When a client struggles with emotional triggers, they may find themselves stuck in cycles of reactivity and overwhelm.
Not only can this be mentally and physically exhausting for your client, but it often has an impact on everyone around them – including those they love the most and hold most dear.
So, in the video below, Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD shares a co-regulation strategy that can help clients and their families better attune to and manage their emotional triggers.
Have a look.
So, let’s start out with how we would work together with their partner. I think it’s really starting with awareness within the client, and then if the client feels safe bringing in the partner and really exploring about what happens within the client when they’re stressed, what kind of response do they have? Do they have a fight-flight response? Do they have a freezing or tonic immobility response or an emotional shutdown response? What I love to ask about are the differences between the client experiences in themselves versus what actually the partner witnesses. Often, they’re very different. Then, we can bring those two sources of knowledge together and really enhance the partner’s understanding, but also the client’s understanding. Then they can work together, right? As the client is working on developing increased awareness of their overwhelming feelings within their brain and body, how may they feel comfortable the partner getting involved in that? Asking them, “What would you feel comfortable your partner pointing out when they see you being overwhelmed? What would be helpful?” Then, often they’ll give some really good feedback and that gives hope to both parties, but also really facilitates that co-regulation, right?
Usually, if there’s children involved, of course, as the two partners become more regulated, what you’ll see is the children will become more regulated as well. I think treating emotion dysregulation in a dysregulated household really should start with the adults, and it’s amazing the impact that can have on the whole family structure.
For more expert strategies on helping clients identify and manage emotional triggers, check out this course featuring Peter Levine, PhD; Shelly Harrell, PhD; Dan Siegel, MD; Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP; and 22 other top experts.
Now we’d like to hear from you. How do you help clients work with their emotional triggers? Please let us know in the comments below.