Why we should pace instead of asking "Okay, what else?"

Having gone through several transcripts of sessions conducted by my students I thought of sharing this quintessential point.

When we start practicing PLRT and our client has elicited a far memory and revealed something on that front. Our next instinct will be to get more details and in this desperation we might end up asking, “what else!”

But let’s remember the golden rule for a therapist is, “Utilize everything.” So applying that we can get some momentum by pacing.

Let me demonstrate it with an example

T: Go back in time to where your fear of drowning comes from…
[In a few moments client is pensive]
C: I feel restless in my heart…
can feel being water and…
eh…
I am drowning!
[gasping for breath]
[long silence]
T: What else?

I am sure that if you were the client you’d feel awkward at this question as it doesn’t reflect empathy.

But instead “What else?” can be replaced with pacing, which is, narrating to the client a summary of what they’ve said so far for the question you asked and leading into asking "what more comes into your awareness…

Because

Empathy is perceived understanding
And Understanding Conveys Trust and Trust Conveys compliance

In the above scenario, as an emphatic therapist we can wait for a few moments to get the clients response and can use IMR to confirm if they are comfortable to answer a question and then say,

“I understand you are feeling anxious”
“Having gone back in time to explore where your fear of water comes from, you have a sense of drowning… gasping for breath”

We can pace by paraphrasing followed by leading them to getting more details with, “… is there day light?” or “What kind of a body could you be in…” and so on…

I would like to know what you would ask and elicit more material in such a scenario. Remember there are no right or wrong answers.

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Wow…venu…that was a valuable guidance u can give to your disciple … !

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Dear venu
Thanks for this reminder as sharing your precious wisdom.

In this situation one can consider
“ I understand that you are anxious and feel gasping as you experience drowning. Remember you are visiting a memory and if pain become too much you can always choose to just float over the scene and witness the scene from above … ( wait for sometime and carefully watching for abreaction.) … how are you feeling now …?”
Another possible suggestion could be …
“ knowing fully that you are safe and protected and that though it feels so real and painful but you are only reliving a memory , move ahead in time and tell me what happens next …”
Again there can’t be any set questions or suggestion ; every situation is unique and every client is unique.

Regards ,
Ram

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Excellent guidance Venu. I feel we need to show similar empathy in our day to day conversations also. At times, we tend to forget this and start asking uncomfortable questions, particularly to our loved ones.

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Thank you for sharing this insight Venu. At the moment, I have ‘no insight’. But after your question I have taken a print out of the few cases I have done so far and I am going over them again. I am hoping this will help me identify and became more aware of any insensitivity and lack of empathy I may have displayed. Turns out there are quite a few instances.

As to ‘instead of what else?’ I am still learning.

Thank you Venu for the red alert.

The inspiration of the Himalayas harnessed by venz.ai


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