“The longing to be seen and heard in our full reality has arisen in every human soul since the beginning of this century and will grow increasingly urgent.” –Rudolf Steiner
People come to counseling for a number of reasons. But, in general, something about their life is not working in their estimation.
The first step is to get an idea of what is not working. Sometimes it is one particular thing. More often, there are a number of things all stuck together. For instance, someone might have a troublesome relationship with someone, a problem at or with work, instability in their living situation, and a health or financial problem. Add to this being aware that there is something from their past that they haven’t dealt with. This is experienced as a big tangle and it is hard to move, or act with intention, when all tangled up. The mind gets caught up in all this and spins endless tales of woe and meets many dead ends. One is caught up in unclear and untrue thinking. The person is trapped in the closed loop of unhappiness, or overwhelmed by other uncomfortable feelings. Talking to friends doesn’t help much. Denial or avoidance works a little, but something is still nagging. In all of this the person may feel alone and on some level hopeless. Through a careful process of listening and asking questions the pieces are slowly teased out of tangle. And a sense of connection and understanding is established
Much of counseling or healing work has to do with having the feeling experience of being connected to another – of not being alone. Out of this connection comes hope and possibility. Joseph’s work is based on this connection.
Joseph knows what it is to be tangled and caught in an unhappy mind loop. And he knows how to get unstuck, how to create enough breathing space to relax, to see differently and to take some action. Learning to pause, survey the situation objectively, feel what you feel and name what you see and feel is an important first step in the unwinding process. Often it takes another human being to help with this.
Michelangelo said of his sculpting that he was liberating the form imprisoned in the block of marble. My Lakota teachers say, ‘we are not born human but must remake ourselves into Human Beings.’ In the counseling relationship I meet, see and understand you so that we are working together to free up the Being that you are from the countless entanglements of the mind and soul.
Over the years Joseph has obtained many tools to help with the untangling process: meditation, soul strengthening exercises, dream work, active imagination, ceremony, dyad communication, non-violent communication, mind clearing, biography work, communing with nature, emotional release work, breath work, shadow work, feeding the demons, journal writing, artistic expression, conscious movement, conscious being still, inquiry. These are used where appropriate.
But the most important tool is the cultivated tool of attention and interest in the other, and the belief and trust in the natural guiding wisdom in each person. In every session it is the client that leads.
I have come to realize that there is nothing wrong with anyone. Nothing is broken, nothing has to be fixed, and no one is to be blamed. However we all can become more conscious, more aware, more kind, compassionate and loving, more insightful, more real – with ourselves and with others. We can all learn to relax and trust more. We are always being asked by life to grow and develop. And oftentimes we need help to keep growing and developing, to be inspired and motivated to enter back into the forward stream of life. It is easy to get hung up, stopped in our tracks, or twisted around the axle. Sometimes it takes someone to point out this or that, to offer the appropriate tool or insight or idea that serves the development of conscious awareness, which supports and encourages one to live more fully and creatively. The mind is quite stubborn and it usually takes another’s power of attention to help unstick the mind, to shift our limited point of view, or to remind us of our beauty and capacity.
In my early 30’s I met a man, Robert Johnson, who was a Jungian Analyst by profession, but more than that he was a human being who knew how to receive me, to listen deeply with compassion and understanding. Even though I had been meditating for 10 years, it was he who showed me how to be in relationship with my inner being, to identify and bring consciousness to the different parts of myself. Ultimately he demonstrated to me what love and trust is. I felt seen and understood and learned how to fully trust another person. He showed me how to sit with another, be present for another, support another. He showed me how to recognize the beauty and light in another, he called it the Gold in another, and he would hold it for them until they were able to hold it in their own hands and claim it for and as themselves. One day, years later, he said: “What I have done for you, now you do for others.”
Robert was a master of listening for what is true. Whenever I spoke something untrue, or spoke from an unreal place in me, it would fall to the ground in front of me like a heavy clod, making a dull thud. When I spoke what was true and real, of my pain, struggles, joys or insights, it was as if light brightened between us.
I endeavor to offer that kind of support, that kind of understanding, that kind of recognition, that kind of listening – help another to stand in what is true; to celebrate what is real.
Another of my teachers, Martin Prechtel, has said that we, the human beings, are ‘the great forgetters, the walking amnesiacs’. We need others to remind us, to help us turn toward the source of our truth and nourishment, when we have temporarily been lost in a fog.
I like to think that I serve the true “I” of the other, the one who remembers, who is connected to and nourished by the truth. The one who knows the way to go.
Some key guiding ideas Joseph works with:
- Problems in relationships are a result of uncompleted communications
- What happens to us is not a problem and is not really in our hands – however what we do with what happens to us is.
- We can always look at any situation in more than one way.
- The more that we can train ourselves to be a witness to what is occurring in and around us and not identify with it, the better off we are.
- The mind creates an endless stream of thinking – a lot of it not very helpful. We can learn to ignore that aspect of the mind.
- We human beings are beings of choice. We can choose to place our attention where we will. Our thoughts are powerful. We are co-creators. The thoughts we choose, and regularly entertain, create our world.
- There is no one to blame; we are responsible for our life. Our life, just the way it is, belongs to us.
Though the counseling process cannot be put into a box or a rigid framework, and the truth is that every session is different, a general outline of how a session might evolve would include:
See it – Slow down. Look at what is; both your inner reality and the details of the outer situation as clearly and objectively as you can.
- Feel it – Be willing to feel what you feel.
- Name it – Identify the feelings, needs, and dynamic processes in the situation.
- Claim it – Realize it all belongs to you and your life
- Shift the energy – Express what wants to be expressed. Find meaning, accept the learning, be open to what life is bringing, trust in your intuitive knowing and ability, focus on what is alive and life giving. Learn to say ‘Yes’ to life.
- Do it – Do what must be done; whatever that is. Every situation is asking something from us.
“ In every life there is a time of sorrow or challenge or difficulty. How one meets that time is of the greatest consequence! There are people who are fortunate enough to be accompanied through those times. There are persons who can accompany us with great skill and with insight and with warmth, Joseph is someone that I would want by my side in times of struggle. His perceptions help me to strongly know what I need to do. And to do it with resolve.” Susan Harrington, age 58 — President, Foundation for Human Movement Studies, Clifton, NY
“Joseph brings compassion, insight and focus into each session. His instructive tools, visualizations and exercises have helped me uncover the root causes of issues, allowing me to change unconscious reactions into awareness, focus, choice and proaction.”
Dr. Rob Rich, age 48 — Chiropractor, Encinitas, CA.