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Transforming the Mind ~ by Peter Shepherd


Communication in Therapy

The therapist in Transpersonal Psychology plays a very different role to that of the traditional Freudian or Jungian psychoanalyst. His role is to receive the client's communication in a non-evaluative manner, simply suggesting things when appropriate for the client to consider, to help explore thoughts and feelings in a conflict, e.g. "What problem could that [adopted strategy] be a solution to?", may help to reveal a defense.

The kind of things the therapist may direct the client to look at are typically: family, sexuality, upsets, negations (situations and people that are backed-off from or suppressed), compulsions, inhibitions, loneliness, guilt, work, creativity, aims and purposes, and so on - in short, whatever is holding the attention of the client at that time. The therapist must be totally adept with the basic elements of a cycle of communication, those elements that are necessary for an effective communication to take place. In training, these are isolated and practiced until the therapist is proficient:

“Above all the therapist should not impose his own evaluations and judgments in any way - however helpfully intended, these are not helpful to the client who must find out the truth of his situation for himself.”
The therapist must be able to "be here now" and to be able to maintain that calm and transparent neutrality even when provoked to emotionally respond. He is then a "safe receipt point" for the client's communication, which may be sensitive and personal. Any invalidation at this point by a reaction of, say, disgust or frustration or mockery, would destroy the therapeutic relationship. Habitual social responses have to be controlled and this requires an objective viewpoint, a "self-remembering", a willingness for reactive responses to happen and flow away, without manifesting visibly.

The therapist needs to be able to make himself clearly heard and understood, and to know when this has occurred. He must be able to comfortably originate questions to the client, to acknowledge an answer or to repeat the question until it is satisfactorily answered. Of course he must be thoroughly familiar with the theory and procedures of the model on which the therapy is based, but with true understanding so that he can analyze realistically the client in front of him, not a hypothetical client. He must be able to handle answers and comments smoothly and not lose track of his original question. This should be friendly and natural, certainly not robotic or rote, which requires the therapist to really listen - he should be interested not interesting - all his attention should be on the person and what is said, not on his own emotional reaction and mind wanderings. Above all he should not impose his own evaluations and judgments in any way - however helpfully intended, these are not helpful to the client who must find out the truth of his situation for himself.

These principles may of course be used in everyday life, to restore order to the confused communications typical of so many personal relationships. Communication is the solvent of all problems. If you can comfortably hold your location and space, and view a difficult situation, and make the necessary communications, then any problem will dissolve, the confusion will blow off and the actual reality will be apparent. If it is not confronted in this way, i.e so that it can be viewed with equanimity, the situation will become a problem with resulting indecision and anxiety as it becomes more fixed, solid and serious.

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