Dialogue: People Creating Meaning with Each Other and Finding Ways to Go On
Over the years, I have had a sustained interest in client voices-their experiences and descriptions of successful and unsuccessful therapy, and of therapists who were helpful and not so helpful. I have interviewed and consulted with clients, therapists, and students in my local setting and around the world. I frequently ended my conversations with them asking, “What advice do you have for therapists?” Th ese voices and their responses to this question have signifi cantly infl uenced my understanding of therapy and my approach to it. If I had to sum it up, I would say that clients spoke of what I now think of as “relational conversations.” Th ey described particular ways that therapists listened, heard, and spoke-indicating therapists’ manners, actions, and responses communicated to clients that they were important and respected and that what they had to say was worth hearing. What I learned highlighted the signifi cance of the relationship in dialogue and partly infl uenced the heart and spirit of my approach, a therapist’s “way of being,” which I call a “philosophical stance.” I will address the philosophical stance in Chapter 4. But, fi rst I will discuss the role of dialogue and the importance of listening, hearing, and speaking to it in a relationship and a conversation, beginning with a question that is infl uenced by these client voices and that is always present: How can
practitioners therapists create the kinds of conversations and relationships with their clients that allow all participants to access their creativities and develop possibilities where none seemed to exist before?