This phrase has become a bit of a cliché when it comes to therapy. But it’s a very important question for a therapist to ask their clients, which can’t be avoided. What the therapeutic hour offers is exactly what the question suggests – an opportunity to explore your feelings, as well as the events and thoughts that have given rise to them. Therefore, you do have to be ready to feel when you come to a therapy session and you have to expect to be asked that question.
However, you won’t be asked to feel anything you aren’t ready to. Just to feel into your current experience and emotions. In the language of NLP, this is referred to as ‘pacing’ – which means appreciating your current experience – where you are right now before trying to jump to where you want to be. This is the starting point in therapy.
A misconception about therapy, in its different forms, is that it will enable us to get rid of or find a way to transcend our feelings. But emotions come and go and when we recognise this we don’t have to fear them. Exploring beliefs and thoughts and their relation to our feelings is very helpful. There are tools we can use to work with the thoughts and beliefs, as well as the emotions they create. EFT is a very effective one for working with our feelings.
EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique – the name may give the impression that you will become free of your emotions. But that isn’t how it works. You gain freedom through allowing your emotions to surface and working through them. It is however a tool that helps this process along. It allows us to feel, while tapping through the acupressure points on our body simultaneously calming down the stress response within our brains.
Some people find it hard to speak about emotions. Perhaps is seems like an indulgence – a sign of self-absorption. Perhaps there is an underlying belief that we should just get on with things and stop complaining. But this strategy has limited success rates. More likely the suppression of emotions will play out in other dysfunctional behaviours and result in less resilience overall. Increasing our emotional intelligence helps us to navigate our lives more successfully. When it comes to our emotions, it’s no good being an ostrich and burying our heads in the sand, hoping that they will go away. That is how we become stuck and unable to move forward in our lives.
We all feel differently. Another person, even a psychologist or a therapist, cannot guess what we are experiencing (and mostly we wouldn’t want them to!) as each of us is an individual with our own unique experience of life. It’s important to be able to express and pinpoint in our own words or imagery what this is like for us. True connection comes from one person attempting to enter another person’s world – to gain an understanding of how they are feeling and helping to explore this – not on an intellectual level but on a feeling level.
Therapy sessions give you an opportunity to explore your own individual experience – your thoughts and feelings and the impact they have on you. It isn’t a place to go and be fixed, it’s a place to go and to feel and through that process to transform. That is the invitation.