Friday, 29 January 2010

Let something grow

A markedly nonnarcissistic attitude toward offspring informs the remarks of an 85-year-old frined of mine who reared 12 children during the Depression, all of whom have turned out well despite borderline poverty and some painful losses:
“Every time I’d get pregnant, I’d cry. I’d wonder where the money would come from, how I was going to nurse this child and take care of everything else. But around the fourth month I’d begin to feel life, and I’d get all excited, thinking, ‘I can’t wait till you come out and I find out who you are!’
From the book Psychoanalytical diagnosis, by Nancy McWilliams.

What McWilliams describes here is a mother that didn't let her expectations and preconceptions force themselves unto her children, but instead kept an open-minded and attentative attitude. I think you'll agree with me that the word "curiousity" sums up this mother's stance towards her growing children.

I believe this has relevance for psychotherapy in general.

Klaus Grawe has written a
tome of a book called Psychological Therapy, in which he has this to say: One of the most basic things in psychotherapy is that a psychotherapist needs to convey hope, trustworthiness and a sense of empathy and interest in the client, through verbal and non-verbal communication. (i e, looking interested)

After years and years of providing psychotherapy, how do you maintain that interest? How do you avoid growing jaded? How do you avoid reaching the point where you think to yourself "It's just another narcissist, I already know what this client needs" and start filling the client with your own ideas rather than seeing hir for who sie is? 

I think the sense of curiosity is key f
or maintaining this sense of interest. Ask yourself Whatever new things will this client teach me? and you will also stay curious and attentative, and actually pick up on the unique secrets of this human being. I guess. As an undergraduate, I'm not really in a position of advicing jaded psychotherapists on how to handle their great mass of experience... Hell, maybe I am in just that position, on virtue of having no experience in providing real therapy. I can tell you this though: The number one complaint I hear about psychology is "It's just about trying to classify people into categories"
So hey, let's roll with it, see what comes out of it. Now check out this guy, Carl Rogers, one of the founders of humanistic therapy I mentioned in my last post. The very first thing he says when he comes into play (at 3:05) is:

From my own years of therapeutic experience, I have come to feel that if I can create the proper climate, the proper relationship, the proper conditions, a process of therapeutic movement will almost inevitably occur in my client.
Which sums up a big part of humanistic therapy pretty good, actually. It's an idea that thoughts and awareness will grow and develop if you give them the room for it, the trust, the careful encouragement. (You can see Rogers in action in part 2 and forwards, mm-hm!)

Everything needs room to grow.

Now, this subject is
huge. I could go on about expectations, the connection of curiosity and playfulness, or taoism... but actually, I think this is a good time to introduce improvisation theatre.

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