At a recent training, we discussed the importance of learning in the moment and the importance of the here-and-now. I posted something about this over a year ago, so I figured it was important to revisit. Most often, activities or worksheets presented in manualized curricula reference “there and then” issues, meaning they ask the clients to use as a reference their past issues or experiences. This results in talking “about” the issues as opposed to actively working “with” the issues as they come up. This distinction is crucial because when we talk “about” something, we are more emotionally removed than when we are working “with” something that is arising in the moment. It is this emotion that facilitates learning. More specifically, the emotion engages the hippocampus in our brain which ties the learning with the emotion and creates a memory. We then become more likely to recall this information and use it in our lives.
When we ask about “there and then” issues, numerous things distort the client’s conception of what they were thinking and feeling back then in their retelling of it in the present. Therefore, the focus of the activities in this blog is to activate the “here and now”. This tool of activating the here and now has been around for a long time, and Irvin Yalom, a giant in the field of psychotherapy and group facilitation, was a strong proponent of this method. By activating the “here and now” we invite the client’s genuine, immediate and relevant responses and are able to facilitate working with and through these.
You can activate the here and now using activities, but also the questions you ask the group. Here are some examples of questions that will help bring the focus away from there-and-then to the here-and-now:
- What emotions are you all hearing as Abby is sharing?
- Bobby, you mentioned being nervous. What does nervousness feel like? How do you know that you are nervous?
- Several of you have spoken, what themes are you all hearing in what you are talking about?
- What are ways that you all are managing your anxiety right now as we talk about this?