Monday, February 16, 2004

Hi Katherine,
Your comments about the unspoken elements in a story seems to fit right with your experience with the anger issue family. It seems like, at least when you are with them, that their anger is an unspoken element in their story, for whatever reason. It may be that they can't accept it, it might be that you are a minister and therefore someone that they have to protect, or it may be that they are just overwhelmed and numbed out and don't even know they are feeling those things. But, for whatever reason, their is a part of their story that is unspoken and which you may hear in other ways, but which may or may not be available to them in their relationship with themselves at this point, or with you. So, there is a challenge here to seen what you can hear speaking out of their silence (the sort of thing that your tradition speaks much of). Of course, one shouldn't make assumptions, but as I was saying earlier, you were picking up something emotionally when you were in the room with them, and that is data that you might want, in this case or when it happens in other cases, to take note of and be curious about when you see the people in subsequent meetings.
Getting to Erikson, I have always found his stages helpful in a general way of looking for what seems to be the sort of thing that is usually going on with a person because of where they are in life at the time that I meet them. Of course, it is not always foolproof, but the developmental tasks of coming to the ability to trust, be autonomous, take initiative, be industrious, for indentity, intimacy, productivity, and meaning have a validity, in my perspective, that is hard to quarrel with. I know that it is popular to criticize everything that hasn't been written since yesterday as male oriented, and to some extent that is true, but at I think that if you make a few adjustments in the order of the stages, perhaps that men do identity first and intimacy second, while women might do intimacy first and identity second, it seems to be a helpful way to think, particularly because it discusses human development as a function of the nature of relationships. Maybe one could put Erikson alongside Carol Gilligan to get a balance but still maintain the stage development principle. I would be interested in hearing what the objections are that others have been making, so that we might discuss them a little.
I think that what White and Epson did with letter writing may be exactly what counselors are doing nowadays with email contact. I am aware that I now maintain contact with therapy clients in Washington on a fairly regular basis, because there are several of them that I used to see twice a week when I was there all the time. Drawing on the narrative approach, I ask them to send me narrative descriptions of what is going on with them while I am away so that when I come into town and meeting with them they don't have to spend all their time bringing me up to speed. What seems to happen though is beyond just getting information. When they have to construct a narrative that they put into an email, they are working through issues by trying to communicate them. It is the narrative way of thinking. They are constructing their story in order to email it to me.
That is probably enough for tonight. I need to come up to Indy tomorrow to meet with the licensing board. Me may be in the same neighborhood for a while.


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