Spotting Suppressed Emotions
1) Look for the 4d’s: denial, discounting, distraction, and defense. The 4d’s always indicate the presence of fear. When the client is in any one of them, they’re hiding fear. When you spot either denial, discounting, distraction or defense, stop, challenge it, and allow the client time to pause and go inward; there they must feel the fear, not run from it. Practice spotting and identifying the 4d’s, your success as a therapist requires it.
2) If you notice a client glancing upward in an attempt to think through a response or elevating the pitch or their voice, they’re attempting to escape the emotion; they’re going up into their head. When in fear or distress, animals “go to ground.” When humans are in fear or distress, they often go upward to their thinking. Spot this behavior immediately and get them to focus downward.
3) A client who comes to a session happy, bright, and sunny, often possesses a darker emotion just beneath the bubbly surface. Life may genuinely be beautiful and flowing for the client, but there will always be an opposite reaction to this positive change. The client tends to race forward in an attempt to out-distance the fear; this is a distraction. They’ll need time to pause and allow their resistance and fear to catch-up.
4) If a client keeps moving to a different subject, again, this is a distraction; they’re in fear. Slow them down to allow the fear to catch up. Before going off to another topic, pause and address the fear.
Tapping the Volcano.
1) When you spot a client showing any of the above signs of fear, you must pause and not proceed further. Gently ask the client to close his or her eyes and become still and silent. In that stillness and silence, ask them to allow whatever emotion(s) that comes up to come up. It will not be long before a darker feeling appears. Encourage the client to feel this emotion at whatever depth they’re comfortable.
2) When your client races upward to their head and thoughts, ask them to pause a moment and bring their attention downward to their navel. Ask them to lower their head. By keeping their focus downward, the negative emotion will have a better chance to felt. The navel, the third chakra, is the seat of emotions.
3) Now and then, ask the client to pause and check-in with their younger selves to see how they’re feeling. Pausing to check-in allows these younger selves participation in the process; it gives them an opportunity for emotional expression.
Don’t race forward during your sessions. Now and then pause and check-in with how the client is feeling; as all life ebbs and flows, each session, likewise, ebbs and flows. By allowing this rhythm to be a part of your work, you’ll lay the groundwork for more opportunity for healing.
Remember, the story the client brings to the session is not what’s important; what’s up for healing is. By pausing to allow the feelings to surface, you can undertake the work that’s required. Listen to the story; don’t be seduced by it. Listen to the story, but listen more to what needs feeling. Tap the volcano to release its pressure.