This is question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I’ve been looking at adds from other practitioners and see many do a form of coaching and encouraging people to find a positive focus and set goals. That made me reflect, thinking: is this the same as I do? I know sometimes this is the effect for clients after having come to see me for some time, but NO, it’s not really what I do. What I often focus on, is allowing people to sit with any feelings and be o.k. with them. I see all feelings as there for a reason, wanting to tell us or show us something. They usually reflect our deepest values too. Telling us when these have been disregarded. I also know, from many years of experience, that if we try to push feelings away and try to ignore them or distract ourselves (either with keeping busy or maybe using addictive behaviors like drinking too much) they will continue to bug us, nag us, nip us it the heels-to get our attention. They cannot be ignored. It’s usually only when we face them, allow them to be and stop telling ourselves off for having them, that we can move on. That we become freer of them. And by that I don’t mean they will necessary go away, but somehow we can carry them better. They are not so heavy. And we are kinder to ourselves for them. It’s a gentler place to come from. Then we can focus on our positive goals!
Sometimes I encourage people to use drawing or painting or some form of art to get in touch with the feelings; sometimes we tap into Inner Child if the feeling is linked to some old pain from childhood; sometimes playing in the sand-tray will let things move along (on a deeper level). I’m also exploring using dance or motion to get in contact with feelings, but this is a new area for me.
Among other things, I see my job as a support person who can be there when people face the feelings. I might let them know its ok, or its normal to feel this way. I’m there to show that I will not run screaming when they show their deep real selves. That I won’t try to talk them out of it. That I am perfectly comfortable with them in any state. That I can hold them for a while.
I might reassure that the feelings will not overwhelm or destroy them- as this is what most of us fear, on some level.
I remember being told by a counsellor I was seeing (many years ago) just to allow myself a day of grief. I was terrified and especially feared I would not be able to stop, if I started letting the tears and sadness out. But I was feeling so bad, I thought I might as well give it a go. I gave myself a whole day just to grieve. I bought myself a teddy to cuddle and some lollies I used to love as a child (as my counsellor had recommended for support/self nourishment/self love). I sat down and meditated on my losses and sadness’s from youth and the tears came. I scrubbed the floors on hands and knees (as the counsellor had also recommended doing some hard, mindless work while feeling strong emotions) and let it flow and flow. It was very wet and messy experience (on many levels) but my biggest surprise came when about half ways through the day, it was enough. The tears just dried up. My biggest fear did not come to fruition! I was able to be normal when my kids got home from school. I actually felt tired but calm and relieved. And I never felt as much grief again. Later I got in touch with other feelings that were there too but I knew how to handle them.
I now often share this experience with my clients.
I guess not all counsellors work the same, but this is one of the main areas I personally feel is very important and with which I work with clients.