Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Presenting to the Italian Person-Centered Association

Entry for 25 November 2006:

This was the 7th Congress of IACP, the Associazione Europea della Psicoterapia Centrata sul Cliente e dell’Approccio Centrato sulla Persona “Carl Rogers”. I had presented the Person-Centred/Experiential therapy meta-analysis and a general call for research two years ago at another conference in Rome organized by Alberto Zucconi, so this time, I wanted to do something different. I was also concerned about the slow progress on the Italian end of the International Project on the Effectiveness of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy Training (IPEPPT) that Alberto and I have been trying to organize for the past 2 1/2 years. Therefore, I decided that I should lead by example and present the HSCED study of client PE-111 (“George”). I had presented a version of this to the Strathclyde Monday Part-time diploma course a couple of weeks ago, and it had worked fairly well, so I was hopeful. I knew the presentation was too complicated for this audience, so I dropped big sections of it.

However, what I had not counted on was the scheduling of a memorial session for Antonio Ferrari, a well-loved member of the Rome Institute training staff who died of stomach cancer a couple of months ago. This session was directly before my 10 am Saturday morning session. When we arrived 15 min before my talk to meet with Gianni to sort out the equipment, we found the room overflowing with crying people in the midst of a collective act of grief.

There was nothing for it but to wait for the process to unfold, which took another hour, including break. It turned out that it was going to be very difficult get sound to go with the two video segments, which were really the heart of my presentation. Fortunately, I had just finished transcribing the segments, so I was prepared to work from the transcripts. However, Gianni refused to accept the technical limitations and vowed to continue to try to solve the problem.

After Alberto had stalled as long as he could, I began the presentation, with Alberto doing sequential translation. (My original translator had resigned when they saw my unedited Powerpoint slides, complaining that the talk was too technical.) Alberto and I were about halfway through the first segment, working off the transcript, when Gianni rushed in; he had slipped out and gone to a local shop to buy the needed cable for hooking up my laptop to the sound system. We finished the transcript, and the following material up the second video segment, then plugged the laptop into sound system.

In the midst of this chaotic process, it began to emerge that Alberto’s translation was taking 2 to 3 times longer than the original English-language version (I had planned for a 1 to 1 ratio of English to Italian). That meant that the presentation was taking much longer than I had anticipated and that I would have to jettison large parts of it. With all the build-up, the audience clearly wanted to hear and see the segment, so that was going to be pretty much the rest of my talk. At this point, many members of the audience said they wanted to hear the whole segment first, before hearing Alberto’s translation. This turned out to be a very good idea, because it allowed even the non-English-speakers in the audience to pay attention to the nonverbals and vocal quality. Then we turned the sound down and played the segment through again, with the transcript displayed next to it. (I had spent quite a bit of time setting this up beforehand, as a contingency plan. Sometimes planning does help!) This had the effect of forcing Alberto to translate quite a bit faster, achieving about a 2:1 ratio as he enacted the segment, grunting and hyperventilating convincingly as the client experienced first a panic episode in the session trauma memories, then accessed trauma memories related to his experience of his panic episodes. At the end, we all applauded Alberto for his performance. Then I took a few minutes to round out the presentation by presenting the outcome data.

In the end, I had presented less than half of the slides in my drastically cut-down presentation; Alberto had stolen the show with his Method Acting; the conference was now running an hour behind schedule… and I had a sense that the presentation had, in spite of all the tribulations, actually been a great success! At the same time, I felt exhausted and drained, even though Alberto had done most of the work. But this was what I had come to do, and it had not crashed and burned, so I felt relieved and thankful and it was over.

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