The Ritual of Contact

As introduced above, for session work to be successful, a secure and appropriate relational field must first be established. This is the foundation for all clinical work. When the relational field between practitioner and client settles, it becomes a safe holding environment within which a depth of healing can occur. It allows a reorientation to inherent Health, a fundamental shift within the client from the suffering and conditions present, to the presence of primary respiration. As the practitioner deepens into clinical work, she soon discovers that decisions are made from within and are not a function of her analysis or intervention. It is primary respiration that makes the healing decisions, not the practitioner. Becker called this natural unfoldment the inherent treatment plan. Unless a safe holding environment is clearly established, the inherent treatment plan will not be able to unfold at any depth and work will become practitioner-focused rather than client-centered

Setting up this kind of holding field has a ritualistic quality to it. An important attribute of ritual is constancy. Each time the client enters your clinical space; there is constancy to the contact experienced. Their system can settle in a familiar and consistent field of relationship. This leads to a sense of trust and safety within the clinical space. It is also the first step in the generation of sacred space and the manifestation of the inherent treatment plan. . Over the years I have developed a process that I call the ritual of contact, which is used in many trainings now. It includes the negotiation of both the quality and distance of practitioner attention and of physical touch. I generally approach the setting-up of the relational field in teaching situations using the following six steps:

Step 1

Checking In
The practitioner checks in with his or her own inner process. What is in the way of my being here with this client?

Step 2

Establishing Practitioner Fulcrums
The practitioner establishes their fulcrums, especially a sense of midline and an inner neutral or stillness. The practitioner shifts out of ego-forms, into a more settled state of being.

Step 3

Moving Towards
The practitioner consciously moves towards contact with the client’s system.

Step 4

Negotiating Physical Contact
The practitioner negotiates his or her physical contact with the client’s system.

Step 5

Negotiating Attention
The practitioner negotiates the attention and space given to the client’s system. In this process, a negotiation of his or her distance of attention occurs. It is an acknowledgement of a client’s boundaries and intimacy issues.

Step 6

Establishing a Heart-Centered Listening Field
The practitioner establishes a wide heart-centered perceptual field that holds the whole of the person and the wider field around them. They deepen into being-to-being connection and resonance.