I’m continuing on with the explanation of my working definition of healing. Which, broken down looks like this:
Healing is a process:
in which a motivated client,
in a strong relationship with a therapist,
experiences painful emotions in regulated doses,
receives a missing experience,
which leads to positive emotions and positive changes to other aspects of their being,
which results in greater ease in receiving the nourishment that life has to offer.
You can follow the links to read previous two posts. Also I want to say that for the purposes of this explanation the healing process is laid out in a series of linear steps. The process is actually much more organic than that. Any one of those steps could happen at anytime and they support each other and the whole process.
So in this post I’m writing about “receives a missing experience.”
So what is this missing experience? And when and how do you receive it?
Well as the term missing experience suggests it’s something that the person in the healing process never got in the past. This something could be an action, words, learning or most likely an emotional “gift” from another person. This missing experience is a crucial foundation stone on which the structure of that person’s well being should have rested upon but doesn’t.
I think just giving some examples is the best way to explain.
Being touched in a way that is pleasurable.
Being touched in a way that is generous and unconditional with no attached demands.
Having the opportunity to say NO and having that NO being respected.
Being accompanied quietly and compassionately through a rough emotion like grief.
Having one’s physical and energetic space respected by another.
Having the experience of taking pause or space from another and that being completely ok.
Experiencing unconditional kindness, gentleness and compassion.
Having another person’s full attention.
Having the opportunity to play and explore without worrying about goals and outcomes.
Having the permission to change one’s mind.
Being held quietly for a long time.
Being seen as beautiful, adored even, and being told so genuinely.
These are broad examples and there are many more specific ones that especially pertain to sexuality.
Not only is the missing experience important but when it arrives is crucial too. Because sometimes they “go in” setting off the chain reaction of the healing process and sometimes they don’t have much effect at all.
They “go in” when a person is in an optimal state of emotional arousal (see previous post). They have the most impact when he/she is feeling a painful emotion. At this point all parts of that person’s brain are online. They are feeling the sensations in their body from the painful emotion and can identify what emotion they are feeling, they may be having a memory of a painful situation, they are also aware that they are in a therapist’s office in a safe loving space, they can understand words and make sense of everything that is going on.
In this state there’s a direct link through all the systems of the brain and a direct link through time from present to past. I don’t know how to exactly put this in scientific terms but there’s a window of opportunity in this moment to change longstanding beliefs and conditioned responses that may be blocking the flow of nourishing life experiences. If you imagined the mind mind/body/emotional phenomena as pure energy it would be like the whole system becomes malleable from the surface right down to the core. At this crucial point the missing experience can in essence reshape and reconsolidate the energy system into a whole new form. When touch and emotions are involved the process goes much deeper. I’m going to write more about this in future posts because it’s all contained in the healing process.
Sometimes someone will question whether giving/receiving the missing experience in a therapeutic situation is artificial. My answer is – absolutely not. The experience is real and can become a template for similar experiences outside the therapist’s office. Often a client would have virtually no opportunity to get the missing experience elsewhere because their life and relationships have been structured around their old patterns. Also the window for change is often very brief and only open in the therapeutic setting – at least at first. With repeated exposure the missing experience to them a person starts to find these experiences more and more in life outside therapy.
I’d really appreciate your comments and questions on this as well.