Creative Connections & Client Communications
Counseling for June 30…The Magic of “What if?”
So many tests in social psychology, trying to pinpoint the key benefits people feel about their therapy experience, clearly reveal that the dimension that makes good work possible, that allows success is empathy. The people feel understood by someone with knowledge and skill; the process together brings the two close, knowingly.
This doesn’t mean that the astrologer and client need share a gushy, “Oh, I understand just how you feel!”, cracker-barrel discussion to pave the way for helpfulness. No way! ---The “Oh, I know just how you feel!” statement actually works against respectful togetherness because it is a patently impossible circumstance, a stranger knowing exactly how “I” feel. –If this type of sentiment is part of your way of expression and you need to express it, I suggest you substitute the word “appreciate” for the word “know”; it makes all the difference in the world: your client thinks, “Well, fine; that makes me comfortable; that’s reasonable.”
Subtle business, indeed. There are many points like this in the dialogue development of every consultation. Imagine, if you were to record one of your consultations and then transcribe the recording to print YOURSELF, with every sound and word reported to paper [and you should do this, really!] … just imagine how many subtleties of language you would detect! Helpful turns of phrase; jarring statements; disruptive statements; betrayal of your own insecurities, etc.!, all would become glaringly obvious to you.
We are zeroing in on the fact that the astrological consultation is a Support Group meeting of two people. Let’s be aware that that entails two people on the same wave length with the potential of helpful understanding and support, all communicated by careful language and behavior; two people actually participating together in one person’s life development.
Objectification is the goal. All of us are enmeshed, even drowning, in the developmental currents of our life. Emotions have been triggered since birth and have become patterned throughout our accumulated experiencing of life. The astrologer’s objective is to discern those emotional patterns in the client’s development, the reactions that define who one is, infer their root-causes, and, in presenting hypotheses to the client, stimulate objective discussion about that development.
“Appreciating” developmental currents objectively meansevaluating them within rational, practical context, exposing the contrast with the client’s norm of perception, his or her routine of reaction. We are not trying to disprove or invalidate the client’s way of being, rather, we are holding up a mirror to his or her concerns and allowing the client to see any inefficiency, impracticality, limiting, hurtful behavioral patterns, defenses that may no longer be needed, and more.
The phrase “what if” can introduce objectivity and enormous helpfulness: “What if this never happened, the child dying during your baby-sitting responsibility 30 years ago? What changes in your emotional life, your relationships thereafter, do you think would have followed?” The client will talk of freeing up guilt by defining the behaviors that, harnessed to that guilt, have skewed relational behavior into adult years. There will be issues of managing responsibility; self-deprecation; perhaps even infertility, and more. When this state of anxiety is isolated, the anchoring ties to the times past are clarified, and the trauma is objectified; the deep abiding human values that have given way to guilt can return refreshed within the sense of, say, accidental death, not complicity by association, for example. This contrasting view begins to distance the client from the focus of anxiety.
“What if you asked your wife –in a quiet, together moment … she’ll know you are serious(!) … to tell you, please, why she loves you? That would refresh those feelings you once were sure of, that you’ve forgotten about in the development of those negative feelings we’ve discussed about your job advancement –not up to what you expected over the past ten years. There is an opportune time coming up for you, and Gosh!, we want you feeling good inside, to enjoy it!”
“What if you cooperated here with your wife with regard to doing these three household chores that she really, really hates, that really have gotten in the way of things at home; not bowing to her will, now, but saying to her that you are doing this in appreciation of how she feels and that your heart is in the right place? What could change?”
“What if” shows the other side of an issue; it facilitates objectification, harmlessly, but vividly, and it brings you and your client together empathetically. –You will be surprised what emerges from conversations like this that are extremely beneficial to your client. Remember, your client can have a discussion like this only with his or her most trusted friend [please see The Astrology of Intimacy, Sexuality & Relationship] or with you the sensitive, knowing, creative astrologer!
Next Update: July 31, 2003