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Guest Blog: Emotional Learning

09.10.15 | Blog

Ian WoollamsAs part of World Mental Health Day, Ian from our fantastic counselling team puts pen to paper to write about emotional learning.
As of October 2015 we have become an IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) configured provider. This means that as a service we have had to go through many stages of growth to comply with this was of working. This has included members of the therapy team having further training, including my own – learning how to do Counselling for Depression (CFD).
CFD is a combination of Person Centred (PC) and Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT). I am PC in my practise, so using my core skills of empathy, acceptance and genuineness/honesty felt really comfortable. EFT goes into great depth about our emotions and feelings and how they play out in our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and our bodies. It seemed pretty complex with its theory and language, but by the fourth day I was beginning to get what all this new terminology meant in practise.
There were twelve other counsellors and therapists with different models of therapy, but most were PC. Interestingly there was only one other male therapist, which is about the UK average that for every ten females there is one male. We split into groups of three and began to practise the theoretical stuff in face-to-face work with each other. One is the client, one the therapist and the other is an observer giving feedback. This is a normal way that therapists practise with each other before we get let loose on you! So it was a chance to discover what we should be doing and get feedback on how well we may have done that…or not! It was really fascinating to focus so clearly on emotions and feelings as the real issue in the clients’ story. We recorded a session on the last day, which we felt happy enough with and have done a written self-reflective piece on how we think we performed.
The main ideas of EFT are that we have surface emotions and feelings that mask the really painful ones that are hidden underneath. These surface emotions and feelings are often raw (maladaptive) such as anger; this could be masking the real experience of sadness (adaptive) at loss of childhood thorough sexual abuse. Or perhaps the surface emotions and feelings could be shame (maladaptive); which is protecting the real anger (adaptive) at injustice of abuse and being silenced. It is when we recognise clearly and fully what the surface emotions and feelings are covering, that we can find their true source. Fully experiencing the underlying emotions and feelings allows us to heal and grow out of our trapped true selves.
I found out that we all have four core emotions and feelings which are joy/happiness, anger, sadness and fear. It’s fascinating that these four primary emotions and feelings are at the very core of all our experiences. That everything else such as shame, guilt, worthlessness, pain, envy, hatred etc all stem from these four roots.
As a therapist it is our skill at helping identify these emotions and feelings that will help you to connect properly to those core responses to experience. We become like a guide; finding your way to a clearer understanding of yourself. I’ve always thought of myself, as a therapist in my relationship with my client, like a compassionate guide that follows where the client goes on their journey. It is my role to be aware of possible dangers, helping the client to see these as clearly as I do. I can help raise their awareness of what they are not seeing and feeling.
So if your therapist is very interested in ‘how does that feel?’ or ‘where is that emotion or feeling in your body?’ we are trying to help you discover what is really going on inside of you. It’s all part of the journey to healing and a more joyful and happier life.
This year, World Mental Health Day is on 10 October 2015 and to find out more, click here.

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