I have been pondering lately about attitudes, intentions, roles, beliefs and characteristic points of view around CST. I think a valuable understanding around a CST session is in considering the mental posture participants take in any given session.
For the patient, they come from a place of need and are willing to place themselves in the hands of another person. They come from a place of pain, dysfunction or loss that brings them to the conclusion that they cannot fix themselves and must submit to the help of another.
(Webster's Compact Office Dictionary) "Vulnerable" is defined as: “that can be wounded or injured, open to, or easily hurt by criticism or attack, affected by a specified influence, temptation.”
(Gould Medical Dictionary) refers to a wound as a "vulnus.” An agent useful in healing is a "vulnerary" and wounding is referred to as "vulnerating."
As vulnerability applies here, the patient offers themselves to the services of the therapist to be affected, hopefully in a good way, by such services. This situation exists in all of medicine when someone submits themselves for surgery, a medication trial or some other procedure.
For the new patient experiencing CST for the first time there are a host of aspects involved with submitting to the influence of a session, one of which being the newness and suspicion of the unknown.
Think about it. The therapist describes a strange new multi-syllable system in which the head widens and narrows and the spine lengthens and shortens rhythmically. The therapists are going to encourage your body to "release." Then the therapist spends 45+ minutes holding you so lightly, one wonders if anything is being done at all. The therapist spends time holding personal places like the pelvis, upper chest, throat and head. What is going on here?
And for the therapist there is vulnerability as well. For the well-intentioned therapist to be non-judgmental, impartial, ego-subordinated and unconditionally present, there is a certain movement into the land of the unknown. Neutral is vulnerable for the therapist. To hold space of not knowing is vulnerable. "I can’t feel the rhythm, did it stop or is it that I can’t feel it? What will he or she think if I stay in one place too long? I don’t know whether I can help this person. Where do I go now?
The vulnerability meter goes up around SER. The patients may say to themselves, "I can’t tell him or her (the therapist) about this, what will he or she think of me? That bad feeling is coming back again; I don’t know if I want to go there! I’m feeling (sad, mad, anxious, scared, etc.) and I don’t know why!"
The therapist may begin to feel the energy of the situation rise also. "I (therapist) don’t know if this is a significance detector or not! I’m feeling emotions in me, is that OK? I see water in his or her eyes; emotions are coming up for them, now what should I do?? I know this is SER but I can’t think of a dialogue question! The patient is getting upset and is now asking me what is happening to them and I don’t know what I should say or do."
Has this ever happened to you as a patient or therapist? Is not vulnerability a big issue in CST?
Would anyone like to comment?
January 8, 2013
Vulnerability .....so far
Thanks to all of you for the jewels of wisdom. I have loved the comments and learned so much. My own vulnerability in opening this circle has dissipated because of your enthusiasm and wonderfully composed comments. We are all teachers and by way of our patients and our experiences in session and in life, we all have beautiful things to share with each other. This is how Dr. John taught, learning from his patients and sharing.
My plan on this maiden voyage of web classroom; is to post a topic, wait a week or so for the flow of responses to come in, review responses and make a concluding statement, and announce the next topic. So I estimate the opening of the topic, responses/conclusion to take about 3-4 weeks total.
The conclusion statement for "Vulnerability" will be up by the end of this weekend so there is still time for any others to comment if you wish. Thank you all so much for reading and commenting. Maybe together, we all can move CST forward.
January 12, 2013
Here are some jewels of teaching from our collective wisdom submitted by you:
* I find myself continually questioning myself in session.
* Neutrality feels to me to be a place of grounding strength and supportive connection.
* I am a witness without falling into the emotional ups and downs experienced by my client.
* ...Trust and surrender to the process of CST.
* Neutral involves putting aside your defense mechanisms and ego mind.
* ...simply being deeply present.
* ...to join in this most amazing "flow state."
* ...forgive myself the mental meanderings.
* ...stepping into unknown territory and letting go of the feeling of having to be in control.
* I have...more confidence as a therapist because I quit trying to figure it out and allowed the inner physician to express itself.
* Hold the space and trust the work.
* I believe that living more comfortably with mystery is a reflection of our progression from fear to love.
* If we can create a non-judgemental space then vulnerability can slip away.
* ...how apt the archetype of the wounded healer is to us in our work and lives...without vulnerability we could not do/be what we do/be.
"To be is to do" Socrates
"To do is to be" Sartre
"Do be, do be, do...Sinatra" Kurt Vonnegut in "Deadeye Dick"
In my early days treating patients with Dr. John a sudden change would occur. It might have been a sudden stillpoint or a sudden burst of emotion, energy or dramatic shift of body position. I have seen him purse his lips and have a surprised look on his face. I remember asking him after once if he knew the session would unfold like that? He said, "Of course not. I had no idea where to go or what to do but I knew if I waited, the body would show us the way."
The neutral present intention on the part of the therapist, to be a "witness," is often the catalyst the body needs to feel safe enough to begin the letting go process. The topic of witness, including vulnerability, neutrality, presence and focused intention will be explored in the one "Witness Class" being offered this year on Star Island August 4-6. For information go to our curriculum page (www.CSTAlliance.com)
Thank you all for sharing (Next Topic: "Your Hands") Watch for it sometime next week.