I am in holiday season mode. Maintaining and not moving too much. Hence, the breaks and gaps between posts.
A couple of weeks back I posted about the “Gold Standard” of counseling being taught in phases. My experience was I wanted to get strait to the processing and hurry up and get it over with. I wanted to skip Phase 1. I started counseling as marriage counseling and there were glitches showing up left and right. Humbling to learn that it was me that was causing these glitches. I could not express how I felt about anything. I needed phase 1.
Phase one is essential:
The ability to tolerate emotion (self-soothe; regulate affect) is a primary task of treatment, and accounts for the importance of Phase I.
I didn’t feel my emotions until delayed by weeks if not ignored completely. I learned that I couldn’t process my emotions until I felt them and recognized the cause/effect relationship between what happened in my life and what I was feeling. The whole self-soothing and self regulation was unheard of since I used extreme dissociation to cut myself off from my feelings. Phase one is to feel your feelings and own them and care for them and learn to regulate them. I didn’t feel emotions and I wanted to move forward without knowing more. What I didn’t understand is working without emotions is similar to driving a car with 4 flat tires. You can move forward but the progress is slow and extremely stress filled.
My first counselor spent a good share of the first few months working with me trying to figure out just what caused my problems in the first place. Not an easy task when I had no memories of my past, especially before high school. Skipping this phase is like putting the cart in front of the horse and try to move forward. Not happening. I am concerned reading post after post on the PTSD/CPTSD pages I follow where people want to stop their emotions. The false idea that a life without feelings is preferred. I’ve been there….it isn’t the best choice. Gray is my best description, lots and lots of gray. During this time in my counseling I did a photo project of grays. My professor was amazed by the over 100 pictures I brought to discuss with him. He didn’t realize that the actual number was closer to 600 and I brought in only the ones that fit my criteria of gray without using black and white mode on my camera. The world around us does not care for gray. I searched for it to help me image and show to the outside world what my inside felt like.