Online Help: Counseling & Soulwork Therapy
This transcript was recorded during a
seminar in Poland by Martyn Carruthers about helping people
resolve deep conflict. A portion of this
transcript was cut and posted at
How children create complex conflict.
People suffering obsessions or compulsions often
find a predictable structure of underlying conflicts, with a sense of
cognitive dissonance and unaligned emotions. Here is an example of
helping a person explore a deep conflict.
Jan is a businessman about 45 years old.
He and Martyn agreed to explore Jan's conflict about his
Page 2 - Conflict Resolution Transcript
Explore One Side of Conflict
Martyn: What motivates you to smoke?
Jan: It is like the deepest need of my organism.
Martyn: Where would you feel this deepest need of your organism?
Jan: It is on my right side.
Martyn: Good, Jan, imagine you can see on your right side
this deepest need of your organism for smoking. What would it look like?
Jan: Like a clown.
Martyn: A big clown? A little clown?
Jan: A big one.
Martyn: And what would the big clown say to you?
Jan: He says, "Let's have fun!"
Martyn: Great, does the big clown motivate you to enjoy life?
Jan: [nods his head with a smile]
Explore Other Side of Conflict: Part 2
Martyn: Now you can see what motivates you to smoke.
And, on the other side, what is your motivation to not smoke? What
would that look like?
Jan: Like a very beautiful white birch tree.
Martyn: And is that birch tree big or little?
Jan: Quite big.
Martyn: How do you feel when you look towards this big white birch tree?
Explore Integration of Parts 1 and 2
Martyn: Take a moment to look at them both together: the clown on
your right, and the white birch on your left: two different ways to enjoy
life. Too bad that they cannot work together. Now you can have all of
the fun of the clown, or the peaceful beauty of the white birch tree.
[Pause] What would your life be like, if these two sides of you could
find a way to work together - to be together?
Jan: I would feel totally resourceful, open and joyful.
Martyn: How would your life change if you live like that?
Jan: I think ... ummm ... [Jan's muscles relax and he gazes into space]
Martyn: Thank you, Jan. I'll talk to the
class for a minute.
Theory of Identity Conflict
[to class] Coaching conflict can be complex, so I'll break it
into steps. On one side Jan [points to Jan's right]
finds motivation to smoke, and on the other side of him [points to
Jan's left] is motivation to not smoke, and Jan lives with this double
motivation. He can feel good when he smokes, and he can feel good when he
doesn't smoke. But he experiences conflict when he decides which to do.
You could call the clown a "personality side" of Jan, or
you can call it a "part" or "ego state" or a
"complex". Jan describes the qualities of the white birch tree on
the left. As Jan looks at his representation of his future, he sees fog
between him and the future he wants to live.
During conflict coaching, you can probably find two conscious parts quickly,
two motivations towards two conflicting behaviors. Often a person likes
one side and dislikes the
other: [opens one palm, as if holding a "part" and speaks with an
enthusiastic voice] "This is the side of me that wants me to be healthy,
[opens the other palm and speaks with a disgusted
voice] and this is the bad side of me that makes me eat cake." Many
clients say things like, "Help me get rid of a horrible side of me!"
Imagine that I am your client and I'm talking to you directly: I say "I
have a bad part of me that makes me do a bad thing, and I want you to help me
kill it and throw it away." What's your next step?
Student: "What are the benefits of the horrible part?"
Martyn: Good! [acts client] Benefits? What do you mean by
benefits? I can't stop X, but - I hate that part of me! There can be no
benefits from doing it, it's killing me, it's antisocial.
Student: Not benefits from doing it, but benefits from killing that part.
Martyn: Good question. [acts as a client] If you cut it away,
I could forget about it entirely... [to student] What would be your next step?
Student: What does this part want to tell you? [Jan's left hand twitches
but he still gazes into space]
Martyn: Good! [acts as a client] Eugh! It makes me sick.
I don't like it!
Martyn: Often a client will like only one part [acts client]: "There's a
beautiful part of me that wants me to be happy, and there's a dark side of
me that makes me feel sad." Or "I want to live and I hate the
part of me that has cancer," Or "I want peace but there
is a demon in me that makes me
angry," Or "I dream of harmony but I have an aggressive
side that destroys my relationships."
In my opinion, many people pay us to make friends
with their own parts that they do not like. And then we can
introduce those parts to our clients in friendly ways. Sometimes one part of a
person is also identified with someone else - a person may jump in and out of
deep sadness or
rage or anxiety as they change their
We had a client who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. We ... maybe we
don't understand what schizophrenia meant to the psychiatrist who
referred her to us. This woman seemed to have a part that was frightened, and
she hated feeling fear. For two hours, all we did was to make friends with her
fearful side. Then she could feel protected by her fear and we could discuss and
plan her life goals.
(Months later this woman appears mentally healthy
and takes no medication - see psychosis)
coaching to resolve inner conflict
Jan [sighs and starts looking around]
For example, [To Jan] would you like to continue researching
Jan [smiles and nods]
Jan, on your right side of you there was a motivation to smoke, a clown, and
on the left side there was motivation to be healthy, a beautiful white birch
tree. I wonder what the clown would say about the white birch tree?
Jan: That it is beautiful.
Martyn: If the birch tree could talk; what would the
birch say about the clown?
Jan: That it is so jovial.
Martyn: What does the clown know? What can the birch learn from the
clown about life?
Jan: That it is possible to live life with joy, that life means joy.
Martyn: Can you ask the tree, would it like the clown to teach it
about the joy of life?
Jan: It does, and in the same time it knows that it is important to
find all joy of life.
Martyn: A wise tree! And what does the
clown need to learn from the birch tree about life?
Jan: It is not necessary to be a clown all the time -
it is enough to be a clown for performances only.
Online Systemic Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
To readers: thank you for reading this far. Your attention is a compliment.
Please email us some of your own experiences.
Plagiarism is theft © Martyn Carruthers 2002-2018
All rights reserved. Transcribed by Dr Ana Pejcinova