child and reflecting that back to the person. I think of doubling as we use it in psychodrama.

The talking cure is the listening cure.

Book: Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution (Bruce Lipton) – culture is the petrie dish of the cell.

Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) – Kindle edition by Bruce Lipton. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks

“all negativity causes chaos”

I am nudging, nudge nudge, nudge. It is facilitation not therapy.

Phrases Harville used in a dialogue:

Make eye contact. Feel your eyeballs and relax so your pup is will increase in size and that will relax her. Deepen your pupils by taking a deep breath.

Breathe together, set up a resonance.

Look when that happens you see a glow on her face.

Stay with the terror till it passes.

Lead lines

Am I getting a good sense of that now?

When I feel this frustration in the future I’ll …

… and the gift to our relationship is that …

Reference

Lipton, Bruce (2009), Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) – Kindle edition. Hay House. Amazon

Participatory Consciousness

“Each person is participating, is partaking of the whole meaning of the group and also taking part in in it”

David Bohm

I am reading On Dialogue.  Not sure where I got that quote from though, had it hovering here in some scraps.  It is central to the idea that dialogue is NOT just exchanging information but CREATING something new, that that is common to the participants.

This idea has been central my understanding ever since I first participated in groups in the early eighties.  I knew something was happening that was bigger than me yet fully connected.  My Psychodrama thesis tries to articulate this ideas.  Now it is here well expressed by David Bohm.

Listening is not just about “getting it”, it is also about doing something more.  I am thinking of the Imago dialogue as I read the passage below from the first chapter: On Communication, page 3.  Imago is about getting it, and the doing the Validation step, which is still not quite what Bohm is getting at. Perhaps the “difference” does not emerge until the response?

Nevertheless, this meaning does not cover all that is signified by communication. For example, consider a dialogue. In such a dialogue, when one person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the meanings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he or she meant to say and what the other person understood. On considering this difference, they may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to their own views and to those of the other person. And so it can go back and forth, with the continual emergence of a new content that is common to both participants. Thus, in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him or her. Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.

But of course such communication can lead to the creation of something new only if people are able freely to listen to each other, without prejudice, and without trying to influence each other…

The full summary, validation & empathy steps seem important not just to exchange information, but to connect. To go beyond prejudice and trying to push an agenda requires the Imago steps.

Validation also leads to the creativity that Bohm is valuing. Validation involves making sense of the other while standing in their shoes, then facing them and saying you makes sense, and what makes sense is… seeing and experiencing how things hang together in their world. Understanding involves knowing how various things interconnect. To see the other persons world like that, and then to let them know how you see it may lead to encounter. Validation is a step towards encounter. Stepping into the other’s shoes and seeing the world differently may lead to new insights in the listener. The suspension of judgment is not to abandon ones judgment or perspective. There is an internal encounter… material for the next response.

Validation operationalises what Bohm is calling creativity – and Moreno calls encounter.

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.

Continue reading “Moreno, Buber, Hendrix”