Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Read: Harlene Anderson's Conversation, language and possibilities

Title: Conversation, Language and Possibilities
Author: Harlene Anderson
Publisher: Basic Books (1997)

In this book, Harlene Anderson invites her readers to think about how a therapist can create the kind of relationship and conversation with a client that allows both parties to access their creativity and develop possibilities.

She calls for a philosophy of therapy and a way of being in client relationships that invite collaboration. For readers who are interested in the postmodern theory and collaborative clinical practice, this is the book to read.

In one of the chapters in this book, she expands on the concept of 'not-knowing' which is the key feature that distinguishes the collaborative approach from other therapies. "'Not-knowing' refers to a therapist's position - an attitude and belief - that a therapist can never fully understand another person, always needs to be in a state of being informed by the other, and always need to learn more about what has been said or may not have been said."

If I understood correctly, 'not-knowing' encompasses being willing to doubt, and to be uncertain. This meant being able to have an open mind and be open to the unexpected. It means being willing to risk, and let clients lead with their stories. Not-knowing as an attitude and belief means that the therapist must learn and attempt to understand what the client is telling. It means being humble. It demands the therapist learn the significance of what a client is saying, and how that makes sense to a client.

This may not be a straight-forward book to read, yet the honest writing makes it fairly accessible. I recommend this book to readers who are interested to learn about the collaborative clinical practice and postmodern theory. I think such a philosophy of therapy returns the power to the client and builds an experienced sense of trust between therapist and the client.