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The process of Understanding I was impressed by Meercat’s appreciation that she felt allowed to “waffle on” and “carry on without making sense, repeat in the flow of the conversation, go over the same again, go back and forwards”.

Anderson & Goolishian (1988,1992) underscore that the therapist is not the expert of the life of the client. This has inspired me not to decide what should be said and how. Hence I am alert as to how my questions may direct the course of the conversation. Meercat is the one who will inform me about what she wants to inform me about. Consequently I do not as Meercat says, interrupt her or “move to something else, intervene or use power to decide what we are going to talk about”. This attitude of mine may be the reason why Meercat experiences that her voice is worth hearing. However, I do not imagine Meercat’s experience of being heard by the therapist as static and final. This is not only a matter of the patience of the therapist; it is may be more about an interest and curiosity; wondering ‘is there more to come?’ This connects to the notion of being understood, and understanding is part of the dialogical process, Bakhtin would say. Building on Bakhtin’s writings (1984) I would say that it is a matter of sensing the other’s inner dialogues in all their incompleteness and within their context. I believe there is a link here to the process described by Hafstad & Øvreeide (1998) as transcending oneself with curiosity and tuning in to the other. I think this is Weingarten’s (1992) point when she explains how understanding requires the act of recognizing in another person another centre of consciousness. This may mean that, in the process of moving from the inability to understand to the ability to understand, one needs to develop the ability to not understand. I connect this to a listening stance; to be patient when you don’t understand, and be interested in hearing more and be curious about what can emerge through the conversation.

Tolerance of Uncertainty I am interested as listener and therapist when Meercat is telling “the never ending story”, going “back and forwards”, “carry on without making sense” and “repeat” herself. I don’t feel the need for “intervening or stopping her” or use “power to decide what we are going to talk about” because I believe that there is always more to come. May be my experience of ’not knowing what to say’ has a function; that Meercat feels all her voices are welcome into the dialogue. I don’t experience it only as a matter of a not-knowing, but that we are, as Seikkula (2003) might say, creating a dialogical space for ’tolerance for uncertainty’. May be we have co-created a space where Meercat can speak without censorship. I wonder if we have created a 44

Dialogical Action Research  

Dialogical Action Research - About therapeutic listening, creating space for voices to emerge and to be heard

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