The unique nature of Psychophonetics based Counselling
Counselling is a new profession of human development that Škola Empatie (School of Empathy) has been introducing to Slovakia since 2013. If I was in England, Australia, USA now I would not have to introduce the counselling profession to you. The most experienced graduates of Psychophonetics in the UK are registered members of the leading professional counselling association of the UK: BACP – British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Counselling is a very established profession in the west. But it is still a new profession. However, in Slovakia, it is still completely new. Until recently, there was not even a word for it. I know this because in 2018 we created a partnership with the department of economy of Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica to teach the first professional counselling course in Slovakia: a Psychophonetics based Graduate Diploma in Holistic Counselling for the Workplace, and I signed a contract with the rector to that effect. We offered to collaborate with them as the first college in Slovakia that teaches professional counselling. I know that we are not the last one.
Counselling is NOT consulting! let us be clear about that. Consulting is giving advice. But anyone who knows what professional counselling is – knows that it is not about giving advice. So, what do real counsellors do?
There are hundreds of different definitions of what counselling is and is not, the difference between counselling and coaching, counselling and psychotherapy, counselling and clinical psychology. That is not my focus here. Search the internet for yourself. Counselling has been around in the West for the past 70 years. I will give you our definition of counselling, which we use at Škola Empatie (School of Empathy), which is the Slovak branch of Psychophonetics Institute International. It is compatible with Humanistic, Existential and Transpersonal psychology, of which we are definitely a part.
Some basic historical context is needed to provide a common picture. To be clear – the term ‘counselling’ did not exist as a name for a profession before 1951. Another word was not in the dictionary before 1951: empathy. It represents a turning point in the evolution of psychology and of consciousness in general: the center of knowing moved from the expert into the client/person. The center moved from outside in. Person Centered Therapy was founded.
The word counsellor comes from the ancien word ‘councillor’. In the Hebrew language, these two words are still the same. Councillor is a member of the council that is advising the ruler: the Caliph has a vizier (Wazir). Now everyone is a Caliph. The Wazir is inside. What is left for the modern counsellor to do?
Carl Roger is the founder of Humanistic Psychology, of the profession of ‘counsellor’ who is not a medical doctor. All psychotherapists before him, from Sigmund Freud onwards, were first medical doctors. This is how modern psychology and psychotherapy started. But Rogers discovered that the really effective factor in the therapeutic process is the therapist’s honest attempt to understand the client from the client’s own point of view! This is the Humanistic evolution, and it is still in its early phases of development. For that a new profession was required: not to act on the knowledge of the external expert, as the ancient tradition of medicine entails, but acting on a new kind of authority: the emerging authority of the person/client himself – herself – person centred therapy. To encourage that new source of self-knowledge, meaning, authority and change – that is the role of this new kind of professional, the counsellor, not to give advice based on the external authority of the expert. That new profession required a new kind of therapeutic skill: thus the word Empathy was practically created in 1951, and immediately became an internationally recognised essential modern term. Most people assume that it is an ancient Greek word like sympathy and antipathy, but it is not, it is a new word, for a new, emerging human capacity. In 2017 at Bucharest University in the international conference of counsellors I termed it: EmQ – Empathic Quotient, a development of IQ – Intelligence Quotient that focuses on the person’s reflective intellect. EmQ is a new level of intelligence, requiring another capacity of perception and conception of human reality – observed from the inside. Rogers discovered it; Edmund Husserl, the founder of Phenomenology discovered it in cognitive-philosophical sciences, Rudolf Steiner prepared people for a future culture that will be based on new capacities of perceiving the inner life of others. He predicted that this would only become possible from the middle of the 20th century onward. He was right.
Carl Rogers is the first professional counsellor of the 20th century, who laid the foundation for long-term future development of this new profession. It is my privilege to be the director of the first professional counselling training in Slovakia – Škola Empatie, the Slovak branch of Psychophonetics Institute International. We train people to trust their inner authority, authenticity, personal experience as a trustworthy source of genuine personal inner wisdom. That is what the new profession of the counsellor means to us. Mastering this new capacity is the purpose of the training for Holistic Counsellor at Škola Empatie. When we tried together with our colleagues at Matej Bel University to find a Slovak language equivalent to the term ‘Counsellor’ – we could not find it. It did not exist. So there and then, together, we declared a new Slovak word: COUNSELLING.
There are many different definitions of counselling, but I will focus on what it means to us at Skola Empatie and what we are doing in the name of professional counselling and Methodical empathy in Slovakia, in China, soon again in the UK and internationally.
If we ask ourselves what is the centre at the heart of ‘Person Centred Therapy’ – my answer is: it is the human individual ‘I’, the core of individual identity and reality, the ‘4th level’ of the human constitution after the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom. It is ‘The Human Kingdom’, that which is uniquely human in its individual form. Minerals, plants, animals – they have a spiritual dimension in their reality, but it is not incarnated and not incorporated into their individual one-person being, consciousness and body, not yet. The human ‘I’ is the spiritual dimension of humanity – in its individual manifestation as consciousness, personality and personal choices.
At the foundation of ‘Person Centred Therapy’ there stands, consciously or unconsciously, the forgotten core of the Idealistic Philosophy of Central Europe. In contrast to what has become the mainstream of philosophy and of psychology during most of the 20th century – Idealistic philosophy claims that human consciousness is NOT the product of biology, sociology and biography – but the origin of all human life. It claims that human consciousness has its own internal origin in the higher dimension of the human constitution: the human ‘I’. The human individual ‘I’, so it claims, is not a product of human life but a source of consciousness and of personal meaning.
“The “I” lives in the soul. ….. raying out from it, fills the whole of the soul, and through the soul exerts its action upon the body. And in the “I” the spirit is alive. The spirit sends its rays into the “I” and lives in it as in a “sheath” or veil, just as the “I” lives in its sheaths, the body and soul. The spirit develops the “I” from within, outwards; the mineral world develops it from without, inwards”. – (Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy, Ch 1)
The human ‘I’ is an original, authentic spiritual being, that enters and leaves the body at every birth and death, at every waking and falling asleep. This is the true esoteric foundation of all Humanistic, Existential, Transpersonal and Integral psychology consciously or not: the Central European Idealistic philosophy of Gottlieb Fichte, Goethe, Schelling, Hagel, France Brentano, Rudolf Steiner, Edmund Husserl (father of Phenomenology) and, originally, Socrates, the founder of Philosophy. The human ‘I’ is at the same time an original spiritual being and, at the same time, an active force inside the ordinary human psyche. Without an ‘I’ at the centre of the human soul, or with a weakened and absent ‘I’ – the soul falls apart,
This is what we build our way of counselling on. This is what I am bringing to Slovakia through Škola Empatie here, the Slovak branch of Psychophonetics Institute International. In a way it is unique and original, and at the same time it is a development of that peaceful revolution of the middle of the 20th century: Humanistic Psychology, Person Centred Therapy, and for me: Practical Psychosophy, Living Anthroposophy, Psychophonetics, Methodical Empathy, Radical Phenomenology, and, by extension – the present and the future of Participatory Medicine. We call this kind of counselling: “A Psychology of Freedom”.
A Psychology of Freedom type of counselling is not just an intention, a philosophy, an ideology or a theory. It is a method, a skill, an educational process for acquiring that skill, and a solid code of ethics.
The method is a combination of what we do and what we don’t do as part of our Methodical Empathy. What we don’t do includes: we don’t ask questions; we don’t give advice; we don’t analyse, theorise, interpret or guide.
This is what we do: listen attentively and skilfully so that we can hear not just what the person says – but what the person means, and confirms this understanding every step of the way by providing evidence that we understand, see, hear and know the reality of the person who is speaking to us. For that we have developed four levels of empathy which together make level 1 of ‘Methodical Empathy’ – Perceptive Empathy:
- Reflective Empathy – understanding what the client actually tries to communicate and demonstrate that we do.
- Imaginative Empathy – creating an imaginative picture of the inner mental reality of the client’s experience, so we can See the experience.
- Inspirational Empathy – allowing an internal resonance of the feeling, emotional and deep meaning of the client’s experience in our soul so we can Hear the experience.
- Intuitive Empathy – perceiving the client’s experience as a part of their overall striving for the further incarnation of their own ‘I’ into their own personal life.
To be able to do that, we Psychophonetics counsellors engage in an on-going, lifelong pursuit of ‘Self-Empathy’ – the ever-deepening of the counsellor’s connection to one’s own soul/psychological dynamics, as a potential source for ever deepening empathy with the client: it takes thinking to understand thinking, feelings to understand feelings, emotions to understand emotions, pain to understand pain, desire to understand desire, frustration to understand frustration. We learn to stay in touch with our own personal reality as the source of getting in touch with the client’s personal reality. This process we call: ‘Parallel Processing’. We teach it methodically in our counselling training.
Our counselling process is divided into two major parts:
1) Conversational Counselling
2) Action Counselling – with the formation of the ‘Wish’ in between.
The first ‘advice’ in a Psychophonetics-based counselling session is the client’s own advice to themselves: a declaration of the overall direction and purpose of their striving. The ‘wish’ puts the client in an unquestionable position of self-leadership and directorship regarding their own process. Tis is where Psychophonetics is taking the ‘Person Centred Therapy’ approach to its next evolutionary level. The purpose of the Conversational Phase is to lead to the ‘Wish’. The purpose of the Action Phase is to serve and to facilitate the ‘Wish’. Everything experienced and accomplished in the process of the session is designed to be transformed into ‘Homework’ and to be taken home for further practice, making Psychophonetics process into a self-educational training in self-mastery.
Level 2 of Methodical Empathy is ‘Conceptive Empathy’ (or ‘Transformative Empathy’). It involves engaging client’s will for action in their life. It includes Challenging, Concluding-Focusing and Forming the Wish. What follows is the ‘Action Phase’ of Psychophonetics, which goes beyond counselling into the domain of consultancy for personal and social development, psychotherapy and psychosomatic healing.
A Psychology of Freedom requires a Philosophy of Freedom code of ethics and practice in order to be a sustainable reality. The following are the seven principles of the Psychophonetics Counselling freedom Code of Ethics:
1. INNER EQUIPMENT: Human beings are inherently equipped for the journey of their lives.
A human life is seen primarily as an opportunity for purposeful learning and growth, including its challenges and crises. Digesting one’s experiences is at the same time the forging of the inner equipment and its application to the growing process.
People are also inherently equipped with the ability to sense the next step in the manifestation of this potential. The choice to come to a counsellor is an expression of that sense. Trusting this inner sense – we also assume that the chosen counsellor is also equipped to be the right counsellor for that person at that point in time.
2. INNER GUIDANCE: Guardianship and inner Guidance are inherent to the human soul.
The client’s inner guidance is to be in charge of the process. If we want the client to finish this journey in the driver seat – we must start it with the client in the driver seat. People do not swap seats in the middle of the ride.
What this means in practice is that the counselling process must provide enough opportunities and safeguards for the client/student’s internal Guardianship and the internal Guidance to manifest from the realm of potential within the inner life – into one’s actual conscious life. The counselling interaction is seen as a training ground for this manifestation.
3. SELF-KNOWLEDGE: The client is the one authorised to determine and to know the meaning of his/her experience.
Meaning is not given but is a creation of the human spirit. Only the owner of an experience can determine the meaning of that experience.No information given from the outside comprises knowing. Only a unique union between one’s own perception and one’s own conception comprises real knowing.
External authority based interpretation of the meaning of clients’ experience has no place in this modality.
4. TEAM-WORK: The Psychophonetics session is a Teamwork of two equally important partners.
If the client is fundamentally equipped for the journey of his/her life, including the exclusive ability to realise the meaning of his/her experience, and if the counsellor has the skills for encouraging the manifestation of that equipment – then they both need each other equally for the journey they are to travel together. They have to become a team of equally important partners, with all the respect trust and support that successful partnership requires.
5. THE ‘I AM’ TO TAKE CHARGE: The client’s “I Am” (core self) is to be given every possible opportunity to enter the process, the body and one’s life, to guide, to make choices, to know, to take charge.
All professional choices in the counselling process must be governed by this principal. Essential to the Anthroposophical model of the human constitution is the notion of the ‘I’, the integrative centre of the human psyche, one’s core identity. In the light of Anthroposophy the human ‘I’ is not a product of heredity and upbringing but an authentic source, whose existence predates one’s birth, and will outlive one’s death. Each human ‘I’ is considered to be a unique spiritual being, a ‘species’ in its own right. The ‘I’ is the Observer, the Feeler, the meaning-giver and the Choice-Maker in regards to one’s own experience as well as in regards to the encountered phenomena of the world.
6. HIGHER ACCOUNTABILITY: Based on the above, the counsellor, while counselling, is at all time acting according to being accountable to an authority within one’s own being which exists beyond the dominion of one’s personal emotionality, intellectuality, desires and theories.
This internal higher authority is of a universal nature, its interest is all human, although its presence emerges to the individual from the core of their individual humanity.
Rudolf Steiner named that inner authority ‘THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN BEING’.
7. SELF-CARE: The counsellor is committed to an ongoing process of self-care, self-awareness and further personal development that can be clearly articulated, shared and witnessed through peer review and by supervision with qualified professionals in the field.
We who put ourselves forward as encouragers of other’s self-care and personal development – must be self-caring and personally developing ourselves. The counsellor is a mentor and a coach for people who intend to upgrade their well being and self management through deeper and broader and higher consciousness. This is an ongoing journey. The counsellor must be a person who is committed to such a commitment and upgrade for oneself in order to mentor it to others with integrity. If upgrading self-awareness is something I cannot do, choose not to do, or it does not work for me, then there is no ground on which to stand mentoring this in others.
These are the core principles of the code of ethics of Psychophonetics Counselling and Psychotherapy. It represents the universal spirit of the counsellor, the ‘Skilled Friend on the Threshold’ in the practical and methodical process of 21st century Person Centred Counselling.
The new profession of Counselling is coming to Slovakia.
Blessings to all present and future Slovak Counsellors.
Author: Yehuda K. Tagar
Editing: Martin Uhlíř