OPEN FORUM III Continuity and Change in the Person-Centered Approach
ADPCA 1996 Kutztown, Pennsylvania
RUTH SANFORD: What has happened so far is that Jules and I convened a forum last year in Tampa on the subject of ď"Continuity and Change in the Evolution of the Person-Centered Approach.Ē" We had a session there in which several people made contributions in their thinking which took us beyond our present vision of how the communication skills and the heart skills of the person-centered approach apply in our world of today. So we followed that up in the international forum in Greece in July, another open forum on the same topic which we taped and transcribed. To participants in both forums we sent a copy of the transcript with a request that if you have corrections or changes of any kind or if you do not wish to have your part published in case we publish this project, then weíd like to hear from you. We had a surprising result. We found that people from both of the forums when they responded usually made some such comment as ď"I am surprised or I am pleased that I was heard and that you were interested in knowing exactly what I meant so I have another opportunity and I also am pleased to know that someone thought it important enough to get permission to use it for publication.Ē" So it seemed to me that there is another step which we hadnít anticipated. It means that the people who took part in both of the forums felt that they had been recognized and that what we said was important enough to be considered by a much larger group in case we publish it. Now, our hope is this, that weíll try to meld together the transcript of the three workshops. But as we discovered this year it is a big task and Iím not sure weíll get it done. If not, we plan to use the transcripts from all three forums, put them together and make them available to anyone who participated in the forum or anyone else who would want it. There was another very interesting finding as we went over the transcript of the two forums. We found that questions and problems that were pointed out in the first one in Tampa were responded to quite specifically by some of the participants in the Greece forum without the people in Greece knowing anything about what was said in the first or not knowing the people who had posed questions or stated a problem which seemed to me another surprising discovery that here weíre talking across continents and peopleís minds are running in this direction so that without ever reading or having communicated with each other, somehow these themes are picked up and people are responding one to the other. That sounds esoteric and I donít know how to say it any other way but I was impressed that in the forum here, for example, Fred Zimring who isnít here today and Carol Gustafson who is here, both had comments to make about the need for better communication in the medical profession. Carol referred to some such statistic as 80% of visits to a physician are not medically based. In other words there are other problems. And the other startling thing was that even when physicians in a research study knew that their interviews with patients were being recorded, they still did not respond to the patient. They cut off 65% of the patientsí questions and 65% of the patients were not able to follow directions because they did not understand or they had not felt heard by the doctor.
ED BODFISH: Carol said that 80% of visits to physicians arenít medically based. Even while they were watching the physicians 80% of them interrupted their patients before they finished what they wanted to say.
RUTH: Thank you. We found here was an example of one of the areas in which other professions need better communication skills but we also need to understand what the problems are in the medical profession. These problems are addressed in a remarkable book, American Medicine: Challenges for the Eighties, by David Rogers, Carl Rogersí son, particularly the last section, ď"The Doctorís Dilemma.Ē" It is now out of print but I believe it can be obtained from some libraries. A copy can be made available by request along with the transcript of this session. That was only an introduction to the need which was brought more generally, more forcefully to us by Alberto who proposed the problem of intercommunication among all the different disciplines and that would include education and business. Alberto has added to that and people in South Africa added to it labor relations and science. We have scientists like Fritjof Capra who are saying that scientists are much involved in this whole problem of health and intercommunication and interrelationship. Diplomacy - Carl recognized more and more the need to apply these concepts of relationship to the broad political field of international diplomacy. Carl was interested in diplomacy and we were planning a return to South Africa and to the Soviet Union to meet with members of the middle management, so to speak, in the field of diplomacy. We never got to do that but it was attempted further in a conference which was held near Vienna sometime later. So this is all part of it and I could refer to others. Margaret who is here also spoke of going out to where people are in foreign countries, reaching out to them, compared that with the Quaker movement. So here we had a good base for this concept of change and moving out into a wider arena. Iíve left out some and one of them that Iíve left out was the field of architecture. I wondered when Alberto was speaking about all the different professions, about architecture and some of the other things that donít seem to be that much related. Fritjof Capra, who is a scientist very much interested in open systems and open communication, the oneness of all of us and of all things, in The Turning Point said that the architecture of the building in which they met in Esalen had a great deal to do with the outcome of that workshop which included members of different professions. Then it dawned on me that architecture surrounds us all the time. What does it communicate to us? How can we understand the problem of the architect? How can we enter his world, extend our empathy to the architect and learn to communicate with the architect so that the very buildings that we live in can be more of an accommodation between the scientific demands on the architect and human needs and the human spirit. I donít want to take too much time. I want to have plenty of time left for everyone who came with ideas and thoughts but Iím going to ask Ed to read a very short statement which I wrote on the next step that I took and that is the role of the psychotherapist of tomorrow or I would say the world of the psychologist or psychotherapist of tomorrow which I prepared for another presentation and have adapted for this one. Iím going to ask Ed to read that and then I think I would like really to throw it open. I want to hear from as many people as possible.
ED: ď"The Psychotherapist of TomorrowĒ" The changes that have taken place in the technology of communication and the technology of transportation would not have been believed in 1900. The rate of change in communications, technological communications, is accelerating so rapidly that we in 1996 can barely conceive what it will be as we enter a new millennium. If we are to remain relevant in the 21stst century, psychotherapists and psychologists must no longer be satisfied with their traditional remedial function and begin to work preventively. We already have our foot in the door. Substantial research and rigorous testing have established the conditions under which skills in interpersonal communication are developed and effectively practiced. Many members of the profession are familiar with these conditions. Will the psychologist and therapist of tomorrow be able and willing to take those skills to the neighborhoods, workplaces, and rural areas where they are most needed? Do psychotherapists and psychologists still see their role as being confined to the consulting office where they meet the needs of the affluent elite and to the research laboratories and libraries where they research and write papers circulated largely among themselves? The next paragraph has the medical statistics that we quoted so Iíll skip that. There is strong evidence that similar needs for communication, as evidenced in the medical statistics, exist in business, labor relations, education, international diplomacy, pure science and architecture. And in the society at large when person-to-person communication breaks down, the result is isolation, disorganization, and sometimes violence, all of which are increasingly evident today. Here lies a crisis, an opportunity and a challenge, for psychotherapists and psychologists in the 21stst century. RUTH: PCA does not work as a formula including three or four conditions. To be effective it must be internalized and become a way of being in all I do. I canít be in all of these ways all the time but I can discipline myself to be aware and get a little better at it. Thereby it becomes a part of me. It is not for the fainthearted but it is worth it. I would like to add a note with which I am sure many people may disagree. I see the person-centered approach itself as a step in the evolution of client-centered psychotherapy as the work that Carl did in later years branched out more and more to using client-centered/person-centered approach and calling attention to the application of the person-centered approach/client-centered approach in other significant relationships as well as in therapy. Now there are some shadings of difference but basically it seems to me that this is an evolution, a slight shift and that by including the person-centered approach as we think of it also in connection with therapy it means that the relationship is not centered just in the client but the personhood of the therapist is also recognized and itís the quality of the relationship between the two which is important in therapy. The extension of client-centered therapy to other relationships for another person includes the dedicated intent to enter into the world of that other personís culture as well and is an extension of empathy, (I used this in connection with South Africa). The question came up in South Africa about trying to communicate across various lines of difference between the people who had been the oppressors and the oppressed, between all the different shades of religious belief, connection and practice, between the native healers and so called modern medicine, all of this required the interest and the care and the dedication of people going to work in a multicultural situation to develop as much knowledge, as much understanding as possible of that other culture. This fits in with Albertoís idea of having two-way communication between people in different professions not just one ď"íteachingĒ" the other. It seems to me that that really is an extension of empathy, to try to prepare ourselves to enter into the world of the other - in this case crossing professional lines in order to bring about a greater good for the person and for the development of interpersonal relationships. There are many other things that I had on my mind to say but Iím going to stop at this point and ask Jules, Alberto, Carol, Margaret, Kristin and the others I have left out who participated last year in making contributions. Iím going to call on them if they would want to respond and then Iíd like to have it open to everyone and questions if I have not been clear in what I have tried to relate to you. Jules, would you. . .
JULES SEEMAN: I would like to pass basically for now and recognize I think the obvious that extensions can be both internal and external. That is that we can do more in the way of deepening ourselves but right now it seems to me the emphasis is on how to look at the person-centered approach in relational terms in ways that suffuse our society and possibly even places that we havenít even thought about so Iíd like to think about the external aspect and I donít claim any special expertise on that but I would simply say that in judgment, thatís a place that we need to concentrate. We may even need to think about the mechanics of how to do it but I wouldnít want to get bogged down in that. Iíd like to sit this out myself, just personally, envisioning the range of the relational possibility. I think they suffuse almost every place that humans are together and thatís almost every place. I am eager to hear what Albertoís doing in Mexico.
ALBERTO SEGRERA: Iíd like to react a little to some things that Ruth had said before and the first thing I think we need is to not speak only about psychologists, even the title of this ď"The Psychologists of the FutureĒ" to me is a limitation. I would say maybe the ď"person-centered professional occupation.Ē" To me the person-centered approach was born as a psychology school even if Carl would tremble about doing that. But I think that as long as it doesnít become an interdisciplinary body of theory and development, it is not complete. For that I think that those of us who have the original sin of being psychologists have to give up the decision of first class citizenship and forgetting about say if you are an educator you better learn from us psychologists how to educate. If you are a physiologist you better learn from us psychologists how the person functions or whatever and getting to an equal level relationship among professionals where we can have a medical doctor tell us a lot about the human being that from a psychological point of view youíd get never get. An architect telling us a lot about how a person uses his place which weíll never know from psychology until we come from an integrated interdisciplinary person-centered approach. For me that is very important and as long as we are still only psychologists and only thinking from a psychology point of view, we are reducing human functioning and human phenomena to a perspective. In that sense I heard people say, ď"well this person-centered approach is psychological.Ē" I said, ď"Yes, it was born in psychology but it doesnít have to stay there.Ē" Iíve done a lot of philosophy. I was lucky enough to start in psychology when we were not separated from philosophy and I canít understand the person-centered approach unless I know about the phenomenological and existential groups that are implicit and I would say somehow explicit in this field and like that in many other things. But more than anything else I would say we have to recognize citizenship, equal level relationship with other people who would then come and contribute to our common interest and from that I could go on saying many things but I think I would also like a few other people to contribute to this.
JULES: Alberto, I want to say a word about the horizontal relationship that youíre sketching.
ALBERTO: Well, I didnít say horizontal - thatís another thing! I said equal level. But I will include that as well. (laughter)
JULES: But I wouldnít . . .
JULES: Thatís all right. It was your turn. However, I would choose to use the term horizontal but also to be equalitarian and Iím doing that for a very special reason. Iím contrasting it with a vertical relationship or hierarchical relationship.
ALBERTO: I agree with that.
JULES: And I have said this several times but one of the most fascinating series of research studies that Steven and I have done has been on precisely this point of the horizontal equalitarian relationship and the vertical hierarchical relationship. Weíve done several studies and they were fascinating because hereís what we found - that the person who is a fully functioning person, who is a together person, who understands herself, engages in horizontal equalitarian relationships, even well-integrated kids do. We did a study of seven and eight-year olds. Well integrated seven and eight-year olds could relate to us on an equal basis. The kids who were vulnerable couldnít. Similarly in an adult study, we found exactly the same thing, that people who were together people integrated, were good relaters, related on an equalitarian level. They didnít have to be psychologists and they werenít but they were people and those who were vulnerable related on a hierarchical level. Stay with your model because itís a good one.
ALBERTO: Actually itís not only personal level. I want to stress that itís both on the scientific level that, okay, letís say that meaning a horizontal relationship between disciplines, becoming an interdisciplinary effort. Thereís a lot of emphasis on the personal aspect of it but I am also convinced that we need to give a solid, scientific body for people to relate to our ideas also and not only about our feelings. Actually I prefer meanings to feelings because for me feelings have a little wishy washy kind of effect. Anyway thatís another problem.
MARGARET WARNER: I keep feeling (I may have said this last year) that the client-centered movement for me asks the right questions, which is unusual, and they give the right answers, which is also unusual, and then refuses to tell anybody about them or have an organizational structure that would transmit them. (laughter)
ALBERTO: That wouldnít be person or client-centered.
MARGARET: I donít think we do this for frivolous reasons. I think we feel that some of the things we most value might get trampled if we had a standard organization or thereís so much value and uniqueness in each person that if we articulate what we were doing we might lose that uniqueness but it is the place where I feel we need to grow somewhat, like weíve grown a lot simply in saying itís good to have annual meetings. Lots among us feel for a while there was kind of a position, that I think Carl was one of them, you know, that if we had any organization, we would lose the essence of it.
RUTH: Itís all right as long as you follow a nonorganizational organization.
MARGARET: To be creative in thinking itís sometimes called the light structures what kinds of ways of organizing ourselves will let us articulate, transmit, teach, train without losing oneís beliefs. I think it takes genuine creativity to figure out what that is. I was just talking at an organizational meeting when Carol said that thereís a point where weíre saying, I think Jerry was saying we need to be a little bit more organizational-like to get done the things we want to get done.Ē" And Carol was saying, ď"but that doesnít mean we have to immediately go to Robertís Rules of Order.Ē" Thereís some creativity in figuring out what way of organizing ourselves would let us ... because Iím repeatedly frustrated when our stuff is articulated by somebody else (what Carol and I were talking about) that people feel this newly come upon something thatís been to my mind in the client-centered movement for twenty years but nobody knows it was here.
ED: Christ needed a Saint Benedict to spread the orders throughout Europe, maybe Carl needs one too.
ROBERT OPPENHEIMER: Would that be Ruth?
MARGARET: We could go further because I was excited by all the ideas and I get this sinking feeling we will have this terrific vision and yet somehow .. We have this nice little piety you know of what ADPCA might do to network campaigns and that was extremely innovative. You know just saying having working on a network of all the little organizations who are doing pieces of person-centered things and in contact with them and letting them know weíre here and things like that. When lately Iíve got this feeling of being an isolated - small bubble.
CAROL WOLTER-GUSTAFSON: Iím Carol and I would like to respond to your statement of asking the right questions and that being there and having the right answers and that being there and I just read a good short piece on democratic schools and one of the things and my daughter went to such a school and my daughterís always frustrated that people say to her, ď"well, what classes did you take?Ē" ď"Well, we didnít.Ē" ď"What grades did you get?Ē" All the questions that were asked were inappropriate for the structure that she was in and therefore she is always on the defensive. In this article one of the founders of the school said itís like if youíre living in a society where you donít have a passbook and arenít being monitored with computer chips in your fingers, if someone said, ď"What do you do when secret police come to your door and pull you out of your bed?Ē" That question comes from a different frame of reference. Because the original reference is not understood and that original reference of being proactive or preventive or all of those kinds of things. Iíll give just one example that I would like to pass along. I teach in a school of education and I teach philosophy of education and human development in learning. In each of these cases the questions are always, ď"what do you do when the secret police come to your door? What do you do when the kids are disrespectful? What do you do when they pull a knife on you? What do you do when they donít learn?Ē" All of those questions come from an entirely different planet and my answer is ď"That never happens because weíve created such a rich, trusting and wonderful environment that doesnít occur.Ē" So, how do we describe the proactive anti-violent kind of conditions and make them a model of possibility for people and what I said in the educational meeting the first day was the danger has always been, from a hundred years ago and beyond, that when John Dewey wrote about education and democratic education that when you say, ď"Iím not going to be authoritarian. Iím not going to hold a gun to your head.Ē" Thatís what I say to my students. They say, ď"How do we manage our classes?Ē" And I say, ď"Do you really want a really good technique?Ē" They say, ď"yes,Ē" and they get out their pencils and papers and I say, ď"This is it. Iíll tell you. It will be foolproof. You get an oozie. You put it up to their heads and then you say Ďyou will learn this or I will kill you.í And that is effective. It promotes fear and if thatís what youíre after that will get them to be silent, that will get them to sit in rows. That is effective in that regard, if you want control and fear. If you want education, thatís totally inappropriate and then what are the conditions that make for education?Ē" But that idea that you have to be authoritarian, if youíre not that youíre chaotic, you have no personal authority. The children have no personal authority. You go to laissez faire. You go off the edge of the earth into chaos and Dewey didnít do it well according to the rest of society. He did not articulate what the positive proactive model is for and we have violence in this country in enormous proportions. What are the conditions that make for nonviolence? What are the conditions that promote learning and what does it look like? Even better than we do now that kind of model instead of asking the wrong questions. Getting the right questions and the right answers in concrete form.
JUDITH TRYTTEN: Iím Judith Trytten and I would like to tail end on that because one of my frustrations is that the Adlerian School of Psychology has done a much better job of articulating the democratic classroom than the client-centered tradition has and I believe that the client-centered tradition has a lot to offer above what they have offered but when I was teaching really they were the best models that I found as far as offering me practical things to do. Iím just calling for more articulation in the client-centered movement and I know Carlís book just on education didnít help me enough in the classroom practicum.
ROBERT OPPENHEIMER: I could respond to that in a way that I think intentionality is 98% of my success. I made a decision two years ago that I wanted to do violence prevention in the schools and within eight weeks I was in two different school systems doing it. When I was trained in this I was told by one of my professors, ď"Well, this is a nice hobby but you wonít be able to make a living doing it.Ē" That was ten years ago and I figured well I could try. What I found was there was a lot of receptivity and that teachers werenít so much asking me for techniques as they were seeing that there was something different going on between me and the kids and wanting to know what it was about our process. They did understand that. Some of them were very opposed to it. Thatís another problem. There were some people that were drawn to me and I think that just getting really clear in my own mind what I was doing conveyed a lot and it also got me in there which really surprised me. When I spoke to Ruth about this, I was feeling stuck, because I asked then well what do I do next? How do I progress with this? Itís very difficult to be isolated, to be the only one in the situation. I really have the feeling that if we can be very clear what we want to do then the opportunities will create themselves. I even had a strange experience with Ruthís interest in architecture when I met with her two weeks ago and I discovered that a friend of mine who is a lawyer, works in an outfit that funds alternative housing construction. They actually finance buildings for single parents, that kind of thing. Through talking to him I realized that dialogue with the tenants is a problem that they havenít focused on. They know that itís the administration in agencies thatís designing these buildings that the architects do what they want. People who will be living there do not have a say and he was ready to set up a nonprofit to help bring people like us in there. He wanted to run with it and I was just astonished because it would never have occurred to me that people would be that receptive. So my sense is that thereís maybe a reticence that we need to overcome about whether we will be welcome out there.
JUDITH: What Iím after is that people like you do more writing to articulate whatís happening because I had no idea you had done that in classrooms or in schools. Itís really impressive to me but I didnít know that.
ROBERT: I do think that it is interesting that David, who is a lawyer, would say, ď"Who are you folks and how can I help you get a grant to do this?Ē" Iím not sure that itís only that we need to write and read one anotherís stuff but we need some vehicle also and I think that thatís where the thing about our structure comes in because he was saying, ď"I think I can get you some serious money to replicate some of this if you would be willing to enter into the structures that that involves.
RUTH: So the question in your mind is can we find such people who are willing to engage in that kind of activity under such a grant?
ROBERT: And would we be willing to submit ourselves to a process where we would have to for instance on paper have a steering committee of an outfit like that with a treasurer and a president and a secretary? My belief is that it would be hard work for us but we could do it. I almost think the response is there waiting for us and weíre not willing to put on a tie occasionally to go out and meet with those people on their own turf which is another kind of horizontal.
KRISTIN STURDEVANT: Kristin here. Iíll extend that train of thought. Yesterday I read a quote: ď"Leadership is essentially a moral value. Itís the assertion of a vision.Ē" I think that is a very powerful quote - and relevant to what weíre talking about here. I donít think the person-centered approach is well understood because we donít assert the vision. We maintain the vision, but we donít assert it, and that keeps us out of the larger professional context. I love Albertoís idea of the ď"person-centered professional.Ē" I also think we stay into and maintain such a hold on the uniqueness of the person-centered approach that we may not be looking for important common ground in counseling and psychology. For instance, Winnicott, Kegan, and Lifton all talk about holding environments - or their equivalents which are contexts where there are conditions that make for development and interpersonal effectiveness. Theyíre all talking about the same thing. Itís very important to feel that we are both held and have boundaries within a larger context. Person-centered groups, too, need to be a safe place to develop a bit of holding, a bit of challenging, a bit of continuity or a lot of each. The work on systems that Jules (Seeman) is doing, the work on intersubjectivity that Ed (Kahn) is doing - these are steps in the direction of connecting us with the larger counseling and psychology field. They are inspiring, and they give me hope.
MARGARET: Iíd like to tell you a little private freedom in Chicago may be an example of going into the world. I think I was saying last year that I partly judged the client-centered movement on the question of ď"does it help a schizophrenic when they arrive in the emergency room?Ē" We do have Garry Prouty in Chicago. He, for years has taught in his anonymous way in kind of junior college and has these students who have become paraprofessionals and trains them out in mental hospitals how to talk to schizophrenics and of course his students graduate and have a boss that tells them to do something else. Someone went to I think to see a demonstration who is a vice president for development of the osteopathic hospitals in the Chicago area and was moved by it and he told Garry, ď"retire early and Iíll hire you halftime to develop this new osteopathic hospital.Ē" So if this was the kind of question you had about the suit and tie, you know all of us were a little bit nervous just even walking into the building. You know, how are we gonna come across and there definitely are moments when I showed up one summer after the move to see if I had left something and stopped to talk to the psychiatrist in shorts and I heard about this for six months afterwards. ď"Who was this person who showed up in my office in shorts?Ē" And ď"how could they do such a thing?Ē" And ď"what kind of organization are you that you would not know that you donít do this?Ē" So thereís a whole socialization in just how to present yourself all right. Weíve had two classes going where we have students learning how to listen to schizophrenic clients coming in and the hospital system uses their criteria for what counts which is mostly do people show up so we get paid? And theyíve been quite stunned that their schizophrenics donít show up and ours do! (laughter) So they want more of us. (laughter)
RUTH: Now thatís the way to do it.
ED: You bet! You found the interpolation formula.
MARGARET: Yuh. Thatís the trace issue. I feel impatient because I feel what we should be doing very soon is finding some way to document in more depth, that we can have other kinds of changes and itís very hard to do. Garry and Jill have about killed themselves with the organizational details that the hospital got sold and all of a sudden the person organizing all of the patient records came in one Friday and they said, ď"Well, we fired her last Tuesday. We donít know where your peopleís records are.Ē" I think it is right that itís a lot of work to do this interface with a more traditional organization. I do think that if we donít do this the schizophrenic arriving in the emergency room has no hope of getting what we know in our smaller circle.
BOB LEVIN: Iíd like to mention that in the State of Michigan we have a revised mental health code that brings in person-centered approach. It is now part of the mental health code in which clinicians and what Alberto was talking about is the entire health care profession must abide by the person-centered approach which means that itís not just psychologists. Itís psychiatrists, itís medical directors, itís case workers, itís nurses, itís secretaries, itís all across the board. Whatís happening is the person-centered approach is being interpreted by a few and again it is implemented in a system thatís going through a change. It needs to be more well-defined by people that know person-centered. Itís not new; itís been around for many, many years. Other professions have picked up on person-centered, maybe not giving their credit but itís gone into a number of other areas such as organizational development - very big, extremely big. It talks about communication; it talks about empathy; it talks about getting along with people; it talks about productivity. This is person-centered. Person-centered is in the school systems. It permeates all areas of our life, socially and economically. Itís really the whole schema of who we are which again talks a little about philosophy and humanism. Person-centered planning is choice, putting the responsibility back onto the individual and giving that person the opportunity to accept choices they make and follow through on it. Itís cost effective; itís therapeutic and it has paybacks to it. So as a group, as an association, we need to expand ourselves way outside just between psychologists because for years weíve been talking and interacting with one another and not sharing the information and of course, weíre all self-actualized because we know so much about it, weíre not sharing it with the general public. But again many of the ideas that Carl Rogers has talked about has been adapted outside the field and again, when we think of Carl Rogers we think of client-centered. Itís bringing the person at the center of focus and everything from there begins or ends. But everything really starts with the person. The reason Iím here today is to talk about whatís happening in Michigan because I believe in terms of the evolution of this is going to be the beginning, the person-centered is really going to be permeating, I believe, into other states and other systems. They may call it different names but when it comes right down to it, it is going to be a fact of life, a reality, the same way that Medicare was. You canít choose to ignore it and you probably need to define it better so that we know how to use it, not that weíre going to corral it, not that weíre going to lose the creativity of it, but we need to show others that are going to be using it what itís really all about.
MARGARET: I just wanted to add to what youíre saying. If as you clarify it, if thereís any way you can document it, it would be worth it because I think what happens in the world, if you say client-centered principles people would say, ď"I would love that, but unfortunately Iím into the real world and I understand that that doesnít work. Thatís why I have to do this more hierarchical, more authoritarian thing.Ē" So if you have one place where you can sayí, ď"Well, they did it in this agency doing this service in Michigan and they showed that they had higher worker morale or as much or more productivity, or something like that, then it gives other people more courage to do it.
BOB: Right. Itís going to take time. Our biggest obstacle at this point is changing attitude, changing attitudes of the professionals, giving up the control, giving that opportunity of the person to make the choices. Thatís very hard for people to deal with.
RUTH: Is Bob Kramer here? I was talking to Bob Kramer about his dissertation and it has to do with the concept and the principles of the person-centered approach in leadership and goes back to the time that Carl spoke in Harvard about the person-centered approach and insisted on talking about learning rather than teaching. He said at that time it split the faculty in two. one group said that this was intolerable and the other said this is what weíve been looking for. He said that enthusiasm had died down but now he has been studying very carefully how the various conditions and principles of the person-centered approach can be applied to leadership and I think his dissertation will be available soon. I believe that here is what we were talking about, leadership in what - different organizations, different corporations, even in politics and diplomacy possibly. So itís important that we know about these studies and as Margaret has been saying about the findings that support the statements.
MIKE RYAN: Iíd like to ask a question. Iím a labor relations professional so Iím not the first class citizen, the paradigm.
ALBERTO: Empower yourself!
MIKE RYAN: Iím about to empower you! And Iím wondering what the mission of the ADPCA is. Can anyone state what the mission is?
ALBERTO: It was written some time ago and itís disappeared since then. MIKE RYAN: But it does not live in the consciousness of anyone. ALBERTO: Thatís right.
MIKE RYAN: Well Iím familiar with the power of a mission statement and the importance of a mission statement because Iím actively involved in an organization (Hand to Hand) that has attempted to shift the paradigm of thinking about ending hunger. Iím on the board of directors and weíre working on shifting the critical mass of thinking about hunger and I see direct parallels to the importance of the person-centered approach that you all see so vividly and are kind of stuck with ď"how do we advance it?í My point would be that thereís no mission statement that really gets people excited. Youíre excited about this thing that you know about but thereís no mission statement that Iím aware of for the organization that actually excites you or excites others enough to have it actually empower who knows what?
JULES: And if you had a mission statement that would be a communication to you and you in turn would be able to extend your links to other people. Is that your point? That thereís a missing link here which is the lack of the statement.
MIKE RYAN: Yes. All kinds of miraculous things can happen. Iím not suggesting even that itís easy to create but it would be powerful to have a mission statement that spoke to people. You wouldnít even be controversial within your own group. But if I knew what it was, if people knew what it was, people could get into alignment with it and itís that alignment that could ultimately lead towards a critical mass of thinking that could shift the way all of these institutions that youíve been talking about operate.
JULES: Iím not sure why my mouth is watering but it is. This looks like a wonderful opportunity. Youíre saying if only we would communicate appropriately things would happen which I think is a lesson to us.
KEVIN KUKOLEK: Iíve heard that numerous times here actually. Iíve heard it from Alberto; I heard it from Robert; I think I heard it from Carol and Margaret. I was thinking of empathy when people were saying, ď"wear the right clothesĒ" or ď"put on a tie,Ē" ď"not wear shortsĒ", to use the communication in the language of the profession in which youíre interacting and even what Jules said and what Mike just said about having a statement that communicates more on a commonly understood level. Iíve heard that several times here today. It seems to be a repeating thing that Iíve heard.
MARGARET: Whatís tricky I think is that there is a preciousness with which this organization has been able to travel light. Itís very hard to put your finger on. Itís like one of those pick up things where you want to add one more stick but not have the whole thing collapse. (laughter)
FERDINAND VAN DER VEEN: Thereís something about the mission statement idea that I like which is that itís organic development by a group or by a person or by an entity articulating whatís really important to us and I could feel some excitement arising in me that I would really be interested just to be involved in that kind of process for this organization, just as a creative definition. I would like to feel it would help me articulate my thinking and I would love to hear what other people have to say.
PAULA BICKHAM: I would like to say that I think that even if we could chart how that process happened in a person-centered way the development of a mission statement would be very valuable.
ALBERTO: Let me share a history with you. At the beginning of this association, which was a miracle in itself, (laughter) as I remember I must say that whatever else can be said about him, David Cain was the one who pushed to get this organization and the first meeting took place in Chicago of all places. He asked Carl, ď"how come youíre here? Youíre supposed to have said many times that you donít trust organizations.Ē" And what I remember him saying was that he didnít trust the kind of organizations that existed at that time, that he was very willing to try new ways of organizing. Yet, I feel there is something very deep imbedded in people in the person-centered/client-centered, whatever way you want to call it, even in that way we kind of use very diverse ways like the individual freedom is so beautiful that whatever smelled of limiting in whatever way, that had to be avoided. To me individual freedom is one value and there are other values also and we havenít been able to balance them. I feel that as much, I may be very capable but as an individual, Iíll never get some things done. I have to become part of the group that accepts cooperating, I prefer that to elaborating because the Second World War gives me a weird idea about collaboration cooperating, working together, arriving at consensus, arriving at decisions. In 1982 when we had the first international forum we couldnít even speak about power. Power was a dirty word. We were saying that this morning. I think we have to learn to deal with power in a healthy way and we have learned. We have learned a little. We already have business meetings. Why not? Well we didnít have them for sometime in this organization. Anyone who would refuse to have anyone who could speak in the name of anyone. Thatís why we donít have officials. I mean itís really something that to me is limiting us from having a presence, being able to communicate with others, just because we donít yet know how to handle power in a healthy way. So thatís one development that I think Iíd like to see happen, not only would I like to see it happen, Iím going to do as much as I can to make it happen. Iím proactive. I feel that I can be person-centered and say this is something that has to be done and Iím going to try and get it done. But as a group we are a very weak group.
MARGARET: There are movements in that direction.
ALBERTO: I see some movement, a very shy movement. I like your image. Oh God, if I just put one little stick here, everything is going to crumble. Are we so weak that everything is going to crumble just because we put one little stick - no! Thatís not true! We need to trust ourselves a little more about it.
MARGARET: We are trying to do something that is genuinely new. I think other people are also trying to do something that is genuinely new and we could work a little harder to find what other people are doing.
ALBERTO: Not only finding what other people do, we have to do it together. That is what we donít do. Everything has to be individual. There are so many beautiful individual initiatives but those individual initiatives are not going to work if we donít work together.
RUTH: And that is a part of what weíre doing right now, I think. Weíre becoming aware and we are articulating some of these thoughts that have been in us but have not been brought out and shared with other people openly. Iím excited about what you just said and Iím excited about various other
RUTH: Mike and Margaret and Kevin and Ferdinand and Robert. Iím not trying to name everybody and I want to get back to Paula and I think I would like for you to identify yourself as having made a contribution. That was just before whom? And then Alberto - all right so I just wanted to identify them.
ALAN TURNER: Is this organization speaking for America or the whole world, or what? Iím kind of left not knowing where I, as a European, fit into this because Iím aware that there are different things happening in Europe. I think some places in Europe are starting to try and struggle with this power thing. I was a founding member of an organization in Scotland called Person-Centered Therapy. We started as just a small group. There must have been eight of us and we had no officers and all that kind of thing. Then about twenty others joined. The new ones coming in, they wanted officers, but they could easily borrow the Scottish concept of Convener where responsibility moves around, somebody takes authority to do a particular thing. And I twice was the Convener when we had to chuck people out for doing unethical things and that was very painful. Iím genuinely not very sure - are you saying this is the person-centered/client-centered approach globally, or in America?
ALBERTO: This is one person-centered organization that what Iím saying I donít think that we can say that we represent everybody. I even like the name of the organization at least when it was chosen it was said, okay, people who are interested in contributing to the development of the person-centered approach are welcome to join and there was some proposal of calling it the American Association and Iím glad that we didnít call it that. I said why keep it American? It is true that as it has grown, about 80% or something like that of the members are from the United States but I donít see myself as a second class citizen of this association because Iím not an American. I am going to use my right as a free member.
JULES: But there also is no claim of inclusion. Itís whoeverís here.
FERDINAND: In the meeting this morning you were saying that some of the frustration we feel isnít true for some of the organizations in Europe. Theyíve become very effective. Theyíve been accepted nationally. They have a lot of power in their functioning there so that presents a real contrast. We can use what you know, what those organizations have developed.
RUTH: I want to acknowledge that and I had various references to the way in which it is working in England and in Germany and other countries that the person-centered/client-centered therapy is being recognized and honored along with other therapies and is therefore eligible for insurance and all that kind of thing which hasnít happened here, at least in the places I know about.
JUDITH: Wasnít that in Michigan did someone just say?
ED: Yes, you heard that from Harold from Germany.
RUTH: Yes, Harold Gassner from Germany. Harold was in Greece last summer and the other reference I donít have.
JUDITH: Bob Levin was talking about it today.
ROBERT: Could I respond to something that you said, Ruth, right at the beginning? You said you thought it may be controversial to say that person-centered was perhaps (you didnít use this word) a development of client-centered.
ROBERT: Evolution. I like it and I think it is controversial within our organization here and I suspect that it is less of a controversy in Europe. I donít know that for sure but I have the sense that we have had some struggle within ADPCA specifically which I experienced as somewhat: ď"is this a form of psychology and psychotherapy or is it something different?Ē" If I understood it what you were suggesting we were about here is the second part and if what weíre talking about is how do you take this out of the therapy room, then I think we have to confront the reality that thereís an organization and thereís a mission. We have some members for whom and I donít want to speak for them but what Iíve heard them say is we want to protect the original client-centered therapy and we have already got structure in the middle of the floor and you can do these other things around it but please donít move a twig of that structure. And to the extent that we have sometimes had conflict between those two views I feel it would be very important to bring that out in the open and debate it and find some way that we could come to a mutual understanding that those people who really value keeping the thing as Carl originally developed in his client-centered therapy and protecting that can do that. And those of us who want to take it out in other directions can do that and we are not trying to disturb what one another are doing. I feel very sad that some of the energy to develop new directions seems to get stopped by that conflict.
MARGARET: I agree with you, but the thing that I would add is what I think is unique to this American group to me is not so much the wish to protect therapy versus applications, it is closer to what we said earlier about there being people in this organization who have an extreme sensitivity and valuing of individual freedom and have an extreme sensitivity in valuing to immediacy of process as opposed to organized planned things. Such that it is hard to take concrete steps without violating their sense of it. And so then I would take it the next step you were. Iím saying it would be important for us, I think thatís an important dialogue, and, in some way, to find where different ends of that can cut through, that would be a good thing. I donít see those as minor issues, but I do think Americans and a sort of a sub-set of this organization in particular have that as a very deep concern and it is sad to me, as it is to you, if that concern ends up deadening enthusiasm for anything that would let us transmit ourselves or anything that would let us broaden our application.
ROBERT: Alberto, what I remember Carl saying in that discussion at the beginning of ADPCA was that he thought this would happen and that we should be vigilant, that there would be wars. He didnít use that word but that was the sense I got, and I think thereís a tape of that and I was thinking to myself if we could all sit down together and watch what Carl had to say at the beginning, that may help us with our mission statement.
ALBERTO: I donít quite agree with that because I donít want to follow Carl. I love Carl but I donít want to be a follower of Carl. I want for us to find our own mission. Take growth, ask for some hurt, some pain - letís face it. I think that we need to find an inclusive way in which itís not a question of saying you are not orthodox and then you move to another congregation or whatever and we have been so afraid of doing it that we may go on not doing it until we die or we are going to choose. Itís gonna hurt. Come on! Letís do it because we love each other. Letís do it!
CAROL: What I see as evolutionary, and that word has been used many times; Ruth, you proposed that word at the very origin of this discussion of evolutionary quality and the pieces that are coming out now, the articulation that Margaret made between the individual freedom and questions of that and the questions that arise from that. And Robert yours about keeping some therapeutic integrity for original constructs versus expansion of those, making room for both of those. Those two particular things have some overlap and they have some separateness. There are details that are emerging for evolutionary action. I remember in Kansas I did a five-year analysis of where ADPCA was and from an imposed mission statement that people rebelled against and then we became more democratic, more consensual in our politics. That was halfway through. Weíre ten years today basically of our evolution and the trust that is necessary. This small group has only met ten times. Weíre doing really well in my opinion when it comes to evolution, although it was once a year we met so it seems like a very long time. I donít want to get impatient about how we should have outgrown this already. Maybe we should have, but in a sense because itís been steadfastly stepwise, maybe weíve outgrown this limitation and weíre pushing. Let me drive the car now and let me grow up a little bit more. Let me be lateral. Let me be horizontal and thatís great!
JIN WU: Sitting here listening to so many people talking, I have some thoughts in mind. I am a member of ADPCA, even though I am a student member, my rights are not less than the so-called full member, but I want to speak as an outsider for a while, as a foreigner, as a Chinese, as a not American person. I feel, basically, the American culture is not a natural culture. The real culture that really developed on this piece of land is the native American culture. For whatever reason that culture is not the dominant culture here. The culture here is that different groups of people brought different things to come here and developed a new culture. So this culture on one hand could go faster but on the other hand is very young. So collectively, this culture lacks a database of knowledge, what in any other culture we human beings have to learn through our interaction with ourselves and with nature and whatever in thousands of years. So I think it makes sense that when people take individuality and community very seriously, thereís supposed to be more struggle, more painful struggles to negotiate between individuality and community. That happens here too. We say we are a community, and we do have a community. It is true. But it seems that people are so afraid that the collective will hurt the individuality, which is a lot of the experience in this country, in this culture anywhere. But it seems that in other cultures, learning to negotiate between individuality and community or collective - whatever you call - is a big part of peopleís socialization.
RUTH: I think that attitude has been expressed in some of the comments about South African cultures and the person-centered approach and that is that many of the traditional peoples in South Africa already have developed in their communities much of the community in relationships and interdependence in caring about the group even before the individual and that itís important that somehow we appreciate also that approach. JIN: Here I see some very experienced people strongly... I was going to mention something someone said in a community meeting, but maybe I should not because of the confidentiality. Anyway, that really struck me. I just feel ... Here I see some very experienced people, not only very experienced client-centered therapists but very experienced people ... I know that Americans see the word old as a bad word but as a Chinese I see it as a good word. I am going to say some old people (laughter) I think itís clear I mean something good. I know that in different aspects of their life, they are very responsible people, but here they are trying so hard in this group to protect the differences, the uniqueness of individuals, which I do understand, but I just feel that community is not necessarily hurting individuality. Once I had a conversation with an American person. She said ď"I really donít understand the traditional Chinese family. How three wives could share the same kitchen?Ē" Traditionally if three brothers are all married, they would live in separate rooms but they might stay as a whole household and their wives would cook in the same kitchen. I said, ď"Thatís not a problem. People do that, although that doesnít mean they donít have conflicts.Ē" Many families do have problems there. Here in America every family has to have a whole house. (Laughter) I mean we (Chinese) might hurt each other, but we are not going to kill each other. I mean we human beings do have the capacity to make ....
FERDINAND: to share the kitchen. (laughter) JIN: Yes! But because of the setup of this culture, I do think here weíre going to have more painful struggles about that. But we can do it. Itís not suicidal.
ALBERTO: Mike, when we tried a mission and finished, a committee was established for that and the name of that committee if I remember well was something like The Provisional Ad Hoc Interim Enabling Committee. (laughter) It tells you something about, you know, even powers people in a group of people to do something in the name of everybody even just writing something had to be washed down. (laughter)
CAROL: It came in reaction to a definite we need a steering committee. We donít want to be steered! (Laughter)
JIN: I like what you said! We need some humor to do this.
ALBERTO: If anybody is interested I still have an old book which was written and changed. It was an e-mail. It took a lot of time and correspondence and names and ended up in a very short way, and has been printed, and weíre going to make more. There hasnít been any decision [on] that--, it isnít actual borrowing. Iíve probably got a copy of that.
FERDINAND: I really would like to change the subject. Kind of the theme for me right now is to share the kitchen. (laughter)
ALBERTO: It could mean Iím learning to share the kitchen with the enabling committee. (laughter) CAROL: Ad hoc . . . Provisional. (laughter) And then we could get to work! (laughter)
ALBERTO: We could share the drinking faucet. We donít have to have individual cups or individual faucets. (laughter) Ö(could not understand - too low) The community does not have to keep away or compact audiences. The individual makes the community. That does not negate . . .
DAVID CLEWELL: I am a visual person and I get this image that what weíre talking about is like weíre a bunch of Shao Lin monks hidden up in a temple, all these wondering if we should open up the gates or not.
RUTH: I was just thinking Iím sorry to have cut you off.
DAVID: You didnít, Ruth.
RUTH: And I donít know your name.
DAVID: David Clewell.
RUTH: Thatís one of the things that is very difficult for me. Itís very important to be able to see people and to know when theyíre finished and when they havenít and I feel that thatís a great loss. What I wanted to say . . .
JUDY TRYTTEN: You very seldom do. Probably less than most of us.
RUTH: I wanted to respond to that treasures in the temple. I wasnít thinking of the temple but I feel that I have just looked into a real treasure chest in the interchange that weíve had here today and I want to be sure that we have everybodyís name so that you can share in this and add ideas that you had if you want to because I think we have something very rich and very important but itís very rich and I feel very, very happy for the way in which we have been together here today and anyone who wants to continue, certainly, Iím willing to stay but I didnít want to have people leaving before I was able to say that and to thank all of you for being here. I hope we can keep up this communication, that we can hear from you, you know, many ways of doing it. I think we have added a great deal to whatís happened in the two previous forums. Those who would like to stay and talk further, Iím certainly glad to have you do it and Iíll stay as long as anyone wants to but those who feel they must go should be free to leave.
ED: Please sign the rosters before you go.
RUTH: Be sure that we have your name and we will see to it then that you get notified. Thank you.