Dancing with our participants

"On the one hand I want to change… but on the other, I don’t.”

We are all familiar with that feeling of being in a dilemma, wrestling with two conflicting sets of emotions around a situation or way of being. A state of ambivalence.

This is where we find some of our participants sitting psychologically when taking part in Khulisa programmes. There has been, on their part, some reticence or timid contemplation of how things could be different, the stirrings of a desire to want to do things in a new way, usually initiated by the cycle of negative consequences and/or uncomfortable emotions they have experienced.

This can then collide with a range of complex feelings, such as fear, self doubt, and the admission that particular behaviour, although more often than not accepted as being damaging, serves them in some way, which then impedes that notion of change.

As therapists, working with participants in opposing frames of mind is a fascinatingly intricate process.

"The natural disposition of the therapist is one of unfaltering belief that everyone has the potential to change, that people have an inherent tendency to want to grow and develop, to be the best that they can be."

The skill is being able to convey this concept to participants in a measured way especially when met with their qualities and attributes that can shine so brightly to us but lay dormant in their own awareness.

Having a constant check on our own internal responses to their tentative exploration around change is a must to avoid inadvertently giving too much weight to or leaning toward ‘how things could be’ for that individual. To do so can create resistance, and a counter argument to justify staying where they are, in effect reinforcing their well versed script. If we were to use the metaphor of dance it would feel clunky and uncomfortable and would lack flow and synchronicity.

To move in unity and rhythm with our participants is to be led by them is to attune to their pace, is to follow their lead and fall into step. Only then, when in complete alignment can the potential for change really occur.

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