Overdone Techniques

When a process goes on for too long, one would tend to start resisting it. That applies in life and it applies to processes happening in session. What "too long" means is of course rather subjective. It seems that a person has a certain built-in sense of balance and sense of the timing of when things ought to change. If these get violated, the person would start sub-consciously protesting and trying to stop the action. She might or might not notice it consciously, but she will probably feel tired and heavy. Something has been going on for too long.

Actually a process in itself can't be overdone. A process is taking place until it is finished. But somebody might not notice that it is done and might continue doing the same thing. In other words, the technique is what is overdone. It is being applied where it is no longer appropriate. Or an action in life gets repeated beyond the point where it produces useful change.

Let's say you take up building model airplanes as a hobby. You find it challenging to learn how to do it and you develop new skills and get enjoyment from the result. At some point you have achieved the skills you set out to achieve, and the results start looking all the same. If you are aware of your feelings and you are in control of your own time, that would be when you would find something else that interested you more. But what if you were somehow forced to keep building model airplanes? Maybe, while you were still enjoying it, you had promised a bunch of little kids that you would build planes for them, and now you feel obligated by your promise, but you don't get any personal development or satisfaction from it. You might get very tired and irritated from doing it then. That would be an overdone action; having to continue doing something one is really done with.

In session, if the client comes to me and says she has trouble with "work" I might lay out a certain plan for myself. Maybe I want to use all the unburdening keys on it. And maybe when I have gotten to number five the subject gets sufficiently resolved for the client and she starts losing interest in it. But I might insist on continuing with the remaining 20 or so keys. If the client doesn't outright protest, she will probably start getting tired, dispersed, comatose, or heavy. She will answer slower and slower, have a hard time answering or keeping her attention on the subject. That is because the action is overdone.

A more likely situation is that the overall subject is not finished, but a specific technique is, and the facilitator doesn't notice it. Like with the example above, we are handling "work". The facilitator starts off with unburdening keys. After a while they aren't really getting anywhere, the client is just grinding off automatic answers without any change. That is time to change the technique, if the subject is not complete. Maybe we need re-experiencing, or something else. But the current technique is done, and would be overdone if it is continued.

A good process facilitator would never have any overdones with her clients. As soon as she sees that she doesn't get anything more out of the current technique, she would pick another one. Overdones mostly result from fixed ideas the facilitator has. Like, if you expect that one specific approach MUST be able to resolve an issue, and it doesn't, but you keep on anyway. If the facilitator is always ready to pick the most effective technique for the current situation, there would never be any overdone actions.

Overdones are most likely to present trouble if you are running through a canned list of procedures, like in a prepared general module. That mostly results from the confusion between techniques and processes. A certain question or instruction might start a certain process in the client, but then the question itself as a technique might be done and no longer produce change. The process has to be completed, but there is no guarantee that the same words will do it. If you just repeat the question robotically, the technique will be overdone, you will have to give it up, and the process itself never gets finished. The correct thing to do is to recognize that the question is no longer useful and pick one that is effective on the current subject.

It would be very worthwhile if you help clients be more aware of their internal processes, and the processes going on in their lives. There is a certain sense of when you are doing something meaningful, and there is a certain sense of when you are done doing something. It might have nothing to do with logic or rational analysis. It is a feeling, a sense, an intuition.

As a facilitator you need to develop that sense about your clients. If you don't have it, you should at least allow them to develop their own and tell you when their processes are done.

If an action is found to be overdone, the remedy is simply to recognize it, and to get in contact with its completeness.

F: "Have we been doing this for too long?"
C: "YES, I was done with it a long time ago!"
F: "About when was that?"
C: "When I realized I could get another job"
F: "OK, we should have ended there"

The main source of the phenomena accompanying overdone actions is that the person's current desires are ignored. The person is interested in something but is unable to do something about it because she is forced to do something else. The client wants to handle "work", but you keep asking her something that doesn't help. Or, the hobbyist is now interested in fly fishing, but he feels forced to keep making model airplanes.

This is similar to the phenomena of failed purposes. If there is something one wants to do, but one feels one is hindered somehow, that is likely to lead to tiredness, exhaustion, irritation. It is remedied by realizing what one really wants to do, and what one doesn't want to do. And by recognizing the times when one's intentions changed.

A key skill and activity of the process facilitator is to start processes that are desirable to the client, let them continue till they are done, notice that they are done, and then start other processes that are desirable. Doing anything else is likely to lead to a session that doesn't work. If you try to push a client to do anything but what would work for her, then she is likely to get tired of it.

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