Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Witnessing 'withness'

Getting digital with counselling
Auckland Youthline is a youth counselling agency that has in recent times begun using digital formats such as sms messaging, email and social networking sites to provide avenues for counselling. The intent in transitioning to 'new' media is described by the CEO of this organisation as meeting with young people in the places they are in. It is this 'withness' I want to tell of.

There is 'withness' that involves the philsophical intent between agency and its members, being with is also a counselling inherent in the therapeutic relationship of counsellor and counsellee, there is also 'withness' of each of these parties with the instruments required in conveying a message. And 'withness involving the curious melding of old with new, getting 'with' the times. In this research such times are a changing with a counselling approach historically based within an oral tradition being melded into a digital text based one.

The underlying concept of withness is outlined by Nick Bingham (2009). He describes his interest as stemming from coexistence, ideas of being with. To engage with coexistence he described storied research from different domains: Technology where technological praxis involves coexistence of protocols; Ecology in species more classically involving social science in inter-ethnic notions of peaceful coexistence. His own research is of GM in agriculture that explores the ways in which legislative and practices make it possible for GM and non-GM coexistence without contamination. Interrogating the practices of these domains, he argues, involves getting to grips with the specificity of the domains and of 'withness'.

In looking at change, the concept of 'withness' is somewhat neglected. The literature such as that of E M Rogers in Diffusion of Innovation explores newness by focusing on the something old as superceded, but whats brought forward, transitioned with, may also be worth exploring. People come with their memories of what was, they do not leave these at the door as it were.

I'll hold this thought for a while, the exploration and performance of withness...

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