Today, a client told me a very sad story about one of her more painful experiences. She told it with little visible emotion. When asked, “Where are your feelings” she honestly answered, “I don’t know. I don’t think I have any.”
Numbing To Avoid Pain
With some clients, the feelings are there but they are unwilling to let them be seen. With this client I honestly believe that she didn’t know how to feel appropriately to her story. She has spent a lifetime trying not to feel because showing feelings put her in a vulnerable situation which was never very safe for her in her family of origin.
How To Help Someone Feel
To help her reconnect with her story, I retold her story to her demonstrating what appropriate emotions might look like. The emotions I showed were not contrived. They were genuine emotions on my part (it is a very strange job I have). I purposefully connected to her story, imagined what it would have been like, and let my own feelings and experiences be seen by her.
By modeling how I might see or experience her story she is now able to more easily find within herself her genuine emotions and start to process the painful parts of her story. I didn’t expect her to break down right then and there. It takes time for her to consider what those emotions might look like coming out of her, but at least she has a starting point.
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