The Need for and Importance of Connection...
On Sunday whilst out shopping in my local town, I happened to eavesdrop on a conversation between two ladies.
Reading between the lines it seemed that one of the ladies had recognised the other from afar as having been someone she used to work with. Yet the other lady seemed to struggle to place her and needed some prompting:
“Jackie? It’s me Joan. I used to work at X School. Remember?”
After a brief silence, ‘Jackie’ replied: “Oh Joan! Yes of course.”
Yet there was a sense that 'Jackie' was still playing catch up and couldn’t really place 'Joan' at all.
Of course, like 'Joan', any of us might be excited to see an old face that we hadn’t seen for a while but this seemed much more than that. What struck me in that moment was just how important it was for ‘Joan’ to have that moment of connection. I wondered privately to myself what it was that made that so important - what did that connection represent for her? Perhaps she was lonely and hadn’t had a decent conversation in a while; perhaps she had been suddenly reminded of a particular time in her life when she was happy, when she felt fulfilled, when she had purpose.
The truth is that I will never know what lay behind Joan’s motivation in that moment. All I can know is how it felt to observe as I watched the story unfold between ‘Joan’ and ‘Jackie,’ the main characters in a story, where the plot was still to be determined.
This encounter very much reminded me of how in the counselling room there is a similar ‘moment of meeting’ between counsellor and client. In this connection, in this ‘moment,’ they are able to ‘read in the behaviour of the other a reflection of their own experience’ (Stern, 2004) and it is here that events become conscious, opening ‘the door for the experience to be verbalised and narrated.’ Indeed it is these moment by moment interactions that are for me at least, the most important part of counselling, and as a counsellor, I am always intrigued to see what new thinking might arise in my client in the ‘present moment’ as they sit there in the room with me.
I can also relate somewhat to ‘Jackie’s’ experience of playing catch up. Sometimes in the pressure of the moment, what I know may not be immediately available to me, just as ‘Jackie’ struggled to place ‘Joan’ and this can make the present moment somewhat ‘unsettling.’ Yet I am candid about the fact that I will not always know. By being honest about this, I believe it makes me more open to the dynamics of the present moment, enabling me in turn to better understand the relationship in the room and ultimately my client.
Picture supplied by a talented young artist we know. The rainbow is to represent the moment of breakthrough or clarity that can occur, just like the sun breaking through the clouds after a rainstorm.
All names have of course been changed for the purposes of confidentiality.