Emotional Stress Release Methods
(For past events. Brings all senses into play to amplify the distress to be released as much as possible)
Ask what the smells were, colours, sounds, what they looked like, etc. Bring as much realism to the situation as possible, being careful to take one step at a time to avoid overwhelm.
This method was created by Gerald Jampolsky and is a wonderful visualisation technique to create distance from the problem. Can be effective for both past and future stress.
Ask the person to imagine a large screen and they are sitting in the audience, in a theatre, in a big comfy chair. They have a remote control and can run the movie forward and distance themselves from the issue. They can also run the movie backwards or in black and white or in fast motion. They can also have an actor play their part in the drama. By replaying it over and over, it can take on a comical feel, and desensitise them to the emotional content.
Change the Ending
This is where we accept a fantasy to replace what really happened. Useful in cases involving guilt or regret - for example a bereaved client may use this opportunity to say goodbye as they would like to have done.
Make your own ending to the saga and run it through until it feels comfortable. This can be used in the movie theatre as well.
Worst Case Scenario
Often imagined fear is worse than reality. This technique is particularly useful for emotional stress related to upcoming or anticipated events and situations. It would not be appropriate for past events involving victimhood or trauma such as sexual abuse or physical attack.
Ask them to imagine the event, and then bring to mind the worst thing that could happen. Then ask them what could then go wrong. Follow this ‘worst case scenario’ to its conclusion in the client’s mind. Once this has been established, ask them to provide a solution to this situation.
Destroying the Fear
Identify the ‘fear’ in the situation and make it into a symbolic creature or thing. Identify with all the senses, weight, shape, colour, smell etc, and make it as real as possible. It is not useful to have the fear be another person, real or imagined.
Once clearly identified, have the client choose and visualise an appropriate way to dispose of the fear eg see it melt, burn, disappear over a cliff, sink, send it into space. Be sure nothing remains.
Use a Symbol
Can be used to complete the process and provide a mental reference point for the client
When the situation has been de-stressed, ask the person to choose a symbol, or imagine a flower, gem or something of significance to represent positive change. Perhaps discuss how they could incorporate this into daily life in some way.