The following is from my book, Trauma and Identity: IoPT Theory and Practice, on the topic of the IoPT facilitator.
The practitioner must hold the breadth of vision of life ... . the miracle of the creation of a unique and utterly perfect creature as the egg and sperm join together; this creature that has never existed before and never will again, but for now he or she exists and is perfect. The incredible life in the womb ... a growing organism, cell by cell, structure by structure, increasing in complexity each moment, every cell having its purpose, structure and function, everything necessary and everything developing to support the future existence of this tiny infant. The energy and life of this vulnerable being ... his individuality, identity and developing ‘I’, all oriented towards being, existing, flourishing and living a good life, provided circumstances allow. It is the practitioner’s job to hold this breadth of vision. To hold in their own consciousness the fragility and strength of life itself.
It is the practitioner who, against all the survival defences of the enquirer, must hold in their vision the truth of trauma, and the underlying devastation of the fragile psyche of the infant, the impossibility of fighting the forces of the parents, the adults, for many years; how much of the person in front of them has had to be locked away and forgotten in order to get to adulthood, and how much pain there is underneath the superficial, perhaps even irritating, survival construction of the enquirer. I tell my students that the next time they see a very newly born baby they take the opportunity to look and see this infant’s fragility and vulnerability. As adults it is hard for us to remember that we, too, were that fragile and vulnerable, and that those we work with were also that fragile and vulnerable.
The IOPT practitioner has to hold in her vision this truth as she looks at the present person attempting to explore his or her trauma. The reality is that all that is unhealthy in anyone has come in from the outside. No one traumatises themselves. The fact of trauma, expressed in the desire to set an intention, means that there is a perpetrator, and that perpetrator is someone else. It is against the forces of nature for anything to intentionally harm itself. No oak tree sets out to cause harm to itself; no insect would intentionally hurt itself. Life’s desire is simply to be alive, and that is our healthy desire too, from the start. The person in the beginning of their life can be nothing but perfect, perhaps a simple potential of love. It is the devastating trauma of not being wanted in this world by those on whom the newly created child must depend, and for whom he has, in the beginning, only love and trust, that is the greatest betrayal of life. Life wants life. As the Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, puts it:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
(The Prophet, Gibran, 1971)
The IOPT practitioner has set herself on her own continual journey of self-knowing. Given her commitment to her work, she too will learn something about herself with every process she facilitates. Learning is life, whether through one’s own explo- ration or through witnessing and engaging in the exploration of another.