|Mindfulness Trauma Mind/Body Alan Sroufe William Doherty Couples Therapy Men in Therapy Challenging Cases Linda Bacon Clinical Excellence Clinical Mastery David Schnarch Gender Issues Attachment Theory Future of Psychotherapy Great Attachment Debate Ethics CE Comments Diets Anxiety Attachment The Future of Psychotherapy Mary Jo Barrett Brain Science Community of Excellence Etienne Wenger Symposium 2012 Narcissistic Clients Couples Wendy Behary|
|Finding the Pulse - Page 5|
Just as infants piggyback on the nervous systems and brains of their primary caregivers, our clients piggyback on our physical self-regulation and capacity to contain whatever intense feeling and emotion emerges during the session. Our clients aren't going to be able to ground themselves and regulate their own arousal if we can't regulate ourselves. We need to be able to be aware when we're beginning to get emotionally and physiologically reactive, and find the means to rebalance ourselves, so as not to lose our capacity to remain calmly and empathically present.
Years ago, a client and I were having what I thought was a lively exchange about something—I can't remember the subject matter at this point—but I was apparently rather energetic on my end of the dialogue. At one point, when there was a pause in the action, my client leaned forward a bit and quietly asked me if I'd mind putting on my seat belt. I had an immediate experience, in my body, of how much I'd been leaning forward and of how much energy I'd been putting into our conversation. Since then, I've always had a strong physical sense of when I have my seat belt on and when I'm starting to lose it. When I get a physical awareness of putting too much energy into my end of things, I know it's time to self-regulate.
Whenever I find myself "losing my seat"—not feeling physiologically or emotionally grounded—during a session, I take a moment to feel the support of the chair I'm sitting on. Then, I focus for a few moments on my breathing. For me, breathing into and out of my heart space is a good way of settling down quickly. I know I'm back on track when I get a sense of solidity and spaciousness inside. The process of returning to regulation is different for each therapist, but the important thing is to have a regular practice for settling yourself that works for you reliably.
Taking time is the key to doing any kind of body-based therapy. Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic Experiencing, says that when an important emotional shift happens, it's important to allow time for the client to process it thoroughly. In fact, it's impossible to allow too much time—when you think you've taken enough time, take even more.