The Organisational Therapist’s Experience
Carl Rogers wrote some inspiring, insightful, beautiful prose describing the experience of individual therapy, from the perspectives of both the therapist and the client. I have here re-cast his description of the Therapist’s Experience to describe my own feelings when working with an organisation – as its organisational therapist.
To the therapist, this is a new venture, an new instance of relating. The therapist feels:
“Here is this other organism. I’m a little afraid of it, afraid of the depths in it as I am a little afraid of the depths in myself.
“Yet as we meet, I begin to feel a respect for it, to feel my kinship to it. I sense how blind it is to itself and its ‘feelings’, and how frightening its world is for it, how tightly it tries to gain some understanding of itself and its place. To hold onto its sense of self.
“I would like to sense this organisation’s ‘feelings’, and I would like it to know that I understand its feelings. I would like it to know that I stand with it in its tight, constricted little world, and that I can look upon its world relatively unafraid. Perhaps we can together make it seems a safer world, in time.
“I would like my feelings in this relationship, with this organisation, to be as clear and transparent as possible, so that they are a discernible reality for everyone who is part of the organisation. A discernible reality to which they – and the organisation as a whole – can return again and again. I look forward to the experience of travelling together with the organisation on its fearful journey into itself, into the buried fear, and angst, and doubt, and love which it has never been able to embrace and explore by itself.
“I recognise that this is a very human and unpredictable journey for me, as well as for them, and that I may, without even knowing my fear, shrink away within myself, from some of the feelings it discovers. To this extent I know I will be limited in my ability to help them.
“I realise that at times its own fears may make the organisation perceive me as uncaring, as rejecting, as an intruder, as one who does not understand. I want fully to accept these feelings, and yet I hope also that my own real feelings will show through so clearly that in time the organisation cannot fail to perceive them.
“Most of all I want it to encounter in me a real person. I do not need to be uneasy as to whether my own feelings are ‘therapeutic’. What I am and what I feel are good enough to be a basis for therapy, if I can transparently be what I am and what I feel in relationship to them. Then perhaps the organisation can be what it is, openly and without fear.”
You might like to see also my next post, for the organisation’s (client’s) perspective on the therapy experience.