Anger #16r The Second Eight Emails

Comment: This is the second review email, focusing on the nature of therapy. In essence, therapy is the only modern process that emphasizes the skills of emotional maturity.

MacQuarrie Email Review #2 — The Second Eight Emails

You are now half-way through this email program. How are you doing?

So sad.

I hope you are finding the program to be beneficial.

In the past eight emails, we have covered a lot of ground. In all of them, I have emphasized the development of awareness of what you are actually doing. I operate from the assumption that greater awareness gives you greater choice, and that your other-than-conscious mind will automatically choose more healthy responses — there is more to you than conscious control.

In this, I am attempting to give you relatively simple (but sophisticated) concepts, such as the Sailors On A Ship and Emotional Triangles, as well as inviting you to attend to how you create your reality with the rules. I have also emphasized the importance of how you language your experience to yourself, this being a major place of choice.

It may seem like I am wandering all over the map. And to a certain extent, you are right.

Imagine I’ve given you a roadmap. If you don’t know where you want to go, I can only describe the map to you. I cannot describe how to get “there” because I don’t know where “there” is for you. Eventually when you do know where you want to go, I could be a guide for you to get “there,” even though I have not been there myself — I’m very familiar with the map.

The map provides a lot of information, but it’s just a map — it’s not the territory. If, when you decide where you want to go, and then we work together, that’s called therapy. (What we are doing in these emails is a limited form of therapy, albeit without direct personal contact, and thus strongly dependent by your engagement. If you want more from me, please see my website.)

One of my major mentors Ed Friedman said that there are three things that are important in a therapist.

  1. having a grounding in a theoretical foundation,
  2. having practical experience in guiding others, and
  3. having done one’s own emotional work.

He also clearly believed that #3 was most important. If a therapist has not done his or her own work, all he or she can do is tell the client what they should be doing (the Rules!) — not generally a useful option.

For the client, good therapy is an active process of being in relationship with a second human being, someone who hopefully has a degree of maturity (having done their own emotional work, and having practical experience). The theoretical foundation is actually not of much value in the actual encounter — it mainly gives a way to frame the encounter afterwards, especially if the therapist is himself or herself working with a colleague to review difficult situations (so-called supervision, always useful).

Often it does not matter what theoretical foundation the therapist is using. Most important is the relationship between client and therapist. Thus, these emails are not therapy, although they may well have a powerful impact on your life.

That said, therapy essentially comes in two forms (a good therapist will move back and forth as needed between the two):

  • in one, the deductive therapies, the therapist attempts to instruct the client in how to manage the difficulties. In that sense, the therapist is providing a map, and instructing the client as to where to go. (But, from my perspective, that may not be the best place for the client to go. It is not up to me to choose how the client is to live life.)
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the therapy currently most popular in medical circles, is a deductive therapy. (The reason the deductive therapies are so praised is because they are measurable — modern medicine is so in love with scientific materialism and its need to measure!)
    • The essential problem is that not everything is measurable, and especially consciousness is not measurable.
  • in the second group of therapies, the inductive therapies, the therapist attempts to set the stage for the client to explore (as in exploring a swamp), and then works with the client as difficulties arise (providing shovels, or pointing out quicksand, as examples).
    • The exploration is much more open-ended, and for me, much richer in the possibilities of better outcomes.
    • As a Gestalt Therapist, I am much more in this category (as I would be if I called myself a practitioner of Neurolinguistics Programming or Bowenian Family Systems, two therapies which I also use).

Another useful metaphor here is that the client is trying to get off a merry-go-round, the merry-go-round of life, one that is going far too fast (sound familiar?). We keep hoping that there is someone at the controls who will slow it down (unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case).

I can help you get off the merry-go-round, but there are limitations:

  • I can guide you to be careful. As you jump off, you need to avoid hitting hit a brick wall. Safety is paramount, but risk is essential.
  • I don’t know what you will find when you get off. (It is not for me to tell you how you should live life. I can provide some skills for management of what is found, and I can also continue to assist you when you are off.)

All of the above is a round-about way of saying that I am actually wandering over the map. I am attempting to describe the map, but like any map, there are many features. What I am describing is what I believe are consistent, individual, useful features. And in the end, I hope it will all come together in a way that is useful to you.

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