Process Teachings: Fires of Transformation



1) Attunement and Differentiation – as PSEN practitioners, we will work with the two fold task of joining with our clients through resonance and attunement to their inner experiences, while also practicing the essential skill of being ‘other than where the client is’, through contact our own differentiated mind and body experiences.

Attunement requires the practitioner to let go of any agenda for the client, as well as letting go of any need for a specific outcome, in order to feel good about being a practitioner.   It requires deep listening, and then join in with the emotional resonance and psychological state of being of the client, without taking it on.

It is more like tasting the experience of the client, or touching it for one’s self, without entering their experience completely.  This gives the client a sense of being accompanied and accepted (to the degree that the client can tolerate the experience of another being there with them).  It is important that the practitioner allow the client to accept the attunement at their own pace, and as they are ready to open to it.

Differentiation is the complementary function of the attunement.  Being attuned to your client without differentiation creates a confluence, which can feel good by being warm and cozy, but this tends to confuse genuine contact with merging, and does not create enough energy to seek out change or growth encounters.

In order to be differentiated from one’s client, a practitioner needs to give equal value and attention to their own interior space while with the client, and to value the importance of his or her own different-ness from the client’s experience.  It is this different-ness which will add richness, flavor and contrast to their exchanges and ways of thinking and becoming.

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2) Making Process Observations –  this is a fundament skill for any effective process facilitator.  We will learn how to be consciously employing observations about what we actively witness in our client’s unfolding process.  This is very different from asking questions, giving advice or counsel, or simply focusing on the specific content of a conversation.

A good process observation has both a containing as well as an opening quality, one that consistently directs the internal process of the client towards the as-yet-unknown, and towards the empowering sense of possibility for new discovery.

—Process observations takes a client beyond simply answers, and into an authentic inquiry into something not yet known, but something within, awaiting awareness.  This is what creates the feel and the substance of psychological work.  A useful process observation will serve a two fold purpose:

1.  provides a sense of understanding that helps to contain a person’s process, providing a sense of being held or supported.

  2.  provides a penetrating or disturbing newness to the client’s awareness, providing a sense of challenge that can feel enlivening and new possibility.

—Finally, by keeping an awareness and observation on the process that is unfolding, the practitioner keeps from getting ensnared in the content of the conversation, which is where most impasses tend to occur between client and facilitator.
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3) Becoming a Disturbing Force – this is another vital quality for the PSEN practitioner to cultivate.  It provides the client with the sense of support through being seen and directly engaged, while at the same time being challenged towards new potential in ways that are unlikely to come from within themselves.

While this skill can feel quite disruptive to the status quo as well as the sameness of a client’s process, it is not to be confused with being confrontational or conflictual.  When one is willing to disturb and also stay with the client, the potential for new experience is tremendous!

In summary, becoming a disturbing force:

  • Requires a practitioner to be grounded in an alignment with the client’s highest and best interests.  It is not confrontational, though a client’s ego can take it up that way.
  • Means being a ‘force of nature’ on behalf of your client has a unknowable & inevitable impact that creates new possibility, and makes unpredictably less threatening in the long haul.
  • Holds a client  accountable to their own interior life, something they may have trouble doing on their own.  It has a felt sense of being differentiated from the client’s experience, while also being keenly attentive, interested and available to it.

Finally, becoming a disturbing force, while also staying with the client’s experience of this, makes space for a disruptive influence to echo more deeply through the body, energy field and psyche of your client, and have real impact – the kind of disturbance that can awaken a dormant internal motivation, one that wants change and growth to happen.