THE DEPTH PSYCHOTHERAPY CLEAR LISTENING AND INTERVENTION COURSE FOR INDIVIDUALS & GROUPS
The depth of feeling oriented psychotherapy depends upon synchronizing in with the flow of our client's process to a point where a very high level of congruence is achieved. Coming from this place, the success of our interventions also depend upon what we say and how we say it. Our comments must be free of projections, and simplified to be within the deep flow of the client's material. What we say to a client must lie within the realm of the preconscious, that is to say it must lie within what they can really hear and integrate. We must also learn to ground all processes in feelings and body sensations.
The course will consist of a small group, sitting around a mat on which one of the members will be lying, to act as a test subject. Internal and external responses and the therapeutic interventions of the listeners, will be monitored and corrected by the “client”, the group, and by me. Attention will be paid to small group process.
The course, which may be repeated as often as a member of the group wishes, can be followed up with individual and or group, email and telephone support.
There will be a lecture on theory and practice, and we will meet here in Toronto or anywhere else, for six hours a day, for seven to ten days.
The cost is approximately one thousand dollars Canadian funds depending on the length of time..
Courses will begin when enrolment exceeds six people in Canada, or ten people outside of this country, with twelve being the desired maximum.
Courses will assume that my on line book has been carefully read and that participants are seriously involved in doing deep work on themselves. They may or may not be training as therapists.
Those people around the world,who are now sitting for, and budding with each other, as they do their depth therapy work, might well benefit from a course such as I am offering here.
phone: Canada (416) 606-3117, (416) 686-4481
When you talk about a course in "Depth Therapy Clear Listening and Intervention", what exactly would you teach and how exactly would you teach it?
First, I would establish the basic principles by which the mind/body axis grows during therapy. Then, I would offer extensive supervised practice in creating the therapeutic responses that are completely congruent to those principles.
Principles of growth:
The mind is infinitely subtle, and yet, there are certain main paths through its forest that in my opinion, hold true at all times. Let us look at a few of them and see what we find.
The brain seeks the completion of unseen and unworked through issues, as well as their accompanying pain, by creating connections between them and our conscious mind. These connections take the form of delicate chains of associations. These delicate associations do not conform to the rules of daytime logic, although as we unravel them they always end up making "logical" good sense. Thus because they do not at first seem to be logical, we call them "free associations" (free from logic).
These chains of free associations will form if we offer a client accurate listening and feedback about what we are hearing. This is called reflective listening.
Now unfortunately, these delicate newly forming free associations can become more and more ungrounded (unconnected) from the deep source of distress that is generating them. If they run on unguided, often the client "floats" up with them into his or her head, thereby gaining a kind of intellectual knowledge about themselves that does not lead to change.
For this reason, feeling and body oriented depth psychotherapy, employs the technique of keeping clients inside their feelings and body sensations as they allow their free associations to occur.
Remaining inside a feeling creates a field of energy which acts like a magnet and draws unconscious material toward the surface of the brain. It also ensures that when the deeper issues do come into surface awareness, we actually have a "grounded" (felt) experience of their truth. This groundedness, or sense of actually experiencing the deeper issues, is confirmed by a felt shift in our body and in our feelings. We can actually feel something change inside of us that is below the level of our ability to manipulate directly.
In order for feelings and body sensations to draw deeper material to the surface of the mind, we must do nothing to disturb the arrival of these delicate connections or free associations. If we do disturb this flow, when and how it comes, the larger overall completion that the brain is seeking to establish, will be derailed.
We must therefore provide in the therapy room what I am beginning to call, a "wide open field of permission."
This wide open field of permission is created by first teaching the client how to stay inside a feeling and not dilute it with conversation. The permission here is the permission to be both feeling oriented and non logical.
The client is then taught how to allow sounds, words, simple phrases, and body movements to emerge from within this experiencing of the feeling. Clients are reassured that what comes forward always will make sense in the end.
They are taught that becoming on the outside, exactly what they are feeling and sensing to be their truth on the inside, will allow the greatest possible externalization of tensions that have been buried within them. Actually hearing our pain in words and sounds with our external ears and consciously feeling the movements of our body, when driven by this pain, allows what we have always hidden to be more completely discharged and more completely integrated. This activity of externalization, when accurately achieved, is called congruence. Another name for it is honesty.
The client is taught to work in slow time and not in any way to skip over the periods of silence that are what actually allow a ripening of deep material. This ripening in turn creates readiness within the material so that it can then come forward. This is called waiting for fullness.
If anything interrupts this delicate process then pockets of unworked through material remain solidified in the depths of our unconscious and we proceed through our therapy growing like a Swiss Cheese, full of holes in our awareness and in our function.
Hurrying the client or inserting pet beliefs into their journey, such as, "now you should be doing a birth experience," short circuits the next arriving delicate chains of association and stops the overall, open ended growth of the brain. It freezes the brain into rigid corridors and locks it out of its own awesome integrating potential.
These are for me, the basic principles of growth in depth therapy.
Therapist Responses that Are Congruent with the Principles of Growth:
The job of the therapist is to listen quietly and patiently and to reflect back to the client what the client is saying. This dispels confusion and clarifies the mind.
The therapist must learn to gain a feeling for what the client can truly hear and integrate, in the reflecting statements that the therapist offers.
Just outside the conscious stream of the client's thoughts, lies a region of mental process that can be made conscious when it is mentioned by the therapist. This realm, which could be called the "almost conscious",or "nearly conscious", is where the therapist must learn to operate. Psychiatry actually calls this realm the "preconscious" but I find this word misleading.
Reflecting the obvious back to the client has certain clarifying effects, but it is really in the reflecting of almost conscious material that we attain our greatest art, and receive from the client the so called "aha" reaction of someone who has just heard something new about themselves that they really can feel.
If, as therapists, we reflect from the deep unconscious level, ("you did this because your mommy didn't feed you enough") we may be correct in what we say, but the client can only see it with their intellect and thus becomes ungrounded (unconnected) from the actual experiencing that brings growth.
Reflecting must never disconnect the client from the feelings that are driving their free associations. That is why we therapists must stay only with what is spontaneously emerging from the client and never insert our own beliefs or ask clients to do something before it is coming forward, in and of itself.
For me, learning to reflect client's thoughts and feelings back to them, so as to maintain the flow and delicate integrity of the arising free associations, is the highest art of Depth Therapy.
The material produced by a client comes from many places within the mind body axis.
To begin with, client material always has an actual present content which must be honored until the brain integrates it, and can thus organically move on to the next thing.
"I had to do down to the underground garage to get my car," is a statement of actual and real content, in the client's conversation. We might reflect this actual real content and say,"So you went into the underground garage."
Around and through what the client is actually discussing lie feelings and or body sensations. We can call these processes, the emotional content.
As feeling oriented therapists who want to begin attaching the client's thoughts and memories to their feelings, we might then say, "How did it feel to go into that garage?"
The answer might then be, "I was a little afraid, even though I am a man."
Now we can reflect the feeling level of the the conflict and create our magnet for deeper unconscious material. We can do this because the feeling content is in fact now arriving, of its own accord. We might then say, "So you have some feelings that you shouldn't be afraid because you are a man?"
Here is the almost conscious level of therapy work. We are now in the region where clients can actually feel the rightness of the connection we are reflecting because although it isn't in their conscious mind at the moment, it is close enough to consciousness that when heard spoken out loud, they can "get it" completely.
The client's present issue of entering the garage, like all present issues, must not be jumped over. It is one of the precious little free associations on the way to deeper material.
Also, as we go deeper, our language must become congruent with the depth at which we are working. Our language must meet the child where it lives or we will disconnect the talking from the feeling, thereby putting people back up in their heads.
The client, allowed to have his free associations, might now say, "You know, it reminds me of how scared I used to be, going into my dark bedroom when I was small."
We then, as therapists, must shift gears in how we speak and say something in a childlike way to help the regression. We might say something like, "Your room was really scary". (We must employ short words and short phrases, the same as those a child would actually use.)
The client then might say, "Yeah, really scary, especially when my uncle was waiting to give me a good night kiss."
Thus, by not jumping over the present thoughts (talking about the garage), we honor the delicate arriving chains of associations and apply responses that are feeling oriented and are slightly deeper than what the client is saying. If we go too deep, we move out of the level that the client can really hear (the almost conscious level), and we will disconnect the process that the client is talking about from the all important feeling. It is the feeling that will act like a magnet drawing the next connected insight into view. Thus the feeling keeps the flow of the client's material real and not just intellectual.
In the above example it should be noted that not all frightening experiences go back to childhood.
Therapy is a self correcting process. If we are off the mark, the client either goes up into their head or becomes confused, or stops talking entirely. The flow falters.
Now this is only the barest start to the art of interventions in feeling oriented therapy. In addition to all this for instance, client material comes at us from different places within the brain. A few examples might be as follows.
There is impulse oriented material such as, "I really wanted to kill her".
There is super ego or conscience oriented material such as, "I know I shouldn't have these thoughts."
There is childlike material such as, "I wanted that car so bad".
There is self destructive material such as, "When he said that, I just wanted to kill myself."
There is rational material such as, " It takes years to become a safe pilot."
There are many kinds of things presented to us in therapy. Where do we put our responses? What do we align with in any given sequence of thoughts and feelings? What is it that lies underneath any given surface issue and how can we aim our clients toward each of the deeper processes within them?
There is in fact a compass we can turn to in these confusing situations. Understanding this compass is what any course in clear listening and intervention must be about.
In addition to all this, clear listening and clear intervention, are not enough in themselves to do the whole job of healing clients.
Crucial to good therapy is the problem of what it means to be "fully present" to a client, and not just to be an intellectual therapy machine, saying all the correct things. Children are not raised by machines nor are they healed by them in later life. How to be fully present is itself a whole topic and must be discussed in any therapy teaching situation. One issue around full presence that can be mentioned here, is that if we achieve a high level of congruence and reflecting with our clients we have gone a long way down the road toward full presence. Much, but not all, of being fully present is a byproduct of using these listening skills correctly.
How would I teach all these principles in the field of, congruent and life enhancing therapist responses?
I would gather together between six and eight adults. I would ask that if they want to be therapists, they already have had two years of personal depth therapy which included some kind of supervision and feedback. We all have no end to the ability to fool ourselves and to contaminate our work with our own misunderstandings.
If someone only wants to sit or buddy more effectively for a friend then a little less would be required at a beginner level.
However, no matter why we come to a training group, a certain level of basic clarity about ourselves must exist, along with a serious willingness to hear feedback and work on ourselves when we get feedback that disagrees with our view of our self.
I would ask the group to sit around a mat, and request that each member of the group take turns acting as a subject.
I would begin slowly and ask the subject to remain sitting up, and to start talking about his or her issues at the intellectual level.
I would ask that each group member respond to the subject with what they think is going on at the level of actual content, and at the level of the feelings that accompany this content. I would also ask for comments about possible deeper emotional themes.
After each reflecting statement is made, I would then ask for corrective feedback, from the subject, as to the accuracy of what had been reflected. The group itself, which would always be asked for general feedback would thus become self correcting. The teacher too, expects to be corrected when he makes mistakes.
We would proceed at this level of sitting up therapy until a high degree of congruence between listeners and subjects was regularly being achieved.
Next, still keeping our subjects in the sitting up intellectual mode of simple talking therapy, we would focus on reflecting what the client does not yet have in his conscious mind, but what he or she can readily and deeply hear, once it is spoken aloud. (The almost conscious)
We would look for means to sense whether the client's flow was faltering, growing more shallow, or actually deepening.
On the second day, we could start letting people lie down and do feeling work, and again we would ask everyone to try reflecting congruently at this deeper level.
We would find ways of keeping the work grounded in feelings and body sensations.
We would look at timing, choice of words, the tone and quality in our speech, as well as the rhythm that we use in our responses.
The goal of all this would not be a demonstration of how well we can primal. The emphasis would be on teaching, and how we can help clients stay in their own flow, and deepen it.
Subjects would have to be able to stop the work on themselves almost at any time, so we could examine all aspects of the process. This might be difficult sometimes, and care would be taken around this problem.
We would, across five days, for several hours each day, be completely immersed in process and very focused so as not to drift off into other issues.
There would have to be some real trust in what the teacher was seeing and teaching. This would of course be accompanied at all times by group feedback, for validation or invalidation of the accuracy of all our intuitive processes.
Any one of us at any time, including me, might have to pause and go inward to undo our misunderstandings. These moments of self clarification after receiving feed back, would also be used as teaching moments. We would not want to lose our focus on how to listen and to intervene, clearly and accurately, and at the right depth.
This is how I would teach the art of "Feeling Oriented Depth Psychotherapy".
Without this trust no client can work effectively, and for many, the attainment of trust itself achieves much of the healing that is needed. The following statements can create, or if incorrectly made, can harm basic trust in the client-therapist relationship:
a.) Matching childlike words and small sentences to the child within the client: e.g., "You hated him when he did that." as opposed to, "You had a deep distaste for your father when he touched you that way."
It takes time for the mind/body-conscious/unconscious axis to re-orient away from cerebral logic and daytime conscious thought.
A client working at depth will produce usually only a few and usually very short sentences. It is crucial that the therapist not interfere with these brief communications. Their words are the breathtakingly fragile "bubble" which must be allowed to float in the winds of an arising consciousness without interference from the therapist.
Time, and timing, is everything. Give your clients oceans of it, and yet be aware of when they come ungrounded and are merely lost in nonproductive reverie.
First, the clients and the therapists too, must have a good grasp of what Depth Therapy is about. This can be obtained by reading my on line book, "Help Me - I'm Tired of Feeling Bad", which is fully available on this web site here .
Second, everyone in the group must understand that the purpose of the group is not primarily to do deep work (to primal), although in fact, much deep work does occur. The purpose of the group is first and foremost to teach, to demonstrate how we as Depth Therapists, help people to get into their own deep spaces. As such people are to a certain extent lending themselves to the process with this in mind.
To accomplish this training, we lie someone down in the centre of the room on a mat and actually do this therapy. We all observe the leader and also other therapists actually being facilitators. Then we can discuss what has worked well and what has not, and why it has not. The subjects are certainly expected to do regressive work under this kind of facilitation, but they are also expected to come back from their deepest self within a reasonable time i.e.. 30 to 45 minutes, after which they can sit up and rejoin us or lie quietly off by themselves with or without a buddy.
We can not attend to anyone for prolonged periods of time, since we are there to demonstrate the techniques, not to have a primal group as such.
I am deeply committed to the teaching as the main goal and feel strongly that we must move forward through the day albeit at a reasonable and yet not compulsive pace. The last comment on my website, from a participant in the 2003 training in Australia, emphasizes this issue of how I feel the need to move along with the teaching.
In order to do this I did find it necessary in the Australian teaching group, once in six days, to interrupt an experienced primaler and ask him to try and come back from his very loud deep work. He had been at it for more than an hour. The group teaching could not progress within that extreme amount of noise. This interrupting of someone's primal work is of course unacceptable under usual circumstances. Even in normal therapy however the evening ends and things have to come to a stop at some point. In a teaching group flexibility is certainly needed but in the end I feel that the teaching must come first and I expect those who attend such group to have that understanding.
The fact is that the group does flow along in a natural rhythm which allows therapists and clients alike to have a deep learning and deep experiencing of the basic principles. This is one of those times when theoretically a process should not work, but in actuality it works very well indeed.