Friday, October 28, 2011

“Teach me to interact with my son the way you interact with me.”

 New Thread:               Communication

A male client made this request during a recent session. His son, a young man, lives independently of his parents. Below is a fictionlized and condensed exchange, gleaned from many interactions with clients over the years, that might serve as a response to his request. It applies to fathers with sons as much as clinicians with patients, lovers with each other, friends with friends—and most fundamentally, it applies to each of us with ourselves… allowing the time, space, and curiosity to come to know who we are.

The intimacies of interaction 101
JT:    Well, what’s your experience of how I interact with you that is how you want to interact with your son?

Client:    You ask my permission to ask me something, or to suggest something. You tell me to use only the bits and pieces of our interaction that are useful to me. You tell me to change what occurs to you to say… and make it right for me. You are careful to make sure I follow what I think and feel is right for me. You tell me whatever I come up with is the good stuff. You tell me if you say something and it doesn’t fit, then you probably blew it, because you don’t know me well enough. You tell me no matter how much or how long we interact, I will always be the expert in what’s best for me.

You hardly ever suggest what I should do. Or if you do, you tell me it’s not because you think I should do it, but because you are curious about what I think in response to the suggestion.

You ask me questions about what I’m doing. Although you ask me about what I don’t like, or what I think the problem is, you seem much more curious about what lights me up. When I do something new that I like, you ask me about it, and what I imagine supported me in doing the new thing, or the new thing I learned.

You take time to think about what I tell you. Sometimes you ask me if I can hold on to what I’m next going to say, so you can sit still and let what I just said sift around inside for a while. You often ask me questions about what I just said—not as a challenge, but to check your understanding of what I said.

If you get lost or your attention drifts you tell me, and ask me to go back to what I said that you last got. Or you ask me a question about what I said that you didn’t get. I know you are listening, because I know you know when you’re not, and you tell me.

You look at me while I’m talking. You don’t just respond to what I say, but to how I say it. You ask me what it meant when I changed my voice while I said something. You notice when I have an emotional response to what I’m telling you.

While you talk to me you take in my non-verbal responses and it affects what you say and how you say it. Or when you notice I have a response to what you are saying, you stop and make room for me—maybe asking me “what just happened?” or just waiting, giving me space.

In this portrayal, this father’s request, “Teach me to interact with my son the way you interact with me,” implies he already recognizes a lot of what took place in his exchange with me that he wants to bring to his interaction with his son. The starting point of my response is to ask after what he already knows. The vignette above is streamlined; it does not include the exchanges we would have or the questions I would ask that would support his connecting with, clarifying, and using what he is learning.


Unknown said...
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Barnsley Hypnotherapy said...

One of the main reasons for hypnotherapy not being sought is that hypnotherapy still remains a mystery for many.  One perception is that this type of therapy is mysterious, somehow magical, and that the hypnotherapist can somehow take over your mind and make you do things against your will.