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Embarrassment is inevitable from time to time. For each of us situations arise for which we simply are unprepared. At times this is a matter of circumstances demanding more of us than we had anticipated. In other instances we cannot cope because we have expected too much of ourselves (or others have).
At times like these, it is natural for certain adaptive emotional and physiological reactions to occur. We experience these as embarrassment. The response of embarrassment is not a personal flaw. On the contrary, it is a socially oriented readjustment pattern that acts to reestablish more orderly, adequate behavior. In showing embarrassment, the flustered person (sometimes unwittingly) reveals his responsiveness to the discrepancy between expected and actual performance. This offers the blunderer a chance to get himself together while remaining in consensual accord with the rest of the group. At the same time, perceiving his reaction, his audience is in a position to help him to reestablish his earlier state of unselfconscious ease.
The others have the opportunity to respond by offering the reassuring acceptance of disarming themselves as being just as capable of making the same mistakes. This is what the contributors to this book have done for me. I feel less pained and alone in my embarrassment, standing among these other naked therapists. (pp. 247)
“This book is a detailed description of how I do therapy. I offer it only as a guide. These are not the ways to work. They are simply my ways of working. They need not be your, though some may suit your own path. I offer it to encourage you to become ever clearer about the fundamentals of your own style of work.
To free oneself from the bondage of attachments to its results, it is necessary to be clear about the Work. When we do not concentrate one-pointedly on the basic work, we pay attention instead to the patient’s “progress” or to our own ego-bound “Look how well (or badly) I’m doing” trip. Neither path benefits the patient of the therapist. At the point of impasse, the only thing that helps is to go back to one.
But to find your way back, you first must know what “one” is for you. Clarity about what you do, about how you run the therapy is absolutely necessary. It is sometimes useful, creative, and fun to vary from the basic parameters of you work. But first you must know the personal baseline from which you are varying. Otherwise how can you know when to return home, and how to find your way back?” – Sheldon Kopp (187 pp.)
I have spent a very significant portion of my adult life immersed in that tough and tender dialogue known as psychotherapy, first as a patient and then as a therapist (and at times as a patient once more). Again and again I have felt that at last I really knew what I was doing. And again and again I have returned to the feeling that I don’t know what the hell it is all about…. At first it seemed very strange to me that the readings that helped me the most to trust what went on in my work as a psychotherapist were tales of Wizards and Shamans, of Hasidic Rabbis, Desert Monks and Zen Masters. Not the materials of science and reason, but the stuff of poetry and myth instructed me best. So it was that I chose to write this book of metaphors. (225 pp.)