Ordinary Truth by Ursula Fausset is now available as a download, please follow this link: Download as pdf
I’m pleased to announce that this website hosts the re-publication of the little book by Ursula Fausset called Ordinary Truth. I would like to express my gratitude for the support of Ursula’s family with this project.
I purchased a copy of this book from the Alternative Bookshop in Bath in the mid-1990s and have treasured it ever since. Ordinary Truth is about the dyad method of communication, which Christopher Titmuss in his introduction describes as a way of keeping in touch with our inner life … our truth as it unfolds, moment by moment.
Ursula died in June 2016 at the age of 87 and she was a keen advocate of the right to die, ‘our truth as it unfolds, moment by moment.’ She was also a pioneering Gestalt therapist and established the London Gestalt Centre. She later moved from London to Totnes and lived there for 19 years (from March 1997 until her death in 2016). She leaves four daughters Andrea, Kharis, Lucia and Martha.
Ursula had very generously stated in the book that the content may be reproduced in any form without the author’s permission and as the book was long out of print, I often wondered about finding a way of re-publishing it. By the time, I had finally decided to undertake this as a project, I learned that Ursula had died. Although permission to use the content freely had already been given, I wanted to ask as a courtesy, so contacted Ursula’s family via their solicitor and after corresponding with one of her daughters, Lucia, it was agreed that I could proceed. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Ursula, but I hope that by making the content of Ordinary Truth available, the legacy of her work will continue.
About Ursula Fausset as a Gestalt therapist: a profile by Alivia Rose
Gestalt for Ursula was not just a therapy but a way of life, and that is what she taught me: to live in truth, be aware, be connected within myself and then connect with others.
I first met up with Ursula in 1979, and she was nothing like my pre-conceived ideas and expectation of a psychotherapist (I imagined someone in tweeds and worthy shoes). In our first meeting she was wearing a gold beaded jacket and harem pants, sitting on a cushion (which we did in those days), looking at me warmly and directly, and asking me “How Do You Feel?” Ursula never went off the point of ‘how do you feel?’ and ‘where do you feel it?’ Thanks to her it has become an internal mantra for the rest of my life. She was glamorous, perceptive, creative, playful and full of compassion.
She had many tools in her therapeutic toolkit, from traditional two chair work, to using the arts, being experimental, and always being totally present with whatever was happening in a group. She had a very big heart. Being ‘in the now’ was not a job, it was something she demanded of herself and those around her, and her passion and commitment was to integrate spiritual understanding with emotional literacy. She was breaking new ground in the 70s and 80s, as well as finding ways to have an internal congruency between the spiritual, emotional and physical body. Ursula was ahead of her time and has left a legacy of psychotherapists who will continue to live fully and practice fully. The legacy she has left with me is that psychotherapy is not just a job but a vocation, a way of living, and a way to practice an authentic way of life.
Alivia Rose, Senior Gestalt Psychotherapist and Supervisor http://www.aliviarose.co.uk/
Further Thoughts by Brian Tasker
The Dyad method of communication has its roots in the Kōan tradition of Rinzai Zen although the method isn’t a Buddhist practice in this context. The method involves working in pairs for five minutes each. The speaker chooses a question to be asked by their partner beginning: “Tell me…” A basic example might be “Tell me what’s going well in your life”followed by its opposite: “Tell me what’s not going well in your life.” The speaker contemplates and then communicates what comes up to their partner, who listens impassively as a witness to allow the speaker to move through any blocks or self-judgement. The process forces the mind to abandon preconceived ideas as every answer is at best provisional or intuitively wrong. As the speaker moves through the process, the question can become emptier to create the space to allow deeper exploration. Telling the truth and by doing so discovering what it is.
My interest in the Dyad method began during the 1990s when I attended Enlightenment Intensives (EI) and completed ten in all, including participating on one with my son for his twenty-first birthday (although obviously we didn’t partner together). An EI is concerned with the self-transcendent truth that lies beyond the four questions: Who am I? What am I? What is Another? and What is Life? There is a fifth question: What is Love? But I’ve only worked on the first four; what is life being especially slippery! Perhaps the question on the nature of love is the most elusive of all and I found the Osho quote below that speaks to and beyond our deepest humanity as intimate relationships tend to be conditional.
“I love, because my love is not dependent on the object of love. My love is dependent on my state of being. So whether the other person changes, becomes different, friend turns into a foe, does not matter, because my love was never dependent on the other person. My love is my state of being. I simply love.”
In the meantime, while the tension in a relationship belongs to both sides and sometimes to one side more than the other, the projections and resentments etc are mine alone to work though; so another version of the question on this topic might be: Tell me how you love?
While the method as used on EIs is highly-disciplined, deeply-contemplative and focused on transcending the self on retreats that can last for three days or longer, it is effectively goal-centred, the process being more of a vehicle rather than an end in itself as each response is discarded. The timeless moment of self-transcendent truth is known as a direct experience and may or may not happen (about 30% is the average). The process of an EI as a retreat is rewarding in itself although there might be a sense of disappointment if a direct experience doesn’t occur. There is a great deal to be learned about self-resilience as three days of of an EI can be uncomfortable, draining and even seem quite pointless. Resistance is an integral part of the process as the mind is entrenched in its familiar patterns and new and previously unknown defensive positions are revealed.
I’m reminded of Daruma (Bodhidharma in Japanese, see references) who has evolved into a folk figure that represents resilience (seven times down, eight times up is the motto) and is often portrayed as a self-righting tumbler doll . The story goes that he sat meditating for so long that his arms and legs atrophied and fell off. What I particularly like about Daruma, is that he is always shown as a pre-enlightenment figure troubled by mosquitoes and distracted by human emotion, sexual images, anger and frustration. Participation on an EI can feel like something of a condensed version of Daruma’s experiences.
I remain interested in transcendent truth but my interest in the Dyad method now is more geared to the secular, everyday world and supporting myself and others to work through our problems and difficulties. Dyads can be used to gain insight into a problem, however seemingly intractable (you just need to persevere) and can support the integration of experiences including difficult ones. In this way, the Dyad method is similar to Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) where an incident is repeatedly described and effectively re-experienced; the nuance of the experience changing as the process continues.
The plan to promote the Dyad method as a secular problem-solving method will continue. So far, I have been developing the use of dyads as a confidential form of peer supervision method for Playback Theatre. I have taught this at Playback Gatherings in Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria and the UK. More recently, I have taught the method to a group of Indian Playbackers and to students on an Msc in Counselling Psychology course at an Indian University.
I teach the method in English with translation into the languages required where necessary and the dyads are conducted in the speaker’s native language. On one occasion, the speaker and listener didn’t share a language and the listener had to pay attention to the tone of the speaker’s voice as well as the non-verbal elements. The method puts the onus of responsibility on the speaker so it would still work despite the language difference as it’s the quality of listening that’s important and actually understanding what’s been said is secondary. In any case it’s quite possible not to understand the content or even properly hear what’s being said even if both speaker and listener speak the same language. There is no provision for clarifying – the speaker just continues until the bell signals the changeover.
In addition to explaining the process, I take the role of monitor once the dyads begin: to observe the progress and ask the listener to repeat the question if the speaker’s pace slows or their attention appears to be dropping off. It’s also important for listeners to remain in listening mode and attention might need to be drawn to body language or evident sleepiness. The speaker is supported by the listener’s impassive attention and focus as any reaction from the listener can impede the flow by encouraging a speaker to dwell on what might seem interesting or entertaining or feel they have gone far enough, rather than continuing with the process. There is a goal but it’s embedded in the process rather than beyond it. The insight is in noticing what’s occurring and how that might feel or look compared to what has been assumed as a position or a limitation.
When I use the method as peer supervision in Playback Theatre, the two initial questions are: Tell me what you like / don’t like about Playback Theatre? The first builds confidence and the second allows space for what might have been suppressed to come up. Often this has been around group dynamics and repressed resentments that can negatively affect creativity if left unexpressed. Usually these workshops last just two hours, but if time allows, after two rounds of two questions each, participants are invited to process the experience as a whole group so that a more personalised question can emerge for each participant.
The idea of peer supervision is important so that we are clear in our intention and purpose and this surely applies in all areas of life, whether it’s a project or just personal. Don’t we all need someone we can check in truthfully with or to learn how to do that? Co-dependence or a version of it, in that we are unable to ask for what we want or say how we feel due to a fear of rejection or feeling over-responsible for the relationship for example, is the bane of relationships on any level. Even if that process of addressing the issue starts in a dyad with another rather than the person concerned, it works as an exploration of the problem and the blocks to dealing with it. It’s important to note that when working with a partner on a mutual issue, you own and work on your side of the issue and not on your partner!
I’m a theatre person, so I would view the dyad process as a rehearsal and to extend the theatre metaphor, once an insight has occurred, the character is compelled to do something with it through action. The character must change or the play stagnates and the audience, you, as a witness to your own life disengages. We can gain confidence in ourselves by telling the truth to ourselves and then by telling our truth to another; being kind and compassionate towards ourselves and others in how we do that would be a good place to start.
I mentioned earlier that Dyad method isn’t a Buddhist practice but the work has a spiritual quality. Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, once remarked that “Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.” My interpretation of this statement sees enlightenment as a state of self-transcendence or a disinvestment from our desires, hopes and expectations. In this earthly realm, that means we can work towards not adding to problems and situations by trying to manipulate them to our advantage or investing ourselves in the outcome – a difficult task in the world the way it is and of course, we have our desires, hopes and expectations to manage and contend with. We also have our shadow-side and our stubbornness and as somebody once said, ‘I have my ego and cannot leave you so easily’ even when that’s exactly what’s required.
Working towards honesty about what we want for for ourselves and from others and what others might want from us as compassionately as possible seems to be a good way of exploring the notion of ‘enlightened activity’ relatively speaking, if you’ll allow me a paradox!
Being in relationship means being vulnerable and I’m drawn to the quote below as an indication of what the Dyad method is about. I’m not a religious person, but I would understand the idea of revealing oneself to God as a metaphor for choosing to confide in silence through prayer and contemplation. Dyad work might bear some resemblance to a Confession, except there is no absolution from another, just a witnessed self-acceptance.
Many people want to start with revealing themselves to the personal God. But actually, deep in their hearts, such revelation to God is only a subterfuge because it is abstract and remote. No other human being can see or hear what they reveal. They are still alone. one does not have to do the one thing that seems so risky, requires so much humility and thus threatens to be humiliating. By revealing yourself to another human being, you accomplish so much that cannot be accomplished by revelation to God who knows you anyway and does not need your revelation.
It’s the commitment to the truth that’s key and that was also Ursula Fausset’s view, a view I wish to honour by making this method available as much as possible.
I would appreciate hearing any questions or comments that you might have about the method. If you would like to arrange a workshop wherever you live or know about them when they are arranged, please write and let me know. Once the method has been learned, it can be shared with friends, partners and colleagues.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0786 784 8365
The above quote is from Creating Union:The Pathwork of Relationship by Eva Pierrakos & Judith Saly, pg.37.
There is more information about the Dyad method (including a graded list of sample questions) and a description of my impulse to write about the need for peer supervision in Playback Theatre on my blog:
For more on Traumatic Incident reduction (TIR), visit:
For more on Daruma, visit: http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/daruma.shtml
For information on Enlightenment Intensives, visit:
http://www.enlightenment-intensives.info/ and a book that I can recommend about the EI process is: The Enlightenment Intensive: Dyad Communication as a Tool for Self Realization by Laurence Noyes
More resources can be found here: