A couple of years ago I started to cull the skills that I had learned in my therapy practice and write a clear set of skills that could be practiced and sharpened. In the coming year my plan is to revisit this list, add to it from the teachings of others and continue to hone my own skills while assisting students to develop theirs.
The topic of this post is skills and not techniques because while dereflection, let’s say is an effective tool or “technique” it takes skill to know when and how to apply it.
For now, I am interested in exploring the skill-set that we can give to anyone so that they can develop these capacities on their own even when they are not in a therapeutic relationship.
These can be divided into skills for logotherapists and skills for clients. Any ideas or suggestions about skills to include here and/or how to develop them are welcome. (The skills are not written in any particular order.)
Skills for logotherapists
1) Identify the “meaning crisis” Looking back, why did this feel like a crisis? What was important to the person and what got lost?
2) Listen for and then affirm the person’s strengths and expressions of meaning
3) Evoke latent will to meaning or pick up on meaning cues/logohints which they may have vaguely alluded to and bring it to their conscious awareness; put it into words for them; spell it out with all its import and ramifications; reflect it back to them larger than their own expression of it
“So you’re realizing that…”
“This is important to you because…”
“In this dream you wanted a real touch but that was snatched away from you and deadened, so you just had a presence without a touch. This is the split that developed between your body and your mind that left you feeling outside your body, not in reality…”
(Evoking the will to meaning might sometimes mean connecting between the meaning in their concrete reality and their will to meaning.) For example:
“You are saying you don’t want to get the painting on the canvass too quickly. You want to put the process into it and I can see that’s what you’re doing with your whole life. You want it to be a real evolving, living thing.”
4) Ask challenging questions; Dereflect from his/her obsessively thinking about the problem to what the person really wants; Contrast your experience of the person with the person’s self-report
“You have a strong ability to feel. If you can feel pain, I imagine you have the ability to feel good things too.”
“Is that true…?”
“Is this what you want…?”
“Some things have changed. You cannot dance again. But you can use your love for dancing in a meaningful way, even now.”
5) Broaden the person’s scope to see opportunities for meaning in their reality, including seeing how past traumas are an opportunity for discovering meaning.
“Is there something about this experience that has in a way made you stronger, brought you to some kind of new understanding?”
“What do you want to live for?”
6) Elaborate on what you see the person is doing or realizing; spell out its significance, including the significance of the strengths you are seeing in the person; Give the noblest interpretation that you hear, i.e. their will to meaning, their deepest (good) motivation, the values they want to be committed to
“You are actually…” (doing such and such, and this is the significance of what you’re doing…)
“You don’t want to just accept things as they are.”
Next post will be on the client skill-set.
7) Be amazed and inspired at the preciousness of this one-of-a-kind soul and the person’s strengths and mission. (For real)