Offering Space


No one likes to be told what to do, or say, or believe. Of course not. Still, we are being ordered, coerced, or persuaded all the time. Be it sneaky or overt, concealed or blunt, convincing or forced. Main reason for our dislike is that it is confronting, and ultimately implying that “we must change our lives” (1). But what if we do not want to adjust, or follow imperatives stated for us? What if the required changes conflict with our beliefs and orientation? In education, and other helping professions, this creates a huge dilemma. A mentor, a teacher in interaction with a student, would like to point out certain learning needs, specific learning problems but this takes effect only when acknowledged by the mentee, the learner. One interesting aspect of this huge (helping) dilemma is the part that deals with the interaction between helper and the one being helped. Are they both accepting, acknowledging each other point of view? Are they creating space for bridging between another? In interactions between an advice giver and a mentee there can/will be inequality in power and position. Therefore, a bridging relationship calls for cognitive justice (2); that is, recognition of integrity in knowledge creation which starts by creating space to allow for expression of views. You cannot “force to know”.
A matter of concern would be the case when bridging faults, when the space in-between is too wide. Then the twain will never meet. An illuminative study in counseling helps to clarify this concern. It looked into the position and role of a counselor interacting with Black Pentecostal clients. These clients belong to a faith group with strong convictions and emotional ways of interaction. The study points to the importance of creating space by 1) counsellor awareness of personal cultural identity, 2) counsellor awareness of the client’s cultural identity, 3) setting up a working alliance, and 4) recognizing social justice as the foundation for practice.

Still this does not illuminate how space making would work. May be it is simply (although it never really is) to be invitational in interaction (3). Inviting to: express, clarify, show, maintain …, there are a myriad of ways to engage in interaction that allow for making a space that invites. The core of it would be: not telling what to do, say or believe but listening to what the other says, does or thinks, … in order to…

Sandra Dixon & Nancy Arthur; (2015). Creating Space to Engage Black Pentecostal Clients in Multicultural Counselling Practices Published online: 19 December 2014 by Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014. Published in: Int J Adv Counselling (2015) 37:93–104; DOI 10.1007/s10447-014-9228-x




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