- First part : theoretical foundation.
- The non-directive revolution
- The traditional attitude.
- The Rogerian re-discovery.
- The invention of the Non-Directive Intervention Approach.
- Theoretical frame.
- The origin of the Rogerian conception.
- The unawaked subject.
- A theory on the involvement.
- The therapy's condition.
- Second part : the Non-Directive Intervention Approach.
- What is non-directivity ?
- The different forms of activities.
- The constraints' mind.
- Desire's principle.
- What could we do with destructive pulsions?
- The intervention.
- The work of facilitating
- Desire's reading.
- The importance of beginnings.
- Offering propositions.
- The non-directive attitude.
- Opening the field of possibilities.
- Accompaniment work.
- The impossible neutrality.
- Let's come back on the accompaniment work.
- Training work.
- Desires' universe.
We are in the century of communication. Technical means to communicate never stop to multiply themselves. Does it mean that communication itself is getting better, i mean from the point of view of its quality and its truth?
I very much doubt it. Communication carries on to scare because it has an influential factor, in which influence is commonly put in the same category as a constraint, a manipulation and as being under the influence of someone. One is fearful to confide in someone, and, if one does, is fearful to get caught if one expresses oneself. One is scared to open his innerself to another, as the latter would from now on have power which may scare him.
All these fears are far from being unfounded. Others are a real threat, and that, in a lot of ways...
And meanwhile, others are our food and the source of all enrichment. Since we are born, we never stop to build ourselves thanks to other's contribution, in all fields.
This proves that others can well intervene in front of us, without necessarily chaining us up, nor being violent, nor hurting us. They can become, or become again, this spring of clear water which they were at birth. At our turn, we can become, or become again, a spring of the same kind for them.
This, unfortunately, cannot be done easily, and only with good will and good feelings. It is important to know the way to get there, and the latter requires thoughts and preparation. One needs a method.
Such a method is beginning to be known, consequently to a revolution which happened at the beginning of the 20th century, which we can call the therapeutical revolution. Men like S. Freud, Jung, Adler, Moreno, F. Perls, C. Rogers, K. Lewin became its craftsmen.
Don't let yourself be taken in by the term « Therapeutical ». What has been discovered by the men mentioned above is nothing else but a mean to influence others, to make them move, to transform them without violence, with their agreement. The means used are maybe even more efficient in the relation students have at school and in training places.
It is fundamentally a pedagogical relationship. Until then, this relationship, has mainly been achieved in the therapeutical field. But it is far from being only applied to that field.
It is well a question of influence, a true influence, let's not be scared of the word. The non-directive influence exist.
This little book has for aim to talk about the more used methods up to now, from freudian or rogerian inspirations, and to present a method which goes beyond the two latters : the non-directivity with intervention, the N. D. I.
Michel Lobrot, Paris, March 2009, Translated by Ann Simon.
FIRST PART : THEORETICAL FOUNDATION
THE NON-DIRECTIVE REVOLUTION
At the end of the year 1881 and during 1882, when Joseph Breuer tried to cure Anna O. - whose real name was Bertha Papenheim - by a simple method of conversation, which the client called herself "talking cure", he was not at all aware that he was on the way to invent the method which was to revolutionize human relationships during the 19th and 20th centuries : the non-directive method. If he tried that method, it was mainly because he was not a specialist in mental patients nor a psychopathologist, because he ignored hypnosis techniques which were so fashionable in Paris, and also because he did not belong to the Mesmerian movement installed since a long time in Europeans capitals. He was a neurologist and made discoveries in the nervous system's field. He had no experience in the treatment of hysterical patients.
His attempt, which was in no way an experimentation, must be understood as a common sense attitude, using the existing material. In her sleepless nights, the young girl was mumbling words coming often from her circle of friends, and she was then saying in an hallucinating way what she went through the year before, when she was looking after her sick father. The events were extremely distressing and, far from having been repressed in her unconscious, were coming back up like a kind of overconscious. She felt better after several sessions which she described as "chimney sweeping". All Breuer needed to do was to observe what was happening, to exerce his clinical sense. All he needed to do was to watch. He did nothing else than what did the major discoverers in mankind - like Torricelli, Galilée, etc. - which was to note the unusual facts, to then analyse them and reproduce them.
After his stay in Paris with Charcot in 1885, Freud took the method of his old friend Breuer, discovered by him ten years ago, and made it the foundation for his theory which was going to change the whole sense of the original one. Instead of simply realizing that it cured and that it had a cathartic effect, he built up a theory from an idea taken from nowhere, that the mental and the verbal production of the patient, which that patient "associated" with his symtoms, revealed the cause of the latter. This, I must say, from a research point of view, is not valid at all. A. Grünbaum in the States (1984), as soon as the 80's and then myself subsequently (1996), demonstrated that we could not deduct causality from simple associations.
Carried away with his idea, Freud did not stop there and reached the point in which he believed that causality, viewed under that light, remained in the unconscious - from which came the Unconscious theory - and that causality resided in early sexual experiences - from which came the Sexual theory. I will show you later on the role which played that speculative drift and how we can protect ourselves from it.
In spite of that drift, Freud carried on practising this "associative" method and made it even more radical in the years 1905 to 1907. But he gave it a pure instrumental value. The client, invited to say what ever came to his/her mind thanks to a recollection of an event or symptoms, was then pressurized to give the therapist the material which he (the therapist) would use to interpret facts which the patient would then have to recognize and accept. It does not come from the patient and it is often far from his/her subjective experience. All of this gave me the idea, on which I will come back later, that Freud had not been to the end of the client's autonomisation movement. Clients stayed dependant, alienated and normalized.
THE TRADITIONAL ATTITUDE
In what way this practice brings us something new? Didn't we speak spontaneously and freely for centuries? Why did we need Joseph Breuer to reveal us a method which we always knew?
It is true that we have always talked and conversed, and that even Gabriel Tarde at the same time, made conversations one of the motor of social life (1901). However that principle considered as very useful to create social bonds, was not admitted anymore to define relationships between individuals seen as guides, masters, healers and the one from whom they would receive light, knowledge, conviction, health. There, however, a strict hierarchy was the rule. A child, a student, a disciple listened to the master, complied to his wishes, obeyed him and would have been punished if they showed any undiscipline. The good Christian submits himself/herself to his/her conscious' director. The sick follows his/her doctor's instructions.
The revolution initiated without knowing by Joseph Breuer, resided in the radical reversal of the existing perpectives. From now on, we were going to realize that no one could grow without expressing himself/herself, which meant without reactivating what was in us and from which all physical and psychological movements depended. By rambling away in her twilight mind, Anna O. revealed her subjectivity and this is the road we need to take if we want to help her, if only a little bit. Freud was mistaking if he thought he could divert to his benefit this shooting out strenght to make out of it a thing, a pure tool at the service of his own actions. .
But not just therapists should listen to his/her client and facilitate his/her delivery. This is also true in other fields, in which unfortunately that principle, even though it is acknowledged, will take a long time to be recognized.
One must talk about the pedagogical field. During Freud's time, some great pedagogues like Maria Montessori, Decroly, Dewey, etc. insisted, more or less, on the freedom principle in the child. The latter cannot create, grow, learn, without freedom. He/she is not an object on which one imprints knowledge. The all so-good beginning of that movement, unfortunately aborted, was rehabilitated by some overpowering institutions. It generated the "active pedagogy", "the pedagogy by contract", sad distortions of a radical idea.
And even in our social every day life, we begin to catch a glimpse of that. In our era, freedom of meeting, freedom of press, freedom of opinion are asserted as rights and in common use in institutions. The old idea that when people talk is a vain chattering, is slowly dying away. Not only one must listen to what people are saying, but one must facilitate their delivery, without which they would be nothing else but powerless and dependant.
THE ROGERIAN RE-DISCOVERY
A discovery as important as the one of Breuer-Freud, even though it has been distorted, could not stay without any effect. Psychoanalysis was spreading out in the years following WWI in Europe and the States.
In the first location, it exited the speculative needs of the ones who saw it as an interpretative method, with on one side the tentative Ricoeur, who was justly refuted by Grünbaum (1984) and on the other side the Lacanian gloss which insisted on the unconscious aspect. However in the States, psychoanalysis was seen under its more truthful and more obvious way, as a method of care and cure.
In the 1930's, the young Carl Rogers, who was about 30 years old then, was in charge of a center for young persons in difficulties, in Rochester, New-York state, and also worked in link with the Columbian University. He met psychoanalysts with whom he confronted himself and discovered in his turn, the idea of non-directivity. The word itself comes from him. He invented it in the 1940's and used it in his first books during WWII.
What interested him in the non-directivity, was the possibility given to the "client" to express himself/herself. We enter new perspectives, in which the point of view and the action taken by the one who speaks, are finally taken seriously, and in which one does not content himself/herself to give new weapons to the therapist.
However in those years, the non-directivity is defined by Rogers in an extreme manner, not only as a method with which we do not impose anything to the client, but a method with which we do not intervene. Not only there is no imposition, but also no intervention. It was not the point of view of someone starting some practice similar to Rogers' one, some ten years before him (1930), a young Jewish searcher from German origin, named Kurt Lewin. Lewin accepted interventions, the help brought by the searcher, as was demonstrated in the experience he initiated with Lipitt and White, which he called "the experience of pedagogical climats". He spoke of "self-direction", which was not far from the idea of non-directivity. Unfortunately, he worked in the pedagogical field, with pedagogues and psychologists social workers, who did not have as much influence as psychotherapists did in these days.
Why did Rogers take right away such an absolute position? It was because he had ahead of him a whole theory, on which I will come back later, which was pushing him to take a position, which I would qualify as being subjectivist, in which the becoming aware and the subject's transactions with himself/herself were put forward in the foreground, being nearly the only ones being considered. There was also the cultural influence of a pioneer nation, a country with little population, where people had to cope and manage alone and proned individual qualities and individual actions. Moreover, this generated that illuminated inspiration flourishing in sects like the Quakers, Mormons, Baptists, Methodists, etc., and which also proned an over-valorization of the individual's conscious.
Even with this restriction, Carl Rogers brought forward the non-directive practice. Paradoxically, he invented the first form of intervention in a non-directive context, which was the "mirror effect", the reformulation, supported by an empathic attitude and an "unconditionnal regard" ( On becoming a Person, 1960). However he did not see that intervention in the same way as we do, when we use the same term in the NDI (Non-Directive Intervention approach), used in the sense of the therapist's influence onto the client. This is what it is all about, as I will demonstrate when I will reconsider that concept.
THE INVENTION OF THE NON-DIRECTIVE INTERVENTION APPROACH
The non-directivity carried on its brilliant career after the second war.
I became aware of it in the sixties and right away I was really exited by it. It was finally giving me a theoretical and conceptual foundation which I was missing in my pedagogical experience, which was quite ahead of its time at the time. I practised it in a strict way, as a psychology teacher in a specialized center for Special Needs children, near Paris and then at Vincennes University, where I was appointed in 1970.
And yet I was not totally at ease with it. I felt it was too restrictive with its Rogerian's form, which was not far removed from the psychoanalyst's one at the same time. The idea that one could not intervene, nor analyse, nor bring any theoretical support, nor use any corporeal exercise, was disturbing me. I did not see why one should deprive clients or students from these stimulations and enrichments, why one could not put them in contact with the external world, with which they were fed with since their childhood. This felt even more absurd when I discovered in 1973, "human potential" techniques (Reich, Pearls, Moréno, etc.) which were the bearers of so many possibilities.
What was difficult then was to reintroduce the idea of intervention which had a bad press at that "paranoîd" time, in which an influence from another person was considered abusive and manipulative. But never the less I had the intuition that there was a solution to the problem which I discovered : an intervention was automatically non-directive if it came from a desire, a request, an expectation of the person we were working with. Non-directivity did not mean anymore to be "next" to the client, as an observer or facilitator, but to be with the other in collaboration, to try the two of us, to fulfill the client's objectives.
I had then discovered the basic principles of the Non-Directive Intervention Approach. The first one being "listening to desires". Not only we listen to what a client says, like the Rogerians, but we listen even more to his/her desire or his/her desires. The latter will become the foundation for the work we will do together. The second principle concerns the work itself : a tight and involved co-operation in which the facilitator and his partner do not have the same roles. On one hand the first one proposes, suggests, gives ideas and accompagnies the person by questionning, analysing, approving, reinforcing. On the other hand, the second one involves himself/herself in a personal work touching him/her at different levels within himself/herself, helped by the first one. These are the principles I will analyse in the second part of this book.
This is the method I have now been using for thirty years and which gives me great satisfaction. I find it richer, more adequate and more productive than any other methods I ever came across before.
The theoretical frame of these different practices is of great importance because it does not generally come from a critical nor an argumented vision of human psychology, but from a desire to subsequently justify practical options through some general conceptions. Therefore it considerably slows down the evolution's possibilities and that is why one must take an interest in it.
I see the Non-Directive Intervention Approach (NDI) as a third route between two extreme positions : the Freudian approach on one side and the Rogerian one on the other, profoundly opposed to one another.
The first one, the Freudian approach, is focussed on the external, the interpreter's authority who reintroduced society's imposing rules and laws, this external society contrary to the individual, which the non-directivity managed to exorcise for the benefit of the subject.
However, the Rogerian approach took an opposite direction. It focussed itself on the internal, the subjective movement of the person, his/her awareness and what Rogers called his/her "congruence", fundamental concept to him, which is the connection between his awareness and his/her lived experiences. The environment, the world, others only appear through that filter, like actors in an internal scene. Communication only plays a minor role to facilitate the expression of the self by the mean of the "unconditional regard". Roughly the "actualizing tendency" is enough to insure an individual's evolution.
Let's come back to these two poles, Freudian and Rogerian, to test the relevance of a position which goes beyond them and which pretends to make the link between the two.
The Freudian position took the well known form, but really rarely understood, of the Unconscious doctrine. That word "unconscious" evokes a reality which everyone goes through. By it, we generally understand a real and experienced psychic phenomenon, which is not accompanied by sufficient knowledge enabling us to understand and grasp it.
A non-perception can have different aspects.
- It may concern its origin and its elaboration, as it happens in dreams or spontaneous memories. We did not know where they came from and why they appeared. However a conscious coming from what I call the "immanent" phenomenon, exists and consists of emotional experiences.
- It may concern its development, at the moment it happens, as it happens with automatic acts, sensorial or motor, from which the elements are simply not perceived (when I walk, talk, work, etc.). The "immanent" conscious is here for a proprioceptive order.
- It may concern the memory we have of it, like when it happens with our pulsions, impulsions and compulsions which found their origin in the past - at the moment of the birth of an emotional experience, but which is forgotten, even though we are the ones who experienced it and felt it. The "immanent" conscious is the perception we have of a desired action.
Regarding all these aspects, the unconscious act becomes an automatic one, an act escaping all will and intention, which ends up being quite often the support and the starting point of the latter two.
The intentional act, however cannot be unconscious because in our experience, it is totally conscious regarding its elaboration, development and memories. We include it in our projects, we direct it by controlling it, we evaluate it once it is done to see if it reached its aim. As show numerous studies done on it in contemporary psychology, it integrates the conscious phenomenon profoundly into itself. Wanting to go to work means that at the same time you know you must go to work, you are aware that you are actually going to work and you can recognize your accomplished work. All these things are indissolubly linked together when we experience it.
Freud's Unconscious is nothing else than an unconscious intention, or a voluntary act which we would not be aware of.
Freud imagined a "repression's" process, which is totally impossible because it rules out not the act, which would be conceivable, but the desire, the pulsion, the idea, which is unconceivable. We do not have that power. The only thing we can do is to wait for the affect's disappearance through an object's substitution. Like Bussy-Rabutin said in La vie amoureuse des Gaules :
"Love is a very subtle and clever thing (…). The one resisting and putting obstacles to his/her efforts, are generally the one who feels them most violently".
Let us admit that desires, pulsions and ideas can be "repressed". For Freud, a process of deformation, masking and distortion coming from the unconscious begins, having for aim to hide from the person who is going through it, the forbidden and impossible characteristic of that act. The "birth of compromises" resulting from it seems to be an act with a certain motivation ("manifest content"), whereas in fact it is an act with obscur and shameful, generally sexual aim ("latent content"). All this looks a lot like the elaboration of an intentional project, aiming by various means, at the realization, of an already fixed objective, by using our knowledge for the present situation, which cannot be expected, as it is contingent. But where did Freud find that idea from for such an operation? In his conscious experience.
It is obvious that we cannot change as by magic, a process obeying to specific rules coming from our internal experiences, with an identical process obeying to other rules which we would have imagined. It is not even possible to explain a generally automatic phenomenon like a dream. Indeed, the elaboration of the latter is yet not clear, but we cannot make the hypothesis that it would obey to a hidden plan which would be realized in a devious way, because then we would have to admit the willpower of someone, but who? And why? And how? Etc.? That process must necessarily manifest itself somewhere if it is intentional; however it cannot manifest itself to the subject. We then end up in fairy tails or demons' science.
Freud needed to have some very strong reasons to conceive such a monster, even though it did not look like it to the eyes of our contemporaries. The reason is clear and he said it. It is the fact that the intentional process is the only part of the psyche which the external world can get hold of and control. That so called external world cannot impose to us desires which we do not have, nor others than the ones we already have, nor stop integrated operations coming from our automatic knowledge, nor impose our dreams nor our memories. It can only put in front of us real or virtual objects, sanctions, rewards, results from our actions, etc., which pushes us to act in a certain way. If we do not do it, this means that we are bad and pervert, aiming for opposite goals to the proposed ones, etc. The results are guilt and bad conscious. The child having a strong uncontrolled impulsion and who ends up peeing in bed is a "naughty child", who deserves to be punished. He is not guilty but his/her unconscious is. The power issue is then re-established.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ROGERIAN CONCEPTION
As much as Freud's conception is "exogenic" (coming from the external), if I may say, because the client's transformation's origin is external to himself/herself, as much Rogers' one is "eudogenic" (coming from the internal), because it does not reside in the environment but in himself/herself.
Rogers expressed his conception in several texts, but mostly in two major pieces of work : on one hand in his collective book, edited by S. Koch in 1959 (volume 3, not translated in French), which is a "chosen piece" by the author and on the other hand the book On becoming a person edited in 1961, translated in French with the title Le développement de la personne (Dunod, 1998).
In these two texts, Rogers clearly showed that his main preoccupation, which was also the one for his research, was the subject's transformation through therapy. Everything came from that, meaning from Rogers' vision regarding the state in which the person is, when he/she has finished a successful psychotherapy.
The texts are very explicit. The main state in which the person is, is what Rogers calls "congruence", which he defines as an agreement, a harmony, a correspondence between the experiences and the internal state of the subject and the awareness he/she has of it. This is how Rogers defines the process by which the client experiences this transformation :
"The process involves a shift from incongruence to congruence. The continuum runs from a maximum of incongruence which is quite unkown to the individual through stages where there is an increasingly sharp recognition of the contradictions and discrepancies existing within himself to the experiencing of incongruence in the immediate present in a way which dissolves this. At the upper end of the continuum, there would never be more than temporary incongruence between experiencing and awareness since the individual would not need to defend himself against the threatening aspects of his experience." (On becoming a person, page 157).
And again, he declares in another passage of the same book :
"The self becomes increasingly simply the subjective and reflective awareness of experiencing. The self is much less frequently a perceived object, and much more frequently something confidently felt in process." (page 153).
With a client who develops in an adequate way :
- "Feelings are very close to being fully experienced." (page 140).
- "There is an increasing ownership of self feelings, and a desire to be these, to be the "real me"." (page 141).
- "There is an increasing quality of acceptance of self-responsibility for the problems being faced, and a concern as to how he has contributed." (page 142).
- "The client quite consciously endeavors to use these referents in order to know in a clearer and more differentiated way who he is, what he wants, and what his attitudes are. This is true even when the feelings are unpleasant or frightening." (page151).
In the fifth chapter, Rogers describes seven phases through which we go through to develop and the seventh phase is characterized by precision, subtlety and the happening character of the awareness regarding our internal state. However it is important to note a capital point, which is that that awareness which seems to be totally intimate and internal, only facilitated by the therapist, is actually happening thanks to a work on expression, on communication where partners and referents exist. Two questions can be asked.
Firstly, this awareness translates an internal state, but did the latter exist before the so-called translation and was it aware of it? This is a capital question because we know that some individuals have a strong awareness regarding themselves but do not talk about it to anyone. In a recent book (Dassa, 2001), the author reveals the fact that he has been haunted by what he experienced in his childhood when his parents were deported to concentration camps and when he was himself threatened, but he never spoke about it to anyone before.
Second question : does the emergence of the awareness regarding the internal state happens magically, only because the person is "accepted" and "listened to", or does it need other conditions, for example a true interaction with the environment? The answer to these questions, as we will see later on, will oblige us to entirely review the Rogerian's construction.
THE UNAWAKED SUBJECT
It is not difficult to deduct Rogers' conception regarding the state we are in when we do not work on ourselves, as it is the exact opposite state of the one we have just described. It is the "non-congruence", the state of a subject who defends himself/herself against threatening aspects concerning his/her immediate experience, which means that he/she "does not recognize" them, or as would say Rogers, is not "aware" of them. In a text from Koch's book, Rogers declares that the subject "denies" and "distorts" his/her lived experience. Everything happens as if there would be a totally internal fight between the awareness and the experience, as if the first one needed to be defended, protected, or as if it had a willpower or an intention (we rediscover the internal Freudian demon).
Such a conception regarding the conscious, which is connected to Freud's one, is unbearable. As a matter of fact, it mixes up external defenses which we use against reality and which are themselves creating some often very intense lived experiences, with operations coming from the conscious, which are aknowledgement, internal observations of the same phenomenon. Under the pretext that the first ones mask reality, distort it and reject it, we concluded that the second one did the same thing with the regarding operations.
This conclusion is contrary to the experience. The individual who ends up forgetting past events, who embellishes them or darkens them to agree with his/her actual positions and options, according to Janet's conception of memory (influence in the present state), knows very well that he/she has forgotten some things, he/she experiences this distorted memory and knows what are his/her actual positions and options. He/she does not need to protect his/her conscious, which is not asking for that anyway. If we can say that he/she is "unconscious", it is not because he/she is unaware of something he/she is experiencing but because he/she cannot be aware of something which he/she has rejected and which is not there anymore. The conscious obeys to rules I mentionned above, which are dynamic rules saying it is there when we need it.
We find the same confusion in Rogers, when in On becoming a person, he uses the words said by a person at the beginning of the therapy to deduct his deficient or insufficient awareness. He does not then take into consideration the act itself of "opening up", which is fundamental in communication. He uses the following sentences as proof of the regressif state of the client. The first one is :
"Well, I'll tell you, it always seems a little bit non sensible to talk about one's self except in times of dire necessity." (p. 132).
"I think I'm practically healthy". (p. 132).
According to Rogers,
"There is much blockage of internal communication (…). He does not communicate himself, but only communicates about externals. He tends to see himself as having no problems, or the problems he recognizes are perceived as entirely external to himself. There is much blockage of internal communication between self and experience. The individual at this stage is represented by such terms as stasis, fixity, the opposite of flow or change." (p. 133).
The conclusion Rogers has from that observation and that every therapists can have, does not fit with that particular observation. The difficulty encountered by the client is not with his/her conscious or with his/her self but with the environment which cannot, so he/she thinks, listen to him/her, except if he/she says appropriate things to please the environment.
I am going to go much further in what is going to follow, but we can already have a foretaste of it. If the client "closes himself/herself", refuses to communicate, gives out half and false messages, it is not because he/she "is not aware of his/her immediate experience", but to the contrary it is because that experience obsesses him/her and he/she has an over-sharp conscious of it, without being able to speak about it to anyone. A sexual criminal, haunted by the idea to kill or rape, to experience an extatic state, obsessed by that idea, is not someone refusing that state or who does not want to be aware of it, but on the contrary, is someone who is in an over-aware state, tourmented by his/her conscious, not in the moral sense of the term, but in the psychological sense. Noone is as aware as he/she is. Over-awareness exists and I am about to talk about it.
Obsessional states, in which the conscious reaches its maximum point, invades the subject and does not leave him/her alone, have been known and studied since the end of the 19th century. There are a lot of litterature about these. The one who went the furthest is Pierre Janet, particularly in his book of 1898, Névroses et idées fixes. With an extreme precision Janet described case studies of people who have had a traumatic experience, physical or psychological and who cannot stop thinking about it. That rumination work also affects a lot of anxious, depressed, worried persons, meaning people who are not well. Far from hunting away from their conscious difficult or painful experiences or unadapted answers which they give to these events, they become overwheilmed by them.
Not just disturbed persons react in such a way. Freud, in his piece of work of 1920, Au delà du principe de plaisir, founded all his theory of the "death instinct" on the fact that we all feel, at some point, some truly negative and destructive feelings, which establish themselves in us and which we are happily looking after or which at least we cannot push away, in spite of all the efforts we make to do that. Everything is happening as if nature, far from keeping us far away from our internal not-well-being contrary to pleasure, was drowning us in it with delight. And it is true that here, there is a big mystery : a principle contrary to life envades and occupies life, as if a death tendency existed, a "death instinct".
What we can answer Freud, is that human beings, even more so than animals, function in a central way. The world to which they react is not the world itself, but the represented world, which means the totality of their external and internal states echoing nearly to infinity in his subjectivity. Among these states, some of them are very painful, hard and are there for a reason : to enable to show the subject the reflected world in him/her which create in this way his/her internal environment. If I have got a wounded foot, it transforms itself in pain and I have got to cope with the pain as much as with the wound. This contributes to give a dimension to some realities which would have been without that, only far away passing events.
The french philosopher Alain, in his book Propos sur le bonheur (1928) took hold of the problem, but from a moralistic point of view. He warned people against the tendency we have to exaggerate our misfortunes, to brood over our failures and our deceptions, to never stop waiting for catastrophies. He recommended a realistic attitude, anticipating the practice which will become the one of the Cognitivist psychotherapy (Beck, 1999).
More recently, experimental psychiatrists and psychologists took hold of the problem and made it go further. They showed that a lot of people were suffering from what we call a TOC (Obsessional Compulsive Disorder), which consists of an indefinite repetition of a ritual, a movement or an imaginary scene, which has for aim to protect oneself.
In the magazine Cognitive Therapy and Research, in 1999, two authors, Ingram and Wisnicki, studied the tendency to focus on one's internal states of two populations. On one hand a normal population, without any particular problem and on the other a population made out of "dysphoric" (depressed and disturbed) persons. They made every subjects listen to respectively pleasing and sad music and questionned them regarding their associated state of mind (not their reaction to the particular music, but any). With the "dysphoric" subjects, they observed a tendency to a notable increase on being centered one oneself, whatever the music, pleasing or sad. This connected with the usual observation made that disturbed subjects have a much stronger tendency to be centered on themselves, than the ones who are not disturbed.
Such phenomenons appear normal if we think that the awareness is only one aspect of the completed act, next to the emotional, cognitive or motor aspects. It is normal that with subjects inclined to passivity and inhibition, the awareness takes a disproportional place and functions like when a motor races, but is going nowhere. In that case, the aim of a psychotherapy is not to re-activate his/her awareness, but to re-centered the subject onto reality.
A THEORY ON THE INVOLVEMENT
Rogers' mistake was to have considered the subject's expression in therapy, either in a learning situation or in ordinary relationships, only from the point of view of the awareness.
To tell you the truth, the latter is only a moment in the communicative process, a particular moment, indeed important but which is far from being the only one. Next to it, which represents if I may say, the first person, the "I", there are at least two others, which are the second person, the "you" and the third person, the "he/she". In all communication, there is a subject who expresses himself/herself and who always speaks about himself/herself, the "I"; the person you are speaking to, psychotherapist or not, to whom we give a message which must modify, confuse or please that person, provoking an interesting reaction to the first leader of that transmitting subject, the "you"; and finally the referent, or external reality or real world, on which we express ourselves, with which the transmitting subject is connected to, the "he/she". Here, we are dealing with a cycle. The referent or the external reality plays a capital role in that cycle. It triggers off the entire cycle. "Stagging the every day life", as said Goffman (1973), is the first one. Some American searchers (J.W. Pennebaker, 1977) showed that all the events we see, especially if they are charged emotionally, sets off the need to talk about it. Everything is happening as if the shock provoked in the psyche, when seeing something, was inducing another shock having for aim to say it or verbalize it. This comes from the psyche's dynamic. Things are not different in therapy. The subject confronted to his/her therapist in a one to one relationship, is wondering what he/she is going to tell him/her, and he/she is telling him/her what ever is coming to his/her mind at the time, whatever is preoccupying, worrying him/her or whatever pleases him/her. He/she is under the influence of the referent, the external reality's action.
The dynamic starting here is not ordinary. It is a quite powerful energy giving rise to the desire to act on someone else. The person who has just witnessed a sensational event must tell someone else. He/she is expecting a pleasure from using the observed phenomenon as one uses a balloon, throughing it to someone who will receive it. Its reception has very varied forms, going from a small joy or pain, to collapsing or rejoicing, to simply only recording the message. This was well highlighted in the "speech act" theory of Austin (1970).
Watching the receiver with his/her jumps and jolts, bounces back to the initial subject who is enjoying it. He/she can also be disappointed if nothing happens. He/she is therefore a receiver twice, even though he/she is also a transmitter : on one hand he/she is the receiver of the initial real life event and on the other of the main receiver's reaction, if I may say, meaning the person he/she is talking to, who will show him/her his/her various level of interest. The therapist expresses systematic empathy or a real and circumtancial interest.
In that analysis, I put myself in the frame of an ordinary communication. In places where this communication is supposed to modify the profound psychology of the person expressing himself/herself, everything must be intensified, but without modifying the basic plan. What is changing is mainly the fact that the transmitting subject is profoundly involved with the external reality. He/she is therefore encouraged to talk about himself/herself more, as he/she has the answers to events or objects which are particularly concerning him/her and which are specific. At most, he/she can even pretend that he/she is the object, meaning the referent, which does not abolish its existence. He/she then becomes a world's object which presents the particularity to experience things he/she expresses in his/her subjectivity, at that time or other. What stays identical is the fact that then, he/she is interested in himself/herself, if I may say. He/she says "I'm hurting", but he/she is wondering why he/she is suffering and what it means to say it. He/she is at the same time the subject of the communication and the referent, the external reality. The awareness he/she is then developing is more a result than a cause. He/she speaks about himself/herself and he/she discovers things on himself/herself. This adds to his/her self-knowledge. We cannot consider the level of awareness to be its the origin. What is at the origin is a communicative impulsion.
What is happening when a communicative cycle is starting, is essentially an involvement regarding the communicative subject. It is not to begin with, a perception of the self. This involvement is valuable because it mobilizes the subject, propulsing him/her towards new horizons of his/her own. It is therefore a factor for change. How is that possible? It is made possible by the fact that communication is profoundly and firstly a relationship with the world, an irruption from the world into the subject's psyche. An individual may be introduced to a new person for example, and he/she can very well not feel anything towards that new comer and feel indifferent. In that case, the new person does not penetrate the profound layers of the psyche, does not meet with his/her subjectivity, does not have a dialogue with the other. That new comer has no impact as far as a therapeutical work is concerned. If to the contrary, this new person is interested by the subject, he/she sets off an internal shock, which can generate a communicative cycle. The one who is undergoing that impulsion has a tendency not only to center himself/herself on the new person but also on himself/herself, who is the scene of such a shock. By this centration on himself/herself, he/she puts the accent on the shock because he/she foccusses on the event's value, transcending its factual aspect.
THE THERAPY'S CONDITIONS
Let us question, to finish with, the conditions enabling to develop, reinforce and improve this involvement which is the main factor for a true therapy.
The determining element is the situation. Someone (a therapist, a pedagogue, etc.) is suggesting an activity of dialogue, of meeting with others, of drama, of stagging, of corporeal expression, etc., in which reality can burst out with a particular strenght. The individual interested by that offer, will do the activity and encounter then two phenomenons which will have an essential role.
The first one is one or several persons he/she talking to. These, according to Rogers, must be empathic, have a "positive regard" and an "unconditional acceptance". This means particular listening skills. But why listen in such a way? It is not only because every human beings need consideration, which is obvious, but also because a subject feeling a strong emotion, needs, like Sibylle at the time, to act on others, to put onto them the shock he/she has experienced. This obviously implies that the therapist does not content himself/herself to be a "kind ear" in general, but needs to "put himself/herself in it", as we say, with words expressing his/her adherence and approval, every time it is possible. Critics and disapproval are useless, except if the person is looking for them.
However, the principal determining factor is not that one but it is the referent, the "he/she", the reality. Only reality is capable to provoke an initial shock which will generate all the communicative cycle. Only reality acts as a motivation. A client comes to therapy "to speak about his/her problems", "to speak about his/her mother", "to speak about his/her life", "to be confronted with others", "to let out his/her imagination", "to move his/her body". All these things are referents. But one would tell me that in an individual therapy, the client is alone, facing the therapist and that there is no referent. It is obviously false. The referent is everything potentially present in the client's mind and on which he/she wishes to express himself/herself. This is not enough. The NDI (Non-Directive Intervention Approach) precisely suggests to introduce some real referents, which would either be taking the form of a particular and targeted intervention from the therapist or would be taking the form of other participants stimulated by the therapist, in a group situation.
And in that system would you tell me, what is happening to the subject, the "I"? Not only it is not evacuated but it has the most important role, even though it is not the first one. It is in fact, the energetic center where the phenomenons, induced by the person you are talking to and the referent, the "you" and the "he/she", happen. As such he needs to center himself/herself on himself/herself. The subject needs to set back and reflect on the impact reality has on him/her. He/she needs to compare the emotional effects of his/her different involvements by letting them surface. He/she needs to build a central theory on himself/herself which he/she will use as a landmark for his/her future. He/she needs to contemplate and admire himself/herself.
All this seems closer to a Cognitivist conception of the therapy than a Rogerian's one. I do not believe in it, in the sense that cognitive work itself, which is indispensable, can only arise from a real desire to elaborate, to look, to observe, to put into order, a desire coming from the emotional sphere and which cannot be imposed by the therapist.
Rogers is finally right : the client must confront himself/herself with himself/herself and to his/her subjectivity. He/she must listen to himself/herself and let his/her self emerge. But the huge difference I present between Rogers' conception and my own is that all this does not come from a need of "congruence" or from a "congruence" acquired in advance, but from a confrontation with reality, through the person you are talking to and the referent. What I suggest is simply to re-introduce this reality, this environment which Rogers seemed to have evacuated under the pretext that the subject came first and was supreme. He/she may be these two things but he/she is also a part of the universe and it is the latter which nourrishes him/her. He/she is not dependant and is not an object, as believed Freud who kept a traditionnal vision, but he/she is a member of that whole.
SECOND PART : THE NON-DIRECTIVE INTERVENTION APPROACH (NDI).
WHAT IS NON- DIRECTIVITY?
The method which I now want to present and which is called « non-directive », obliges me to redefine this notion of non-directivity, invented by Carl Rogers during the years 1939-40.
It is not about a simple non interference nor an attitude consisting, from the facilitator's part or the therapist's part, in looking at the client's activities from the outside, satisfying himself with a few remarks or vague analysis, but it is about a true collaboration between two parties playing different roles. The A element, who plays a supporting role for the B element, always centers himself on explicit desires, projets, demands or the will of the B element. These realities are his constant references, from which he cannot move away because it could create a split which would cut himself from the dynamic source of this shared work.
This non-directivity's re-definition, which I proposed during the 80's, is of major importance. It enables to escape all criticisms, more or less malicious, against pedagogical or therapeutical methods invented at the beginning of the 20th century, which pretented to reintroduce in the training process freedom for the trainee or the patient. Here, in the present conception, there is freedom indeed, but particularly collabaration and cooperation, with a view to a defined objective.
Because of this conception, ideas from freudian or rogerian's inspiration appear inadequate. I critized them in the previous chapter.
In fact one and the other propose a revelation to the B element. Their actions come from the knowledge point of view and not from the impulse's one.
Freudian methods consist in making intervene an interpreter, who is supposed to be able to read in the subject's unconscious, which is as I explained, a part of himself which would be filled up with intentions and projects, but unknown to him. As this process is being ignored by the one it belongs to, the interpreter is all powerful. He is supposed to reveal forces acting in infancy, transferences from the latter and making reappear repressed memories. All this is mostly an illusion.
Rogerian methods pretend acting on the unconscious and the level of consciousness. The researched « congruence » consists in having an increased clearness regarding previous positions or behaviours, with a sincere mind and an acknowledgment for oneself. The subject's true motivations and intentions would be finally brought up to light. However, motivations and intentions, which determined actions at the time where they were done, were the effective driving power of these actions, inseparable from one another; they were also at the awareness's origin, which was about them. How could we artificially re-establish « true motivations » and « true intentions » which were split from the ones acting at the time? There is here a serious inconsistency.
The used method, the one of the « self examination » in the Christian's world, does not enable such a reading. The Christian who would repent to have behaved in a bad way, which he would justify by arguments coming from his usual thoughts, does not pretend to have acted for different reasons than the ones he used then, but he is doing another reading concerning the reasons in question. He substitutes another vision to his previous vision, more moral or more critical, regarding his own action. The latter remains what it was. In fact, he is doing the same thing as would do a modern therapist's patient, who would introduce new impulses in his impulsive inner field. The impulses are simply different.
In fact, the Freudian and the rogerian visions suppose that the intentions of the client are hided (in the inconscient or because not to be sincere) and we need to meet them. It is a revelationwork.
As a matter of fact, impulses are concerned by the new N.D.I.'s vision. From the fact that, in this conception, we start from desires, which stay the constant reference of this whole venture. We only act on desires. The aim of the A element and the B element is to reinforce, to widen, to put in concrete form, B's desires. Why does one and the other belong to this project? This is what I will carefully look into in the next bit of this report.
THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF ACTIVITIES
Activities undergone by an individual, when he/she is learning, is developing, or is trying to solve his/her problems, are of particular nature. The same is true for activities undergone by the one helping him/her to learn, develop or solve problems : a teacher, a facilitator, a therapist. In either case, these undergone activities cannot be put in the same category as all activities susceptible to happen in everyday life. They present specific features which are important to clearly define.
A lot of activities we do in life are done under constraints, meaning with external motivations, which are only pushing us to look for rewards or avoid punishments.
There are two types of imposed constraints. They can either be constraints from reality itself or constraints born from social life, which are wanted and organized by other human beings who have specific aims.
Constraints coming from reality itself are countless. They appear everytime we decide to do something which therefore will oblige us to take into consideration other parameters, like for example, when we must travel for a long time to go and see a friend. We may not particularly fancy that travelling but it is necessary if we want to see that friend. This, in fact, concerns all activities we do to do something else, in an instrumental way. Like with social constraints, sanctions appear if we do not accept the constraints coming from reality itself. For instance, if we do not respect a particular method to build something, we are more likely to fail.
Constraints coming from reality itself are not just instrumental constraints. They also enable attitudes and behaviours, enabling us to escape harm and danger, to protect us and to help us survive. They answer to life's necessities, which we cannot ignore, nor avoid. They insure the individual's preservation and satisfy his/her aspiration for security. In that sense, they go towards real desires, even though the latter, as we will see later, only constitute the most inferior part in the world of desires.
Social constraints are countless too. But different from the first ones, in the way that they often aim to prevent actions, which should naturally happen, or which normally happen, either because they appear as ill-timed, or either because one wants other actions to be done in their place. In other words, they obey to intentions, which is not the case with the first one. They either aim to stop us from doing certain things : they become repressions; or they aim to force us to do certain things : they become impositions. A death threat uttered by a nation wanting to prevent a particular criminal action is an intentional threat, having a specific aim. Whereas a death threat resulting from a possible earthquake, storm, flooding, etc., does not have the same impact.
Social constraints are ambivalent. Commands, orders, various impositions can appear illegitimate, violent, unacceptable, but they can also have their use in social life. It is often necessary and unavoidable to make people act under constraints if we cannot have the desirable things we want by any other means, like for example maintaining security in our streets, neutralizing criminals, preventing accidents, etc.
THE CONSTRAINTS' MIND
Even though constraints are necessary and unavoidable, constraints are also an obstacle to development in the way that they prevent the most important and useful systems of desires from emerging. I mean systems centered on pleasure and euphoria. There are three reasons for that.
1- The first one is that constraints, wether social or linked to the "principle of reality", are, however, source of pain and annoyance, even though they are made to let us escape from life's risks. If for example, I am forced to run away from a situation because of the frustration it gives me, I indeed avoid the frustration but I also avoid at the same time, the satisfaction from which the frustration would have deprived me from. The results is that constraints are quite systematically avoided by everybody, even by the ones who end up abiding by them. Systems who systematically use constraints, even if it is for "the good cause", like in the educational system, expose themselves to encounter, at all level of activities, running away, avoidance and defensive attitudes, which neutralize the theoretical benefits of the so-called systems.
2- But there is something even more important. People abiding by constraints, either because they have the desire for total protection or because they experience irresistible pressures, do not renounce to opposite pulsions, the ones which do not prioritize security. Some numerous recent researches in psychology, like the ones of Brehm on the reactance or the ones of Pérez and Mugny on the socio-cognitive paralysis (1993), show that there are some extremely strong resistance to anything opposing pulsions towards pleasure or self-confidence.
On one hand there is a tendency in everyone to divert social pressures by subtle means, whatever the finality they pursue. The "reactance" manifests itself in many various direct or undirect ways.
On the other hand, submissiveness provokes ambiguous and ambivalent attitudes, consisting in creating as much distance as possible towards the strenght of the imposition, even though we are abiding by it and even more so when we do abide by it, as if it was threatening our personal integrity, fundamental need for independance. In that way, children do everything they can to differenciate themselves from their parents, even though they love them and even though they benefit from social and economical advantages confered by their parents. Crushed nations move away from politics all the stronger, the more oppressive these politics are. One needs to wait for a certain liberation to encouter revolutionary attitudes.
Finally, stresses coming from exerted pressures, are compensated by drugs or various addictions, reintroducing pleasure without suppressing the hurt's cause. The result is that there is an extremely dangerous increase aiming to augment pleasure more and more until it reaches the point where pleasure totally vanishes, only to leave us with pain instead.
3- Experiencing a constraint, which can never be totally avoided, is an unhappy experience, turning us away from imposed activities. This is obviously the worste and can be noted for example in the educational sphere. Not only children look for subtle ways to avoid constraints, but when they abide by them, they experience boredom and aversion, which are turning them away from studying.
The only children escaping that vicious circle are the ones who learnt through their families, to enjoy certain activities which they do at school. They particularly come from higher social classes. These can enjoy school and success. This does not mean that they are not submitted to constraints and when they are, they lead them to complex leeways, not benefiting them, nor society (for instance, when using knowledge to the benefit of Power).
Because these strategies enable the avoidance of places where constraints are the rules, these places cannot provide people with the benefit they pretend to give them. Individuals protect themselves from them and even more so when they are inserted in them. They create a shell to regain their lost freedom.
This means that freedom, prime condition for pleasure and self-confidence, is a fundamental idea in human life, which we cannot escape from.
THE DESIRE'S PRINCIPLE
But let us try to go further by studying factors enabling development and progress in people.
These factors consist essentially in internal strenghts, coming from the psychological sphere, which are pushing people to act for themselves or towards themselves, without refering themselves to external elements which do not, or in the whole do not, concern them, and which, for example, may threaten their survival. The important thing is that they can bring into play a true internal process, which concerns them and profoundly moves them, as well as enriches them.
When this happens, we do not obtain a "reduced tension", which would be the case according to the reducing formula of a particular contemporary psychology, but we obtain euphoria, satisfaction and pleasure, looking more like a hurricane than a "dull flatland". If one may say, the person is "switch on", like an electrical appliance. It lives, evolves, changes and "works". This is why pleasure exists at all levels in psychological life, going from sexual and motor levels to the highest level of thinking. In his text L'apologie d'un mathématicien (1940), the English mathematician H. Hardy, presented mathematics as being one of the most pleasurable source of possible satisfaction because they enable you to access "beauty".
What could systems pretending to insure the individual's development do, to introduce positive values centered on pleasure? They cannot obviously be happy to recognize the subject's autonomy by giving him/her the maximum freedom. The latter is indeed necessary, at least in the frame I am referring to, but it is not sufficient. The emerging desires may end up being defensive desires and not creative ones. One must go further by enabling individuals to discover and feel new realities. The aspiration for that exists but has not been actualized. It is the "intervention's" role to enable that to be actualized.
Historically, such a perspective had begun to be thought of at the beginning of the century, when one started to invent liberal and active pedagogies, like the ones of Maria Montessori, Decroly, Dewey, Freinet, etc. Another step forward occured in the United States in the 40's, with the "non-directivity's" invention, which consisted in enabling participants to decide upon themselves their objectives and their activities, to self-organize themselves and to experience what they wanted to live. One more step forward occured thanks to C. Rogers and his psychotherapy, recommending not only the respect of the participant's decisions and actions but a positive help from the listener and the demonstration of that listening skill ("active listening", empathy, reformulation). And indeed, a warm acceptance coming from the one who represented authority and the external world was a capital element for freedom and permission.
However, this was not enough. The most difficult problem to solve for someone involved in a complex network of contradictory desires - which is the case for all of us - is, if I may say, to go forward. Very quickly a mental block occurs due to the reciprocal neutralization of desires, because we do not see how we could go forward, and mostly because we do not know very well the obscur and underground world of our desires. Therefore one needs to help us realize our own desires, by centering oneself on them, by targetting them.
The problem of the one who wants to help the realization of somebody else's desires is first of all to know them. But how could we know them if they have not emerged? It looks like we are entering here a vicious circle : desires must have emerged for us to know them. Therefore we cannot intervene to encourage their emergence, as this intervention would need to have happened before they would have appeared.
Things are not so cleared-cut. Desires do not obey to a law of all or nothing. Before existing as a developed form, they exist as an embryonic one. Before wanting to learn to read, a child will play with books.
Everything can start by expressing a few simple and rudumentary desires, which will trigger other subsequent desires. Once desires have begun to be expressed, we can help them to go deeper and forward, by offering them aims, accompanying them and by analysing them.
WHAT COULD WE DO WITH DESTRUCTIVE PULSIONS?
Before talking into details about the Being Centered on Desires method, which is the the subject of that paper, I would like to come back to an objection which presented itself spontaneously and which I would like to clearly answer.
The objection is that with this method, we do not only encourage positive and constructive desires centered on pleasures and substantial satisfactions, but also destructive, aggressive, even perverse, sadistic, malicious, etc., desires. What could we do for example with someone who wants to kill his father or rape little girls or rule others? Do we help him/her to realize his/her desires?
As you understood with what was said earlier on, the method implies indeed a complete eradication of constraints and repressions in the working environment. But couldn't these constraints and repressions be useful when they target not normal and healthy behaviours, but devious, socially dangerous behaviours? Being violent against violence is eliminating violence. When rocking someone else's defense system, it is enabling him/her to develop.
Answering to this objection requires to go deeper regarding some fundamental ideas.
First of all the use of constraints, even used for the worst attitudes of violence, domination, dependance or negativeness, does not lead to eradicate them but the contrary. In that way, it indeed generates fearful or anxious feelings which can be integrated in the individual's psychology and can stop him/her from taking particular actions. But it is not for all that that we would consider repulsive attitudes as being harmful, nor seducing ones as being good. To the contrary, it provokes the individual to have a "reactance's" behaviour. It often seems that attitudes we want to eliminate become even more interesting, even more valorized to the eyes of their perpetrators. The police is useful in society to neutralize criminals, but does not contribute to change the meaning of their actions, nor to denigrate what is to their eyes, valorized. People getting out of prison are worse than when they arrived there.
If we really want to contribute to the development of people who have strong defensive, attacking, dominatrice and negative attitudes, there is no other solution than to enable them to go to the end of their attitudes. These attitudes are nothing else but a clumsy and false way to achieve happiness. For example, the anxious individual defending himself/herself from his/her distress by trying to destroy the thing hurting him/her, or the individual who believes that he/she can only have sexual satisfactions with weak, innocent, defenceless human beings, are simply mistaking. Their problem is to become aware of their mistakes and to manage to find new solutions, consisting, for example, in supressing distress or in finding the strenght to go and see valid partners.
How can such individuals go to the end of their attitudes? Certainly not by "doing it", meaning by actualizing their pulsions, which would have desastrous consequences for them, ending up increasing them.
The only solution for them is found in their internal, fantasized, simulated, even playful lived experiences, which they enjoy anyway, because it enables them to enter their obsession which is preoccupying them. The thing which most training or therapeutical systems fear is precisely that obsession, that "delirium" which they try to stop by any means : tranquilizers, anti-depressants, etc. We should do the opposite : allow the delirious images out and facilitate their expression. Only then the subject can see where they lead to and can try other behaviours which will end up having a compensatory role.
This brings me to highlight an important point concerning the non-directive theory, which is that the therapist do not facilitate all the client's desires, even though he/she is exclucively centered on them. He/she facilitates desires for self-expression and self-confidence. He/she has therefore a goal, which is the same one as the client's. The therapist works in a particular field and has particular principles, in collaboration with him/her. This brings us back to the idea expressed at the beginning, of a joint action between the therapist and the client, which has a particular finality.
The N.D.I.'s movement gives a vital importance to the intervention. It is in fact its transforming element. This intervention produces, as a matter of fact, a new experience, which enables a complete reshaping of the client's all psychic's life.
For the N.D.I., it is therefore important for the intervention's method to be important and developed enough and for it not to be limited to preparatory or introductive phases, like listening or reformulating.
We can distinguish six phases or steps, which constitute a complete work regarding non-directive intervention.
- Establishing a plan of action. It is not just about the choice of a place, timing, access and payment's conditions. It is mostly about letting known to the social environment, that this plan of action exists and the results it can have. This enables, of course, to bring back clients, but also to prepare them psychologically to futur actions. The way they know they will be treated and the knowledge of the principle guiding the actions of the ones accompanying them, have already an effect, which is assimilated with the « Pygmalion effect ». I will speak again about the latter in the next chapter. This « therapeutical effect », which is also important in pedagogy, have been neglected too much by estimating researches. It is comparable with the « placebo effect » in medicine.
- The plan of action to communicate assumes one transmitter and one or several receivers. The fact that someone puts himself in the position of a receiver, by being ready to listen, to hear, has an effect on the potential transmitter because it induces speech and triggers off the whole of the communication process. C. Rogers really insisted on that. It is maybe his biggest discovery. Besides he didn't stop there and he worked out a whole methodology for listening skills, founded on reformulation, extremely noteworthy. Regarding reformulation, he understands the fact to feed back the transmitter with his own speech, by repeating it, paraphrasing it, summarizing it or by expressing in a different way, not only his words but more importantly his feelings. The transmitter, who is hearing that, becomes aware of his own speech but most importantly is encouraged to carry on, to go further.
- In the present situation, the N.D.I.'s facilitator must imperatively know his client's desires. Without that, he cannot do anything, as all his action is there to enable the client to realise his own project. As I have already said, the projected and desired work is an inner work, which is happening thanks to external representation or expression. We call « desiderative exercises », exercises enableing desires to emerge.
- From expressing desires, it is possible to propose activities : speaking, games, movements, shows, which will enable the client to go further in the way he expresses himself and his discoveries. It is the moment when we strongly bring into play the reality, the world. The latter occurs in the subject's psychic, which needs to adjust itself to him.
- Activities happening from that cannot be done without the facilitator. He is aware of the happening, the difficulties and the successes. He can therefore intervene again, ask questions and re-activate the process. He can also share his feelings and his observations. He can above all pick up the client's feelings and remarks. This work as a whole can be called accompaniement.
- Finally, it is possible, for the client's interest, especially in pedagogical and school domains, that the facilitator talks about his knowledge and his way of doing. He then transforms himself into a trainer. An extremely delicate work which may bring back a constrain, which must be imperatively banned.
Such a work as a whole takes time and energy. I will therefore be coming back on each of these numbered items, except on the one about « establishing a plan of action », which I will abundantly treat in the next chapter.
THE WORK OF FACILITATING
If we manage to induce an activity, thanks to an accompaniment and propositions, which is really desired by the concerned subjects, this activity will be happening within a certain frame belonging to the plan of action. In that frame, there are a therapist and one or several clients.
The therapist or the facilitator are not just some help influencing the client with their actions. They are also people who witness the work done, who are like a type of public. If you want, they represent the external world, society. The attitude they have when being an observer have an essential role, which is the same one, all in all, that the one played by a partner in general. The subject who is working, acting, producting, needs the presence of external persons and their listening. The facilitator is first of all a receptor in the communication.
The origin of that need driving to that is unclear. Why other's judgement is so important for us? May be we see our actions as a whole which also has an effect on the external world. A successful action is not only successful to us but also to the one who is looking at it, who reacts as a human being, even if his/her sensitivity is different. If he/she feels indifferent regarding the sent message, if he/she is doing other things or looks at you in an absent-minded way, he/she deprives the author of that message from the satisfaction of wanted and expected reactions resulting from that message.
Rogers invented a method enabling the facilitator to show his interest regarding the work being done. It is what he called "reformulation" (Rogers and Kinget, 1959), which is supported by the empathic attitude. The facilitator shows that he/she is listening, proving his/her attention and his/her interest, by re-telling, paraphrasing and summarizing what has just been said, putting the emphasis on the emotional side. By doing that, he/she puts himself/herself in the position of a true listener, partner in the communication. He/she gets into the expressed opinions and feelings, even if he/she does not approve of them. The core of the empathy is to enable to penetrate into the message, even if the latter is rejected. One can note (Feshbach, 1969) that aggressive children perceive very well the hurt they cause and look for it, which proves that they are "empathic" in their own way.
To tell you the truth, Rogers did not really see the difference between empathy on one side, and adherence regarding the content or the work, on the other. It seems that he identifies the two and puts them together in the same concept. Yet, they are different and proceed from different considerations. The first one concerns the person you are talking to, the "you". It is linked to the transmission's operation. The second one concerns the referential sphere, the "he". It modifies the psyche's orientations. This is important in a theory on influence.
The "unconditional acceptance" attitude is not sufficient because it is systematic. The one about "congruence" is not talked about because it can lead to some negativity. It seems to me that the only possible attitude is a modulated and argumented positiveness and the expression of that one. In any case, the client "is working" and this is what is of interest to the therapist, who is not forced to be fascinated by the rest of the discussion, even if he/she is following it. It is therefore important for the therapist to express what he/she thinks of the work, why he/she esteems it and finds it positive. I already talked about that before.
Regarding the facilitation which is talked about here, it has a close link with another basic activity in the facilitation work, which is to constitute a group and acquire clients, which requires a complex activity of presentation, advertising, preparing a place, a welcoming reception, defining a frame, etc. Considering it happens at the beginning, we can see how important it is. However, it is not very different from other therapeutical schools. The only important opposition one can find is between free, voluntary, reimbursed ventures or costing ones being more or less expensive. Some, mainly amongst psychoanalysts, pretended that the sacrifice represented by the payment, was an essential motivation's sign. This is true : it is a motivation's indication. However, we could think that people who are the most in need of a therapy, a teaching, a training, are the ones who believe they do not need them and who are not motivated to work on themselves. Being able to touch and give birth to that need in them in a non-directive way, feels to me to be the summum of relational work. I tried to do that for years at university with quite a success. Students, who came to group activities because they were bored or wanted to have a laugh, managed to enjoy themselves and changed in a notable way.
The Being Centered on Desires method implies that the facilitator, the trainer, the therapist, know the desires of whom he/she is working with. I call this knowledge desire's reading. This is what I am going to talk about now.
This desire's reading involves two aspects.
- The first one consists in reading the participants' desire regarding the actual situation they are in, meaning a training, group meeting, therapeutical situation. It is all about the desire to do this or that, here and now, in the actual place itself, and in the time the activity is talking place, with the persons who are actually present with.
- The second aspect concerns the participants' desire in their external every day life, when they are at home, immersed in society, and not necesseraly when they are working in the considered group. Naturally they take their desires with them when they are in the group, at work, in training or in therapy. More exactly they take them under their decided conditions. This is why one must help them to emerge.
Let us consider the first form of "desire's reading", concerning the "here and now".
When a participant arrives in a personal development group or a group therapy, a student arrives in a training center, an individual comes to see a therapist, they are full of various, confused, unexpressed, often unexpressable desires and apprehensiveness. It is difficult for the one or the ones to whom they are talking to to decode their desires and their expectations because they do not see them clearly themselves.
We can either in vain wait for them to define and analyse them, which suppose they would want to do that, or we can either hope that they would actually actualize them, in a concrete way the second they are about to do something, to move one way or the other. In fact, their first gestures, their first actions, their first words, will be significant, under the condition that they do it spontaneously and under the condition that their answers or reactions would not be because of an intervention or a request coming from the ones they are with.
Does it mean that the one they are with must be quiet, do nothing, say nothing, stay still like a statue? Obviously not. Such an attitude could be traumatising and could induce defensive behaviours in response to a powerful distress.
Several solutions may be advocated.
A first solution concerns the body and corresponds to what the N.L.P. theoreticians call the miroring effect. It is about taking a body posture looking a lot like the participant's one, being in agreement with it, having nearly the same posture or in any case a very similar, comparable one. If for example the participant lean forward when he/she is actually reflecting on something, do the same thing with him/her, like him/her. If on the other hand, his/her attitude is casual and nonchalant, take a similar attitude.
The second solution is to put the participant at ease, to give him/her the possibility to begin to express himself/herself as he/she wants and when he/she wants. To do that, we can start to tell him/her who we are and what we could offer him/her, in a short and simple way, without insisting on requirements, nor problems. Afterwards, we ask him/her how he/she is feeling and what is going on for him/her; we invite him/her to feel good.
Finally, it is possible to invite this person to express at least one desire, one expectation, preferably his/her prevailing desire and expectation, whatever naturally crossed his/her mind, without having to do a complicated research on himself/herself. This is what he/she can express, most of the time willingly as well as being feeling ready for it.
This verbal proposition, which require a verbalization, can take other forms in groups where we work more on corporeal issues, movements and self-expression. It can take the form of an invitation to do a very simple and open exercise which consists in walking through the room, exploring space, meeting others by saying one's name or touching their shoulders.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEGINNINGS
The principle is that, even more so at beginnings, nothing must be forced upon, nor induces, or at least as little as possible. This is not easy because the specialist towards whom you are going to, especially at that moment, has a tendency to be anxious, to apprehend what is about to happen, to feel exaggeratedly responsible. It is difficult for him/her to be relaxed enough precisely not to put any pressure, nor orientate the situation.
One will never insist enough on the importance of beginnings. Experience proves that generally everthing is said, and generally very well said, right from the beginning of a seminar, a session, a work session. The problem is to listen to it, to pay attention to it, to always go back to it, to litteraly be haunted by it, like a type of guide to which we must always refer to. Very often, things are not said at beginnings in an empathic and redundant way, but in a discrete, prude and quick one. One must therefore be very attentive and if possible, write down notes to remember.
This importance regarding beginnings comes from the fact that the person who begins a process does not put into actions controls and regulations which he/she thinks he/she needs. The person is more or less disarmed and under pressure from his/her imagination and fantasies. Even though he/she really wants to behave in a particular way, it is difficult for him/her to be like that and he/she cannot help but to filter out his/her true desires, under diverted and allusive forms which one needs to detect.
Naturally, not everything comes from the position the person took at beginnings. One needs to take into consideration what happens after, what happens during the whole course of the work and the development itself of the activities.
Regarding that, we can work on the assumption that, in a non-directive context (in the sense I give to it), anything done by a person is done because he/she desires it and because his/her desires appear in any activities he/she does. Therefore one must attentively observe what he/she, does his/her intentions, expectations, to be able to get nearer to his/her desires.
What is of particular importance is that he/she repeats himself/herself. In anyone, there is always a visible thread regarding the undergone activities, a repetition corresponding to obsessions, haunting memories, fixations, which themselves, translating the lines of affective and emotional strenght.
It is important here, not to have a critical mind. Very often, these repetitive movements and behaviours are inconvenient to us. We notice them not to understand them but to stop or avoid them. Such a person never stops talking to his/her neighbour, another one looks elsewhere, another one is harrassing us with questions, another one has a soft and nonchalant attitude, another one engulfs himself/herself in activities like a bull charging a red cloth. All that annoys us but we have the tendency not to care about it. In fact here, desires, aspirations and pulsions are revealed, and this is what we can build our work on.
Very quickly, the participant is brought to get out of the "here and now" frame to express desires which are going further, concerning his/her entire life, his/her every day profound aspirations. This is on what we are obviously going to work with.
This implies that the person speaks on himself/herself. A lot of people are relunctant to speak about themselves, even in places which are normally made for that. This form of expression, which is probably the one enabling to go the furthest and enabling for the most profound deepenning, in spite of everything which have been said on verbalization, is not the easiest. Many people cannot do it spontaneously, or when they manage, they do it in a dodging way by idealising themselves or to the contrary by putting themselves down exaggeratedly. It is important to facilitate this expression and it is here that, done in an empathic manner and with an unconditionnal acceptance, the reformulation, advocated by Rogers, is at its most adapted.
The only way to express oneself is not just by talking about oneself. We can also express ourselves by showing what we are, by letting our self out in the external world, in an active and effective way. Here, the use of automatic methods are really recommended.
By "automatic method" one must understand propositions in which we suggest to participants to immediately translate, by the means of writting, sound productions, gestures, drawing, etc., anything that comes to their mind, at that precise moment, rejecting as much as possible any censor or any control, from whatever nature it may be. We establish a short-circuit between the head and arms, legs, etc. What is therefore expressed is the fantasizing world of the person.
The universe of fantasies makes up the heart of personnalities because it is the center of our emotional life. What we dream of - not only at nights - is of ourselves. We are our dreams, our whims, our internal images, more than our behaviours. Most of the time, the latter betray us and the representation we have of us through them is generally deceitful. As a matter of fact they come from a compromise which we establish between our internal pulsions and external requirements coming from reality. They do not exactly reflect our deep emotionality.
There is yet another way to let that fantasizing world out in the external world - which is a third method for the actual considered subject - which is to propose to put oneself explicitely in an imaginary frame and to ask what could one do within that specific frame. For example, we propose the "wonderland" game. It is about imagining a wonderful world and to say what we would be doing in it, with as many details as possible. There is a lot of connection between that practice and the one of the "awaked dream", but the difference is however, that an "awaked dream" can lead to a conscious and voluntary construction, whereas here, we do not ask to build, but to only let go with our imagination.
It is clear that not everybody can be into activities I have just suggested : speaking about oneself, doing something in an automatic way, imagining oneself in an ideal situation. People who are really succeeding with doing them, are the ones who have already worked on themselves and who, for that reason, begin to become transparent. Yet these methods are useful for everybody because they can be used as much or as little as we want. They really enable us to read desires.
Once we know a person's desires and expectations, we can work with him/her, help him/her to go further to realise his/her aspirations. What does working with interventions consist of ?
Of three essential aspects : propositions, accompaniment and training. These three aspects are always present in every support process, whatever the environment and whatever the pursued aims, even in teaching activities, under the condition that they are authentic, even in a one off training, centered on a well determined acquisition.
First of all, let us consider propositions.
In the first elaborations of the non-directive method, the ones of K. Lewin and C. Rogers, there were no room for propositions. The facilitator would content himself/herself to either analyse from the outside the group's experience, after having observed it (K. Lewin's conception), or to reformulate what participants said (C. Rogers' conception). He was not to suggest anything, nor induce anything. His influence was extremely limited. Non-directivity meant not only no-constraint but also no-intervention.
As I said, after having adopted that position in my practice since the sixties and until the seventies, I was propelled to reject it. In fact, I felt that by depriving participants from that precious help which propositions could be, we would stagnate, we would slow them down.
On the other hand, I felt it was a delusion to think that we could exclude all influence. I did not feel it was possible. Even the facilitator who never intervenes, who contents himself/herself from looking at the group from the outside, and who, from time to time, says a few detached remarks, has an influence. In fact, he/she offers something as he/she has created that group, as he/she invited people to come to that group, as he/she chose the place and the time, etc.
What is bad is not the influence, contrary to what some ideologies think, but what is bad is the constraint. True influence always goes through the influenced subject's agreement, who accepts the offered idea, or the suggested action.
Looked at from that point of view, what does these propositions consist of? In my opinion, they need to have three characteristics to be in tune with the spirit of this method.
- They must always be conditional, meaning that they are submitted to the participant's explicit agreement and can be changed by them.
- They must cover every fields regarding the possible activities in the considered domain and even outside that domain if necessary.
- They must not be rigid, nor be conceived as closed, well defined rules coming from a certain school. In other word, they must not be presented as "techniques".
THE NON-DIRECTIVE ATTITUDE
Concerning the first point, it is clear that it comes from the idea itself of non-directivity. A kind of definition, the latter implies that no orders are given, wether undirectly or implicitly. Therefore a non-directive facilitator must always tell the participants that his/her proposition is only a suggestion, which can either not be done or be transformed in any way.
From that, it does not mean, as one could think, that the facilitator must offer his/her propositions in a vague, allusive, hesitating, non convincing way. To the contrary, it is important for him/her to be self-confident, clear and convincing when he/she offers them. It enables the participants to feel even freeer, from the fact that they would not be obliged to loose time and energy to clarify an obscure proposition or to give it a meaning which it would not have. The more explicit a proposition is, the more capable they are to reject it.
To all that, we can add the objection that profoundly and internally dependant people, like the ones who come to therapy, do not need us to present them with propositions equalling orders, or which they would consider as such. They are far too inclined to do that and this is one of their problems. Besides, not just people having a psychiatric label, have the tendency to do that.
This objection is valid and in fact, it is true that a lot people have the tendency to execute the facilitator's propositions because they come from a facilitator who has a great prestige and sometimes a true halo.
However, there is still a considerable objective difference between a proposition presented as a help which one can accept or reject and a proposition accompanied by masked threats if the proposition is not carried out.
In the first case, a participant is brought to develop from the work he/she is accomplishing, and even if he/she has a submissive idea, one day will come when he/she will see the facilitator under a different light. He/she will realise that the offered propositions must be the object of his/her choice and that he/she is capable to cope with that choice. The non-directivity becomes all the more meaningful for him/her, even if it was not the case at the beginning.
In another case, to the contrary, the participant is never able to make a suitable choice for him/her, as that choice is forbidden to him/her. Not only he/she is not confronted to the choice issue but most importantly he/she can never take his/her suitable route which would fit his/her journey.
To retort again, as some do, that it might be useful and "structuring" to oppose oneself to the authority's decision is purely and simply a matter for sophism. In fact, the authority itself can either exerce sufficient pressure to be actually obeyed to but we cannot see where the opposition could be (as from the start it would immediately be reduced and suffocated in people's mind, especially if it was powerful enough), or that same authority does not exerce sufficient pressure and it changes itself in a shameful non-directivity, from which the best example is at school when teachers are being messed about by students. In that latter case, one can indeed experience an opposition but with a major inconvenience for the participant who cannot find his own way, mixed up in a game of partially efficient threats, without being able to benefit from a true help.
OPENING THE FIELD OF POSSIBILITIES
In the Non-Directive Intervention method, the second characteristic is faced with the problem of the use of other methods and especially methods invented previously by other therapeutical schools. It is clear that they can be of great use.
Roughly, we can distinguish three categories amongst these methods.
Some, like the bio-energy, the "primal scream", etc., call for the emotional lived experiences and aim to enable the participant to become fully self-confident, to get out of himself/herself, with a spirit which Reich would qualified of orgastic, and which is in fact closely connected to orgasms. In that sense, these methods are a lot connected to the "corporeal" methods, such as relaxation, massage, etc., aiming too to enable a corporeal and sexual blooming.
Others, more centered on the expression, in the wide sense of the term, enable not only to show one's feelings regarding the internal lived experiences, but also a construction in space and time, an elaboration of a product which can either have an artistic, dramatic, intellectual, etc., characteristic. One must mention in that frame of mind the Morenian psychodrama, the various drama's methods, corporeal expression, vocal expression, pictorial expression, etc.
Finally, other methods, coming from "encounter meetings" and the Lewinian tradition, aim to structure the universe of relationships, communication, relationships with others, and are, because of that, extremely interesting, considering the capital importance of that field in the world of mankind.
In that list, I insisted on methods more centered on therapy and personal development. But it is obvious that techniques with didactic characteristics, aiming to enable learning, find their place there as well. Teaching is "showing", as one would say in old times, which is to suggest that students acquire given informations, presented to them in different ways. The final product is not an external product, like one does a show, it is an internal product which is knowledge. This does not radically change things.
What is important in the Non-Directive Intervention's spirit is that the field of possibilities becomes open to its maximum, meaning that it has a "whole" characteristic ("whole expression") or totalizing effect. This is in fact the condition the participant needs to feel free to go where he/she wants to, to take any leeway he/she fancies.
For a long time, until the seventies, facilitators were satisfied with proposing verbal activities which involved, one way or the other, verbalization. This had a lot of limitations. When, in the seventies, methods called "emotional" or "corporeal" were introduced in France, the field opened itself considerably and the participant's power was therefore increased.
The third characteristic regarding a proposition made with the Non-Directive Intervention spirit, is that one must not present a technical, closed, rigid aspect because of a submissiveness to rules coming from a certain school.
Propositions are not made in fact, to fit a certain model, but to help participants. Therefore they must be adapted to that aim and only to that aim. The ideal would be for them to be perpetually invented, remodelled, reformulated, reajusted. This is in fact what we try to do in our practice. For example, we have tried to modify the Morenian psychodrama for it to become flexible and more efficient. Instead of keeping an initial "scenario" obtained by a fixed procedure, we suggest several scenarios, with graduated levels, and we aim at the realisation of a final scene which corresponds to what the participant wishes to experience. In the same way, we invented the "spontaneous drama", inspired from the S.D. (Selbst Darstellung) of the A.A.O., which suits better our expectations regarding automatic acts than the "improvised drama" or "theme drama".
It is possible that one day we won't need these pre-made methods which act, at present, as crutches and which have the inconvenience to have been conceived in a spirit opposed to ours. At the moment, they are useful as food for thoughts. I hope that one day they will become useless.
The second aspect of the Being Centered on Desires method, as an active help for participants, is that it calls for an accompaniment.
It is clear that the facilitator is not going to content himelf/herself to offer propositions and to withdraw himself/herself when these are implemented, when they are leading to exercises, games, discussions or presentation of ideas. He/she is a group member and he/she must participate to the group's activities.
We can give two reasons which militates in favour of that form.
First of all, there is the fact that propositions do not only offer one unique suggestion, localized in time, but they often consist in an activity which continues and which interferes with their execution.
Secondly, participants must take advantage of the facilitator to its maximum and not only as the one who induces activities. They need to have him/her belonging to them entirely, they need his/her involvement, in short, his/her influence.
The first consideration brings me to offer you more precisions on the nature of propositions and the fact that they are a work in itself and even a very important work.
If they are done in the spirit I showed, which is a non-directive spirit, they have the effect to question the participant, to highlight a problem. An order is never a problem, except maybe when the problem is to know how to reject or go round it, if it threatens our integrity. However, a proposition is an invitation, at most a temptation, which we can push away but which we can also accept. If we accept it, we engage ourselves in a particular path, we begin a particular type of experience. The facilitator can offer a new proposition aiming to engage more the participant into his/her chosen path, then into another one, and then again another one, etc. A dialectic establishes itself between the facilitator and the participant, which constitutes, taken as a whole, a "work", with a development and an evolution. Therefore propositions are not just propositions but a type of accompaniment demanding the facilitator to take into consideration every reactions of the participant.
The second reason justifying an accompaniment brings us straight into the heart of the most cruxial and the most delicate problem which arises when facilitating : the one of the facilitator's involvement.
A whole tradition inherited from traditional psychotherapy, coming itself from medicine, has, concerning that subject, some extreme clear-cut positions : a facilitator must not involve himself/herself personally; regarding participants, he/she must keep some maximum distance; this distance is ensuring his/her autonomy and freedom with regards to the participants. The justification given to that is not without value. If he/she involves himself/herself personally, the facilitator may create bonds which may hinder his/her action as well as the participant's one. He/she will feel trapped, threatened by actions which may jeopardize these bonds. It is the same for participants.
Behind that valuable argument, which can easily be taken into consideration, there is another more radical argument, which is : the facilitator has the authority and the latter may be damaged, ruined by the closeness of participants, even if it does not go to intimacy or promiscuity.
One must immediately oppose to that position another one, coming from the nature itself of the helping work, which is done in the context of that method. As I said, that helping work consists, from the facilitator's side, in offering participants all the ressources he/she has, to enable them to experience their desires and their pulsions. Amongst these ressources, there are naturally all the thoughts and reflections which the facilitator explicitly and willingly centers on participants, but also himself/herself, I mean his/her personality, his/her ideas, his/her options, his/her emotional side. All these things make a considerable potential which would be a shame to deprive participants from. In psychological language, this is call influence.
THE IMPOSSIBLE NEUTRALITY
As I already said, this influence can never be negative, if it does not consist of a constraint or an imposition.
The whole of comtemporary social psychology which has developed itself since the fifties, shows us that "the transmitter's" influence is nil, unless it leads us to an explicit or implicit constraint (like with Asch's experience or Festinger's "pressure to conformity"), if it does not take into account to the detail the receiver's position, if it does not fit the latter and if it does not totally respect the receiver's will. Even in the case of crowd phenomenons, analysed by G. Lebon, the huge dynamic triggered then, comes precisely from the fact that the actors are right from the beginning oriented towards the same lenghtwave and that they show their emotional side, which is totally related to the emotional side of others. Besides it only appeared with democratical assemblies, which have been multiplying themselves since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
An influence can be a direct influence with the creation of a loving or friendly bond. It can exert itself by the demonstration of the facilitator's internal world and his/her intimate reactions. It can finally divulge itself through political and religious opinions and the expression of ideas, of the latter. The famous "neutrality", all so often called for as an ideal, especially in teaching environments, to respect, as one says, everyone's options, is, to tell you the truth, only a form of technocratism and ends up stopping rich confrontations and interventions, which are a considerable factor for development.
Considering the unvoluntary and non-centered factor who I am whilst I am analysing, there are some big risks for deviation. The facilitator who "shows himself/herself" can not only forget about participants but can also do nothing else but to become a participant. This is obviously unconceivable. This is why one must define precise criterias enabling to decide the limits for them to be done.
These limits either belong to the facilitator, or to the participants themselves.
If we consider the facilitator, it is clear that he/she cannot step on the other side with participants, even if he/she involves himself/herself and even if he/she shows himself/herself. The awareness regarding his/her facilitator's role must be the priority for him/her. This means that he/she cannot go beyond a level of involvement in which he/she would forget his/her facilitator's role, or in which he/she would not be able to exert his/her role. He/she cannot for example get into a personal relationship with a participant which would get to the point where he/she would be enable to act as a facilitator, either because he/she would not want that anymore or because he/she would not be able to manage.
But the most important thing is found on the participant's side. The latter, either because of the nature of the "here and now" work, or because of their personality and their personal tendencies, may not want to cope with the facilitator's involvement. They can be embarrassed by it, it may stop them from working on themselves or to get involved, they can be uninterested by it or feel indifferent to it. On the other side, they may not want to be confronted to the facilitator's actions aiming, one way or the other, to touch them personally. It may scare them, insecure them or even push them away.
The facilitator's intervention, as concerns with his/her involvement, is bound to the rule which determines all his/her actions in the frame of the Non-Directive Intervention Approach, and which is the one of the participant's desire. The facilitator can only involve himself/herself if participants explicitly wish for it, ask him/her to do so or do not see any opposition to it. This does not mean that he/she cannot profoundly and personally involve himself/herself but that he/she cannot do it in any odd way or thoughtlessly.
The rule which I refer to here, has nothing to do, I note, with all the so-often speculations made on what is good or bad for a participant, on what helps him/her or not for his/her development, which comes from a debatable and already made ideas on "transfer" and "counter-transfer", "incestuous relationship", "seducing your father", the "use of prestige" and other things in the same frame of mind. It is definately the participant who is the judge of the involvement he/she wishes for on behalf of the facilitator and with him/her. Only the participant can know if he/she is attracted to the prestige or not, to the paternal or maternal image of the various characteristics which a facilitator have.
LET'S COME BACK ON THE ACCOMPANIMENT WORK
Let's come back on the accompaniment. It can take a subjective or an objective aspect.
As a subjective reality, it consists of a disclosure of the facilitator or pedagogue's internal states, which are linked to the participant or the student. These states may concern the questionning or assertiveness spheres.
If they concern the questionning sphere, we obtain what we call the questionning, which has a fundamental role in the Non-Directive Intervention Approach. It is not an interrogation. The facilitator does not ask questions for his/her personal interest, for his/her curiosity and even less so to exert a control or a supervision. He/she asks questions because he/she thinks that it can be interesting and enriching for the participant to answer them. This implies that the questions are only there to prolong the preceeding discussion, to go along the same wave lenght and aim to enable deepening. The facilitator follows the participant and the latter follows himself/herself because he/she is not surprised by the facilitator's questions. They seem natural. In a way, they are the questions he/she could ask himself/herself.
These questions enable to get more into details which people who work on themselves or on a particular issue, tend to neglect. To the opposite, they may enable to include a wholeness in the conversation's universe, as is recommended by Gendlin's "Focusing". These two operations enable that leeway, which is one of the essential process to introduce new referents.
If we look at the assertiveness sphere, we obtain phenomenons such as approval, adherence, acquiescence, participation. The facilitator puts himself/herself in a positive frame of mind regarding the participant's performances. He/she takes position, has options, opinions, feelings towards them. He/she is not neutral. It is very important for the participant to know he/she is supported, recognized and attended to. This attitude extends Rogers' recommended attitude of "positive regards", but to the difference that it goes further, it is not reduced to a kind listening.
This is probably one of the most important thing in a non-directive facilitation work and this is maybe what Freud caught a glimpse of with his "transfer's" idea. Unfortunately, he made of it the opposite of the attitude I am talking about, which was the reappearance of the "unconscious's" fantasies, interpreted by the therapist. From the participant's point of view to the contrary, it is about the discovery of a new attitude in the relationship's field, one which he/she has not yet encountered.
If we put ourselves now in the objective sphere, the accompaniment leads to informations, analysis, reports which either concern the external subject regarding the actual situation or which concern the actual situation itself. We can tend to "group dynamic's" analysis from a Lewinian's type or incline to teaching.
One needs to dwell on that last point as it is so important. Teaching has taken such a place in our world that we cannot see its true nature anymore. We identify it to a social fortress which are Universities, and various training courses. We think that nothing else exist to pass on knowledge. Nothing is more wrong. The child who is learning his ancestor's language from one generation to another is not being submitted to a teaching procedure. It has even been demonstrated that the language's quality of the mother is totally irrelevant (Snow and Fergusson, 1977). The child only enters into a communicative circle in which the adult leans towards him/her and uses the child's way of talking to him/her (the "you"), to show him/her in an emotional and warm way (the "I"), an object in our world, by the corresponding signals (the "it").
As long as schools and training body will not integrate the psychotherapy's message, they will stay as they are, which are some superficial and not very efficient establishments.
Psycho-dynamic work does not always give the priority on being centered on clients' inner state. It can also take into account their cognitive expectations, their desires to know, like the univers's realities which may be of interest to him. It is also one of the aspect of the given support : knowledge's contribution. It is the third type of ingtervention.
The big temptation in this domain, which we never ceased to succumb to during centuries, is to think that, under the pretext that it is an objective matter, the approach or step to get there would be objective as well. To believe that is pretending that this matter in not integrated, being received in a subjective way.
Yet, it is, and even more strongly when integrating work is not done without big difficulties. A process needs to happen, a step forward must take place, constituent the essential process we call « learning ».
What is really learning? In fact there is not much differences between a learning work, in the sense of a motor or practical learning, and an intellectual apprenticeship. The two presuppose, as we have well explained, that the experience carried out by the subject, enters in the subject's aspirations, in his personal world. This adherence takes then exactly the shape and the status which are authorized by his personal functioning. If for example, this functioning only authorize him to integrate this knowledge in a temporary way and urge on him to quickly forget, which is what happens with exams and assessments, a temporary integration will occur but it will be instantly forgotten. The contrary happens when the acquired knowledge is essential to the subject and when he must use it a lot. It is therefore learnt for a long time.
Abraham Maslow supports, in his Vers une psychologie de l'être (1972), the thesis in which psychological evolution could only work through « peak experiences ». This thesis is obvious, if we look upon lasting acquired knowledge, the one we wish to acquire when we are at school or at university.
Never mind the theoretical time spent studying, the impressive number of years : diplomas or masters, etc... It is not important at all. In scientific domain, the biggest inventors and pioneers all had a non typical career, who respected none of the steps theoretically necessary. It all happened to them thanks to an « Insight » mecanism : illuminations and inspirations which demanded a lot of previous work but only a minimum of prerequisite knowledge. The determining factors seem to be the passion to find and being obsessed by the problem, both bringing us to ask ourselves relevant questions and giving us the will to acquire necessary knowledge, and that only. Regarding that subject, one can consult two books from D. Boorstin : Les découvreurs (1983) and Les créateurs (1992).
We can try to determine each steps for all intellectual acquisition, whatever they are.
To a principle one will necessarily find a plan of action, which we will defined as a « being ready to give » situation, filled with material bringing relevant informations, surrounded by the subject's life's normal material. These plans of action must be exposed, present, accessible to the considered subject, for example with memorandum slips, some reading materials, if it is about learning to read, or an available teacher, an informed searcher, books, etc... It is necessary thereafter for the subject to be able to be in contact with the plan of action in question. This contact is only possible if it is likely to attract the subject, if it has some value to him. Of course it depends on the presentation one gave him, but not only. It mainly depends on the psychic precursors within him, which predispose him to go towards that plan of action, depending on his previous experiences.
Finally, if he agrees, it is necessary for the perceptive, sensitive and cognitive experience carried out by the subject, to be strong enough for him to catch a glimpse of the sense it may have for him and how he could integrate it in his life.
This implies time spent with the object, a lot of time, necessary to turn the object inside out, to look at it from all angles, to examine it in detail, to compare it with other objects, to name it and to classify it. This also implies for the external environment's appeal to be quite discreet and not to invade the subject, as well as not preventing him from concentrating nor thinking.
All these processes, eminently personal, are difficult and peculiar. They cannot be done in one go and quickly, worrying about the programme's achievement or things like that. They can therefore be helped and favoured by specialists who are more concerned in following the subject's steps than the object's demarcations. In fact it is necessary for « a peak experience » to happen. It is necessary for the subject to be enthusiastic and to feel happiness.
This experience of happiness is essential. Bertrand Russel spoke of « love » regarding science and the mathematician G. H. Hardy in L'apologie d'un mathématicien (1940) puts in the same category mathematics and beauty.
Reaching the end of this report on the N.D.I.'s method, let us come back to a few problems regarding the ones who benefit from this method, and first of all on the problem regarding requirements it has upon them.
From the facilitator's point of view, such a relationship does not only imply good will and love, although they are indispensable. All the conception which I have explained shows that it is all about a close relationship between the facilitator and one or several clients. The requested qualities and motivations enable this collaboration.
The facilitator gives himself a way of conduct and tries to realise a project. He does not content himself from just being there, in the frame of mind of an attentive listener. He wants and searches for something. This something is well targeted. This, as I already said, does not consists in supporting every actions. This consists in satisfying the need for expression and personal work, in other words for psychological transformation and personal development.
To achieve that aim, the non-directive attitude, based on listening to desires, is fundamental. Yet, it is not enough. The intervention is necessary. As I have showned, it is made out of several components : propositions, accompaniement and objective contributions. These behaviours do not happen out of thin air in the facilitator's mind. They are prepared and induced by a real work done on being centered on the persons we are helping and on issues which they are dealing with.
Regarding this, a delicate question arises.
A lot of specialists pretend that the facilitator must be lacking in explanations or theoretical visions, in order to be really centered on the client, to be able to understand him. This is not my opinion. Psychological or psycho-sociological hypothesis have an heuristical value. They enable to think, to search and to understand. Without them, we are in the void, at the nought degree of thoughts. The problem is to keep a searching attitude and to join schools with reliable and strong thoughts, which have a strong credibility, and not just such or such chapel more or less inspiring and seducing.
If we put each other on the client's side, we will find again some theoretical considerations which I have made in the first part.
The client is caught up in a « communicative cycle », where new aspects of reality appear, not only concerning him directly but also concerning him indirectly. It immediately produces a leeway or a change of course. His all inner world is disrupted regarding ideas he has about himself and things, and about what is good for him.
He does not have the same vision upon reality. He is opening himself to new dimensions. What appeared to him to be ordinary or without interest or dangerous, takes a new meaning. This change of meaning, when we have been through a specific process, has been perceived for a long time by mankind and gave birth to the most important artistic, intellectual and cultural productions.
For example Greek tragedy began then. Its message cannot be reduced to the conception of the Aristote's « catharsis » (an unloading mecanism, when one expresses oneself). It is a new vision of mankind's destiny (« Moira ») which is a game.
Eschyle is the first one to takle what it seems to be irreducible for all of us : crime, murder, offence, heinous crime. He pretends that he could make us like and admire the show of these realities, which we would otherwise hate and push away. In the Orestie, he shows us a Clytemnestre assassinating her husband coming back from war and a son forced to slaughter his mother to have his father's revenche, which pushes him to be chased by Gods. In the Œdipe's cycle, Sophocle shows us a happy and satisfied man, suddenly discovering in horror that the woman he married is in fact his mother (which is excluding the fact that he could have been in love with her) and that the man he killed through a scuffle is in fact his father. Can we go any further into terror?
We could think that pleasure felt at the time of this abomination would be an intellectual one, coming from an explanation and some comprehension. But it goes beyond that. We really cry and tragic authors pretend to make us cry. However the tears poured are not the same ones as the ones which would have been poured if we would have been in that presented real situation, if we reacted by identification. It is all the problem exposed by Max Scheler in Nature et formes de la sympathie (1923) : how could we emotionally participate to an external event which is experienced in a certain way, in such a way that we could experience it in another way? Scheler's answer is that it is possible and it even constitutes one of the most important psychological process, which he calls « sympathy ». The explanation for all that lies in the fact that the representation has by itself an emotional value, which may be different from the one regarding the situation, which is the object for that representation.
Psychotherapy, pedagogy, advice, the art and science bring about a change and this is their essence. They make realities happen at a certain psychological level to go to another psychological level. For example, paintings reveal shapes and colors, which are percepted in a normal way, with limited interest, in a field where they provoke specific emotions. Science reveals and takes ideas, situated at the level of an ordinary opinion, to a level where they induce conviction, certainty, probability. Psychotherapy makes us feel actions, desires, tendancies, projects regarding our everyday life, in different ways which can really be unpleasant or odious, because it transforms them in shows, questions, representations.
We may as well say that these activities are bringing us into the mind sector where a whole lot of feelings, emotions, impulses exist, different from the ones we usually feel. Are they satisfied with placing themselves side by side without having an influence on them? Obviously not. They cannot cancel themselves magically but, by a progressive compensatory action, they can be weakened and undermined. Our distress and obsessions become less frequent. Progressively we feel better, even physically. It has been observed and even measured.
All the preceeding elaborations enable us to answer a question, which you may have thought of since the beginning of that paper : what is the status of that desire, which is so valorized in the presented conception, to the point where it is made the main target for the work on psychological construction?
At the starting point it is not at all different from what we generally mean by that word, which is a thing which has the function to bring us pleasure, satisfaction, even exultation. It is better defined by an opposition : it is what I want and decide and it can only be forbidden or imposed to me through violence, which would provoke my refusal and rejection.
However, there are a lot of actions I would really like to accomplish, having chosen and decided upon them myself, but which have been undirectly or previously imposed. My objective becomes actually the one of somebody else. The threat is so strong that I cannot but feel it profoundly and accept what it is aiming for me to do. Pleasure, in that case, is either weak or practically nil.
Actions bringing us euphoria, enthusiasm, deep happiness do not belong to that sphere but to the "hedonic" sector. It is these actions there, in which we are strongly involved, active, standing up for something, which help us to bloom and develop. They are also the ones which a facilitator, wether a psychotherapist, a teacher, an adviser, an artist or a scientist, aim to support thanks to the studied methods in this paper.
But if it is so, if desire is such an important thing, shouldn't we make it a rule in our lives, not only when we take the role of a facilitator when we are helping someone, but also with ourselves? Shoudn't we be looking for it everywhere and always?
This in fact seems like a logical conclusion and one must not hesitate to proclaim the first importance of desires above all other values.
However this causes two capital problems which we cannot avoid to takle.
The first one is which position to have faced with imposed social systems which are strong, numerous and which oppose themselves to our desires.
The second one is to know what to do with others' desires, which are as valuable as our own.
Regarding the first problem, we could be tempted to call upon what we call the "principle of reality", which brings us back in fact to insist upon the existence of constraints and their inevitable characteristics. To note that is hardly positive and can only have a depressing effect. I think that it is better to realise from the start that to access pleasure's systems, one must go most of the time, through constraint's systems. The latter in fact have a tight control on pleasure's systems and it is done more and more as they use them to their benefit. For example, the government has annexed science, through schools and other means. One must go through that if we want to have access to science. To accept that detour proves that we are lucid, courageous and willing. These things, looked at from the point of view presented here, are also considered as values.
This is the same regarding others' desires. If we consider our own desires as absolutes, we can be frustrated and hurt to see that others do not respect them, nor systematically favour them, especially if we come from a social sphere which pretend to accept non-directive values. This leads to left wing critics of that latter movement, putting the finger on some so-called contradictions which it would spread, under the pretext that it establishes some precise work and productive devices limiting everybody's desires. This can be felt as a way to only consider my own desires, like a kind of selfishness regarding others. Like Bernard Shaw would say:
"I see someone as selfish if he/she does not think about me".
One must recognize that that quite frequent position, comes from a limitation in the knowledge of social reality and in the capacity to use it to one's benefit. This reality is reciprocal, mutual and perpetually giving feedbacks. What I do for the other makes him/her grow but also contributes to my own growth. Listening to the other in an ordinary situation which is not even a therapeutical one, gives me the possibility to see how I feel regarding him/her, to pay attention to him/her, to avoid friction, to benefit from him/her in a better way. Everything I do for the other comes back to my self one way or the other and one must add as well that the action which I do for the other also has its own interest to me during the carried out operation, regarding the action through which I realise it.
To take into account reality or others, does not mean to renounce to personal satisfactions, but to the contrary, it enables to get them.
The Being Centered on Desires method is not a kind of anarchist utopia which would priviledge eminently suspect and suspected realities, pleasure and desire, but to the contrary it is a priviledged way to ensure maximal human development.
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