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THE SEARCH FOR EXPANDED CONSCIOUSNESS With the person-centered approach - page 3 / 14

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approach: 1) We stated the purpose of the project and provided learning resources, but,

beyond scheduling dates for ten weekends during each year, we did not guide/direct the

meetings or establish the curriculum; 2) We entered the program as much as possible, as

co-learners rather than experts or ‘teachers’; 3) We established a climate that was

pervaded by the three conditions (congruence, empathy, and unconditional positive

regard); 4) we trusted the actualizing tendency of the group as a whole, and every

individual in it, to find our way into deepened understanding of person-centered theory

and practice. In other word, we were committed to the consistency between the theory of

the approach and our community learning process.

The results were amazing—chaotic sometimes, but transformative. We saw many

things that baffled and delighted us. For example, our staff met a day before each

weekend to clear out any issues or unresolved feelings between us or in our lived

experience outside. Consistently, those same personal/interpersonal issues surfaced later

in the community among learners. It was almost as though they had attended our staff

meetings, so eerily were they picking up our ideas, language and feelings. Sometimes, as

a group, we reached a state of astounding cohesion and unity. We referred to those

periods of cohesion as ‘moving into our group mind’. That state-of-being would hold up

until some crisis erupted to fragment it. Once we had dealt with the crisis with openness

and courage, the group would move to a higher level of functioning. Again and again,

these exhilarating times would reoccur, in which people would speak for one another,

have simultaneous insights, reach profound depths of empathy. Our decisions would

become increasingly creative and even brilliant, replacing the conflict and power

struggles that characterized the decision-making process in early stages of the group.

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