Thierry Bonfanti. Psicologo di formazione

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N.D.I is not just a therapeutic or pedagogic method. As well as being founded on a very sound theory of the personality (see the book by Michel Lobrot), it also encompasses philosophical aspects and values. It is not a binding moral, but rather an ideal. The first value of N.D.I. is the human relationship. Other people are important as human beings and not as objects that can be manipulated or managed. For example, in the corporate field, the management of human resources may be guided following both these aspects. From a non directive intervention perspective, relationships need to be looked after. Unless somebody wants to hurt us, there are no reasons why a relationship should be broken off, even if we have been hurt. All the potential in a relationship with someone we are involved with in some way or another needs to be protected. There is something potentially positive in nearly all relationships. In itself, a human relationship is positive. Each relationship contains positive potentiality. Everyone is different and we can give and receive different things from everyone. A human relationship is a factor of personal growth. The main tool in a relationship is communication. There are two aspects to communication. The first is the expression of one’s own desires. Every desire is legitimate. Everyone has the right to feel what they feel. In this sense, Rogers speaks of “experiential freedom”. What is not legitimate, however, is expecting something of somebody that they do not desire. The freedom of others must be respected. The expression of oneself has to take the other person into account. Communication is not just expressing oneself, without taking the other person into consideration. The choice of one’s words, the choice of the right moment, for example, are ways the other person is taken into consideration. There is a hierarchy of values in N.D.I. and protecting the relationship is a more important value than the value of the total expression of oneself. However, taking the other person into consideration does not mean pretending. Sincerity is another of the values of N.D.I. It is always better to be truthful to others. However, the expression of one’s own desires is both a duty towards oneself and a duty towards others. We are exposed by the expression of ourselves but it allows us to exist in the relationship. Indeed, at times expressing oneself is taking a risk. This risk is another of the values in N.D.I. since it is believed that communication helps relationships to grow no matter what. The second aspect of communication is listening, listening to the other person, his or her needs, desires, and fears. “Experiential freedom” also obviously applies to the other person. All the other person’s feelings should be recognised and accepted, starting with the principle in the N.D.I. values that a person can express their feelings totally. Listening to the other person is what is missing most in human relationships. Listening leads to awareness of who the other person is. Awareness is another value in N.D.I. Awareness of oneself but also awareness of the others, as well as of the relational processes. But listening is not a technique that is simple. Understanding the other person entails real interest in the other person, pleasure in entering the other person’s world. Interest in the other person is a form of love for what the other person is. The other person nurtures our own interior life. Another person’s desires can be a source of enrichment. Interest in another person is therefore not just altruistic. It is an exchange, interaction, interpenetration. Unfortunately, there are obstacles when entering another person’s world. For example, daily life is one of them. Being too busy trying to solve the problems of everyday life, people do not take the time to really listen to others. This happens in a couple, in the parent-child relationship, at work .... Communication is often more focussed on events than on the person themselves. Another obstacle when entering another person’s world by listening is that of fear. The fear of discovering things about the other person that will make us question ourselves or that, for example, will make us question the relationship. The fear of being upset, involved, hurt. The fear that the other person’s words might reactivate one’s own problems. The fear of feeling powerless in certain situations. All these fears explain the policy of sticking one's head in the sand and the difficulty in entering another person's world. A third obstacle when entering another person’s world is the absence of pleasure in doing so. Listening is often taught as a technique while it is really fundamentally based on the motivation, interest, and pleasure in listening to another person. Certain conditions are necessary if this pleasure is to be discovered. Everyone, whether an individual, couple or group, should have the possibility to go somewhere where they can have a certain kind of exchange that they do not usually have. The partners in a couple, for example, should be able to find a space where they talk about themselves and not just their everyday problems. If one is to discover the pleasure of entering another person’s world, one needs to take as much distance as possible from everyday life, and learn to be interested in the other person as someone who has a history, feelings, desires, and their own world. It is like going on a journey in a foreign country. It has to be fascinating. This kind of journey needs an initiation. This could be a training session with the aim of discovering the pleasure of getting to know the other person as a human being. That might be the right starting point. This is why I hold various courses on personal growth, both for individuals and couples that offer the occasion for this kind of experience. Being afraid of another person arises from ignorance of who the other person is as a human being, from a lack of understanding of the other person. Another value of N.D.I is the respect of another person’s desires, in a certain sense, the implementation of non-directivity. However, from a non-directive intervention perspective, non-directivity does not suffice. The proponent intervention to help the other person realize their desires is part of the values of N.D.I. The latter is not just tolerance, but also active help, support, and encouraging the other person to realize their desires. This might eventually become clear and simple within a professional relationship just as it might in a therapeutic or educational relationship. In a relationship that has no predefined roles, for example as might be the case in the relationship between a couple, there is the problem of articulating one's desires. Articulating one's desires is only possible through communication. As I said earlier, desires need to be expressed but one cannot expect that the other person does something they do not wish to do, or that they do without something they desire. We might wish that the other person does something or does without something but we cannot expect it. The only way out is communication. Non manipulative communication in which each person expresses their own needs and desires and tries to understand the other person. The result is not determined beforehand, but communication alone can give the opportunity to overcome crisis and conflicts. Communication is the bond in social life.