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          "INNER PROCESS OF CHANGE"

 

 

 

     This is Saturday, January 28, 1990 in a small town, just outside

 

of the City of Strasbourg, France, where we will be conducting a nine-

 

day intensive training program in the person-centered approach under

 

the umbrella of the Cross-Cultural Communication Institute of which

 

Chuck Devonshire is the director. 

 

     Ruth:  This will not be new for the people with whom I was

 

talking this morning at breakfast so I hope you will excuse

 

repetition.  This interest of mine in the inner process of change

 

really began about 1981.  I suddenly realized that sometimes I could

 

read a book or part of a book and say, "Oh!  That's a very interesting

 

idea!" and pass on.  Perhaps a week or a month later, I could remember

 

only vaguely what had been interesting at the time.  But, another day

 

I could pick up that same book and read the same passage and suddenly

 

it would hit, "Ah!  That is a new idea!"  And, immediately would begin

 

to make connections and my imagination would start running and I

 

became very excited about this new idea which I read in passing and

 

put away some time before.

 

     I began asking myself the question, "What makes the difference? 

 

What has changed?  The book is the same book.  That passage is the

 

same passage."  But suddenly it came alive for me and became a part of

 

myself.

 

     Over those years, between about 1980-81 and four years ago, this

 

whole thing, this whole idea, this whole concept was stirring around

 

inside of me and I didn't do much with it.  Then we decided to get a

 

group together who was interested in this question.  After two years

 

of meeting about four or five times a year in an intensive kind of

 

weekend, we felt we were getting into research on that question and we

 

discovered that instead of getting into a research on that question,

 

we were engaging ourselves in an intensive group in which change was

 

taking place in all of us as it does in these intensive groups.  It

 

became more of a group than it did in a progress in research.  Then

 

some of the people decided that they weren't really interested in

 

research, that they were more interested in bringing themselves and

 

their conflicts and their problems into that group. 

 

     Four of us from that group of about 12 decided that we would meet

 

at other times and more intensely.  Two of those four people decided

 

that it was becoming too much for them and two of us continued.  We

 

had become dissatisfied with the inquiry into the actual process,

 

thinking about what that process was in ourselves.  So, we invited

 

members of the original group to volunteer if they would be willing to

 

give time for intensive interviewing which would be videotaped in

 

which they talked with an interviewer about a significant change which

 

had taken place in their lives.

 

     When we asked that, we had no idea where it would take us.  We

 

volunteered (the two of us who were the researchers) to include

 

ourselves in the group to be interviewed on the inner process of

 

change.  We felt that if it was going to be person-centered research,

 

that the people who had thought of themselves as researchers would

 

also be participants and those who had volunteered to be participants

 

would be in fact researchers.

 

     Bob, the other person who was a graduate student who was working

 

with me, who was excellent in videotaping because that had been his

 

profession earlier, said that he would do the technical work and I

 

would do the interviewing. 

 

     We did a good deal of reading to try to discover what research

 

had been done in this way and we found that many people had engaged in

 

this participatory research which was very different from the usual

 

scientific research in which many participants would be interviewed in

 

a kind of quick, superficial way or who would answer questionnaires,

 

which would then be tabulated and statistics devised as a result of

 

that. 

 

     What we wanted to do was to accept each person as the authority

 

on his/her own process of change and we said if we can enter into the

 

experience of the person who is being interviewed and really

 

experience with that person what has taken place in the process of

 

change, then we will have a validity of a different kind.  We accepted

 

the assumption which Carl had stated that the only reality is the

 

person's perception of his reality.  That was a major difference

 

between the person-centered approach and any of the other therapies

 

like analysis, for example, which was based on an assumed structure. 

 

Because Carl, in developing the theory of the hypothesis of the

 

person-centered approach, had developed the theory or the hypothesis

 

out of experience with many clients and said because this seems to be

 

true in the therapeutic interviews and experiences with many clients

 

which have been reviewed by noninvolved persons but someone outside

 

who had reviewed the transcription of interviews and the client's own

 

perception of what happened in therapy.

 

     By putting all of those together, Carl and his colleagues evolved

 

the hypothesis out of which the theory of the client-centered

 

approach, at that time, grew.  He had established certain procedures

 

and was very careful to include enough of the so-called scientific

 

research to give it credibility with the established psychology.

 

     Carl was the first of the psychologists, therapists, researchers

 

to tape therapeutic interviews and to submit them to very careful

 

scrutiny and analysis.  Based on that, we talked with Carl about our

 

idea and he was most enthusiastic.  He said, "It is very important, in

 

my opinion, that from here on people who are interested in this

 

approach experiment with different kinds of research to carry further

 

than I have been able to do."

 

     What we have done is to interview these five people in

 

considerable depth, at least two interviews of two hours each in which

 

the interviewer only introduced the question.  We have discussed the

 

purpose here of your living again through the experience or

 

experiences which you consider to be a major change.  The interviewer

 

then only clarifying, never interpreting, and following as closely as

 

possible the experience as related by the person interviewed.

 

     As we proceeded with that process, we discovered that the same

 

kind of thing was happening in the research interview as happens in

 

therapy.  In fact, one person who had no contact with the person-

 

centered approach after the interview said, "How would you have done

 

it if you had been my therapist?"

 

     I was surprised to be able to answer, "The same," which was a

 

first point that impressed us.  We found that research in this person-

 

centered approach varies in most essentials only in the very careful

 

attention afterwards in recording the narrative and trying to get the

 

chronological progression.

 

     What we did after transcribing all of these interviews, was to

 

(and this word apparently is a difficult one but it's the best word I

 

can think of) immerse ourselves in the content of the interviews with

 

one person until we felt we had really, each of us, entered into and

 

were living inside the world of that person.

 

     When we felt that each of us had done that, which required many,

 

many readings with very close attention, we then, each of us

 

independently wrote the narrative of that person in the first person

 

using the word "I" so that we were actually living in that person's

 

experience as nearly as we could.  When we finished that, we put the

 

two together. What one of us had missed, another one had picked up. 

 

Then we gave that narrative, in our first person, to the person who

 

had been interviewed, keeping the same words, introducing no new

 

terminology, all words of the person herself, gave it to the person

 

and said, "Please read this carefully and when you have read it, one

 

of us will talk with you about changes you wish to make or deletions

 

or additions so that you feel it is the closest to your intent that

 

you can get."

 

     Then we transcribed that recording and by using a word processor,

 

we were able then to make the changes that the person wished.  We

 

accepted that as the record of the person's experience in the inner

 

process of change.  We also, because we were interested in the

 

question of facilitation of change, added another complication and

 

that was what were the clarifications, statements or questions on the

 

part of the interviewer which were followed immediately by a new

 

insight on the part of the person being interviewed, the person

 

saying, "Oh, yes!  I really never saw that before!"

 

     What we are trying to do from there is to go through the same

 

process now with the five different persons interviewed and to see

 

what are common patterns, if any, in this process of change.  What

 

were some of the experiences that precipitated the change or

 

facilitated it and possibly what were some of the blocks, if any, were

 

experienced?  Here, again, accepting only the words of the person.

 

     Thus far, we have been very careful not to make judgements or

 

generalizations but there is one that we have not been able to pass by

 

without its jumping out at us.  We are trying to keep a completely

 

open mind on this and not seal ourselves into any pattern.  But the

 

thing that we have noticed thus far in all of those we have studied is

 

that each person in one way or another experienced a crisis, a point

 

at which that person said, "I can't live with this any longer the way

 

it is.  Something has to change." 

 

     Now those came about under very different circumstances. 

 

Sometimes it came in a burst of light of insight and sometimes the

 

person said it was a series of small changes like step-by-step that

 

led to this major change.

 

     That is the only commonality that we have noted so far but we are

 

still in the process and probably will not finish even this part of it

 

until the late part of the summer. 

 

     I think another important thing that we are discovering for

 

ourselves because there were no guidelines to this complex kind of

 

inquiry, is that we have been living through a process which by trial

 

and error, trying this way to get at the meaning, trying another way

 

to get the material together, we have been evolving a kind of

 

methodology for this kind of complex research which has so many

 

dimensions because the change continues over a period of time.  The

 

change continues as a part of the research itself and the problem

 

which we are facing right now is which piece of that to cut off and

 

say, "That's as far as we can go now," and realize that it's only a

 

piece of the whole experience which will go on as long as the person

 

lives.

 

     Our temptation was to keep going back to the person and saying,

 

"What happened next?"  The further we got into that, the more we

 

realized that we had to set definite limits in order to accomplish the

 

small piece that we had set ourselves to.

 

     So, this has been our experience thus far in this new paradigm

 

research which is diametrically opposed to the traditional,

 

scientific, statistical kind of research in which the individual gets

 

completely lost in averages and more complex than the new paradigm

 

research which is based on one experience which has been done many

 

times.  We're not sure where we're coming out and that's part of the

 

excitement of it, I think.

 

     Among the various terms for the new paradigm research which we

 

have decided probably fits our kind of study best is called heuristic

 

research which may be familiar to some of you.

 

     I think that is about as much as I can say about this process in

 

which we've been engaged and if you have questions, I'll be glad to

 

try to answer them, if you have ideas you want to exchange.

 

     Woman in audience:  I would like to know if the participants for

 

that research have had before client-centered therapies or other types

 

of therapies.

 

     Ruth:  Some had and some hadn't.  The way the persons were chosen

 

was by volunteering.  We asked a group who would be interested in

 

committing a big piece of time and in submitting themselves to

 

intensive work, if they felt that they had had a major life-changing

 

experience which they would be willing to reveal. 

 

      One person I know had been involved in analysis before and she's

 

the one who asked, "If you are interviewing me if we were in a therapy

 

session, how would you have done it?"  And, when I said to her, "The

 

same," she said, "I can't believe it because all you did was to listen

 

to me and occasionally asked to be sure that you understood.  But,"

 

she said, "I did change during that interview.  I got new insight."

 

     I know that two of the others had not been in therapy before so I

 

think there was a natural selection there.

 

     Man in Audience:  I wanted to ask you with this heuristic

 

research method, what difference does it make with the process of

 

introspective psychology?

 

     Ruth:  I really don't know that I can answer that.  What do you

 

have in mind as introspective psychology? 

 

     Man in Audience:  American psychological research have insisted

 

very much on the attitude in behavioral change, that the tendency 

 

historically was a reaction against a whole stream of research where

 

the psychologists tried to describe what they have observed himself as

 

a change.

 

     Ruth:  Yes, the difference there as I see your explanation is the

 

same as has been true many times in describing the therapeutic process

 

of change, of personality change (I suppose personality and behavior)

 

is that that is from the point of view of the therapist and this is

 

totally from the point of view of the person and the researcher or the

 

therapist is committed to using no words that the person himself did

 

not use which seems like a great difference. 

 

     Woman in audience:  There is a word I have not understood.  The

 

word heuristic.  It's a process of discovery.

 

     Ruth:  Yes.

 

     Woman in audience:  I wondered whether it is important to remark

 

that it is by oneself on oneself in this heuristic process.

 

     Ruth:  Yes.  Discovery is the word.  An experiencing again of the

 

process of change and discovery of one's self and what the researcher

 

does in this situation is to discover that process as if he were the

 

other person.

 

     Man in audience:  I would like to say in terms of perception of

 

inner change, I would like to go away from the heuristical aspect.  I

 

want to say that I do not have a very clear perception of the change

 

within myself.  I can have it through other people.  The formulative

 

with precision what has changed.  I would rather say, "I rediscovered

 

something rather than I changed."  I would rather formulate that way.

 

     Ruth:  I think a very important part of this is we have found in

 

our study, is that there is a progressive awareness, a progressive

 

state of awareness that goes on in a person who has become a part of

 

this research study and awareness seems to enter in again.  It's one

 

of those elements that enters in all across a height awareness of what

 

goes on in me, recognizing feelings for themselves and relating those

 

feelings, those insights.

 

     (Beginning of second side of tape - missed question)

 

 

 

     Ruth:  I think that ties in and I'm going to digress now some of

 

the theory of the person-centered approach.  Carl spoke about

 

congruence or realness as being one of the qualities or attitude,

 

characteristics, which he felt needed to be present in order for

 

personality change to take place.  Awareness is a very important part

 

of that term congruence which means really a being aware of the

 

feelings, the emotions that are flowing in me at the moment, in being

 

aware of those, to have within myself the choice of how I shall

 

express those feelings.

 

      Realness, as Carl defined it, is a deep awareness of what is

 

going on in me in the moment.  So, I know if I'm angry.  I know if I

 

am deeply hurt and I can decide then what I am going to do with that

 

feeling.  I think a part of what happens in this kind of research is

 

that both the researcher and the participant in the research, is

 

continually gaining a heightened awareness.

 

      Man in audience:  It's quite clear.  I would like you to come

 

back on those crises you mentioned happening in the person during its

 

growth.  You said that about those crises, you could only say at this

 

stage, at some moments the person was getting aware of being in a

 

certain state for which the person says, "I cannot bear it any longer. 

 

Get out of it."  In the present state of your research, can you say

 

that there is an indication of the direction in which this goes?                

 

     Particularly, to describe the process of growth as a trip within

 

one's self, as the passage in the "Eye of the Hurricane."  Is

 

generally getting out of the crisis taking you more into internal and

 

movement towards more inner one's self?

 

     Ruth:  Yes, I would say that's true.  You begin to question. 

 

What is this?  What can I do?  Where can I go next?  Where am I?  What

 

is it that's so oppressive I can't live with it? 

 

     One of the women with whom we are working right now discovered in

 

this process that she had been sexually abused by an uncle when she

 

was about two or three years old.  She simply knew of certain terrors

 

that she had and she began to get even physical problems for which no

 

one could discover the cause.  As she went on in this process over a

 

period of about four years from the time our group started, this

 

experience of hers as a child came into her awareness.  It became very

 

clear to her. 

 

     Then she began to realize the connection between that and her

 

physical manifestations.  Also, her need to be very grown-up when she

 

was scared inside and her process of change has been quite rapid since

 

she pulled that into her awareness.  She reached the point where she

 

even felt that she might be physically handicapped.  That's very

 

sketchy, I know.  But I hope it's an answer to your question.        

 

     That's jumping over a great many things but going into detail

 

with all of it would take too long.  When we have worked through far

 

enough in this, we are going to present it very briefly before the

 

American Psychology Association in August.  When we get it into some

 

form, it would be available.  I don't know the form yet.

 

     Male in audience:  From the moment one says I cannot go on, could

 

you find something from this moment (I'm sure you've found many

 

things) comes, I suppose, a decision making.  Is there anything which

 

is similar between several people interviewed?  How does it go from

 

that moment to the decision making?

 

     I would like to add something to this, another question.  So,

 

this can be a very important point, this decision making.  The first

 

is matters of change and the other must be death.  Do you find such

 

badness in this research and how these two factors relate to each

 

other?  I only feel trapped with, not with your question, but with

 

your answer.

 

     Ruth:  Choosing suicide would be one decision.  Do I get the

 

connection?  Yes.  Suicide would be one choice to make and what leads

 

to progressive, positive change would be a part of your question.  Is

 

that right?

 

     Man in audience:  Decision making, yes.

 

     Ruth:  I think decision making is probably too precise a term

 

because it's not so much a matter of deciding, "Well, now.  I can't go

 

any further this way.  I'm going to do that." 

 

     It seems to have, so far, and I'm very tentative about this, but

 

it seems that from that point, a person begins to look around and to

 

begin searching for what is possible for me.  This one person

 

particularly said that she felt that she was climbing a high mountain

 

and she was trying to get to a hold in the stone, in the rock, and it

 

kept crumbling and she felt that there was absolutely no hope of her

 

ever getting to the top.  What she wanted to do was to lie down and

 

rest but she felt if she lay down to rest that she would die, so she

 

had to keep going.  That's when the pain developed in one of her legs

 

and doctors recommended operations.  It was a slow progression from

 

this point.

 

      So, I say a decision is too precise.  It was a whole process

 

that was begun there to the point where she's come out a long way from

 

there, feeling that she's become much more adult.  She's accepted

 

certain physical parts of her problem, certain emotional parts, having

 

to put one foot ahead of the other all the time when she couldn't do

 

it.

 

     Man in audience:  Could it be said that she accepted that she had

 

performed here?

 

     Ruth:  Yes and she began to know what that reality was, her own. 

 

Now, the other thing which seems to be a part is that there needs to

 

be some kind of support and response from someone or one's that's

 

outside.  She felt, for example, that her parents didn't listen to

 

her, didn't believe her when she told them of the sexual abuse and so

 

she closed in and became grown up herself so she could take care of

 

everything.  Gradually she's been able to, as she said, "make friends

 

with that scared little girl," which is another matter of finding her

 

own reality.

 

     This has come in a series and rather slowly over a period of a

 

year. 

 

     Woman in audience:  I would also like to ask in those moments of

 

change, the passage from a state of sort of abandonment, resignation

 

to the point where I began to have hope something can be done, from

 

resignation to hope, the turning point of resignation to hope.

 

     Ruth:  Yes.  I just went back to a question there.  I'm not

 

leaving this now.  But the question, the dual question which one

 

choice would be death and one would be a growthful change as we

 

understand growthful change.  Death might be.  It comes very close and

 

I hesitate to bring this in because it's another complication, but it

 

brings us back to what the Belgian chemist/biologist, Fricasheen,

 

described as an organism, Carl said, "including the human organism" to

 

him, that suddenly something happens to or intrudes into the life of

 

an organism which precipitates a change in which the organism may

 

disintegrate or it may reorganize on a more complex level.  The thing

 

which I'm not ready to say at the present time so quickly and this is

 

more tentative, is that is the point at which it seems likely that

 

some kind of environmental response to that organism can make a

 

difference, feeling that someone understands that I'm not totally

 

alone in this.  There are people that care about me even if I am a

 

mess and I'm not able to say that but it would seem from what we have

 

heard so far from these people that such a response from someone or

 

one's was at a crucial point, was very important.

 

     That was a digression, I guess.  Whether it was or not, that ties

 

in to a whole other thing about the relationship of change in a

 

person, psychological, emotional change and the new theory of science

 

called chaos, which contradicts or throws into confusion the theory of

 

probability and predictability in science and mathematics and that's a

 

whole other fascinating ramification.

 

     In other words, it may be that if we follow through this concept

 

of the process of change in a human being and we move into this whole

 

concept of a new way of thinking in science, we'll find that many of

 

the same processes that take place in so-called pure sciences,

 

mathematics and physics and applied physics, chemistry, economics,

 

population growth, also apply to psychology.  Mind boggling, isn't it?

 

     Man in audience:  What you're saying is very close to the result

 

of the research on systemic approach of development of growth which

 

makes the growth as a progressive developmental complexity in one

 

person.

 

     Ruth:  Excepting that it's not completely compatible with the

 

evolution concept of changes in the species and change of life on the

 

planet which scientists, of course, are believing now are not simply

 

the result of evolution but that cataclysmic conditions have entered

 

in that have changed the direction of the development of some species

 

or wiped them out.  So, I just think that we're living in a very

 

exciting time and all of these things coming together and the

 

possibilities for knowing and discovering and understanding more about

 

the complexities, not only in ourselves, but in the planet we live on

 

and the universe and the universes.  It makes one feel that we are

 

just at the beginning of something, which I guess we are!

 

     Man in audience:  I have another question.  I will try to say it

 

shortly.  I don't know where Gendling and his tactic focusing could

 

describe what is the differences focusing and the process what

 

happened with this searching.

 

     Ruth:  I don't know what you mean by focusing.

 

     Man in audience:  I'd like to know, Ruth, what was it your crisis

 

in this searching program?  How was developing this searching and

 

researching?

 

     Ruth:  What was the crisis in this process of research?

 

     Man in audience:  When you decide this doesn't work, we have to

 

drop out.  You mentioned one.                              

 

     Ruth:  well, back when we started with the research group and

 

part of the group was more interested in therapy than they were in the

 

term "research" and the moment we tried to talk about what is the

 

process of change, they said, "We're not interested in that."

 

     We said, "What are we doing?"

 

     This obviously is not where we wanted to go and that's when the

 

group separated from the large group and the smaller group separated

 

itself out.  I don't know if it was a crisis but it was certainly a

 

real problem.  We were bewildered for a while when we realized the

 

mass of material we had, but only five people, because originally we

 

had thought we would have more persons involved.  I think that was one

 

point.  We said we'll have to limit the number because the stacks were

 

getting like this.

 

     From there, I think it's been like finding our way in a forest

 

somehow.  I think after the first shock of realizing the tremendous

 

mass of material and that we didn't know how to deal with it and also

 

the need to know where we were going.  We had to decide that if we

 

were doing this kind of study, we had to be satisfied to go down a

 

path until we felt, "Well, that's not getting us where we want to go.  

 

We'll have to try another one and accept that and not try to see too

 

far ahead at any one moment."  I think that was one of our

 

difficulties.

 

     Then we began to realize that all of these mistakes we had made,

 

all of these false starts we had made, were not failures but a part of

 

the process. 

 

     Woman in audience:  What I liked in that research, I have a

 

feeling that there are no basic assumptions to start with,      

 

process you discover.  It's the first time.

 

     Ruth:  Yes, Phillip's discovery.  That's what it had to be.  When

 

we tried to assume that something would happen, we found it didn't

 

work. 

 

     Woman in audience:  I also think that very often I feel that

 

scientists have assumptions which they've checked and confirmed or

 

not.  I have the feeling that you        be carried by the

 

participants who spoke.  This is the first time I've heard of research

 

carried this way.

 

     Ruth:  That's the first time I have too!  That's what's made it

 

so difficult in some ways and so exciting in others.  We have debated

 

and we haven't decided yet, whether when we finish this, we bring

 

these five people together and then take a look at their interaction

 

and how they feel about the similarities and differences in their

 

experiences.  But that's off somewhere.

 

     Man in audience:  But you      also very sensitive    observation   

 

  of the human being with all that it implies that the human being is

 

not an object in the research.

 

     Ruth:  An active part.

 

     Man in audience:  I think you can produce a tremendous result

 

effects because my feeling about other psycho research which I believe

 

only I have a half trust in the result of those             research  

 

to a result that turn a human being into an object.         between

 

Gendling and 

 

     Ruth:  Gendling's focusing, as I understand it, which is not an

 

in depth study or knowledge of his work, certainly has a valid point

 

that the focusing or directing of one's awareness very consciously

 

directing it.  Am I right?

 

     Man in audience:  Yes.

 

     Ruth:  You know more about it, perhaps than I do.  Would you like

 

to say what it means to you - focusing?

 

     Woman in audience:  It describes inner change as growing       . 

 

Have you tried to describe why and how the client changes? 

 

     Ruth:  Certainly awareness is a very important element in that. 

 

     Man in audience:  I was interested in what is the difference in

 

what you found and what he described?

 

     Ruth:  I don't think I can answer that.  I don't think I know

 

enough about this, the details of his work.  I know that he worked

 

with Carl for a while and kind of broke off and emphasized this one

 

part which I think is important but I don't think it's all of it and

 

I'm sorry I can't be more specific about that.