On Wednesday of this week I attended my last class of Listening Training II from Seek Healing.
Listening Training II was a 12-week course on how to facilitate Seek Healing’s groups, with a lot of information on how to facilitate in general.
What kind of groups does Seek Healing run? Basically, it hosts Honesty Salons for addiction.
As far as I can tell, Seek Healing’s rationale has its roots in Neo-Freudian attachment ideas and humanistic psychology. The rationale goes like this: people are always trying to get their needs met. If they feel pain, they will try to ease that pain by using available substances and behaviors. Many people feel chronic pain. People who feel chronic pain will want to ease their pain by using available substances and behaviors chronically, and this long-term relationship may affect the individual significantly. While the public would call such a long-term relationship an “addiction,” such a relationship would be better termed, in the argument of Professor Peter Cohen and journalist Johann Hari, a “bond.” The person who is bonded with compulsive shopping, or masturbation, or intravenous heroin, is using the same attachment system that adults use to bond to friends and partners and an infant uses to bond to a caregiver. In place of the use of the word “addiction,” which is often interwoven with hegemonic cultural complexes such as “Recovery culture” and “abstinence culture,” the word “bond” highlights normality: it is normal to try to stop feeling pain, it is normal to use substances and behaviors to alter consciousness, and bonds themselves are normal in the sense that we form them to heroin and Netflix and we’re all in a constant process of harm reduction, and also bonds themselves are functional, but all bonds will create secondary consequences* (*and sometimes they create pain that the person then attempts to use the same bond to relieve, which long-term… isn’t great), and also it’s important the person make their own choices about what their bonds mean and what to do about them.
A common form of chronic pain is chronic emotional pain. Chronic emotional pain frequently comes from social/developmental wounds, including attachment wounds, trauma, and social isolation. So, rather poetically, Seek Healing treats the wound at the root of unhealthy bonding – disconnection – by providing healthy connection. Bonding vs. healthy connection to people. This makes a kind of intuitive sense: if people are hurting for the absence of something, why not give them the realest version of that thing?
What Seek Healing considers healthy human connection and how Seek Healing creates it is an interesting technical question.
I also hear Fritz Perls often brought up in Getting Real and Radical Honesty circles as the kind of godfather of their respective movements via his group therapy and psychodrama. My understanding of the history of these group formats and of Perls isn’t fully developed (his name hasn’t been mentioned in the psychology classes I’ve taken).
What does this mean for me?
I like the work and it feels good for me to do. I’m excited about where this will go for me. I’m excited to have something to contribute to this organization and to suffering people. It provides the opportunity for me to get a range of my needs met all at the same time: all of my social needs from meeting people to emotionally connecting with them to giving them sacred love, spiritual needs, my financial needs in the possibility that I may be paid for facilitating, and other needs in that it’s intrinsically motivating and I’m seeing myself grow at it.
I think I’ll complete their program to become a certified facilitator. It requires some time facilitating.
And maybe this is a way into purpose for me. Maybe this is something I can look forward to when I wake up every morning: I can be
And I want to broaden my understanding of the history of this stuff, and the other options in this space. How exactly is Seek Healing different from Circling?