Focusing Tip No. 121
How to help your client’s process to carry forward.
When you empathically hear and reflect your client’s feelings, then what? How to help your client’s process to carry forward.
If you are a Person-centered counsellor, you know that one of the main ways you can support your client is to help them to be in touch with their feelings, and for you to reflect the feelings accurately. In that way, the client feels heard and accepted. If you can reflect with empathy, the client feels accompanied, and recognises they are not alone with their feelings.
There might be many times when you don’t get it exactly.
You are both exploring together and working towards accurately capturing how it feels inside, and being able to say exactly how it is. When it does happen, it brings a relief. The client might say, yes, that’s it! That’s how it feels! It marks a moment of truth, and of being truly heard and accompanied without judgement.
And then what?
What happens next in the therapy process, and how can you help the next steps of unfoldment?
I suggest that you encourage a pause right there.
Stay with it some more, or return to it. Help the client to recognise a significant moment.
This slowing down and pausing helps the moment to integrate and for the body to settle into a new way of being.
I think it would be a shame to miss the full potential of this moment.
You can help the client to acknowledge the truth of how it feels. It’s not enough to feel the feeling, exactly as it is. The feeling itself needs to feel heard, recognised and acknowledged by the client.
Sense the body.
You can invite the client to check where they can feel it the most.
We know that feelings live and are experienced in the body, and if you invite an awareness of exactly where it is, and how it lives there, you help them to get more fully in touch with it.
Metaphors can be a helpful way to identify a feeling, so the client can describe what it feels like.
Has anything changed, now that it has been heard?
You are inviting a more subtle sensing here, and helping the client to listen more deeply and precisely. There may be more of a sense of space inside; a peaceful feeling, or the uncomfortable feeling may have settled down a bit.
These small shifts and changes can have a big impact, especially if we notice and pay attention to them.
Even a breath or a sigh indicates a small release or change.
You can help the client to notice and value any small shift or change.