Richard Hill and Ernest Rossi have made a fairly recent (2017) contribution in the therapeutic space, “Mirroring Hands”. Like many new things, it was a long time in the making. Informed by Rossi’s extensive earlier works, Mirroring Hands uses more recent developments in neuro-science technology, awareness of natural rhythms, and developments in psychotherapy, I believe Hill and Rossi offer something very special with this process.
At its heart, Mirroring Hands can be seen as a very simple technique. The therapist is effectively demoted from expert to ally, providing minimal direction as they invite the client to embrace curiosity and observe their own experience. The client might experience their own changing awareness, or any meaning that might attach to experience. There is minimal discourse or conversation in favour of “inner work”.
In the beginning, there is rapport. A critical element in any variant of psychotherapy, rapport facilitates a sense of safety to proceed. The quality of the relationship between therapist and client is a most important determinant of effectiveness in therapy.
Hill and Rossi refer to inner self-healing capacities as logical functions of therapeutic consciousness. This is the mindset of openness to the essential processes of beneficial change. It might seem self-evident that the very fact of the client’s attendance for therapy means there is a therapeutic consciousness or predisposition to access inner resources to support healing. Not necessarily so. The process of Mirroring Hands offers a prospect for changes to be integrated, for the best self to be retrieved from painful disruptive consciousness.
Curious about curiosity
Wonder, fascination, sensitivity to novelty, to possibilities in therapy are powerful, if often overlooked, features of resourceful therapy. Hill and Rossi unpack three elements of curiosity: Curiosity for information, curiosity for play, and curiosity for possibility/meaning. Supporting a curiosity mindset is a powerful alternative to the misuse of imagination through anxiety for example.
Systems of life
The client comes for psychotherapy because they believe they are not ok. They usually come to be “fixed” over the course of a number of sessions. In the Mirroring Hands process, Hill and Rossi refer to natural capacities within the client which can activate a willingness to become ok, to recover their normal functioning. This is just obvious. The process of Mirroring Hands respects the natural capacities of the client, placing the client in the therapeutic driving seat. Exploration of the “problem” inhibiting the client’s functioning is supported by inviting the client to simply examine their hands as if, for the first time. Attending, focusing, and observing their hands. Noticing whatever differences might apply to either. One may seem heavier, lighter, warmer etc., than the other. It would be overly simplistic to regard Mirroring Hands as a variation of “Parts Integration” from the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming.
Problem-solving with Mirroring Hands
The Mirroring Hands therapist invites the client to permit their problem issue to inhabit one hand. Permitting the problem issue to sit in one space implies that “non-problem” may be understood to sit in an opposite space, the other hand. With focused, absorbed attention, this is quite a reasonable proposition. The very act of choosing to project the problem issues into one hand, available for observation, affords some distance from pain.
The other hand then, holds the difference that makes the difference. A certain comfort may be contained within this distance. From here there is greater opportunity for the client to engage their natural processes of self-organisation toward regained resourcefulness and healing.
So Mirroring Hands supports the client’s connection to their innate mind-body healing.
The therapist is extremely client-responsive and certainly non-directive. The therapist supports curiosity, wonder even, as to any relationship between physical sensation and problem resolution. In other words the therapist supports the client’s exploration of possibilities and meanings.
The therapist even invites healing or resolution to proceed after the session has ended. Sustaining the shift from disruption toward integration and healing is encouraged.
Focused attention which supports deep curiosity and positive expectation or “nascent confidence” sets the scene for good work in therapy. Mirroring Hands is a very useful version of solution oriented therapy. The course workbook itself houses an abundance of research evidence from neuroscience (even a neuroscience of curiosity!).
I myself have used Mirroring Hands with clients in clinic. The initial discipline required to ‘get out of my own way’ and let the client engage with their own experience, to learn what they are learning without a need to share or discuss, was interesting. Clients achieve realisations, make connections, and reconnect with personal power when it works. when the client is predisposed to do this important work.
Mirroring Hands is a relatively recent addition to the therapist’s tool-kit (2017) and its simplicity is deceptively complex. The therapist will benefit from restraint in favour of encouraging their client to take their rightful place at the heart of the process … in charge of their own recovery. Mirroring Hands is a most welcome resource for any professional in the therapeutic space. As Hill and Rossi say; Mirroring Hands is not for every client in all situations, but then no process is. Best therapy fits both client and context. For a little more information … https://www.richardhill.com.au/mirroring-hands