Intellectualised Feelings are Not Felt
We feel emotions … we think thoughts. People who have been emotionally traumatised block feeling and try to intellectualise their feelings. This is perfectly understandable as a survival or emotional defence mechanism used by the subconscious to protect the individual from being hurt further. These psychological defence mechanisms are designed to help us avoid pain and are often subconsciously activated in therapy.
The way you describe your feelings can be used as an indication of whether or not you have blocked your feelings. If you report your feelings as a witness rather than as a participant, the way a reporter might, it means that you have separated or dissociated yourself from your own feelings. If whenever you are asked to describe your feelings and you deny you feel anything or go off on a tangent talking about them as you would something you learned from a book, then you are not allowing yourself to feel.
The Pressure Cooker Effect
By blocking the expression of our feelings we are creating emotional pressure within. When this pressure builds up it has to find release and if we are not allowing its emotional expression then it may find a physical release. The release is then often expressed as the symptoms of physical illness. Continuing to block our expression of our feelings simply leads to an intensification of the symptoms associated with the particular illness. In other words their emotional defence mechanisms are creating more pain than they are avoiding.
Therapy as an Opportunity to Express the Repressed
Hypno-Psychotherapy provides people with the opportunity to express their pent up emotions and feelings in a completely confidential and safe environment with a therapist who does not judge them. Not everyone who avails of therapy actually cooperates with it. The subconscious forces that caused them to suppress their feelings in the first place are so great that they cannot help themselves from resisting the help they are being given. Their first line of defence is always control. They try to control therapy by thinking about and analysing everything that is done and said in therapy. Though they are urged to let go and trust the process that would ultimately be controlled by the subconscious they choose the ‘safe’ option of conscious control.
The Importance of Agreement in Therapy
Without the consent, agreement and support of the client therapy comes to a grinding halt and is reduced to a conversation about how the client feels s/he is not making any progress. The therapist needs to be mindful that ‘resistance’ is a double edged sword and can be used to his advantage if he continues to ensure that therapy does not become ego centred. There are a number of ways to avoid self sabotage and ensure that therapy does not become ego driven and probably one of the most powerful ways is the Triangle Exercise by Phyllis Krystal. In this exercise the Triangle is used as a symbol by both therapist and client to have the ego of each relinquish control of the session and the purpose of the session be handed over to the Higher Consciousness of each. Otherwise, in some cases, as clients begin to feel better as result of releasing repressions they may be reluctant to continue therapy as they listen to the ego justifying this as their defence mechanism’s avoidance of further pain. When therapy is directed by either the client’s or therapist’s ego then the all important ‘agreement’ is broken and such obstacles are bound to arise. The constructive way to see Resistance in therapy is as the mind’s defence mechanism so focussed on warding off or avoiding pain that the option to resolve the pain by investigating what lies behind the resistance is ignored. Typically, resistance comes up as (1) being late for session (2) excuses not to come to session (3) reluctance to engage feelings and focus on trivia (4) expressions of scepticism on the progress being made in therapy.
The Purpose of Resistance in Hypno-Psychotherapy (also known as Analytical Hypnotherapy)
Here at Setanta Hypnotherapy Clinic in Peel, Isle of Man we view resistance as an opportunity. The emergence of resistance, normally half way through the course, in Analytical Hypnotherapy is invariably an indication that the client is close to uncovering a repression and as a result the emotional defence mechanisms become more intense. The resistance is seen as a vital part of the therapeutic process and like any other issue arising in therapy is addressed. Normally explaining the benefits of looking behind the emotional defences for the root cause of the client’s condition is sufficient to allay these subconscious fears. This then leads to the opening of the doors to further progress and the inevitable release of the negative emotion associated with the presenting symptoms. Once this has been achieved the client is in no doubt of the changes achieved and the return to inner balance and equanimity.
Video on Resistance in Psychotherapy by Joseph Burgo