Where am I coming from and what are we doing?
- Our Working Relationship
It is a chance to be who you are by practicing authentic communication and relating in a context of acceptance. It's a chance to have the missing experience.
There is also something positive that happens on a neurological level as a result of contact – being in the presence of another person who is really present.
- Cultivating Awareness
Having a little distance can take the edge off of suffering.
Call it what you want – mindfulness, the observer, or the compassionate witness – sometimes a person's ability to change their experience or behavioral patterns follows from awareness. I don't know why exactly, but I have seen it happen. It's as if awareness gives a person a little more perspective and room to see alternative choices and the chance to choose a different path of action rather than tripping into the same hole again and again.
Sometimes mindfulness can help us be with reality without reacting so strongly.
Mindfulness is a way to disidentify with the stories about who we think we are, both negative and positive. What's the point of that? Those stories are more about the past and future than the present moment, where life is actually happening.
- NVC – The Nonviolent Communication Model
According to my understanding, the NVC model offers a way to approach many aspects of our experience. In the end, it's about compassion and feeling good by helping to meet the needs of others. Along the way, it's about communicating and relating in ways that will increase your connectedness to others in a positive way. Learning the components of effective communication becomes a practice, including learning to see reality as it is (without an overlay of your personal interpretations), identifying your feelings and separating feelings from thoughts, identifying needs and separating needs from strategies to get needs met, and expressing requests (as opposed to demands) that will increase your chances of being heard and getting your needs met.
- The First Law of Thermodynamics
Remember high school science? Neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed. What this means is: Good luck with trying to deny or stifle feelings! Instead, learn how to express feelings from a place of awareness – in ways that won't hurt others or perpetuate the very pattern that created the feelings in the first place.
- Existential Concerns
Somehow it helps to know that we all struggle along the lines of the same universal concerns – meaning vs. meaninglessness, connection vs. aloneness, freedom vs. limitations, and life vs. death. How do we create a meaningful life in the face of these challenges, given what we have to work with?
Rather than trying to deny different parts of ourselves, I have found it easier if we acknowledge and allow that we have different sides, including some sides that some other sides might not like and might even wish didn't exist!
Part of life is about developing fully as the individual that you are. But it's a challenge. Sometimes it takes courage to be who you want to be. And sometimes it takes patience and forbearance to let other people be who they are. After all, to quote Tim Kreider, "Anyone worth knowing is inevitably also going to be exasperating." And it works like a two-way street. I think that one goal for couples is to be able to reach a point where they can just be who they are with each other and stay connected in some way, even when they aren't connected! To allow the annoyances; the lack of resolution; the unmet needs. To allow the humanness and its attendant vulnerability, that part that wants some appreciation. To hold all of it from a larger consciousness - the part that knows that you are ok as you are, that does not need to base your sense of self on what some other person says, and that can appreciate yourself, and can give yourself and the other person some caring.
- Transpersonal Perspective
What is really going on here? What really matters? How do we make meaning of our lives? To what extent do we experience the connectedness of all things, or to what extent do we suffer because we don't? How do we experience our inner world, the play of resonance between other people, and that place of awareness and gratitude and compassion?
- Exercises from Various Modalities
I'm open to using methods from Gestalt Therapy, Hakomi, Process Oriented Psychology, Existential Therapy, Art Therapy, Creative Visualizations, and PhotoTherapy.
I'm hoping we can explore different ways of making contact with and expressing aspects of who you are – ways of bringing you into a present, felt, meaningful experience.
- The Body
Sometimes it helps to talk about things, at least to satisfy the mind which wants an explanation to chew on. But everything we experience has a corresponding sensation in the body. And the body is a route for change and healing on all levels, including the emotional level. Activities like walking, hatha yoga, some forms of body-centered meditaton, gardening, and even laughing can be profoundly effective for changing mood.
Here is how it might actually look in a therapy session together