This week, I want to talk about transparency. And I want to start with myself, and with this blog. When I started writing the blog last September, I was determined to write a weekly post. But life is crazy-busy (I know you all can relate) and while I accomplished that for a while, the weekly post soon became every other week, and then every three. So with reflection and without beating myself up, I am revising my goal— to a post every 3-4 weeks— and changing the title of the blog from EFT Weekly Tips to simply EFT Tips. And I wanted to be transparent about that.
In EFT, we want to be transparent with our couples too. Transparency is key to building safety in the room and in the process, especially with our clients who’ve experienced trauma, but really with all our clients, no matter what they’ve endured. In EFT, we want to teach our couples to send clear messages to each other, to be transparent in this all-important relationship with their partner, and we need to model that in our way of being with our clients.
Our being transparent with our clients—in key moments— can help move the work along. For instance, if things start heating up in session or if we feel lost in what is happening with one partner or between our couple, it can help to be transparent about that. Rebecca Jorgensen (find her here: http://www.rebeccajorgensen.com) has said in various trainings that when you get confused or when things are going too fast, own it. Say, “Hold on guys, I’m confused,” and go back to the place where things made sense and track what happened from there. With this intervention, you are zooming in on Process (how did we get from A to E?), but you could also zoom in on the Pattern: “Hold on guys, I’m confused. It seems like the cycle just took over, yes?” And then unpack and work with the cycle. Obviously you could zoom in on the other 2 P’s — Present Moment or Primary Emotion. But the key is to own that you are confused or lost, (this will slow things down) and go from there. (See my earlier post about the 4 P’s on March 2, 2016).
Being transparent with our own feelings can also be a helpful intervention. Not with all of our own feelings—some of our feelings in session, while really important, are best looked at later, perhaps in supervision. But sometimes we can use ourselves and what we are feeling to help make the implicit explicit, i.e. with a withdrawer who struggles to touch or name his feelings, we can say “I feel sad as you are telling me this, do you notice a little sadness in yourself?” Or when one partner says “I don’t know,” you can offer what you are feeling and ask if they might feel a little of that too. (Notice I often say “a little”… it can help clients plug into/accept a feeling if it is just “some” as opposed to one blanket feeling.) Using yourself can also help in trying to get under a pursuer’s anger. “I see hurt in your eyes as you talk about how angry you are, and I actually can feel some hurt inside me as you talk about this— do you feel some hurt right now too?”
We can use transparency with a reactive couple that is starting to escalate. You might comment “I can feel each of your pain right now as you get caught in this destructive cycle.” This might catch them in a different way, pique their curiosity, slow them down a beat, as they think, “My partner is in pain? All I see is anger.”
Being transparent about how you are moved can also help highlight a powerful bonding moment, help you all stay in it a few beats longer.
Obviously the key with being transparent about our feelings in any of these ways is that we have to notice and plug into what we are feeling—truly feeling—and then share it. Which is exactly what we are hoping our clients will learn to do!
We also can be transparent in our humanness, in how we sometimes get it wrong, and apologize. This can take a “miss” and make it a powerful moment. “I’m so sorry that I got that wrong, can you help me with what you mean?” Or “I’m so sorry that what I said landed on you that way. Thank you so much for being brave and letting me know that.” Last month, one of my sessions suddenly became escalated, and I didn’t do a very good job at containing it. I pulled back instead of moving in and let the heat go on for longer than I wish I had. I started the next session with an apology. “I’m so sorry I didn’t work harder to keep you guys safe in here. That is part of my job—to keep you both safe, to help you have different experiences—and I want to let you know that I will be more proactive in interrupting you both if things start to get fired up again.” They were both so amazed, and moved, and there was a major shift for both partners in that session. It reminded me of something Kathryn Rheem said in her Trauma Training (find her here: http://washingtonbaltimorecenterforeft.com)— we need to go out on the limb first if we are going to ask our clients to risk stepping out there. I think my transparency, my heartfelt apology, did that and shifted all of us.
So in these next few weeks, notice places that you can be transparent and see if it helps. 🙂