October is a scary month! There are frightening Halloween ghosts, spiders, skeletons, and zombies all around you! In the news, there is an onslaught of very real and very scary events as well as political turmoil.   During difficult times, it’s normal to experience anything from feeling nothing to feeling intense rage and fear.

Recently at CTC, we sat down as a team to ask ourselves, “How do we support our clients during these frightening times?  What is it we already ‘do’ to support our clients?  What type of environment do we provide that allows clients to feel supported?  How do we provide the best trauma-informed care?”

Here is what we came up with:

We meet clients where they are at.  Some people may believe they should react in a certain way.  Some people may be surprised or confused by their reactions.  We believe the all feelings are okay and seek to normalize and educate a person about their experiences and reactions.

Sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow.  It is our intention to create safety for our clients in the environment, within the therapeutic relationship, and within themselves/their body.  Some clients may feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed.  We may ask clients to slow-down, to break their difficult story down into smaller pieces, and to assess their emotional and physiological reaction as they discuss difficult events or emotions.  This process allows for optimal healing and resolution as the mind and body have time to work in tandem.

Permission.  We ask for permission and obtain consent throughout the entire therapeutic relationship.  We want clients to feel like we are “being with” them and invite them to explore their experiences and reactions.  We also educate clients along the way about the therapeutic process and let them know what it is we are doing and why we are doing it.

Our clients are inherently strong.  At Centered Therapy Chicago, we believe that, within the right conditions, clients have the innate capacity to heal and care for themselves.   We seek to assist clients with growing their capacity to care for themselves, feel emotions without being over or underwhelmed, and to take greater risks in their lives.

We make our self-care a priority.   We practice what we preach.  We value our own self-care because the better we take care of ourselves, the more present we can be for our clients. We take care of ourselves through various self-care avenues such as personal therapy, coaching, mindfulness practices, yoga, exercise, improv, creative endeavors, reading, and lifelong learning activities.

What do you get out of this approach?  I think of a tree.  A tree’s capacity grows as it matures.  It can take on more weight, more wind, and more rain and still be firmly planted in its place.  This approach grows one’s capacity to take on more life, more experiences, and more emotion while remaining firmly planted in one’s place.