Interact Journal Integrative Ideas for the Process-Oriented Psychotherapist
Author: Carol Hadlock
On a life in turmoil
Q: Her life is in turmoil. Her children do this; her parents do that. Her career is a mess. It seems like she needs help and advice more than therapy.
A: Possibly so. If your preferred mode of assistance is service, then by all means trust yourself and advise as needed. However, if you choose to be a psychotherapist, the person she needs help and advice from, is…(guess who?) Herself! As you describe the situation, her children, her parents, and her career are all content. Each is both a stage on which she acts out her life drama, and a prop in her play.
On what to tell her
Q: She wants to know whether to leave her partner or not. I don’t know what to tell her.
A: You can tell her whatever you like, as long as you don’t have an opinion. That way, whatever you tell her will be an intervention, not an intrusion.
On setting up enactments
Q: When she remembered . . . , I got a figurine and did an enactment for that. Then she said . . . , so I set up some balls and pillows and did an enactment of that. How could I set up an enactment for . . . ?
A: Enactments often include the use of objects, but the essence of an enactment has nothing to do with stuff, and they do not always need to be “set up.” The lovely thing about an enactment is that it is an experiential way to invite process into awareness.
While Dorothy was growing up, her father often beat her and her mother never stopped him. Dorothy waited and waited for her mother to step in and protect her. Dorothy was very patient. She waited for 14 years.
On being stuck
Q: Sometimes I’ll start an enactment and then forget the thought that propelled me to set it up in the first place. Or, I have no idea what to do with the enactment once it is set up. If I try to analyze or figure out what I am doing, I get even more stuck.
A: And the more often you forget your original thought, the more anxious you are that you might get stuck. And the more anxious you are that you might get stuck, the more stuck you get. Is that right?
On which process to attend to
Q: When doing process work, which process do I attend to?
A: Well, let’s name some of the processes going on right now, here in this room:
On not knowing what he wants
Q: My client wants something but he doesn’t know what it is.
A: Instead of listening to him talk-about the thing he wants, invite him to talk-to or talk-with it.
On exploratory psychotherapy
Q: She has no idea what she wants from psychotherapy. The probation officer wants her to work on setting limits and establishing boundaries.
A: Her two choices appear to be a) doing what the probation officer wants or b) exploratory psychotherapy to discover what she wants.
On educating clients
Q: Do you suggest ever just telling a client something, that is, educating him?
A: Sure. Honor a client’s need to know. The intellect is as much a part of a person’s organism as his intuition. Often, once the intellect understands, it will give permission for the rest of the personality to begin the integrative work.
On being premature
Q: I think maybe I was premature when I encouraged my client to do a deep piece of work.
A:. If you felt you were premature, then maybe you were. Take ownership however, and know that you were premature for yourself, not necessarily for him.