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Directing attention to an embodied emotion

Video Type: In Practice

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Summary

David and Noah “Directing the attention to an embodied emotion” Scenario Background Noah is a 30 year old graduate student, married to Joanne with a 3-year old daughter, Samantha. His life is currently very hectic, and he has been struggling with the pace of things. He has been concerned about his mood lately, saying he feels “down” much of the time. In one session, he reports distress about an incident that happened a few days ago. He was in a small town and met another young man, who, upon learning that Noah was Jewish, asked “How come you're not in the ovens?” Video Introduction Noah arrives for a session agitated over the multiple responsibilities bearing down on him in his busy life. David here invites him to turn his attention to what is going on in the moment, in his body. How does David introduce this idea? What does he say in order to ensure Noah “buys in” to the idea? What does he do—verbally and nonverbally—to help Noah orient to the here and now? What shifts, if any, do you notice in Noah's nonverbals as the conversation unfolds? What language does Noah come up with to describe the embodied feeling? What aspects of the counselor's practice might you have done similarly/differently? Video Analysis There is a difference between 1. being carried on the current of a feeling, and 2. “sitting on the riverbank,” as it were, to observe the emotion. When we are carried by the emotion we may not even notice it; we simply act out of it and not always in a manner congruent with our intentions. In this brief exchange, David invites Noah to step onto that riverbank briefly. Notice that he anticipates Noah may feel he can't afford to slow down what they eventually call the “racing.” After all, who will mind all the tasks he has to attend to? David is deliberate in acknowledging this to ensure Noah does not feel pushed into this moment of self-examination. David introduces the notion of turning inward gradually, and as he does, Noah's agitation noticeably diminishes. By the end of the exchange, David and Noah emerge with a term, “the racing,” that paints a vivid picture of one aspect of Noah's experience and which will be useful to them as they continue to work together.

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