When asked to contribute an article to support other therapists, I smiled and thought, “how beautiful.” I believe our work is unique and, at times, very challenging. We have been called to hold space for our own journey as well as that of others. I wondered what to contribute to those reading this and how my words may best reach your hearts.
I have come back to this writing many times, and where I land is with the question, “are you connected to yourself and your body when sitting with your clients?”
This question stems from my belief that connection and support for my clients happen in the context of connection and support for myself. I realized throughout my journey that what I have to give to others springs forth from the well of what I have to give myself.
The journey I walk with my clients I often call coming home. It is my own practice as well. I support them in returning to themselves, their truths, their dreams, and their bodies. We live in a world filled with messages and tools that encourage us to abandon ourselves. But time and time again, I watch my clients tap into their own internal wisdom and healing to move into congruence between what they desire and what they are experiencing. This is the process I have learned to trust through my own journey coming home.
How do I support myself in coming home while working with clients? I engage in centering and connecting to myself before sessions begin, even if I only have a few minutes. I check in with my nervous system and note the points of activation or disconnection to help bring a sense of openness and calm. Sometimes, acknowledgment is all that is needed to create space. I may engage in mediation or intentionally focus on inviting a sense of healing and calm into the room. This comes from our understanding of the co-regulation of nervous systems. The state of my nervous system impacts my clients.
When sitting with my clients, I have fluid attention between them and myself, allowing me to support any of my parts needing attention. Thus, I remain connected to myself throughout our time together. I also have a deep and profound belief that my clients have an innate capacity to heal. This helps soothe any parts of me questioning whether I am doing a good job, thus letting my nervous system breathe. Again, returning to the beautiful support our regulated nervous system provides to our clients.
I have noticed deeper connections with my clients by remaining connected to myself in session. While my clients do not know much about me personally, they can sense and connect to the care I have for them. Also, the parts of me that want to see observable progress can breathe, as I have much more patience and trust in the process. All of this leads to a beautiful buffer from burnout and compassion fatigue. By honoring and tending to my journey, I can honor my client’s journey and fully support their healing capacity.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you on this journey. What we do is much more than just a job; it is an invitation to do our own work, return home to ourselves, and replenish the well from which we give to others. Healing happens in the context of relationships, and that includes the one we have with ourselves. So, blessings to each of you as you show up profoundly for yourself and continue on journeys that allow human hearts to come together to create healing opportunities.