Feedback from A Counsellor: Polly Wood
I am writing this two months after attending two Pesso Boyden days with Juliet Grayson. I had a structure on the first day.
I am a psychotherapist. Most people in the group were not. This was refreshing and felt democratic-no special skill is needed to participate and everyone in the group is equally able to give and receive. The psychotherapist part of me, though, noticed Juliet’s skilled facility at eliciting a history and quickly pinpointing developmental issues to work with.
I often work with ‘parts of the self’ in my practice. I brought to my structure troublesome parts of myself; the most easily recognisable in our culture being my ‘needy inner child’, in my case a child of about eight, the age I was when my father died. For a long time I’d been aware of this child part, seemingly anxiously seeking reassurance as I went about my life. I had had a sensation of her repeatedly undermining a more adult part the ‘competent woman part’ of me.
Without describing what happened in detail, Juliet helped me to construct an ‘ideal family’ and an ‘ideal family friend’ ( as well as other parts- a complex web was formed over an hour and a half of working). These parts were embodied by members of the group. Together we voiced and enacted possible other outcomes for me in childhood, had I had the ideal support I had needed then. So, without denying the actual story, a possible other story was enacted and experienced. This was extremely powerful. At the time it lead to a sense of peace and a thought, “Ah, if this had been possible I would’ve been able to…” but later that night I experienced a deeper sense of change. In the dark I woke to a profound sense of peace and possibility. At the same time I had an image of the child part within me curled up asleep in my heart. She has stayed there ever since and I have felt enormously less troubled by her–it has been an experience of integration that continues two-months on. She clearly needs a long sleep!
Next day I was able to process this in the group. Part of the advice was to find words and phrases to encapsulate the embodied experience of the structure. These have been helpful since when, inevitably, I lost the new feelings at times and I wanted to recover them. Juliet recommends actively embodying the sensations every morning for three weeks after the structure to help embed the new sensations and learning.
She also offered us the possibility of having our structure recorded as we were doing it and then sent to us as an MP3 download after the workshop. I did this and found listening to this recording again extremely moving. Listening to my structure at home, reliving it and reflecting on it has reinforced the learning and provoked new ideas. Being a character in others’ structures was also a rich learning experience.