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"The Dance of Connection" Book Review

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

What is this book about?

This is a book about ways to open up, rather than shut down, communication and connection. It’s a book about “not merely improving communication and connection. It’s about avoiding the tragedy of losing one’s self” (Harriet Lerner).

The Dance of Connection covers a wealth of ideas including:

- Choosing what “self” we want to be

- Our sense of integrity and self-regard in relationships

- Finding ways to be heard and to voice thoughts and feelings ….that don’t shut down lines of communication

- Taking a position of courage and adventure in conversations, even difficult ones, creatively moving towards authenticity

- Bringing an understanding of the larger family picture, the importance of our first family, and our family heritage

- Consideration of sharing vulnerability, and the balance of how much to reveal with healthy boundaries

- Learning to ‘not to be helpful’… an important life lesson

- Understanding relationship patterns

- Ways to manage difficult conversations, including “My Dad makes crude comments” (this story offers great relationship insights)

- How to access your thinking and best self

- The power of an apology and how to do an apology right

- Managing rejection and cut-off, and letting go of anger and pain

Ultimately, this book is about ways to helpfully and effectively open up conversation and connection in many different relationships including love, marriage, family of origin, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, friends, colleagues…and in life.

Why do I like this book?

I love that this book offers ways to develop an authentic voice that move beyond simple ideas of communication skills and assertiveness, that it helps maximise the chance of being heard and moving relationships forward…taking conversations to the next level. And as you’ll know if you’ve watched Jumanji, the next level is harder than the current level, so any help in this arena is fantastic.

I love Harriet’s authenticity and use of self in the stories she has chosen to illustrate her ideas. I am grateful for this engaging, warming, disarming, and normalising approach. The stories illustrate beautifully and clearly her points in ways that provide insights and practical ways to put the insights to good use.

I really appreciate the point made that this book is written for women (Harriet notes she often writes for women) but that men will “find themselves well represented and richly rewarded”. I agree with her on this.

And to top it all off, in this book, Harriet makes complex family therapy ideas and concepts easy to understand, digest and apply.

I had many favourite sentences, but here is what I’ve chosen for this review, “Through words we come to know the other person – and to be known. This knowing is at the heart of our deepest longings for intimacy and connection with others. How relationships unfold with the most important people in our lives depends on courage and clarity in finding our voice”.

How do I use the book?

I use these ideas in working with individuals, couples, and families. Sometimes I discuss the concepts with clients, and we talk about if and how it applies in their life, what they’d like to continue doing and what they might like to experiment with doing differently. Sometimes I recommend the book as ‘homework’ reading. Always, as a Systemic Family Therapist, I hold these ideas in mind.

I love this book and have found it incredibly useful personally and professionally. I hope you find it helpful too.

Let me know your thoughts and how you use the book.

Dr Leonie White - Clinical Family Therapist and Psychologist

Helping people grow, connect and thrive in life’s unique journey.

Please note - this article is educational in nature and does not constitute therapy advice.

Please seek help from a professional if you require support.

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