It is OK to be human.
"Should" is an obstacle to therapy.
RUPA -> VEDANA -> SAMJNA -> SAMSKARA -> VIJNANA
VIJNANA = Intention -> Attention
We had an extensive discussion around the matter of explicit and implicit communication, how this relates to mindfulness and to the unconscious, to intention and attention, and about the different paths of effort and of faith, or we could say of skills and of good-heart. Intention refers to the clients motivation which is evident mostly in the client's manner and motility. It controls attention. Attention is grasped by rupa and motivation determines what is seen as rupa, how and why.
There is a skill in the therapist learning to identify samskaras that form by infection from the client through the effect of implicit messages, objectively using them rather than identifying with them and being hijacked by them. It is important for the therapist to learn and deploy this skill. Then, it is also important for the therapist to be grounded in good-heartedness such that no matter what the client presents, the therapist retains an unconditional positive regard and faith in the process. That faith will then infect the client, again through the implicit messages inherent in the way that the therapist is when with the client.
We also looked at the notion of conditioning, distinguishing it from causation. Conditions conduce toward a course but do not determine it. Another way is always possible. The client's story explains their current state, but it could always have gone differently. Narrative logic is not entirely logical or closed. There are always other possibilities. A tragedy may ruin a life or be the seed of enlightenment or anything in between.
We had a short amount of time left before lunch. Played a word association game.
Related the game: The mind is conditioned by association of contents. One idea leads to another, not in a logical way, but according the the "cultural conserve" and/or the persona need of the person. This process of association can be seen in the story of the client.
Two brief demonstrations showing fine detail of the counselling process.
- Issues become visible in body language before verbal articulation
- the dynamic of the client-counsellor interaction often reflects or is subject to the same patterning as the issue in the client's life, so one can extrapolate from one to the other.
- The client may have to ensure that they are safe with the therapist (and the audience) before they share important matter.
- SHIFT: Doing something not done before or doing something familiar in a new way constitute points of important shift in the therapy process. Similarly, making a connection not made before or understanding something important in a new perspective. Shifts of this kind are often accompanied by emotion or catharsis. One such shift in a session may be enough. It does not necessarily take long. After a significant shift there is likely to be a process of "working through". In the working through the client may arrive at further insights that are sub-ordinate the the main shift.
- There is nothing wrong with the client, nothing to be fixed. The client is fine just as is. That fine state, however, includes dynamics that may well lead to change. It is not the therapist's job to direct such change. The client will find a way.
- If the client says she is torn between two alternatives it is not for the therapist to decide between them. The therapist should honour and validate both. The client may say "I am X and I would like to be Y". The therapist does not take this as an agenda. The therapist says something like "So you are already good at X and you are thinking about the possibility of Y". After all, the therapist does not know whether going to Y is right for the client or not, or, if it is, whether this is the right time. The therapist trusts the hidden inner wisdom that will direct the client's process. In this way the client experiences freedom/liberation.
- We had some discussion of non-judgementalism and the difference between this Buddhist psychotherapy and "positive psychology". The latter was described as selectively responding to an reinforcing the positive part of the client whereas the former aims to honour the whole of the client. To have "unconditional positive regard" is to honour all parts of the client, not only ones selected as positive. Postive therapy as described is a judgemental therapy. Similar comments apply to much of cognitive therapy. In recent years Western psychotherapy has moved away from its former non-judgemental foundation and this represents a decline.
Work in threes with counsellor, client and observer.