Creative Connections & Client Communications
Counseling Insights, May 31, 2010Removing the Environment
Almost all of us live within a social encasement of routine: how we have grown to behave becomes set; in the process of fulfilling our needs, we behave in ways that pay off or don't, but these ways are very similar from situation to situation. Who we are is established.
For example, within a history of repeated (successive) relationship break-ups, a causative factor is usually revealed that is the same each time: we seem to be trying to work something out over and over again, but we fail. We do something in every relationship that gets in the way. --Of course, the other party in the relationship has the same individualized pressures at work, similar considerations that have to be worked out, and the interaction becomes dysfunctional or rewarding, habitually.
This human drama shows us environmental pressures working upon individual needs . outer and inner environments interacting for better or worse.
How can the client come to grips with this and fix it?
The client must come to understand what the catalyst for upset is; how the complex developed and why it endures. These behaviors have become so routined --normalized--that they are in themselves hard to see objectively.
We can get at the dysfunctional set of behaviors by constructing a hypothetical situation in which the environment is removed!
"Let's diverge here for a moment: we can have some fun with this! Please participate with me in a fantasy . a desert island fantasy .[a bit of discussion leads to establishing the following points].
"What if we were offered a time-trip alone, just the two of us [or you could say, 'a trip with an attractive stranger'; opposite gender] on a desert island! No one would know we [you] were gone; there is no time duration to worry about; every comfort and need are taken care of; no responsibilities left behind or taken on; just the two of us [just the two of you] completely anonymous and completely alone on this tiny, idyllic island. --OK?
Let the client get adjusted to the hypothesis; smile and your client will smile as well.
Ask perfunctorily, "What would be the first thing we would do? " --The client will get into the scene by saying, 'Well, we would explore the island . we would. etc.' [Make sure there is involvement here.]
Then, very calmly and matter-of-factly go further: "Fine, and that first evening, you realize that it's really ideal . and as you're falling off to sleep, you wonder. [slow down] you wonder 'what could we anticipate might go wrong between you [and me] and your cohort'? What might emerge between [the two of us] you two that would be problematic in this pristine wonderful situation? --Use your personality to engage the client. Enjoy the discussion yourself. Be intent on preserving the 'pictures'.
You can easily lead the conversation to the issue. For example, if there is a developmental pressure (and relationship history) revolving around Moon in Scorpio needs for control, for competition, etc., it quickly becomes clear how upsetting that would be, how unnecessary that would be(!); and then you go to understanding where those needs were developed so intensely, so tactlessly (parental emulation? etc.). Your conversation will illuminate so very much. Your client will see things vividly.
The isolation situation removes the norms --the prescriptions of the environment-- to which we are accustomed.
And another vitally important issue emerges: as obstreperous behavior may return, what about the consideration of the needs and behaviors of the other person?
--There are many Aha! Moments in this talk; it doesn't have to take long because the isolation stimulates a fresh honesty and objectification right off the bat. The client gains a strong objectification position quickly.
If sexuality comes up, which is very natural under the circumstances you have created --the chances are very high that sexuality is a part of all the problematic concerns. --"Well, surely in this wonderful situation, the two of you would eventually be sexual with one another .. [get the client to agree to this eventuation]. and what would you feel after the sexual time?"
The male client may very well say, "I would fear that I wasn't adequate; " The female, "I would fear that I wasn't attractive enough." --Or, indeed, the client might simply insist that sexuality would be no part of the relationship . on that island, or back home here in reality!
The overall objective, of course, is to seek out the reasonable/moderate ways of fulfilling individual needs, putting off the exorbitant or obsessive AND helping the other person to do the same. And here is where your study and learning in relationship counsel become very helpful.
Next Update: July 30, 2010