When people or families come to see me they are often feeling stuck; stuck in debilitating emotional states, stuck in relationships, stuck in their pattern of coping. In one way or another, they would like to move from their 'stuckness' to a place of choice where they can feel empowered and free. This is why one of the main principles from which I work is the Freedom of MOVEMENT. In this post, I will explore the Freedom to Move principle and how people might experience this process of freeing the mind and the body to move to new health and growth in therapy.
Sometimes people come to therapy expecting the therapist to provide the 'right' answers or approach to problem situations. They want to be told what to do and offered "good" advice. Sometimes they experience shame with having to ask for help because they expect themselves to know what is ‘right’ even though they may have never encountered such problems before. They live by rules such as: "I should never make mistakes." or "I should always know the right thing to do."
The need for the one right way is a trap; it is a trap for the client and the therapist. The expectation that one should know what to do, is a common element that contributes to stuckness because it is a barrier to learning. My way, as Bruce Lee said it, is to have no way. This means that I have no preset ideas of what is right and I leave myself open and able to create the solution that I need at a moment in time depending on the situation. The process of therapy is the client and myself joined in this process of discovery. Not with one in front of the other or behind but both of us side by side.
No one can be force fed right answers. Even a baby has to do the work of swallowing and digesting what is given. In other words, every lesson must be earned by being experienced through the whole person and internalized through the body. A technique or a strategy can not be long lasting if it has no roots inside the person and within relationships. This is why reading books is rarely enough to help people change. Knowing cognitively is only one level of knowing. To learn experientially means to learn with one's senses, mind, heart, body; any and every resource a person has available. (Ironically, there is a real limitation occurring right now through this writing as we are not able to see, touch or hear each other.)
I admit candidly and quickly with people that I have no right answers for them and there is no way I could ever be wise to their situation as they could be for themselves. My focus is on creating a safe context of mutual learning, connection, curiosity and exploration. From here, people are able to become aware of themselves and others in new ways, to gain motivation and willingness to change, to create new empowering choices and to decide what they will do and to practice these new ways in their everyday life.
Unfortunately, a large majority of people are caught in the pressure to do the right thing. This pressure makes it difficult for people to listen, to be present and to use all the information available to them including their senses, their intuition and their wisdom. All human beings in whatever role (parent, child, teacher, manager) who can acknowledge what they don’t know or their mistakes give themselves the gift and the opportunity to learn and grow from their experience.
Living is a learning process. The notion of an expert acts as a barrier to the learning process. Relating to therapists as simply the holders of the correct answers does at least three things that take clients off their learning course:
It makes them depend on the so called "expert", which means that they will need to be in therapy forever.
It disconnects them from developing their own wisdom/intelligence and decision making ability for their own life.
Both therapist and client stop looking at their present experience because a conclusion is made about what is happening for that particular client based on what happens to most clients with similar behaviour/symptoms/problems.