Practitioner Development is perhaps the most fundamental component of our PSEN training experience. We encourage our trainees to enrich themselves within and beyond each of our training weeks. We provide highly recommended readings in order for our trainees to anchor themselves in meaningful and useful clinical and theoretical materials when not immersed in the training weeks.
We also encourage our trainees to practice working with clients, either as part of their professional practice, or by applying these concepts to other aspects of their professional or personal lives, and experiential learning provides the opportunity for the deepest learning.
We then focus strongly on the cultivation of our first three PSEN Principles: Embodiment, Mindfulness, and Present Moment experience. We will give a brief description of each of these key developmental principles below.
Finally, we require each of our trainees to have a clear understanding of their own Developmental Edge as a practitioner. This involves having our trainees know where they are presently established in their learning and their skill development, and where they are not yet well established. We want them to be able to come alive at these working edges, learning to make use of creative and dynamic tensions that take place in moment to moment interactions during practicum sessions.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
DEVELOPING PRACTITIONER’S EMBODIMENT
As an integral part of our training, practitioners develop a deeply felt sense of being in the body. They learn to experience self and other in and through a felt sense of embodiment. We view the practice of embodiment as a skill that is cultivated and refined over a lifetime.
We believe that by having an embodied presence, it becomes easier and more natural for the practitioner to assist the client in moving beyond the verbalization of abstract concepts and drop deeper into a more sensate, body oriented experience.
In the presence of an embodied facilitator, we find that clients are better able to pay attention to their own inner depths. Practitioners learn to become comfortable with the client’s discomforts with embodiment, and practitioners learn to directly engage with whatever arises in the bodies and minds of their clients.
DEVELOPING PRACTITIONER’S MINDFULNESS
Practicing mindfulness during our PSEN training weeks, both through meditation and through “Presencing” with practice clients, our trainees learn to both relax and steady their minds enough to become empathically attuned, present, curious, and interested in what is actually happening, in the here and now, with themselves as well as the client’s unfolding process.
Through the practice of mindfulness, our trainees acquire a keen sense of curiosity and inquiry; as well, they develop a tolerance for waiting, while staying in the unknown with their wonderings about the client.
Mindfulness practice allows practitioners to disengage from their own emotional reactions, allowing them instead to develop a more neutral, witnessing presence, which both helps them gain insight into what is happening, and supports the safety and well being of the client.
DEVELOPING THE PRACTITIONER’S PRESENT MOMENT EXPERIENCE
Through our various embodiment and mindfulness practices, PSEN trainees develop and strengthen their ability to orient towards the immediacy of present moment experience, rather than getting pulled into their own (or their client’s) mental thinking or abstract ideas.
They come to realize that anything that changes can only actually take place within the parameters of a lived present moment experience, and not in some as-yet-unlived future moment, where the world of endless and enchanting possibilities can seduce us out of taking imperfect, concrete steps towards real change.
PSEN trainees learn to address their clients’ issues in the concrete reality of their unfolding present moment experience. They do so by paying attention to the immediacy of what is being spoken and feeling the substance of a specific lived reality, through the filter of their own embodiment.
PSEN practitioners realize that anything that changes will only take place within the concrete and lived present moment experience, and not in some as yet unlived future moment.
WORKING WITH THE PRACTITIONER’S ‘DEVELOPMENTAL EDGE’
All of our trainees develop the capacity to be at their ‘growing edge’, that place within where they are both ‘on solid ground’, and at the same time, in ‘uncharted territory’ or ‘on unsteady ground’. We learn and we grow best when we have one foot rooted in what we know, and the other where we do not know yet.
We work with the psychological functions of support and challenge to develop ourselves at our growing edge. In our PSEN training, we all learn to take in support in order to be more congruent and more firmly established what already is. Supported allows to to gradually relax into a more full experience of what we have already become.
We also learn how to take up the challenge of where we have yet to go, and of what we have not yet become. Many of us have become threatened by challenge, and tend to perceive it as criticism and not assistance. A healthy practitioner seeks out good challenges and can feel supported by them, in order to go and grow where they haven’t been able to before.