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|Practice Makes Perfect - Page 4|
Mini Sessions - Up to 3 Minutes, Several Times a Day
These mini breaks help clients develop a working resiliency to stress, thus preventing emotional overreactions to trigger points. I direct my clients to carry out these sessions regardless of their current affective state and suggest that they time them to coincide with routine daily events. For example, a client might take a moment and turn off the radio and cell phone in the car to practice slow, deep breathing and positive self-talk on the way to and from work. Another good practice time for a routine mini session is before a client eats a meal or snack.
External Time-Out Sessions - Variable Duration and Frequency
These are "interruption" sessions to be practiced at exactly those times when clients are caught up in the heat of the moment. Why not excuse yourself from the conversation before you holler that insult at your spouse? Why not excuse yourself to the restroom before you react defensively when your boss criticizes you during the staff meeting? When triggered or overwhelmed, clients can excuse themselves for a moment to practice their therapeutic tools—calming responses, positive self-statements, visualizations, or replacement behaviors. Once they find an inner place of emotional equilibrium, they can rehearse a desired response to the current situation. Then they can return to the situation at hand with a calmed nervous system and desired responses on the tip of the tongue.
Internal Time-Out Sessions - Variable Duration and Frequency
What about those times when you need a break, but just can't get away? You can't stop your car in the middle of the highway for a time-out to interrupt the start of a panic attack, nor can you always bolt from a board meeting when you feel your fury rising at the snide remarks of your double-dealing coworker. Internal Time-Out Sessions offer a kind of respite in situ, taking 5 or 10 seconds and drawing no more attention than a gentle sigh. I teach my clients to discretely tighten a fist when they feel their stress mounting, hold the fist for a few seconds, and then release the muscle tension as slowly as possible, focusing all their attention on the relief that the gradual unclenching brings. If the situation doesn't require maintaining eye contact, clients can close their eyes and roll their pupils upwards, as if trying to reach the upper arc of their eyebrows. If the situation involves listening rather than speaking, I suggest clients take 10 seconds to focus all their attention on the slow, inaudible inhalation and exhalation of their breath. All of these 10-second tools, when paired with relaxation in the therapist's office and practiced during mini sessions, can act as quick circuit breakers, diffusing internal tension while operating below the social radar.