Biology and culture connect us

Awareness and memory fixate on a person or place and sideline the rest.

When we pass through a doorway into another space our short term memory adopts the frame of reference of that space. A map of its dimensions, content and memories. Everything associated with the previous surroundings fades. We may forget what we came for. If we return we can recall what we came for. Doorways are switches.

Similarly our memory and focus shifts from being with one person to being with another. We adopt a new frame of reference.

Body rhythms and thinking synchronise when people are near each other. Heart and other rhythms synchronise just as pendulums in a room eventually swing in unison. We tune into each other's minds and emotions through our heart and brain rhythms.

Like other social animals, human “mirror neuron” areas of the brain are hard-wired to silently and internally mimic the voice, posture and gestures of others. This neural network connects with sensory, motor, emotional and decision-making areas of the body. It tracks the movements of others and their emotions and runs scenarios of what it feels like to be them.

he experiences of others are felt almost as if they are our own. Someone else’s habits, moods and scenarios come alive and run their course inside us as we build a model of them inside ourselves.

When we ignore these we still experience them below the level of conscious awareness. Yawning and laughing are irresistibly contagious and harder to ignore.
These mechanisms operate from a few months after birth unless they have been over-ridden by abuse or starved through neglect. Even the sound of movement in the dark sets them going.

Higher animals educate their offspring by demonstrating. They rely on the natural Impulse of their young to mimic them. Similarly we can rely on our clients and students to tune into our feelings, our demeanor and our responses to the scenarios they bring to us. When we are true to ourselves, we allow a client to be themselves. Our unconditional accepting and attending shows them how to care for themselves and others.

common culture
Even before therapy begins, ideas and feelings are aligned by cultural beliefs and common values. Roles and mutual expectations have already begun to take shape
before the first meeting.

who we are
Most knowledge and skills are learned more easily and naturally by tuning into someone than learning their theories or following their instructions. While clients process the therapeutic conversation they absorb their therapist's way of thinking, feeling and responding. A therapist is not only communicating with words but they are also the communication. Who we are is important as well as what we say or do.