An Excerpt from a
Get the Applications in One Easy-to-Use Guide
by Ruth Buczynski, PhD
with Christopher Germer, PhD
One Practice to Activate the Para-sympathetic Nervous System
When we have a client who is really struggling with shame or grief, there’s one practice that can help them shift out of a threat state and into a state of care. Here, Chris Germer, PhD shares an example of how he uses “Soften, Soothe, and Allow” in his prac-tice.
Dr. Germer: When a client is really struggling with anger or shame or grief, we could say, “Would you mind if we just took a pause for a moment and just try to explore where in the body you might feel this emotion?”
Let’s assume we’ve already named it grief, or fear, or something. Usually a person can respond to that in a general way. Sometimes people are very spe-cific depending on their skill and interoceptive awareness, but then we could say something like, “Could you put your hand over that part of the body? Would that feel comfortable to you? If so, could you do that? Can you just allow that part of your body to soften? Just feeling the warmth of your hand and allow it to soften.”
Then you could say, “Well, if you had a friend, somebody you really love who was feeling just like this in this moment, what might you say to your friend?” Then say, “Well then can you say this to yourself?” So, this is the soothing part.
Then the third part, allowing – this is part of the hu-man experience. “Can we make some space for that? Right here in the therapy session or when you’re home. Can you maybe just allow this emo-tion to be there? Because it’s a sign that you’re a human, even if it doesn’t feel good. Not fully allow it, just maybe a little.”
So, that’s a way we could introduce soften, soothe, allow in the therapy session. It’s really quite power-ful. If you do this together in the therapy session, clients usually will say, “I feel so much better. What did we do?” Then you can explain, and people can practice at home.
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