Exercise 2 PC-L5 – Working at relational depth Extract from journal 9: I have struggled to fully find a space where I can just be with Billy. I have experienced on some level his need to be guarded, not wanting, or even willing, to let me in. I have questioned my own self and whether I am in any way being useful to him; yet there are moments when a chink in the armour is opened and I get a glimpse of what is going on inside. These are just shadows of past hurts alluded to rather than given any definite form and they are closed off as soon as they are opened. I am mindful of a need to just ‘be’ with him, building a trust within the relationship that is at best fragile. I am mindful of what we have been exploring in class when looking at the development of relational depth. We have in particular looked at Mearns and Coopers work on relational depth (2005) and how different configurations within the therapist come together to support a relationally deep encounter. In part they suggest that the therapist has to develop a stance of ‘holistic listening’ (2005) that requires an authentic, sensitive and deep accepting empathy alongside a willingness to stay with the ‘unknown’. The client needs to experience in some way that they are important, that the therapist has valued then and been moved in an emotional way by the therapists being. In a sense it is something about the genuine presence of the therapist to remain in the encounter. Part of me has really struggled to remain fully present (5.2, 2.3) and it has been challenging to remain fully focused on Billy. It is when he is silent that I find this to be the hardest part of the session. Billy drifts off, lost in thought, and although I get some vague sense of something that I cannot follow, I cannot fully find the words to express what that experience is. But in this struggle I have stayed with the ‘unknown’ and valued Billy in a real way. I have tried to express some of the pain and hurt I am experiencing. As I try and express what I am experiencing I feel that I am getting somehow closer to some of Billys implicit experience that has remained hidden from me, and I think from him. It is like the strong armour reveals a little of what is underneath, just a glimpse, just an acknowledgement of unknown depths. There was a moment in out last session where I felt like we were both in the same place. Mick Cooper suggests that this is a moment of co-experiencing and it felt like I was in the same place as Billy (2.2). We just smiled in a gentle acknowledgement and it was just that one word ‘fear’ that I reflected that seemed to change something. This experiencing of in depth connectedness is also of concern with the psychodynamic field that we have been integrating. Stern (2004; 1998) has discussed ‘mutual interpenetration of minds’ or ‘moments of meeting’. This again fits with my experience with Billy which I felt was a moment of meeting in the same place, being on the same page and sharing that experience in some mutual way. (6.1) Staying with Billy in a real way and remaining present during each session has started to build a trusting relationship. Working towards relational depth has facilitated a working into the implicit aspects of my client. I am not yet fully aware of all that is hidden, that remains a mystery, but I get a real sense of the mistrust, even fear, that Billy has in opening up to others, let alone to himself.