#1 Sequential observation:
#1 Using my psycho-dynamic lens to connect a clients' present struggles to their past experiences, both conscious and unconscious, I have noticed that Developing a Sequential Observation Memory Capacity is a very useful skill. It allows us to directly observe and then connect emotional events within our session directly to a specific source in a person's actual history in real time. That may offer us an opportunity to deepen our understanding of what may be emerging within the client at that moment, If accurate, that link can help us understand what could be helpful to them right then.
Noticing when a clients' emotions, bodily expressions or energy changes, can open an opportunity to see some of the inside landscape of the client in their moment. Whether these just noticed changes deepen, diminish or abruptly stop or start something, it is their reactions that set the stage to use this sequential memory. Which ever reaction you are witnessing from the client at that particular moment is connected to some other part of their history that we may not have met yet, and they may well not have seen the connection either. There it is in the room and available if we can invite it back.
To utilize this strategy we need the ability to operate just like a tape recorder: do an immediate pause, rewind and replay the last 15-30 seconds of the session to identify what things were mentioned just before their reaction. Then we do a 'click and drag' that information forward with a contextual question like: "where were you just then before you started to cry, tense up or drift off?" or "who were you just thinking about when..." or "how old were you feeling just then when...".
Any of these invitations can identify an important unconscious link between what is happening in that moment in our session and their relevant past history as it may be replaying, out of their awareness, in that room with us. These links are a piece of body memory that can provide us with a great source of still active unconscious parts of their personal history which they may not normally have access to. For that reason it can also be a source of great personal confusion and re-activation for them because it is out of time and place for the client until we help them connect this additional past and the present they already know. All of this can be opened up by the properly timed use of these observations and questions.
Caution: It will be important to be very mindful of the possibility that this intervention could overwhelm a client or activate them unintentionally into an unsafe place. pre-contracting with the client to see if they would be willing to try a small experiment, which they could decline, may be an important step to include for clients who are not accustomed to doing deeper work. Just move slowly with this until you feel comfortable with it and be discerning which clients to use it with.
I have found this process to be a very valuable way to deepen the therapeutic process with a client wanting to go deeper. It can reduce their confusion and shows them a way forward through what is happening instead of just feeling blocked by their confusion. It is one of my go-to intervention for deeper work.
If you have any video recordings of your sessions, reviewing these tapes can offer a great opportunity to practice these sequential memory observation skills. It does take some practice.
OK that's it for this time, I hope you found something of value in it. I am open to your feedback and I hope you will tune in again August 1st to see what might be important about: Where are you Looking? Ciao, David