In my last blog I summarised some of the content from an article I wrote about making meaning (Hay, 2010). This blog is based on the last part of that article, where I wrote about how we need to pay attention to how we make meaning ourselves, if we are not inadvertently to cocreate in a negative way by having our own meaning-making ‘leak’ into our clients’ minds.
To become aware requires 2nd order cybernetics (von Foerster 1995), so we can step outside our frame of reference to review that same frame of reference. This is not easy – it is like asking a fish to understand water.
Hence, we need to develop our skill at reflection and we need prompting by others who are outside our frame of reference (i.e. in their own frame that differs from ours – so not our best friend who is likely to share a similar outlook to ours). We can achieve this by reflecting at three levels:
To finish, an example to illustrate how a DTA practitioner used the 3 levels to check the impact within their work of their meaning making processes.
In teaching a class (of managers or schoolchildren!) Pat (the unisex teacher), noticed (reflection-in-action) that Chris (the unisex student) was nodding and smiling a lot. Pat recognised feeling encouraged by this, of wishing that more students behaved like Chris, and of stroking Chris for being so engaged in class discussions.
Afterwards, Pat thought about the lesson (reflection-in-action) and realised that two other students had not contributed at all to the class discussions, that some of Chris’s comments had contained questionable elements (e.g. incorrect explanations), and that Pat had an unpleasantly familiar feeling of ‘here I go again’.
In reflection-in-supervision, Lee (the unisex supervisor) helped Pat to recognise the discounting involved, because of Pat’s need for strokes, how a different stroking pattern was needed outside the classroom to eliminate ‘stoke-dependency on students’, and how the ‘here I go again’ feeling might well be a premonition of a game switch to come (such as Chris or another student becoming Persecutor and Pat ending up as Victim).
Hay, Julie (2010) Making Meaning. IDTA Newsletter 5:2 7-9
Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books
von Foerster, H. (1995). The Cybernetics of Cybernetics (2nd edition). Minneapolis: FutureSystems Inc.
© 2019 Julie Hay
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