Psychotherapeutic resolution of neurotic issues is a continuing mystery to us all. It unfolds over the lifetime of the human organism with or without the assistance or interference of psychotherapists. We all have our theories and opinions about how human beings work through their traumas and resolve their existential and developmental conflicts. But the truth is, none of us knows for sure. We can only flounder about, call on our fairies, paraphrase other theorists, and speculate in metaphors as we attempt to interpret the intrapersonal experiences of ourselves and others.
The Process Map focuses mostly, not on the client, but on what you, the psychotherapist, attend to in session and how you relate to your client. It provides you with a way of being and doing that allows you to create a joyful and free relationship both with yourself and with the client while you invite him toward experiencing a connection with his Whole-Self. It is an inner map for you to consult as the client wanders around in his psyche and acts that out in the room and in his life.
Whether he is external and cognitive, lost in his transference, connected or disconnected with his experience, mad, sad, glad, afraid or shamed, your challenge is to join him however his process manifests itself and to invite him to be mindfully engaged with as much of his experience as is possible under the circumstances. We encourage you to provide a container of unconditional positive allowance while inviting the client to allow his natural flow as he moves through his incomplete processes. The Process Map offers a perspective through which to invite his mind, emotions, body and spirit toward expanded consciousness and a new decision about Self. And while the client does whatever he does, we invite you to stay separate and out of his system, not to get in the client’s way, and to trust both yourself and your client.
At PTI, your process-class instructor, your continuing education instructor, your mirror trainer, and/or your supervisor all lead with an individual theory of psycho-healing that feels right and works for each of them. Mostly Transpersonal, Humanistic, client centered, and Existential in perspective, often Gestalt in action, remember our theories are, after all, just theories. You have been integrating other people’s ideas with your own theoretical observations since you began your work in this field. If you have additional ideas about what transpires while a human’s psychic wounds are healing, well that’s okay with us. Clearly an absolute understanding of the process of psychotherapeutic healing is not necessary for participating in it, since, I assume you’ve noticed, healing appears to occur in your sessions whether you know what you are doing or not.
No matter what theoretical model about the nature of change you hold as your belief system, it is my opinion that all effective psychotherapy is process oriented. The Process Map encourages you to invite your client toward your theory of whatever mental health is, without having an agenda a) that your theory is The Truth, or b) that the person should actually take your invitation.
As the process of the client shifts and transmutes, the metaprocess of the experienced psychotherapist stays more or less the same. Engaged in an open relationship with yourself, you pay attention to and work with the client’s ongoing and ever-changing rhythms as he relates to his inner conversations, to his belief system, to his projections and to you, the psychotherapist. You stay connected with and trust yourself, focus on the other-guy, notice his many processes, choose one, experiment with a way he might encounter himself in that process right here, right now, invite him to connect with and acknowledge and allow his experience.
The Process Map is not an addition to the gestalt-cognitive-object relations-behavioral-family systems-psychodynamic-strategic controversy. You can employ techniques drawn strictly from one methodology or borrow freely from them all, and still be a Process Therapist. What we encourage you to learn about is not so much about what your client is doing, but more about what you can do while he is doing it. What we teach is not so much about technique, i.e. what your arms, legs and mouth might do in session, but more about how you are and what you might chose to focus on while you are inviting your client to connect more fully with his Self.
Most people who work and train here come to enjoy the simplicity and directness of concrete interventions. After a while, most PTI-trained psychotherapists learn to expand their range of interventions from the very physical to the cognitive to the implicit, to the imaginary, to the abstract world of the relationship between the client and the therapist herself. The more mediums utilized by the therapist, the more enriching the environment provided to the client for self-exploration.
Should you find yourself working in a setting with a supervisor or employer who espouses an “different” intervention model, there is no need to worry, “Oh no, I can’t do process therapy at that agency; they want me to do XYZ therapy,” “They discourage deep work,” or “My job is just as a support person, intake worker, or social service provider so I can’t do process work.” Similarly if you become besotted with some famous person’s amazingly effective techniques, remember that process work is not about interventions. Process work is about what you see, what you listen to, how you perceive what your client is doing. Pay attention to the processes between the client and himself, the processes between the client and you, and to your own processes in reference to the client and within yourself. They are all dramatizations of some part of the client’s work. Experiential interventions are merely ways to represent a client’s process explicitly and experientially, in an attempt to invite him to encounter himself in the here and now.
Essentially and fundamentally, Process Therapy is a map of being. It is a personal guide which encourages you, the therapist, to trust that although you haven’t a clue what to do, the universe, your client, and you are all “unfolding as they (and you) should.”