Many times, in numerous workshops and trainings I facilitate around the world, the question arises; “How do I keep myself protected from absorbing another participants energy and emotions such as fear, rage, despair and grief during the group process?”
There’s no short answer to this question. In my understanding and experience, if one wants to be “protected” from their clients emotions and sensations while supporting them, there is a risk of cutting oneself off from their own feelings and at the same time abandoning the client. Distancing ourselves from our clients due to this idea of self protection, we cut the fine thread of resonance that gets established between client and practitioner.
When someone undertakes the noble activity of service to others on their path of trauma release, it is necessary to experience the intensity of one’s own emotional charge. We can only fully support our clients in as far as we have gone ourselves. Experience will facilitate a successful therapy session and lend the ability to meet the client in any space they encounter while also safely guiding them to connect with their own internal resource.
Encountering this safe and relaxing resource, while simultaneously being present to a specific charge in the body, allows the client to understand that both the place of resource and the place of charge can coexist. This is how we create the container for release.
Our work with BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release is based on being present to our ‘Felt Sense’. When present, we can track the physical sensations that arise during sessions, noticing they are never permanent/they always change. This is a relaxing experience which helps us to move out of the charged or dissociated state and into discharge and gentle release.
To keep myself fully available, t I have to constantly come back to experiencing my own felt sense and track all the sensations that arise in my own physical body. This keeps me present and grounded and at the same time resonating in empathy and understanding with the person I am supporting. Awareness of my own felt sense prevents me from absorbing my clients’ fear, rage and despair.
In sessions, I often become an external resource for my client. In those moments, if I consciously decided to protect myself, my client could feel abandoned and reinstate the feeling that they have been left alone with their traumatic experiences. Trauma release is possible when one accesses a particular event from the past while regulating the intensity of the charge that comes with the memory and physical sensations through the cycle of activation, charge, discharge, resource all the while being safely met from the supporting vibrational presence of the practitioner.
Anthony Abbagnano says
This is a great article. It distinguishes between self protection and sovereignty, as it is indeed only possible to fully accompany a client no matter where they may need to go if the practitioner already has an established habit of not hiding from his own shadow work.
One can still feel fully, and doing so actually bolsters sovereignty at the same time as giving authentic presence for the breather’s journey.
One is only susceptible when one is out of ones own depth. If cop assign becomes identified with the breathers situation more than a simple Felt Sense, then the risk re-dramatising the trauma as well as losing ones own footing. There is little point in jumping in the swamp to save anybody.