Creating and Altering Rituals

Creating and Altering Rituals

The patient is asked to pretend that his own identity has gone on a brief holiday and in its place this alternate character has materialized. The patient is asked to enact as best as he can twenty four hours a day, all that the alternate character might do, say or think. During this time, at least three therapy sessions per week are scheduled so that the patient and therapist can rehearse the enactment of the alternate character and evaluate the impact it is having. The therapist is careful to protect and respect the integrity of the patient “real self” which is on an imaginary holiday. This avoids the resistance that might be evoked by a direct challenge to the patient identity. Nor is the alternate character presented as how the patient should be. The enacted character is an experiment of being different.

In this temporary “fixed role”, the patients rehearse for and enacts five successive levels of social activities. (1) interactions with a teacher or supervisor (2) interactions with peers (3) interactions with spouse or intimate others (4) interactions with parents or their equivalents and (5) interactions in situations involving religion or religious experience. This sequence is intended to be progressively more challenging and therapy sessions every other day are designed to offer support and rehearsal for these increasing demands.

Eventually the patient’s “former self” must return and an integrative process begins. Honoring the processes that create “self-hood,” the therapist emphasizes that it is the old self that should evaluate what has happened and choose which direction to go. Perhaps the patient sees new possibilities and some of the patterns and practiced in the form of the alternate character is worthy of continued exploration. The goal of this experiment, with a likable genuine but slightly different person, is to realize his innermost personality is something he creates as he goes along, rather than something he discovers lurking in his insides or has been imposed upon him.

What the Western world defines as true self is actually patterns of continuous responses to people and the world. Patterns that have built over time. For example, you might think that you are the kind of person who get angry easily. However, it is more likely you have become the kind of person who get angry over minor things because of how you interacted with people for years. Not because you are in fact such a person.


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About the Author

Ivan Zy LimDr Ivan Zy Lim is a Clinical Psychologist with over 15 years of extensive practice experience in treating mental health issues. He is passionate about helping adults and adolescents with psychological and emotional difficulties. Prior to this profession, Dr Lim had over 20 years of experience in the corporate world. He has extensive experience in multi-cultural consulting, training and team facilitation; and has delivered workshops in 13 countries around Asia pacific. Dr Lim is a strong believer in living a balanced and healthy life. His other passions include Chinese martial art, Qigong, Chinese philosophy, spirituality and Lion & Dragon dance. His passion for Chinese Martial Art comes from the unique philosophy within the system that he believe is transferable into a counselling and life philosophy context. His Chinese Martial Art path was and still is a significant part of his physical, philosophical, emotional, psychological and spiritual being. Dr Lim have integrates Chinese martial art philosophy (Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism ) and Western talk therapy, a fusion of Eastern ideas with Western process. It provides an approach to learning and living well; the practical, the psychological and the spiritual, which he believe more adequately explain Asian behaviour.

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