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What's a session with you like?

This is the question I ask myself I’m looking to work with someone new. So to help you get a feeling of what a session with me is like, what follows are extracts from an actual session along with my observations as the session progresses. Many thanks to Sandra (not her real name) for giving her permission to record our session together, and to publish this account of of it.

It’s easy to build rapport with Sandra when we meet online for our first full session, she seems bright and cheerful but I sense a nervous tension in her laugh as she describes the reason for our session today. A broken mailbox that will only take a phone call to resolve, but somehow she’s been putting off for 2 years now.

In my language she’s in a state of stalemate. Part of her knows how easy it would be to just make the phone call to mend the mailbox, but another part of her is sabotaging her from making that phone call and it’s frustrating her no end. I reflect this to her. “I can see that you’re actually rather flustered when you talk about this, it’s obviously irritating you a lot and has been for some years now” Sandra’s visibly relaxes when she hears that I register what she’s experiencing. “Very much, it irritates me a lot because it’s like that little drop that’s just too much, that’s how it feels.”

At this stage before assuming anything, I ask her what a positive resolution to our session today would look like to her. “If I could feel empowered to make that phone call,… of course I know I can make a phone call, I just don’t feel empowered to do it. I feel powerless in all situations that created the situation of loosing the mailbox key and the situation today.”

It’s clear to me from the tension in Sandra’s voice and her body language that there’s a bigger story behind the issue here. I let her know that I get that what she’s presenting to me now is just the tip of the Iceberg, and there is a bigger story here waiting to be told. “What I’m hearing is that this powerlessness is causing irritation and keeping you stuck in a past state, is that right?”

“I was so scared, when it happened. It was actually nothing to do with the mailbox… but at that time when I lost my keys… it has to do with my divorce and some papers I got from the court… and it was beyond anything that I expected to receive and I just felt it too much. I was really overwhelmed… I was not prepared to face that much… that’s how it felt.”

I explain to Sandra that what she’s experiencing is an association between the feelings of being overwhelmed and scared and the situation with the mailbox. This means parts of her are stuck in that time when she lost the mailbox keys. I help her look back at the situation and find in the present great compassion for herself at that time. The changes in her energy and language show me that this state is a powerful one that can help provide the energy to fuel the actions she needs to take.

By getting her to focus on that sensation of compassion within her, I help her to locate the source of this compassion and we discover that it’s being blocked by a judgemental part that blames her for making mistakes and criticises her for not being smart enough, for being forgetful etc.

It’s not uncommon to have these very judgmental parts and when they appear we tend to push them away and label them as bad. When we do this the parts that are pushed away gain more energy and strength over us as well as our behaviours. I coach Sandra to associate with this part of her to find out more about it rather than turning away from it. We discover that this part actually has good intentions. “It’s function is to guide me, make me better.” With this insight I describe techniques Sandra can use to further connect with this part and understand it’s motivations. It’s clear to me that Sandra is experiencing a shift in attitude towards the mailbox situation. I reflect that to her and check in to see that we’re moving in the correct direction towards finding the empowerment she stated as wanting at the start of the session. She confirms this “Before, the voice that judged me felt opposed to the part that had compassion, now it feels like they are both kind of doing the same thing. That empowers the compassionate part to take over because it’s not in opposition”

Sandra is learning to connect to her parts and understand them rather than judge them and push them away. But I sense that there is still further work that needs to be done, so I guide her through a simple way of identifying and communicating with parts that could be blocking change. Together we spend some time locating and communicating with the parts of her that have the resources to overcome these blocks. The change in Sandra’s demeanour is striking, she’s like a different person, bright, full of energy and… power.

“that’s it… they just connected, exactly… that’s interesting, I never would have imagined that, but it’s just when you break it down into parts…” Sandra’s parts are suddenly communicating freely with her and it seems that they have a lot to say. I give her the time she needs to take in everything that she’s just experienced and ask her how she feels about the mailbox call now. Her face brakes into a big smile as she laughs and declares “Empowered!”

I explain to Sandra that having listened to her parts she’s been able to disassociate from them and the mailbox situation. She’s now in what we call her core state, a place of peace, expansion and power. When we’re not in core it’s easy to feel sabotaged by our parts, and this isn’t a state from which we are able to make positive changes. I give her tips on how to recognise when she’s in this state and when she’s not along with techniques on how to reach this state of core self in the future.

It’s clear to me that a big shift has happened within Sandra, so I draw her attention to this and ask her if how she feels now makes a difference to how she feels about the phone call.

“It definitely makes a difference, it’s not just a 5 minute phone call, it’s a 2 year phone call and now it has real value in its real place, does that make sense? I will make that phone call and not as a punishment. It will come from a place of empowerment and celebration rather than fear… this is huge Louise… it’s huge, thank you.”

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