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Newsletter: May 2019
Reader question: What is Micro-tracking in PBSP?
Answer from Curt Levan, Ph.D., PBSP Trainer:
In Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor (PBSP) micro-tracking is a unique skill for therapists and the starting point of all structures. There are two responses that we track: affect and voices. The therapist begins by introducing the idea of a witness figure, someone who would be in the “present” or “here and now” to name and validate the client’s feelings. The therapist can use their hand and arm to point to a space in the air close by. This could be a space next to the therapist, behind the therapist, etc. The client can then begin to imagine a witness figure that is actually in the room, yet separate from the therapist.
As the client begins to share, the therapist watches the facial emotions and physical motions of the client moment by moment. Whenever someone speaks there are feelings that are tied to the subject matter. As the therapist observes such a feeling, the therapist will say, “If there were a witness here, a witness would say, I see (name the emotion emanating from the client) how sad you feel when you remember your dad not being there for you. Here the therapist is putting in the feeling word and repeating exactly what the client just said. (dad was not there for me). The more accurate the therapist names the feeling, the greater the therapeutic alliance. The more accurate the content, the more the witness statement connects to the exact part of the client's brain where the thought originated from.
As the therapist micro-tracks the client, the client will make a cognitive statement that reflects a set of beliefs about how the world works and how they are to live in the world. For example, a negative predictive voice could say, “nothing ever works for me.” The therapist would then say, “that sounds like a voice of negative prediction that says, “nothing ever works out for you.”
Successful micro-tracking demands that the therapist have a broad and deep vocabulary of names for emotions and a strong memory. The process requires the therapist to quickly and accurately identify a feeling word to feed back to the client, and a strong memory so as to repeat back the exact words the client used. This is important as it keeps the flow of the conversation moving along.
Here are two common misses in micro-tracking.
1. Inaccurately summarizing or theorizing what the client said.
For example, saying, "You weren't happy because being with your dad was upsetting. Is that right?" rather than, "A witness would say, I see how sad you feel because your dad wasn't there for you. Is that right?" Precise witness statements elicit more responses from the client and their "truth" becomes clear to you and to them.
2. Incorrectly focusing on the content statement that includes a feeling word.
A therapist can lose their present moment antenna and overlook the content in the client's face and/or body. For example, failing to notice that the client appears to be angry, pissed, or put out, and instead getting caught up in the client's words. For example, the client might say, "I was so worried that Suzie was not texting me back. Incorrectly the therapist might zero in on the word "worried." Yet the correct micro-tracking statement might be, "If a witness were here, a witness would say, "I see how put out you feel as you remember being worried that Suzie was not texting you back."
The point here is to keep micro-tracking the face and body no matter the feeling words used by the client as these words alone may not tell the full story.
Micro-tracking is a complex and exacting process. My aim in this short piece is to provide you with a greater understanding of this technique, rather than overloading you with new concepts. I will continue explaining the topic of micro-tracking in future newsletters and hope this first installment is helpful.
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