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I’m OK, You’re OK

In this month’s blog post Fiona Cook, Director of Training at Physis Scotland shares how we have been thinking about OKness in Foundation Year and using a model called the Senses Framework to help us articulate how we’re feeling. Read about what we’ve been learning about in Fiona’s post ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’.

When, where and with whom can you truly be yourself in very sense of that word truly?

For some we might be truly ourselves with family, and for some it definitely will not be, or may not be with all members of your family. For some it will be when we are with friends; for some it might not be with all of our friends. For some it might be when we are alone and by ourselves, and for others being alone would be our worst nightmare.

Most of us can probably articulate more eloquently when we are not feeling ok in some situations rather that when we are ok. It’s easier to ‘know’ when we are not ok than the other. Perhaps, when we find ourselves in a Game with others, when we are in danger or even when we think we are in danger and maybe when we are actually quite safe, but we don’t feel it. Safe I mean. We probably all experience from time to time, moments when we are not feeling like ourselves and are therefore not ok. When we are feeling like this, we are likely to be in Parent or Child ego state with archaic memories and introjects contaminating our belief system of ourselves and others and it will affect how we think, feel and behave.

As therapists, I believe our job is to work with our clients in partnership to help them have the best relationship intrapsychically with themselves first and foremost. When they have that, then they will be able to have good relationships with the others they want to have good relationships with.

Some of you know that in a previous life, I have had the privilege of being a registered nurse. During my time in the health service, I had to develop relationships with many people – some I liked and some I didn’t like if I am being honest – and yet I had to work with them on a professional level, patients and colleagues alike even when I felt my script being activated and ended up in my favoured life position of I’m not OK, You are OK.

A beautiful piece of research conducted by Professor Mike Nolan in Sheffield University some time ago yielded some interesting results about what older people in hospital needed to be ‘themselves’ in an unfamiliar and scary environment, being cared for intimately by people they did not know. He discovered these patients needed a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging, a sense of continuity, a sense of purpose, a sense of security and a sense of significance to be themselves.

He replicated the same research with other groups of people and funnily enough discovered the same results. As humans, we all need these senses to feel safe in the worlds we live, work and inhabit. So, how can we use the Senses Framework to make a sense check (‘scuse the pun😊) of where we are in groups, families and other situations we find ourselves?

When our students start in Foundation Year with us, we all embark on being in relationship with new people. Foundation Year is a year of self-discovery as we learn more and understand more about the impact we have on ourselves and others. We learn about our strengths, and we also learn about our Script, particularly identifying situations when we are feeling ok and also when we are not feeling ok. We are learning about ourselves.

Group process is a place where we start to learn to share about how we are thinking, feeling and behaving in the group and how we are experiencing ourselves and others. There are many ways to

support groups to learn about this process, but one way we value at Physis Scotland is to introduce them to the Senses Framework and ask each person to give themselves a score for each sense out of 5 about how they are feeling in this new group. A score of 0 means they are not feeling the sense at all, whereas a score of 5 means that they are experiencing the sense well. We invite them to firstly score on their own and then get into groups to share their scores and also what would help their scores to improve. This will be a combination of asking the group for what they need, coupled with what they can do for themselves when they access their Adult ego state and begin to do things differently as a group member. We encourage them to learn that we cannot change others, only ourselves, but by asking for what we need, others may help us. We also help each other to understand that words create worlds. In other words how we say things to each other will help to create the positive culture of the group and how we are and want to be with each other moving forward.

So, we invite curiosity about self and others. Asking questions of ourselves and wondering about ourselves is such an Adult thing to do and yet it might not have been something that was encouraged as small children and thus can be potentially scary to put into practice as grownups. Trying things out and doing things differently can be life changing as can saying things out loud for the first time.

I have learned that not being curious about myself keeps me in Script whereas learning to develop an Adult view of self and looking at things through a different lens, I recognize I can feel differently about myself and others so that I can be OK and so can others. Using the Senses Framework can be such a helpful start to this process of self discovery – why not try scoring yourself in some of your own contexts and see what comes up. You can think, feel and behave differently if you want to. What is the worst thing that can happen? Be kind to yourselves as you give it a go!


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