The Organisation’s Therapy Experience
The Organisation’s Therapy Experience
Paired with my previous post, this post reframes Carl Rogers‘ look at the client’s experience of therapy, from the perspective of the organisation-as-client.
Note: I find it more natural to use the pronouns “we/us/ourself” to indicate the organisation – its collective consciousness – here, rather than e.g. “I/me/myself”. Even though I do not intend “we/us/ourself”, in this context, to indicate the individuals inside the organisation.
The client (i.e. the organisation as a whole), for its part, goes through far more complex sequences – which we can only make suggestions about. Perhaps the organisation’s “feelings” change over time in some of these ways:
“We’re afraid of the therapist. We want help, but we don’t know whether to trust him. He might see things which we don’t know in ourself – frightening and bad things. He says he’s not judging us, but we’re convinced he is. We can’t tell him what really concerns us – but we can tell him about some past experiences which are related to our concerns. He seems to understand those, so we can reveal a bit more of ourself.
“But now that we’ve shared with him some of this bad side of us, he despises us. We are convinced of it, but it’s strange we can find little evidence of it. Do you suppose that what we’ve told him isn’t so bad? Is it possible that we need not be ashamed of it as a part of ourself? We no longer feel that he despises us. It makes us feel that we want to go further, exploring ourself, perhaps expressing more of ourself. We find him a sort of companion as we do this – he seems really to understand.
“But now we’re getting frightened again, and this time deeply frightened. We didn’t realise that exploring the unknown recesses of ourself would make us feel feelings we’ve never experienced before. It’s very strange because in one way these aren’t new feelings. We sense that they’ve always been there. But they seem so bad and disturbing we’ve never dared to let them flow in us consciously. And now as we live these feelings in the hours with him, we feel terribly shaky, as though our world is falling apart. It used to be sure and firm. Now it is loose, permeable and vulnerable. It isn’t pleasant to feel things we’ve always been frightened to face before. It’s his fault. Yet curiously we’re eager to see him and we feel more safe when we’re working with him.
“We don’t know who we are any more, but sometimes when we feel things, we seem solid and real for a moment. We’re troubled by the contradictions we find in ourself – we act one way and feel another – we think one thing and feel another. Some of us are not on the same page, contrary to how we thought we all were. It is very disconcerting. It’s also sometimes adventurous and exhilarating to be trying to discover who we are, together. Sometimes we catch ourself feeling that perhaps the organism we are is worth being a part of, and worth being – whatever that means.
“We are beginning to find it very satisfying, though often painful, to share just what it is we’re feeling at this moment. You know, it’s really helpful to try to listen to ourself, to hear what is going on in our collective consciousness. We’re not so frightened any more of what is going on in ourself. It seems pretty trustworthy. We use some of our hours with him to dig deep into ourself to know what we are feeling. It’s scary work, but we want to know. And we do trust him most of the time, and that helps. We feel pretty vulnerable and raw, but we know he doesn’t want to hurt us, and we even believe he cares. It occurs to us as we try to let ourself down and down, deep into ourself, that maybe if we could sense what is going on in us, and could realise its meaning, we would know who we are, and we would also know what to do. At least we feel this sense of knowing sometimes, with him.
“We can even tell him just how we’re feeling toward him at any given moment and instead of this killing the relationship, as we used to fear, it seems to deepen it. Do you suppose that could be so with our feelings about other people and entities, too? Perhaps that wouldn’t be too dangerous either.
“You know, we feel as if we’re floating along on the current of life, very adventurously, being our authentic self. We get defeated sometimes, we get hurt sometimes, but we’re learning that those experiences are not fatal. We don’t know exactly who we are, but we can feel our reactions at any given moment, and they seem to work out pretty well as a basis for our behavior from moment to moment. Maybe this is what it means to be our authentic self. But of course we can only do this because we feel safe in the relationship with ourself and our therapist. Or could we be ourself this way outside of this therapy relationship? We wonder. We wonder. Perhaps we could. One day.”
On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy ~ Carl Rogers
Client-Centered Therapy ~ Carl Rogers
Every failure that we experience in life teaches us to be more vulnerable and strong. Thanks for sharing this article. I learned a lot.
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