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|The Brain's Rules for Change - Page 4|
I allowed some silence, then again expressed empathy for both sides, ushering his attention to both by saying, "All along, it seemed to you that saying something confidently could be done only in your Dad's dominating way, and now suddenly you're seeing that saying something confidently can be done very differently, and it feels fine to people."
James was absorbed in experiencing the juxtaposition. In soft tones I delivered other variations twice more. I then asked him how it felt to be in touch with both sides. Through a sudden burst of giddy laughter he said, "It's kind of funny! Like, how could I think that?" When dissolution is successful, clients often express exactly that kind of gleeful laugh and view the old, tormented reaction as amusing or absurd.
At our next session one week later, James reported, "Something has really changed. I feel really different at work, but it's not how I always thought I'd feel if I could stop feeling so shaky. I always thought I'd feel superconfident, like some kind of genius, but I don't. The change is just that I don't feel uncertain any more, or insecure. That's a big relief, but there are no bells and whistles. It's kind of ordinary, actually. When I have something to say or contribute, I just say it, and it's no big deal."
We continued meeting for two more sessions to see if the change would hold, and it did. The effortlessness of remaining free of the original emotional and behavioral symptoms is another marker that's regularly apparent and suggestive of actual unwiring. I asked James to consider whether it was time to discontinue our sessions or focus next on other possible emotional impacts of life with his father or other family experiences. He thought about it and was clear he'd return if needed, but felt no need to go beyond the change he'd achieved.
The brain's power to restore a person's distressed emotional world to well-being is far greater than we once knew, and we're learning more about that capacity all the time. I have no doubt that the most significant development in the evolution of our clinical methods depends on the continuing synthesis of clinical and neurodynamic knowledge. Regularly and predictably helping clients have breakthrough moments like those James experienced will become increasingly likely as we learn more and more about how to cooperate knowingly with the rules of change inherent in the brain.
Bruce Ecker, M.A., L.M.F.T., is codirector of the Coherence Psychology Institute and coauthor of Depth Oriented Brief Therapy: How To Be Brief When You Were Trained To Be Deep, and Vice Versa. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.CoherenceTherapy.org. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at email@example.com, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.