Setting A Contract – Part 2
I want to continue the conversation about how I work with people by describing a little more about contracting and how that helps you take action on your own behalf. If you missed my first post on establishing a contract, please check it out.
We Want To Feel Better
Often a client will start a session with a symptom-driven desire like “I want to sleep better” or “I want to feel less frightened.” Of course, I understand deeply the desire to feel better in some way. However, I work very differently than focusing on improving a symptom. Why?
Once we set a contract, I have no idea in any session exactly where it will lead, so if I accept a contract with a client that focuses on such a specific outcome, I’ve done two things. First, I have agreed that I can somehow ensure that outcome for someone. That’s a setup for disappointment because I can never ensure an outcome for anyone. Second, I have taken the position that I am going to do something for you or to you, a position which subverts your ability to take action on your own behalf.
One of my core values as a practitioner is to support your “sense of agency,” meaning your ability to take action on your own behalf to create something you want or prevent something you don’t want. I’m a facilitator. By taking this position, I align with the part of you that knows you have options and choices available in any situation.
The Contract Reframe
If a client wants to sleep better, for example, then I help the client reframe the contract into something achievable in a one hour session. In this example the contract might become “I want to explore what’s in the way of me sleeping better.” That I can get behind. It becomes an exploration of what the symptom wants to communicate to you, acknowledging that something deeper is happening that you don’t yet know about.
What If You Don’t Know What You Want
Take a moment to consider what you want for yourself right now. Some people have a clear vision and for others it’s a vaguer sense of what they most want. Maybe your initial impulse
of what you want leads to lots of thoughts about why that’s impossible to have. Sometimes I might spend an entire session or more with a client exploring what he or she wants. That might be a really unfamiliar place and that’s okay. Consider this for a moment. Do you really give yourself permission to really desire what you most want? I can help you with that if you feel puzzled or you know something is in the way.
After we set a contract, the next step is exploration. Stay tuned for that conversation.