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The Existential Moment: Micro-Skills–Tagging

After the massive leak of information by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the U.S. government released a mountain of classified information to control the message and quell the mob. Predictably, ironically, almost comically, much of the information was redacted – struck-through with those thick, black lines.

In the clandestine world of national intelligence, redaction is called sanitation. It seems certain information is dangerous. As with a pathogen, it is harmful if released.

Standing in contrast to redaction is the ever-so-simple, beloved highlighter. Invented in 1962, the highlighter is so popular it comes in myriad, fanciful colors. There is a uniquely formulated highlighter for use on the thin paper of bibles and even a digital highlighter for our digital age.

If redaction keeps the hidden obscure, the highlighter brings the hidden into the light. It tags or marks information as meaningful to return to or remember.

Existential-Humanistic therapy practice embraces several powerful “micro-skills” intended to expand presence through illumination and vivification. We will explore those skills more in time.

At the top of the list is “tagging.” Tagging is the deliberate noting of something expressed verbally or nonverbally. As with a highlighter, it is the shining of light and marking as potentially significant (e.g., “Notice that you just…”, “Can you hear…”, “Did you feel how….”, etc.).

There is no particular rule book on what to tag or when; That is part of the art of the work. Still, we note the markedly loud or soft, the significant or subtle change, the out of place or unusual, the repetitive and resistant, and so on. In the process, the hope is that what is hidden – dare we say redacted, even sanitized – will come to light and animate. In so doing, we pursue healing, freedom, and transcendence.


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