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Meeting at relational depth: what gets in the way?

This is the fifth in a series of six blog posts triggered by going to a workshop "Meeting at relational depth" taken by Mick Cooper in Glasgow.  I've already written about two exercises we explored during the morning session - "Meeting at relational depth: what does it involve?" and "Meeting at relational depth: what intrigued me most".  In the afternoon session, we mostly focused on two further exercises:

Strategies of disconnection:  Participants will be invited to take some time, in pairs, to discuss the ways in which they may tend to disconnect from others.  There will then be time to explore the relevance of this to therapeutic practice.

Personal characteristics that facilitate, and inhibit, interpersonal connectedness:  Working in small groups, participants will be invited to reflect on the qualities of fellow participants that might draw them in to, and make them wary of, establishing interpersonal contact.  They will then have an opportunity to feed this back to colleagues, and to hear from colleagues how they, themselves, are perceived.

So first the "Strategies of disconnection".  We were each handed a form entitled "Your strategies of disconnection" with the request "Please write down, as a short phrase or word, any of your own 'chronic strategies of disconnection': i.e. ways in which you stop yourself from connecting deeply with others when it may be more rewarding to do so".  We were also asked to estimate approximately how often we used these behaviours (1 = 'not at all present' to 10 = 'always present').  Initially we were asked to think about these the strategies we were likely to use with our families, partners & friends.  We were then asked to consider how much these "blocks" also sometimes extended into our work as therapists.  We then paired up to discuss what we'd written.  Interesting for me to do, but not new information!

And then the final exercise "Personal characteristics that facilitate, and inhibit, interpersonal connectedness".  Here we got together with a couple of others we'd worked with over the course of the day.  This time the form asked us to jot down for each of these colleagues "Perceptions of this person that draw me towards connecting with them" and "Perceptions of this person that make me wary of connecting with them".  A challenging and potentially valuable exercise to do.  As I've already commented on in this series of blog posts, our first impressions of people can be surprisingly accurate so giving & getting feedback from each other in this way certainly has potential value.  Understandably, more extensive "Interpersonal group work" is likely to be considerably more useful.  See too an earlier post from this month "A quiet rant to group facilitators and would-be group facilitators".

And the workshop drew to a close.  I'm very glad I went to it.  It triggered a whole series of helpful explorations.  Apparently there is a "Relational depth research network", contact Sue Wiggins: spwiggins at gmail.com.  Tomorrow's sixth & last post in this sequence is entitled "Meeting at relational depth: a model".

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