Psychotherapy can be incredibly effective – we all know this.
It is truly amazing how much can be accomplished between a patient and a therapist in each session.
But the world outside the therapist’s door can often be cold, harsh, and lonely to vulnerable patients. Regression can occur while patients are still days or weeks away from their next session.
We’re all too familiar with that scenario (and practitioners in other areas of healthcare can attest to this as well.) A patient leaves the office…they’ve made some progress, or sometimes they feel they haven’t made enough, but the session comes to a close…and they leave feeling desperately alone, as if they’ve hit a brick wall.
So, what do they do when those feelings of desperation continue to lurk too close – in the middle of the night when their tossing and turning leaves them sleepless in twisted sheets . . . and therapy is days away.
And that’s exactly what Dr. Christopher Germer wondered about when he asked these questions:
How can we help patients feel less vulnerable between sessions?
Can we make the psychotherapy experience portable?
Is there a way for clients to bring kindness to themselves when they need it most?
As clinicians, we know how compassion can open the heart.
It just makes sense to explore the possibilities for self-compassion – a compassion that could calm “the self” and make it less vulnerable. It becomes a kind of goodwill training that evokes the soothing system in the brain, most specifically, oxytocin and endorphins.
Self-compassion can be between-session support, a life-jacket if you will, that gives steadying anchor to the longer-term healing process.
Perhaps this might markedly reduce the number of breakdowns that can happen between therapy sessions. Imagine the possibilities for healing when patients have another tool to support themselves.
To get a more in-depth look at how we might teach self-compassion and why it could matter so much, check out our mind/body programs here.