|Community of Excellence CE Comments Linda Bacon Anxiety Brain Science Clinical Mastery Alan Sroufe Great Attachment Debate William Doherty Wendy Behary Challenging Cases The Future of Psychotherapy Diets Trauma Men in Therapy Symposium 2012 Mary Jo Barrett Gender Issues Mind/Body Attachment Attachment Theory Narcissistic Clients David Schnarch Ethics Future of Psychotherapy Couples Clinical Excellence Mindfulness Couples Therapy Etienne Wenger|
|Unlocking the Emotional Brain - Page 7|
Jason gazed at me for a moment, and then added, "That makes me nervous. It's true, and it makes me nervous. I can't go back and redecide." In registering the anxiety he felt about living within this rule, he was getting in touch with this construct emotionally and verbalizing the emotional meanings. That dual focus on both emotions and meanings is considered essential in Coherence Therapy for accessing material in the limbic system.
I kept working to get Jason more fully in touch emotionally with the newly retrieved rule by expressing it. Finally he was saying, "You don't get to go back. Every decision has to be the right one, because you never can go back and . . . ." His last several words got softer, trailed off, and halted mid-sentence. Then with a sudden burst of energy and surprise in his voice he said, "Hey, that's nonsense!" Another juxtaposition experience had taken place, spontaneously this time. He sat thinking intently for a few seconds and then burst into a delighted, fresh, prolonged laugh. It's a laugh we've come to recognize as a marker of the sudden dissolution of a longstanding, troubling emotional reality. Done laughing, he let out a big breath and repeated softly, "That's nonsense."
Evidently Jason already possessed the contrary living knowledge that one can redecide. This he held in readily conscious memory. In contrast, his boyhood emotional knowledge that one can't redecide had been fully implicit until now, held in his limbic system, unavailable for side-by-side disconfirmation by the contrary cortical knowledge. But as he was articulating the retrieved limbic material—running it through his cortical awareness—the juxtaposition occurred spontaneously. If the no-exit rule got dissolved, it could become safe for him to choose a long-term line of work, a "career."
His new index card for daily reading captured his experience of this juxtaposition: "All decisions in life are final and redeciding isn't allowed! But wait a minute, that's nonsense! I can decide to get out of a box I've gotten into and choose anew."
In writing that card, I was careful not to favor either of the juxtaposing personal realities. The art of creating juxtapositions is in remaining completely noncounteractive. First you have to get the client fully in touch with the symptom-causing emotional knowledge, just as it is. Then you have to keep the client in touch with that material while giving empathic, validating understanding to it and to a contradictory knowledge. If you try to counteract or invalidate one side with the other, indicating which knowledge is or isn't correct or preferable, the effect is merely suppressive and neither genuine juxtaposition nor a transformational change will occur. When we counteract, we're trying to use our own power to force a change, but in prompting juxtaposition, we're setting up the condition that our client's brain and mind require to use their built-in power to revise personal reality. It's a matter of cooperating with and trusting the power that resides in the client.