This is why I don’t like icebreakers* or warm-ups.
“Back to 1999. It is the residential weekend of the counselling diploma course I was on. The whole Saturday was given over to a Psychodrama workshop. People are understandably apprehensive. These workshops can strip you naked and leave you there. The tutor pitches up, takes off her shoes and announces that we need to connect. We need to centre. We need to disinhibit. She then gets her portable cassette player out and puts on Rocking All Over The World. She then launches herself around the room like a kangaroo on whizz. One by one, people nervously follow her. Some just copy what she is doing. Others start dancing like they’re at the scout’s disco. I cannot move. I am gripping the side of my chair and I don’t have enough hands to cover both my ears and my eyes. My best friend is a genius. She makes an excuse to go to the ladies and reappears a couple of minutes later and starts throwing cushions at all and sundry. The song finishes and everyone sits back down. Deep discomfort rules and the nerves about the psychodrama are more palpable than ever.
The workshop is awful. Unboundaried. Exploitative. Very upsetting. It was a vehicle for the tutor’s ego. After lunch we have a review of the morning and I offer my feelings of disquiet. The tutor then invites me to work through my feelings of unease in a psychodrama. Checkmate. We have a tense standoff for a few minutes but she can see that I’m not going to move out of my chair. By the end of the afternoon, everyone is wringing wet. Any protective layers we had when Francis Rossi started singing had been ripped from us.”
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* unless I’m on a frozen-in Russian trawler in the Arctic, feeling the cold, in which case I really like both.
Oh my. Just when 16 years of intensive therapy seemed to have cured me of the trauma of a therapeutic encounter back in 1999, two events this week have set back my recovery by decades.
My problem? Spontaneous (?) expressions at group togetherness and being urged to shake off my shackles before I can engage in a life changing experience. I’ll come on to what caused this later but firstly, the two triggers.
I spoke at a conference on Wednesday and was tipped off before hand that just prior to my talk, the audience would be led in one of those making a lot of noise, moving about a lot sort of exercises that are meant to leave your problems behind and bring you firmly into the room. For me, this kind of exercise takes me firmly out of the room and freezes me to the point of total disengagement…
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