How to Coach to Get Rid of Anxiety, Fear, or Guilt
Your client comes, you have a welcome chit chat, you tune in, and ask your opening question: “So what is the one thing you want to have when leaving our session today?”
And you see tension and frowning.
Then your client takes a deep breath and rushes to say:
“I want to get rid of my self-doubt/shyness/jealousy/fear/doubt/tension/sadness, I hate to feel this way.
Your mind goes racing: what would be the best tool to use to facilitate a lasting transformation?
This simple, fast, yet powerful exercise will come handy when your client comes to you to get rid of an undesired feeling or an unhelpful emotion.
The best part?
It’s a blueprint that will have your client walking away lighter and happier in just 30 minutes.
And if you take another 15 minutes to future-pace it, you will be their hero.
Your Zen Is Your Well
Mental anticipation is a great exercise to get you tuned to your client.
Even before the session, create a mental image of your client and think about all the reasons you are looking forward to the session.
Take a deep breath and ask your body: “How are you feeling now?”
Tune to yourself and you are half way through to perfect flow and perfect tune to your client.
Your Zen is Your Client’s Well
When the client walks through the door and talks about what they have in mind, focus on all the resources they already have.
Trust they have everything they need to solve their issue. You might not know exactly what it is, yet, your confidence in your clients’ competence will help them get resourceful.
Focusing too much on the problem the client is bringing is a call for trouble.
Before you know it, you can get sucked into your client’s problem.
You will know when the thought of: “I know what he or she is talking about!” crosses your mind.
It’s the fact that the client focused too much on the problem that brought him or her to you in the first place.
Take a step back, focus on the client’s resources.
Now, off to the coaching of getting rid of the undesired feelings.
Step #1: Get a Contract and an Explicit Approval
Make a client say what is this one thing they want to get from the session.
Once they say: “I want to get rid of <this emotion> I am tired of”,
ask: “Would you be up for an experiment?”
Get ready to hear a sharp: “YES!”
But in case there is a shy: “No” or: “Not really”, you may want to go with full respect, and offer: “I respect that and we don’t have to do it. … What makes you shy away?”
Observe the client. Nod, and say:
“Those are all valid reasons, and I honor you for your honesty.”
“Let me offer you this perspective though, we can explore your contract in the ways that are less experimental and more familiar to you. We can totally do that.”
“Are you sure though? You know what they say about the same old approach bringing the same all results.”
“Are you sure you want to get rid of <undesired feeling or emotion they named>”
“So what do you think? It’s safe. And it’s playful, and it might even be fun.”
Once you get a “Yes”, you are ready for Step 2:
Step #2: Prime and Set Expectations
“We will be looking for a metaphor.
Something that will help me totally understand what does this feeling or emotion look like and feel like, where is it in your body and what does it do, so that I can grab it, embrace it, become it, and give it a voice.”
“Then, you can even confront it. Sounds good?”
Metaphors are powerful way to talk to the part of the mind that likes stories, that is exploratory, and that is in charge of integrity.
Using metaphor, we can experience powerful transformation, resolve internal conflicts, and become whole.
Your clients think they want to get rid of the part makes them feel the way they don’t like.
What they really need though is to embrace this part and get in peace with it.
Make it work for them, rather than against them.
Make it make them stronger.
Step #3: Elicit the Metaphor
Repeat back to them what they just contracted you for: “So you want to get rid of your <emotion/feeling>, can you get in touch with your <emotion/feeling> now?”
You will know the client’s undesired feeling is present by watching their body language. They just will not look happy.
Then quickly ask: “Where is that <undesired feeling/emotion> in your body?”
Some clients will have an immediate and strong answer.
Some might need some time — you may want to invite them to close their eyes. Help the client picture a situation that would normally trigger the emotion they want to get rid of.
“And when it’s <location in the body>, what does it feel like?”
Some clients will give you the metaphor right away with colorful and vivid details. If that’s your client, just proceed to the next step.
Some clients will give a plain answer and be puzzled. You may want to repeat that we are after a metaphor that could help you picture it, so that you can become it and give it a voice.
You may need to offer additional questions, such as:
“What is it like?”
“What does it look like?”
“What does it do?”
“Is it heavy or light?”
“What is its color?”
“What would you like to do with it?”
Step #4: Take It Over
Once you have a good idea of the metaphor that you will be working with, explain that you will now “take it over”.
Invite the client to take it from their body with a gesture and give it to you. Extend your arms so that you can grab it.
Check how does it feel without.
You are looking for a big relief.
If you don’t see it and the client says: “It’s still there”, don’t give up. Ask: “What prevents you from giving it away?”
If they hold on to it, it’s either because they care about you and worry what it would do to you.
You say: “Don’t worry about me, I have good protection mechanism, this does not effect me in any way.”
Or it’s because there is a secondary gain, or they are too attached to it, so much so it’s part of their identity. In that case you say: “Don’t worry, I will give it back to you.”
Re-check: “How does it feel without?”
Step #5: Act, Argue, Acknowledge, Appreciate — Become It
Make a clear cut and take it over: “OK, so on a count of three, I will embody your <undesired feeling> so that you can talk to it or confront it even. One, two, three.”
Play on. Play being the feeling. Say: “So I hear you are complaining about me. What do you want to say to me?”
Deep dive into becoming the feeling and speaking for the feeling.
Most of the clients say: “Go away!”
Imagine how would you feel if someone you’d be part of would ask you to go away. You would feel rejected, right? Unwanted? Hurt even? So play it back.
Say: “Hell no, I am not going anywhere! I don’t want to abandon you, you created me for a reason!”
There are a few key points you want to drive home with your client.
Your client created “you”, the feeling, for a reason. Ask them: “You created me for a reason, so obviously I must be helpful, otherwise I would’t even be here, right? And besides, I don’t want to go anywhere.” Have the client “get at cause”, in other words realize it’s them, their neurology, who created their emotional reaction in the first place.
Somewhere within the conversation say: “I really wanted to be helpful and I though I was helpful. Please tell me I was helpful in some way.” This will get your client think about what positive aspect their emotional reaction has, or had.
Say: “I really want to be helpful — what should I transform into to be able to still be with you but be helpful.” Play with the client’s metaphor.
4. Elicit new metaphor. If they said the feeling was big brownish heavy cold cloud on their chest, what would they want in stead? Light warm fluffy yellow ball in their heart?
5. Anchor. Ask the client to find a way to remind you, their old undesired feeling and metaphor they used to have, that you have transformed into your new fully helpful you — you know, in case you slip to your old habits.
Are they artistic? They can draw it. Task them to place the drawing where they see it often.
Do they have artistic friends? They can ask them to draw it for them.
They can search for a picture on Unsplash and make it their screen saver.
Or you can help them create a kinaesthetic anchor — like touching their heart to call the new fluffy warm ball to comforting action (in stead of the old dysfunctional metaphor they had before).
6. Get acknowledgement.
Ask, acting still as their embodied metaphor: “Before I loose the ability to speak, is there any final word you’d like to say to me?”
Give the client plenty of time and space. Use your most powerful tool — silence. What you are looking for, if that didn’t happen already, is appreciation.
Once the client says: “Thank you for being here for me.” you know they don’t hate the part of them responsible for their undesired emotional state and that they became whole.
7. Give the new metaphor back. Like you took their old metaphor from your client, hand over their new metaphor back. Say: “So now, on a count of three, I am giving you your new resource back as I promised.”
Step# 6: Test and future pace
You should spend at least 30% of your intervention on future pacing.
You have just showed your client’s brain a new option. The mind now knows how it feels to go with a better option. But it hasn’t yet create a habit to default to the new way.
Invite your client to think about the new metaphor. Revivify the feelings associated with the new metaphor with their newly built anchor.
Put them to the resourceful state and ask them to bring up a small, not too intense situation where, in the past, they used to have that old reaction they didn’t like.
How does it feel now? How is it different? How do they see themselves reacting differently?
Great, let them recall a more intense situation where, in the past, they used to have that old emotional reaction to it. Ask them to use their anchor again and repeat the process a few more times.
Try this on.
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Notes: I teach this for a while and I would like to share some additional tips:
You are looking for any anchor the client likes — touch, place, talisman. Then future pace.
You are giving the client back the new transformed metaphor, not the old one.
You are looking at transformation — not suppression. Avoid narrative such as “Think about the old metaphor you just suppressed.”
For testing, you are not looking for content, you are looking for situations they’d formally use to react to in the old way and practice seeing reacting the new way/feeling the new way.