As I have presented my work to clinicians in many different settings over the last few years, I have discovered that I bring a unique perspective on client ‘material’, having been a playwright and a dramaturge.
Clinicians are all looking for creative ways to reduce people’s suffering and I have, perhaps, something creative to offer. I agree with Dan Siegel, [the cutting edge psychiatrist who has brought the science of brain development into clinical practice], In the most recent issue of the Psychotherapy Networker, when he says that, “the most important thing about a person’s history, is how they’ve made sense of that history” — in other words, the story they tell — or have been told. A dramaturge helps a playwright find a coherent narrative; a therapist does the same, and within a safe relationship.
Clinicians are often trained to ‘ignore the words’ and focus on the affect. While client’s tell their story in many ways (body language, symptoms, facial expressions, feelings, etc.), their words are an essential part of the story…especially if the right questions are asked, and if the material is handled with respect, flexibility and transparency.
The Find Your Voice approach to clinical work grows out of the approach we’ve taken to Narrative Coaching for the past twenty-five years. This approach begins from the first critical question asked at the first client meeting, to paradoxical sentence completions, to transcript sharing, to in and out of session writing assignments, to the creation of dramatic dialogues that bring chair work to life and offer clients the opportunity to balance their view of the characters in their lives; resolve conflicts; speak the unspoken; effect revision; and safely activate that which has been frozen.