1st Position: The position of the person who is doing, experiencing, or receiving the actual event. The main participant, the center of the action.
2nd Position: The position of another person who is taking part in the event also. Maybe a secondary participant or somebody who is administering the experience to the person in 1st position.
3rd Position: The position of an observer watching the event take place. Not an active participant, but one who is at the site of the action.
4th Position: The position of somebody who is not at the site of the action, but who receives information about it from a distance.
For example, if Joe is getting a haircut, then Joe is in the 1st Position (1P). The hair dresser would be in 2nd Position (2P). Another customer waiting for his turn would be in 3rd Position (3P). Joe's wife who is at home waiting for him would be in 4th Position (4P).
The experiences from different positions can be drastically different. It gives a much more full perception of an event if one can experience it from several different positions.
Shifting of perceptual position can be a valuable addition to any process. For that matter it is a technique in its own right. Often a person is fixated on one of the positions, and to experience some of the other positions might open up the whole subject for her.
In Dialoguing one can simply use perceptual positions as another source of possible questions. Particularly they are useful when it is clear that the client is only perceiving the situation from one position. And particularly when that one position is limited.
C: "I am really having a hard time with all the work my boss makes me do"
F: "How do you think he is experiencing it?" (1P -> 2P)
C: "He was making me wrong again and we were having a big argument"
F: "What do you think the onlookers heard?" (1P -> 3P)
C: "I hear that Ginseng is supposed to give more energy"
F: "How would you feel having more energy?" (4P -> 1P)
Shifting of perceptual position is a good way for getting the client in touch with resources that would be unavailable from a particular limited position.
C: "I am stuck between a rock and a hard place"
F: "What would Superman do?" (1P -> 3P)
C: "I feel so helpless just watching her get into more and more trouble"
F: "If you were in her place, what would you do?" (3P -> 1P)
Some techniques include shifting of perceptual position as part of the procedure. Experiencing incidents from multiple viewpoints is the same idea. If an incident can be comfortably experienced from any of the available viewpoints then it will necessarily free up.
Polarity Integration has built-in position shifts. We shift a certain behavior from 1P into 3P, we put the parts of it in a 2P to each other, we integrate them, and then we shift it back into 1P.
Soul Retrieval is mostly done from a 2P perspective.
Fluent use of perceptual position shifts is one of the most elegant tools a facilitator can have. Different positions have different pros and cons in different contexts, and the more the facilitator can utilize the positions, the faster she can get the client to where she wants to go.
Positive feelings and motivation are most effective in 1P, when one is actually feeling and experiencing them. So, if the client is perceiving her positive feelings from any other position, we would probably want to get her back into them.
1st Position is the Associated position. The other 3 are Dissociated.
Unwanted feelings do the most damage in 1P. But at least they are accessible there. But we would like to end up with them in 3P or 4P.
An unwanted behavior is difficult to handle in 1P. But if we put it out in 2P the client can look at it and do something about it.
A desirable ability can be examined in somebody else from the 3rd Position, and then one can try it on in the 1st Position.