Over the coming weeks I’ll be writing about my ‘Whole Brain And Holistic’ approach to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. I want to share with you how I work in a whole-brain way…with my left-brain gathering facts, information, noticing the details, creating plans and structure; and my right-brained ‘felt sense’ of the client (or group attendee), of my own inner bodily reactions and sensations, imaginings, hunches, intuition, physical boundaries, the bigger-picture and context of the client, and any trans-personal or spiritual aspects that may emerge between us.
I’ll start here with the very first enquiry, then next time I’ll look at our first contact, then our first meeting/session; and then I will write about the middle stage and finally the ending.
In a later series of blog posts I’ll also clarify my own ‘whole-brain and holistic’ approach to different presenting problems/issues. Some, but not all, of these common difficulties form the basis of the 12 modules of ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process that I have created to allow other therapists to use this framework and help many more people to make improvements to their experience of life and to live in a ‘whole-brained and holistic’ way.
When I work as a psychotherapist with clients I am as much aware of myself, as I am of them.
I am not only tuned into my curiosity and interest in them, and what I notice about them; but also to my own bodily reactions, images, emotions and ‘gut feelings’ about them. We create a dance right from the client’s decision to make contact with me – instead of another therapist – and this is where, when and how the ‘music’ begins. Will it be smooth and melodic, or harsh and jangly? Will I be reluctant to dance or eager to get started? Will I be quickly abandoned on the dance-floor or expected to take part in a dancing marathon? My left brain is engaged with finding out the details of the steps we might take, and my right brain follows the melody, tempo and ‘feel’ of it all.
I no longer make my telephone number public as a first contact point, because I’ve had a few too many disturbed people abusing this…perhaps trying to shock, scare or arouse me. They did neither. I now chose to have only an e-mail address for contact – and it gives me much more information than a first ‘phone call does anyway.
An e-mail appears in my in-box. I don’t recognise the sender. I open it and see that it’s a request for my help – either for themselves or for a partner or family member. Immediately I am intrigued as to the underlying reason for the enquiry and whose need it serves.
I notice their e-mail address – and whether it’s a personal or business one, and if it gives me their real name.
Then I notice how much they’ve written to me. Is it just a brief two or three lines asking me to contact them, or is it half a page (or more sometimes) of detail, back-story and despair; or a catalogue of failed attempts to get help elsewhere?
I also notice what time of day it was written, and whether it’s well written or with grammatical errors and text-speak abbreviations.
I am imagining how old the sender is, based upon the information I have so far
I am already creating an image for this person based upon these few initial ‘pointers’. This isn’t a judgement about them, but simply a mixture of the relevant aspects that I’ve noticed so far.
Why did they chose to contact me and ask for my help, out of the many other therapists out there?
When I respond to this e-mail, how quickly do they also then respond to me – how desperate do they seem?
What is my gut feeling about them? Is it of interest, compassion, desire to help as much as I can; or on rare occasions I’ve felt uncomfortable, challenged, suspicious, even slightly disinterested. All of which tell me something about what this person may bring out in other people too…and I wonder why that might have become the case.
I await our first contact over the ‘phone…when I can find out even more about who they are and what they want from me…
By Maxine Harley (Msc Integrative Psychotherapy) www.maxineharley.com www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk www.qpp.uk.com