The Enactive Approach.
An introductory online workshop for coaches and counsellors on Weds March 22nd. 10am-12pm (UK).  
Save the date. Registration link will be here soon.

Afro Caribbean young male with cropped hair and white shirt in side profile with eyes closed. Clouds in the background overlap and merge with his image creating a dreamscape.

The last few decades has seen a significant shift in our cultural demographics, shedding new light on diversity needs and bringing waves of diversity awareness training. However, power in the therapy space arguably remains with the therapist, due largely to assumed authority and unconscious bias, leaving professional helpers struggling to address the needs of a new generation of equity-deserving client groups.

In hidden disabilities, for example, an attitude of ‘different not deficient’ is becoming popular, but looking behind the language of well-meaning, ‘different’ usually means from a white Western position, therefore embraces ‘othering’, for which long-term mental health implications are profoundly serious. This mismatch of salience (Milton, 2012) is most evident in the (mis)use of predominantly normative modes of therapy for autistic and neurodivergent populations. Intersectionality, which describes how a person’s various marginalised identities work together to impact their life, is even more complex.  But there is a fear among therapists of change, and of being seen by the patient-client as prejudiced or racist (Cowley, 2023), hindering transparency thus blocking the authentic and empathic relationship needed for healing and growth.  Irvin Yalom is a prime example of how being authentic and flawed for another flawed human requires bravery and a sense of safety.

We can become more reflexive and attuned to relationship dynamics when regarding our own flaws and cultural identity, and for this we propose a new Enactive Approach to therapy, counselling and coaching. As linguistic bodies (Paolo, Cuffari, and De Jaegher, 2018), professional helpers can be more dynamically aware, growing with clients towards better, more dynamic relationships of trust and responsibility, which is a paradigm shift away from a deficit approach, to one of deep embodiment, equity, social parity, abundance and love. 

Female ballet dancer in whie on blakc background stage lit in pirouette with long flowing fabric swirling about her.

This workshop introduces an understanding of the Enactive Approach and serves as preparation for a forthcoming training programme.  

Cowley, K. (2023). Own Your Identity, p.36-40, Coaching at Work, January/February, Vol 18,
Milton D. (2012). On the ontological status of autism: The ‘double empathy problem’. Disability and Society, 27(3), 883–887
Paolo, E., Cuffari, E., and De Jaegher, H. (2018). Linguistic Bodies: The Continuity between Life and Language , MIT Press.