As the year draws to a close, my heart reflects on all the precious moments of connection and is the heart’s way, on the moments of pain and disconnection. Being an Emotionally Focused Therapist, learning EFT and living in this way that comes with practicing EFT, captures our heart and redirects our mind’s eye. Like the Grinch in Dr. Suess’s tale, I often find my heart growing three times when touched by the courage of the couples and families who come to my office.
So, to deepen in to this model, I make these New Year’s Resolutions and offer them to my colleagues, friends, therapy-mates all across the world also drawn to attachment, emotions and experiential work.
1) I vow to be gentle with myself as I continue to learn more about Emotionally Focused Therapy. I release and let go of the false expectation that some day I will “arrive” and KNOW this model so well that there will be no fear, no sadness, no anxiety or doubt. Stumbling, rupture and repair, knowing and not knowing are all part of the process.
2) For the upcoming year, I will increase the focus in my sessions on behalf of my couples and families. It’s easy to drift away in to content or escape in to problem-solving or fixing when tired, triggered or feeling overwhelmed by a couple’s anger or despair. They rarely will focus the session on their own. If they knew how to reach to each other, how to slow down their cycle or to empathize with their partner, they would likely not be in my office.
3) This year, I will build my toolbox of learning anchors. Like my colleague, Cindy Wander, who has an EFT Vision Board above the couch in her clinical office, I’ll grab those nuggets gained from clients, colleagues, readings and training. Turning them in to an image, a phrase or a practice will strengthen my work.
4) Take Care of Basics and Self-Care: I resolve to be prepared for each session by reviewing their negative cycle (or what we know it together so far), reminding myself of their goals, look over my notes from the previous session, and remember moments of vulnerability this couple has shared in the office (in case they need reminded today). This requires me to limit distractions during clinical days, be rested and ready to go. So, I resolve to take better care of myself in the New Year.
5) When I’m lost or overwhelmed, I resolve to look for vulnerability somewhere in the room. Somewhere, somehow, if things get heated or stuck, someone is vulnerable. That person might be me. I’ll access that vulnerability, believe in it, like a child who believes in Santa Claus thus making Santa real. From that place, I will be able in the craziest situation to go toward’s vulnerability, remembering as Lisa Palmer-Olsen said recently, “We are in a sense simply fostering conversations of deepening vulnerability until they can do it on their own.”
6) A ban on shaming comparisons: It has been said that “comparison to others is an act of violence towards the self.” In this work, we can gravitate to comparison that seems to always leave us lacking. When watching Sue in a training tape or a colleague presenting that seem or are ahead of me in the journey, I chose for this next year to be inspired, not demoralized. I will remember that the only valid comparison is between my work now and my work in the past. That way I can be propelled forward by other’s example and as my colleague Jim Kemp shared, “look backwards at my own learning curve to celebrate the gains I have made.”
7) This upcoming year, I invite my heart to grow even more and relish the thought of increased capacity to feel and be present with other’s strong emotions. To aid in this quest, I commit to being with client’s emotions when the arise. I will linger there longer than might feel comfortable for me at first and stay “Near Tears and Fears.” I’ll trust that my cognitive mind, my clients and my gut sense will tell me if we’re going too deep or too fast in to someone’s vulnerable affect. This year, I will err on the side of being too focused on feeling in the room.
8) This year connection in the EFT Community will help ground me! Reflecting back, it’s is remarkable that ICEEFT was there waiting for us to offer Externships, support, the list serve, and more. How wonderful that Sue Johnson trusted her own instincts, learned from her couples and developed this framework for us to work in. So, I’ll spread the word and let other clinicians know about the EFT Community in Colorado and beyond (we are on six continents now, pretty amazing!).
9) Do the thing I think I cannot do: I resolve to look for those moments in session with a family, couple or individual where they need me to stretch out of my comfort zone. They need me to take what I learned in a role-play or watching a training tape in do that intervention in session. Or they need me to show up more emotionally, to be more present and to risk being vulnerable myself by doing so, I resolve to do the thing I think I cannot do (thank you Eleanor Roosevelt for these words of wisdom).
10) Finally, I resolve to have more fun in and out of my office. This work takes so much of us and being an EFT Therapist impacts us deeply. I will remember that the value of connection and secure attachment lies in the ability to relax, let down our guard, play and enjoy the moments. I look forward to moments of joy and celebration with my family, friends, couples and colleagues throughout 2014!