One of the dynamics in my relationship with Peter is the speed differential. It is the professional who is being in "service" role to attune to the patient and client, not the other way around. Yet Peter likes to operate on his own speed, not on mine. And obviously I felt safe enough about something so un-threatening as an issue to bring this up to him. So I did. It was several years later and I was trying out a Peter Sandhill HAI workshop again to see if it would serve me. I asked him in a break to slow down his pace and listen to me and to not try and rush me, the way I normally felt rushed.
"It is vitally important that you be with me and these feelings and don't rush off before I'm done."
He said he would try to do that and he understood.
I started to talk.
I felt his restlessness and coached him: "Slow down. This is what I need."
He countered that it was agonizing for him and he wanted me to hurry up.
I said "Peter if you get up and walk away again half way through this process I'm not going to trust you again for another few years."
Starting to cry, Peter sandhill said "I just can't..."
He stood up from the "room of love" and walked out the door towards his private quarters. I knew that if he could have heard me and sat with my feelings with a sense of spaciousness (this feeling speeds things up dramatically in the same way that knowing that someone will not be there if you jump means you won't jump for eight hours because you don't want to fall with no one there) I was a few moments away from being heard.
Peter did not apologize. He did not circle back. His message was that I was too slow and it was killing him. He could not hold what I was asking him to hold one moment longer. I felt cold, bitter and clear: "There would be no trusting Peter. It was a waste of time to do workshops with him when he could not hold even the most basic feelings without betraying the container and suggesting that I was too slow. It was always my fault in Peter's world.
Questions: When a mental/emotional professional cannot hold space for a client because their own stuff is in the way, what is the best protocol for not abandoning someone they have said they will help:
a) Call someone on the team or another facilitator.
b) Apologize for being unready-unable to help.
c) Ask for a short break, apologize for the abandonment impact, find out what the impact is, hear it, and then come back to finish the container.
d) Leave in an emergency and circle back later with an apology and find support for the person.
e) Get up and leave - the very thing a client asks them not to do - and never address the issue again.
Concern: It is perfectly clear to me that there is terrain in which Peter Sandhill is in over his head. Yet he has never once asked for help. Why? Why is he choosing to let down his clients rather than get help? What does this say about HAI's training? Every facilitator has unanimously accepted Peter as a facilitator in the understanding that he will be referred without caveat to the participants for all manner of unspecified "help." Since not one facilitator said "maybe Peter is not ready," does that mean the facilitator body cannot discern a competent facilitator? This suggests that HAI is itself out of it's depth in training it's staff and leaving it's clients to take the hit for it's incompetence.