The BURDEN OF BEING BETTER can sneak up on us and our clients. Especially for those of us who use a model and methodology that tends to effect such reliable and lasting change.
The burden of being better can take root when we keep working towards relief and are not in RAPPORT with our clients. The collaboration gets weak. And there’s a subtle but notable shift, a subtle aggression towards self-improvement. There’s no mercy as there’s no relief.
If we sense this happening, the first place to give our attention is the strength of our relationship. The strength of our relationship is determined by our capacity to be fully present and listen fearlessly.
This means fearless listening to what is working and what is not working. Do our clients feel better, worse or about the same? For those of us used to people feeling better, it might be tempting to skip past this. That would be a mistake. It’s a mistake I’ve made.
This mistake can also illuminate areas where AAIT may be contraindicated or needs to be adapted.
As we grow in our understanding and practice of ANY approach, it is incumbent upon us to pay attention to change and lack of change. We need to notice when our clients don’t respond to the work in the way we would have hoped.
This is true for all of us whether we practice AAIT or not.
My current understanding of circumstances where AAIT needs to be adapted to serve certain clients includes three primary areas:
- Challenging personality issues.
- Depersonalization tendencies.
- Deep, complicated and sustained grief.
Keep in mind that this is all anecdotal and yet another reason we need research.
First, those journeying with seriously challenging personality characteristics, typical of Axis II Diagnosis benefit from a slowed down approach. For the most part, they do seem to respond well to AAIT. Progress seems to be a bit faster than with more traditional approaches for this population, but slower than what we experience with other populations.
Second, I’ve not seen many people with depersonalization disorder. However, with at least one person, it became readily apparent that he did not respond as we would have hoped. He was not connected as we worked. This person will benefit from developing the skills to be present for his life without ready dissociation. You have to be present to win.
Finally, those journeying through a territory of deep, sustained and complicated grief don’t consistently find relief. In fact, in those circumstances, even aiming for relief can feel like a burden to be better. If we continue in this vein, the burden becomes even greater. With some grief, there is no better. There is just through. Leaning into the heart of AAIT, acceptance, seems to be the pollen path.
Do you regularly consider what change your clients are gaining and IF what you are doing makes a difference? What keeps you on track?
I think this kind of reflection is absolutely essential to our providing quality care.
Curious how to incorporate AAIT™ into your practice? Join us on March 30th for a Virtual Open House where I’ll share how therapists, spiritual directors, and coaches are using it for various creative uses. Click here to register for this free session.