Most of us know “Air Force One,” the call sign for the souped-up 747s (there are two) that fly the President of the United States around the world. A few trivia buffs might also know “Marine One,” the call sign for the President’s out-sized helicopter. But how about “Nightwatch”?
“Nightwatch” is the call sign for a fleet of four US Air Force 747s whose purpose is to maintain command and control through connectivity for government leaders in the case of a catastrophic event (e.g., nuclear attack). Also called E-4B in military jargon, Nightwatch has an apt nickname: The Doomsday Plane.
Nightwatch planes have state-of-the-art technology for this mission. They can refuel in flight and, in theory, stay airborne for nearly a week. They can survive an electromagnetic pulse and combat radiation and extreme heat. They have advanced connectivity with pervasive redundancy. On standby seven days a week, 365 days a year, the goal, it seems, is for Nightwatch to be there “no matter what.”
Existential-Humanistic therapy is relational and experiential. Safety, transparency, and collaboration work in concert, defining the therapeutic relationship. Safety includes several different components. It also means different things to different clients, though basics arguably apply universally.
Concerning safety, an emphasis on acceptance arguably differentiates EH from other therapeutic modalities. Acceptance means first openness and suspension of judgment. Nothing thought or said by the client is unacceptable. It flows to validation, recognizing the legitimacy of the client’s choices and way of being while acknowledging consequences and shadows. It stands on care; the relationship matters to us.
Overall, with acceptance, therapy becomes an environment of non-judgment and validation, a safe place to explore the unsaid and unsayable. It’s like Nightwatch, a sanctuary for connection when all around may be darkness.
Read all the Existential Moment series posts on EHI’s blog.