As we get back to work, I want to share how I am realigning my direction. Although in my seventieth year, I have no desire to retire yet. But I do feel a need to refocus and streamline my work and would like to share that with you. Perhaps what I am offering may interest you.
In this coming period, I want to focus on the core of my work, which gives me most satisfaction, speaks to the niche I want to deepen in these coming years, and which I consider most urgent for the world at this time, notably:
Conversations on the Edge of Silence
– Generative Dialogue –
For Individuals, Couples , Groups, and Communities
For some time, I have been feeling no longer at home within the frame of coaching. The last time I attended international coaching events was in Spring 2016, when I spoke at Erickson College’s World GameConference in Bali and at a Coaching Supervision conference in Oxford, UK, and tutored on the CSA Coaching Supervision training in Hong Kong.
Since then, I’ve drifted away from the coaching milieu (including ICF) apart from brief meetings in Russia. Meanwhile, since early 2017 a lot of my energy has gone into exploring and writing about innerdance.
I remain, however, deeply interested in working with people and doing so with more simplicity. Neither ‘coaching’ nor ‘therapy’ (including ‘counselling’) describe my work properly. Yet what I do and teach has much to offer the helping professions. I remain deeply interested in, and committed to, working with individuals and with groups according to the same simple principles.
For a long time, I have struggled to find the right term to describe what I offer. I am attracted to the French term ‘accompagnement’, which speaks to a generic ‘accompanying’ of people. It’s close to how I think about my work. But the English word ‘accompaniment’ means music accompanying song rather than working with people. And ‘accompanying’ doesn’t have the same clarity and flow as in French.
Conversations on the Edge of Silence
Over the years I have found my work resembling more and more a kind of conversation – a ‘conversation on the edge of silence’.
The term ‘conversation’ acknowledges the importance of content, whether we speak of supporting emerging insights in the client or resolution of persistent impasses he or she has been facing. But in our ‘conversation’, this content comes into relief against the revealing backdrop of silence.
As our exploration of content unfolds within the mirror of mind, that silence becomes lively in the one accompanied, in the one accompanying, and in the space between them.
When what we are exploring finds itself reflected in the simple mirror of shared awareness, miraculously, resolution and insight arise.
And, through this simple process, that simple silence, in which the new emerges, becomes increasingly present in the lives of the one exploring and the one accompanying.
This is the nature and gift of a ‘conversation on the edge of silence’, which can be one-on-one, or with couples, small groups, or in larger teams, organizations, and systems.
While ‘Conversations on the Edge of Silence’ (in short COTEOS – or Co-Theos, with the Divine) describes what I offer quite well, I have still felt the need for another label than ‘coaching’ or ‘therapy’ to pinpoint what I do.
Finally, after a lot of searching, in December, another term popped up, which situates this work perfectly: Generative Dialogue.
Generative Dialogue is not an entirely new term, but it fits well with this work. The roots of the world ‘dialogue’, from Greek ‘dialogos’, implies through words, pointing to an emergent meaning via shared speech (conversation) – something quite different than discussion or debate, which suggest confrontation or contest among points of view for one of them to prevail.
Generative Dialogue, in contrast, involves attention to more than conversational content. It signifies attention to how we are communicating and what is implicit or assumed in our communication. It also entails attention to how our interaction is unfolding against the silent backdrop of shared awareness.
‘Generative’ coupled with ‘dialogue’ implies, too, that there is something inherently creative in the nature of such a dialogue. In dialogue, shared exchange yields a one-ing of minds and meanings, in which differences are acknowledged and the new can emerge.
Generative Dialogue is not something new. It denotes a simple way of relating in couples and in groups that has emerged in similar ways around the planet over time, and then often been lost, as its simplicity gets complicated or forgotten.
Dialogue has been described very well by quantum theorist, David Bohm, much as I am using the term here. ‘Generative Dialogue’ encapsulates perfectly my own long-term work since the 1980s with ‘coherent groups’, with roots in the ‘Structural Coherence’ work of Gene Early and a number of other seminal influences.
There are a several key ways in which I will be offering Conversations on the Edge of Silence with Generative Dialogue in 2019 and beyond, focusing broadly either on one-to-one sessions or on group dialogue.
The first pair of offerings are sessions either for individuals and couples or for groups, teams, and communities. Such sessions may be initiated according to a particular need or issue, or they may be invited as a way of allowing something new and unknown to emerge in, and through, dialogue and conversation.
1. Conversations on the Edge of Silencefor individuals and couples (normally 1-2 hours)
2. Conversations on the Edge of Silence for groups and teams (2.5 hours +)
The second pair of offerings consist of programmes for those interested, not only in experiencing Conversations on the Edge of Silence with Generative Dialogue directly, but in exploring how to integrate this approach in their own work. Again, in one of the two offerings, we focus on conversations in pairs, the other more on working with groups and teams:
3. Conversations on the Edge of Silence:Generative Dialogue with individuals and couples (4 days)
4. Conversations on the Edge of Silence:Generative Dialogue in groups and teams (4 days)
The first of these programmes introduces Conversations on the Edge of Silence in working with individuals and couples. This programme is intended for helping professionals – coaches, therapists, counsellors, etc., for those interested in entering the helping professions, and those wanting to develop this kind of rich conversational quality in their interactions with others, whether personally or professionally.
The second of these programmes focuses on supporting the process of Generative Dialogue in groups and teams. Here we experience Conversations and Dialogue more intensely in groups, and we begin developing the knowledge and skills to participate more elegantly in such dialogue and co-facilitate such self-unfolding groups.
The third pair of offerings provide longer-term training and development for those wanting to go deeper into integrating Conversations on the Edge of Silence and Generative Dialogue, whether in their work with groups or in their work with individuals:
5. Conversations on the Edge of Silence: Facilitating Generative Dialogue in Groups and Communities facilitator development programme (16 days over 1 year)
6. Conversations on the Edge of Silence: Master class for helping professionals: The Art of Re•Patterning (Dynamics of Deep Transformation) (12 days)
The first of this pair (option 5) provides a pathway to develop the qualities and skills that support seeding and hosting Conversations on the Edge of Silence in groups and communities through Generative Dialogue. This programme will inevitably bring a lot of growth to participants, as working with group process will invariably challenge and open the boundaries and hidden assumptions that restrict our ability to receive and hold space from a place of both acceptance and authenticity. There is little true intimacy without greater surrender.
The second programme (option 6) develops the advanced skills needed to hold Conversations on the Edge of Silence with individuals, with both mastery and simplicity. In this programme, continuing the momentum created over the last 15 years with ‘the Dynamics of Deep Transformation’, we work intensively with the frame of Re•Patterning, in conversations which embrace our deep life patterns and assumptions. Please note that we will support ICF coach credentialing through this (ACTP) programme for the next 18 months.
Our final offering provides a context for in-depth personal growth through conversational and dialogue-based retreats. Here we take time out to rest, reflect, and realign ourselves in a beautiful, peaceful setting. Conversation and Dialogue are a key part of a process of individual and shared reflection to allow insight and renewal without any need to learn or change anything. Meditation and sessions to free inner energy are an integral part of our routine.
7. Conversations on the Edge of Silence: personal growth retreats (5 days) (at Nirarta and elsewhere
This refocusing and streamlining of my work means I will drop the International Academy for Deep Transformation name as a framework for my international work, with the possible exception of Russia.
I will operate under my own name or Conversations on the Edge of Silence in the coming period.
Thank you for all your interest and support for this work, and, I hope,thanks in advance for your support of our next steps.
With hugs and love,