Moments of Deep Encounter in Listening Relationships
Moments of deep encounter are beneficial experiences within psychotherapeutic, counselling and pastoral relationships when, with safety and trust established between the parties, the talker gains a new ‘penny-dropping’ insight into themselves or their concerns, accompanied by a sense of something beyond or greater than the parties themselves. Some might interpret this aspect in transpersonal or spiritual terms, but others might not, setting up competing interpretations, and the question of whether and how they might relate to each other.
The author’s research into the occurrence, nature and interpretation of moments of deep encounter across a range of approaches cautions against too rapidly applying any particular interpretive frame, both during the moments themselves, and when discussing or interpreting them. Emphases and factors that help facilitate such encounters are identified; while any tendency to pre-judge and rule out certain interpretations is challenged. At a ‘micro’ level, resisting such tendencies may allow an individual moment, and different understandings of it, to emerge, with consequent healing benefits. At a ‘macro’ level, a creative rather than competitive dialogue between different theories, practices and paradigms is encouraged. Both levels can illuminate each other in a mutually informing dialogue, potentially extending the horizons of understanding for those involved.