Gregory Bateson

I think of ‘holding the space’ usually when I’m working with a client. In that it is where I’m going, so the concept of teleology is also involved. I also think of working with a client more like ‘tracking’ than a merely linear interaction. And if you want to read a good book about tracking, there’s ‘The Tracker’ by Tom Brown.

So the skilled a tracker starts out by following along behind the animal or whatever they’re tracking.  But the indicators or markers that are left are also indicators of where what you are following is going and what they will be doing. So the more you are able to perceive the details, ‘the tracks’ and understand what they mean. The more you know where you are going and where you will end up.

And you don’t learn tracking by seeing some tracks and following them (and ending up in the tigers cave as dinner). Like Tom Brown, he apprenticed with ‘Grandfather’ a Native American trained in that tradition. Similarly Castaneda which resonates with Tom Brown. Has an experiential approach to his learning. He starts by having drug experiences, which many people mistakenly think shamanism is about. The more rigidly locked into your ‘view’ of reality you are, the bigger kick you need to get out of it, or well placed whack on the assemblage point.  But this can be elegantly or artfully done as well, ask any really good hypnotist, if you can find one (they wont put you to sleep, they’ll wake you up).

So when a client tells me what they want, and this is not about the words they use (and it takes some skill to actually get them to tell you what they want). This is the space I hold, working with them to get them there. And the working with them is the interesting part as where you’re working is the ‘mediated space’ between you. And Gregory Bateson said this, talking about Erickson, better than I can, from an interview with Brad Keeny:

Gregory Bateson referred to this shift when he was discussing Erickson in an interview with Brad Keeney, one of his students. The interview took place in 1976, when Erickson’s work was just getting known to a wider audience.

Erickson’s name came up during the interview, and Keeney asked if Bateson had been in touch with him recently. Bateson said he hadn’t, only through some of the many students that Bateson had sent to Erickson.

Keeney asked what he thought of the books that were coming out about Erickson, and Bateson harrumphed his archetypal British aristocratic harrumph. He said he hated the work, regretted sending people to Erickson, and would do it no more.

When Keeney asked him to elaborate, Bateson said that Erickson had a way of entering a system so thoroughly before he acted that he was not an ego separate from the system but part of the “weave of the total complex”. Therefore his techniques arose from within the weave and harmonized with them.

This is what I've learnt to do from Joseph to not be an ego separate from the system but be part of the weave of the total complex.