One of the demonstrations from yesterday could be analysed as the following sequence:
CONTACT -> WARM UP -> PERMISSION -> CATHARTIC SHIFT ->
WORKING THROUGH (including integration & secondary insights)
This sequence is not unusual In this particular case the whole thing happened in about five minutes.
The therapist has to warm up as well as the client. Discerning how warmed up the client is is an important skill.
Yesterday we introduced the distinction between effort and faith. In both of these, discernment is important, but it works in different ways in each. Effort refers to the deployment of skill. Discernment is necessary to see when and how a skill is to be used. As skills become more refined and coordinated with discernment, effort becomes more precise and efficient. Interventions become more subtle. Faith refers to trust in the process and to unconditional acceptance. It is more global, a container for the work. Here discernment refers to sensing and tuning in to the inner life and spirit of the client in an unconditionally accepting way, trusting that something important is happening before one even knows what it is. As faith grows, intuitive processes play a bigger part and things happen more naturally. For the neophyte, faith is yet lacking so everything depends upon effort, but for the experienced therapist faith in the process predominates and skills are deployed as second nature.
Effort is inherently judgemental. It involves deciding what is right and what is wrong. The neophyte is judgemental of self and so tends to be judgemental of the client as well. This blocks unconditional acceptance. The inexperienced therapist's work is conditional. As faith grows there comes a cross-over point when faith in the process starts to be more important than technique. Technique continues to develop, but it is now subordinate. Faith is non-judgemental. From this perspective everything is interesting. Everything must have its proper place even if one does not know yet what it is. Thus one can respect all aspects of the client, including the ones that in conventional society would be disapproved.
We had a discussion that included reflections upon stories of the Buddha, how he may have been influenced by the circumstance that his birth occasioned the death of his mother, reflections on the meaning of the sutra that describes his visit to his mother in heaven, an account very like a psychodrama, and so on. This highlights the importance of existential issues in our lives. The circumstances of one's birth can have a major lasting impact. Why am I here? Why did I survive and another not? The Buddha's austerities can be seen as penance, self-punishment. In a similar way, a client may be engaged in self-punishment in some unconscious way. Perhaps we all are. These questions are important reflections. In each life there are koans born of the circumstances that brought us into this world. As one works with more and more clients and as one has diverse experiences in one's own life one acquires a greater appreciation and acumen that enables one to be more accepting of the diversity of lives that clients present. Proximity to death can also give one perspective. We pass through many instances of impermanence and dukkha and the therapist needs to bother appreciate the enormity of the event in the life of the client and also be able to put it in perspective. After all, the client is still alive and is doing something about their life by coming to therapy.
Working in groups of about five people, one counsellor, one monitor/observer, three clients. Counsellor sees clients 1, 2, 3, then discussion. Then repeat with new counsellor. Sessions 10 minutes maximum.
FINAL PLENARY GATHERING & SHARING