from Judy's notebook:

Facilitative and blocking responses

Research is a way of gathering and sharing the collective experience of a community. In the secular counseling profession, as you might expect, a great deal of research has been done on which responses foster or hinder the work. Here are some responses that help:
  • summarizing (I want to be sure I understand what you have told me)
  • interchangeable responses, especially those which are worded so as to reflect feelings and beliefs (I hear you saying that you are angry that your covenmate gossips about you and others.)
  • invitations to clarify (Would you like to talk about it some more? Could you tell me more about your confusion? Could you give me another example of a time when you got that angry? Let's see if we can figure out the assumptions behind that point of view. How do you think you might act upon that feeling?)
  • "I messages" (I am curious as to how you dealt with that difficult situation. I am eager to know more about your thinking on this issue. I am pleased to know that things worked out so well for you. I am disappointed that things did not work out the way you hoped. I am confused about what you are saying to me.)
  • low-level inferences (It seems like you were really disappointed that you weren't consulted. I have a hunch that it was very difficult for you to be assertive in this situation)
  • combinations (I hear the anxiety you are feeling. I sense you were especially disappointed that your supervisor did not tell you sooner about that decision. I wonder if you took that to mean that you opinions are not valued in the department.)
And here are some other responses that, in the experience of professional counselors, tend to discourage the clients, to make effective inner work more difficult and less likely:
  • put-downs and personal criticisms (You have got to be kidding when you say that! Get real!)
  • criticisms of viewpoints and beliefs (Your reasoning makes no sense at all here)
  • rejection of feelings (You know that endings are part of the Cycle. You have no right to resent them, let alone to get angry with the Gods!)
  • giving orders or pressing for some course of action, especially before relevant facts are known (Look, it's really very simple, what you need to do is ... You are just being lazy or timid or whatever)
  • support giving in a patronizing way (Lots of people get mixed up about that. it's normal; don't worry about it)
  • lecturing, moralizing, sermonizing (When I was a Dedicant ...)
  • opinion giving, especially if offered so that there is no room for another to present an alternative point of view (Well, of course the knife is Fire.)
  • asking a series of data gathering questions or interrogating (What are your interests? Do you prefer Tarot or astrology? Do you prefer being with people or being alone when you are nervous?)
  • asking "why" questions that require justifications (Why did you bring up that coven problem at the public Sabbat, where the discussion could be heard by people who are not in our group?)
  • taking sides with people in conflict (Mary, I think Bill is right about this matter. You do show a lot of scorn for his ideas)


Please be aware of the complication here: the last four items are things you might very appropriately say or ask in other areas of your work as a High Priest/ess. Anyone who does ancillary counseling is engaged in a "dual role" relationship, and these are always complicated. The best you can do is to be as clear as possible about which role you are playing in the moment. Consulting with others who do similar work is another great help.

For more information concerning dual-role relationships, see The Dual-Role Dilemma.

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    This page was found in Judy's notebook; author and source unknown
    Adapted to describe Pagan situations by Judy Harrow
    The address of this page is