We just graduated 19 new KMI practitioners into the world. It’s very satisfying to see how far people come with themselves and their skills over a 9-month period. 9 months – September to June in this case – like a pregnancy, and we often refer to ourselves as being like midwives, to emphasize that we are not imposing the changes in others ourselves, but merely helping the client to uncover and ‘deliver’ the changes they are ready for.
In order to be that midwife, we have to get ourselves out of the way to let the process happen, and that ability to get yourself out of the way was a bit of a theme with this class. A couple of people had to be let go – something we do only reluctantly and after a lot of consideration – because they could not get themselves out of the way enough to be certified.
Getting yourself out of the way of someone’s therapy process means not inserting yourself into it – with your dramas, your own life story and problems, your own needs to be a helper or a giver or healer – these things need to be put away at the door, so the focus can be squarely on the person who is paying for your attention and your expertise.
The set of parameters for getting yourself out of the way is essentially a division of ethics, but it is often termed ‘professional behaviour’. This includes not burdening the client with your personal story or problems, for dressing, cleaning, and comporting yourself in such a way as to not draw attention to yourself – it is an act of self-negation. Not ‘being’ negation or ‘presence’ negation, but personality or ego-negation.
Some are able to do this, some are not, either for reasons of maturity, or leftover trauma, or just plain skill-development. But it is a skill necessary to therapy, and it separates the artist from the therapist. An artist can be as self-indulgent as he wishes, and folks like Picasso and Van Gogh, in their different ways, illustrate that penchant for the artist to go beyond social norms in whatever perverse way he or she wishes.
A therapist is a similar kind of artist (working on a medium that gets up and walks away). A therapist should or at least can be independent of many of the social norms, but the additional requirement on the therapist is that ability to self-negate (sounds bad, but it’s good) in favor of the needs of the medium.
Of course, we all live on a spectrum between artist and technician, and in our willingness to put ourselves aside for another, but the standards of practice, professional behaviours, and the codes of ethics are all outward and physical signs of the inward and spiritual commitment of the therapist: Thou shalt not commit self-indulgence.
Good luck to our graduates