The Hug

published 7 Sep 2018 by Us in a Bus in Practice category with 0 comments

By Anne Laney – Practice Manager, Nancy Keeley – Interaction Practitioner and Janet Gurney – Director of Training

Anne Laney

Nancy Keeley

As Intensive Interaction Practitioners, being mindful of what we consider the ‘purpose’, of spending time interacting with someone, is something we try hard to do. Sometimes, we think we ‘have it’, but when we try to verbalise, it can be a little less clear than we imagined.

Here is a wonderful piece of practice witnessed by our Director of Training. We then asked our Practitioners to develop these thoughts into clear purpose. You can see what they came up with, further down the page*.

Janet Gurney

Our Director of Training writes “As we walked into Jen’s room, she noticed Nicky and looked towards her. There was not much change in her facial expression, but a definite alertness.  Nicky immediately dropped down to be at the same head level, and capitalised on Jen’s alertness with a very definite (not loud or over jolly) “Hello Jen”.

Jen turned her head to Nicky and vocalised what sounded like “Ggg”. Nicky said “Was that ‘Hug?’ and put herself in an accessible, huggable position, maintaining enough distance for this not to be a demand. Jen paused, assimilated, decided and turned towards Nicky (who hadn’t moved an inch or altered her facial expression in the seconds this took), reached out and embraced her. Only once she was enveloped did Nicky respond by moving into Jen’s embrace and reciprocating the hug. What Nicky couldn’t see was the beautiful, relaxed, happiness spreading over Jen’s face (more than a smile!). It was a moment of total mutual connection. Totally in Jen’s control and totally real. As soon as Jen moved to end the hug, so did Nicky.

A photo might have captured the joyful connection. However, it could not have conveyed the series of micro observations, interpretations, and actions that were informing the conscious steps of Nicky’s practice throughout. The fact that it was practice does not in any way imply that the connection was not genuine and mutual. It was the practice that allowed it to happen so smoothly and so much in Jen’s control.”

*Here are a couple of examples that our team came up with for the purpose for such interactions.

  • To offer Jen the opportunity to initiate, and explore moments of physical closeness of which she has full control. For her to experience feelings of warmth, connection and positivity when her moves out into the social world are accepted, shared, celebrated and enjoyed.
  • To foster intentional communication by making ourselves available and responding to what could be a request for a hug. To offer opportunities for her to explore the feelings associated with physical closeness, and of nurturing and caring for another person. These important emotions are often denied to people who spend much of their time being cared for by others.

Finding exactly the right words is sometimes a challenge and, as with everything, practice makes perfect.


Published by

Us in a Bus

7 Sep 2018

Linking Lives

Click on the link below to see a PDF version of our Newsletter, Linking Lives.

Summer 2015
Issue 1/2016
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