New Ways Through Old Paths
Intensives have been around for some time and have usually been needed for those who wanted acute care with a blend of widening the lens on their lives.
Acute care has often involved physically removing the individual from their traditional environments of stress and strain and allowing total relaxation and somatic therapy to engage the physical reality of calm and inner focus.
To widen the lens is to look at the reason one hour therapy may not have worked so far. Sometimes there is too much tumult in the everyday to capitalize on what is being given in the one hour therapy experience. Sometimes there is simply a need to cultivate consistency—staying with one’s self long enough to go to the next level of knowing what is dull, underwhelming to what is too much, overwhelming. Some people are learning about their temperaments and personality needs and motives other are learning to engage old trauma that has never been healed and parts of self that have never been well loved or reclaimed from the ashes of upsets and breakdowns.
Intensives ask that you peel away the distractions, enter a cocoon of being heard, absorbed and understood by someone who does not want to interrupt your life or your current therapy.
For me being an intensive therapist allows me to hone in on someone without any preconditioning from them about who I am. I arrive without any preconditioning on who they are, and because of that, I have only their interpretation of what is defined as “successful” treatment. There is so much that is untamed and unconditional about this. I have applied skills, assessments and exercises that could keep the clients focused and busy in session and beyond—prior to intensives even beginning and definitely during and after. A number of tools I use are online under my tab “Resources.” Take a peek and know that your wholeness is a priority to all us at Mann Counseling Group.
Listening does not mean competing, contesting or interrupting, more specifically:
Not interrupting (Wait, now what are you talking about exactly?)
Not criticizing the “facts” (I wasn’t there when that happened; that must have been your father. That didn’t actually happen.)
Not evaluating their thoughts (That doesn’t sound accurate or like something I would say. You often have bigger feelings than are warranted.)
Not feeling sorry for yourself (I never get it right, I guess I’m just a horrible parent)
Not sharing what their feelings and needs are making you feel and need (Your feedback is really upsetting and confusing. I need a break and will talk to you later.)
Not defending. (A Narcissist’s Prayer: That didn’t happen. And it if did, it wasn’t that bad. If it was, that’s not a big deal. And if it is, that’s not my fault. And if it was, I didn’t mean it. And if I did, you deserved it.)
Listening means accepting that someone was negatively impacted by you regardless of your intention. They express themselves to be accepted, not agreed with. They express themselves to assess their experiences not accuse you.
I say this a lot to my clients: Feelings are the most irrefutable part of your dialogue. Feelings tell you what you need so you can arrive at a plan to meet the need in a way that respects what is felt.
If there is blame and accusation (You always and never/you want me to suffer and hate me and never think I’m doing the right job or think that I’m worth it. I feel you don’t get it. I feel you aren’t listening.” The speaker needs to reframe. “I am harmed by the lack of attention this issue is getting. I feel unheard and unimportant. It’s starting to shake my confidence in you and whether I can trust you. I want this to work out but I need to see changes.
Otherwise, here are some ideas of how to listen wisely and effectively:
Help me understand what happened that I missed?
What do you wish I had done differently then?
I heard you say_____. Did I get that right? Is there more you want to share?
What have you needed that hasn’t happened with me?
When we’re done having this conversation, what do you hope to feel?
I’m glad you said something. I can imagine how hard it was to share this. Your thoughts mean a lot to me. What do you wish for at this point?
Intention vs. Impact
Intention is not for any of us to accuse in another.
We as speakers define the impact, not the intention. The impact statement: “I felt ______, when _____ happened. I wish that _____ happened instead.”
Assessment vs. Accusation
Judgement has two components, but people use the word as if it had only one meaning. The two functions of judgement are assessment and accusation.
Assessment: I need to judge or assess the traffic flow to know when to merge with the highway traffic.
Accusation: You are not listening. You are not trying. You never care. You always give yourself more room than others.
Acceptance vs. Agreement
To accept the listener is to say, “I believe you and I’m sorry. I appreciate that it took courage to say this.” (The listener may not have any agreement, but they have expressed acceptance and that lowers tension and increases confidence exponentially.)
Acceptance is the core of connection. Agreement is gravy, and we have it with our best friends/partners. “I see it the same way, I have felt that way, too. I can imagine how hard all of this was.”
Indulgence vs. Flexibility
Indulgence is unearned privilege given to make the problem/guilt or frustration go away.
Flexibility allows for an extension on the parameters or an amendment to the parameters of the agreement for the earned privilege.
Hurt vs. Harm
Hurt is a challenge where someone goes on to achieve personal betterment by overcoming.
Harm is demoralizing and results from powerlessness or a profound sense of worthlessness.