One major challenge of working with resentment . . .
. . . is that the more we try to confront it directly with a client, the stronger it can become.
So in the video below, Terry Real, MSW, LICSW walks us through an intervention that can help clients “shelve” their resentment until they’re resourced with skills to work through it.
Have a look.
“Now when you and your partner are strong enough, if you want to take those bags down, I’ll set up an empty chair. I’ll get your partner out of harm’s way. We’ll take them down bag by bag and you’re going to empty it all. You can spew for the whole time we’re together and get it all out of your system. If you need several sessions, we’ll do several. But as a couple right now, you’re not strong enough to take that. It’s too much weight for the bridge. You’re not close enough. You’re not skilled enough to handle the toxicity of your resentment right now, so I want you to postpone it. Would you be willing to do that while we do our work?” Everybody says, “Yes.” Everybody says, “Yes.”
Then I do the therapy minus the resentment. And we do just fine. And I’m waiting for them to say, “Oh, by the way, Terry, we’d like to take those garbage bags down and deal with them.” I’ve been doing this for 30 years. No one has ever asked for that session in 30 years. If they wanted to, I’d be happy to give it to them. But once it’s working, once the therapy is working and they’re getting connected and they’re feeling more powerful and more skilled and more competent and more loving, their resentment… “Well yeah, I remember that. But it’s okay. I’m still resentful, but we don’t have to do it. Let’s move on.”
If you found this video helpful and would like to hear more from Terry and other top experts (like Pat Ogden, PhD; Richard Schwartz, PhD; Stephen Porges, PhD; Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD; and more) about working with deep-seated resentment, click here.
Now we’d like to hear from you. How do you work with resentment and clients who hold tight grudges? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
If you found this helpful, here are a few more resources you might be interested in:
Why Resentment Can Be an Important Step in Healing from Trauma
A Practical Skill for Defusing Anger
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