Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist

Categories Supervision Dialogs

On the yes part and the no part

I want to trust myself but I get confused when one part of me says yes and another says no.

I’m guessing you hold the misperception that because your two parts don’t agree, one of the answers is correct and the other is wrong. Consider the possibility that each opinion comes from a part of you who loves you and that both parts believe their opinion is the best course of action for you. Consider the possibility that both answers are correct. Certainly both opinions have positive intent.

There are a number of things you might do here including:

• Stay confused until you have more information.
• Wait until the two parts reach a consensus, or engage a third part of yourself to stand outside the system and mediate.
• Make a rule for yourself: When there is no time to wait, the no (or yes) vote wins.

Actually I see a young woman who has the same dilemma. How would you deal with that in session?

Okay, I’ll show you. Which part are you at this moment, the Yes part or the No part?

Uh, (introspects) . . . the No part.

Okay, the Yes part is sitting over here in this empty chair. Be the No part. Talk to the Yes part and make a case for yourself.

(does it)

Switch chairs.

(the Yes part makes a case for itself)

Switch chairs.

(the Yes and No parts have a back and forth conversation for several minutes) Okay, we’ve agreed on “No” for now.

Now be the confused part.

(introspects) There isn’t one at the moment. (thinks) Does it always go away like that?

Nope. Sometimes, the need to struggle wins out over the desire for completion. More often, once each opinion is aired and seen as caring, the confusion disappears even though a final answer is still illusive. Sometimes non-yes, non- no options come forward. Sometimes I will ask the person to come sit in my chair and observe the yes-no, push-pull process, from outside the system. Then I and the observer have a conversation about the relationship between the yes part and the no part.

Do you always use chairs?

No. Hold both your hands out, palms up. Okay, now go through the whole yes-no conversation you had before, preceding each opinion with, “On the one hand…“ or, “On the other hand…”

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