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The Skills - Individuals

There are five skills to learn in order to know and meet your needs in relationships.

There are five skills to learn in order to know and meet your needs in relationships.

Listen to your different internal voices.

To understand yourself, you must be able to hear from all parts of you.

What can get in the way:

You have learned from others that some parts of you are unacceptable, so you automatically ignore them.

How I can help:

Automatic behaviours tend to happen fast without you noticing. I will point out where you tend to rush and slow you down.

Stay calm with what you hear.

A calm self allows you to properly observe what each part has to say.

Where you may slip up:

If you’ve ignored parts of you for very long, hearing what they say may overwhelm you.

How I can help:

I will teach you how to settle down and stay calm with the information you observe.

Be curious about what the message means.

You need to stay curious and open minded to accurately interpret the content you hear. This can include thoughts, emotions, and body sensations.

Where you may slip up:

You may jump to conclusions with your thoughts and foreclose on understanding it. For example, thinking “If I want attention, it can only mean I am weak and needy!”, whereas there could be many other reasonable explanations.

How I can help:

I will guide you to practice just noticing and naming your internal experience, without immediately making any conclusions.

Understand your internal experience.

To know what you value and need, you need to understand what your internal experience is telling you.

Where you may slip up:

You may not know how to make sense of your internal experience.

How I can help:

I will teach you the different ways to understand how you feel. I will also give my professional guesses so we can begin understanding your internal world.

Try asking what you need.

When you have some understanding of what your internal world is telling you, you need to figure out what you need based on this information.

Where you may slip up:

You may ask the question but not know how to listen for an answer.

How I can help:

I can guide you on making educated guesses on what you may need, building on top of your existing way of knowing. For example, “If a beloved friend feels the same way you do, what do you think they may need? What would be important to them?”

Act on your interpretation.

To find out if you’re right about what you need, we need to try it out. Trying something new is essential to breaking a stuck pattern.

Where you may slip up:

Trying different ways to meet your needs can be challenging because you may not know what to do, and get scared by the not-knowing.

How I can help:

I will guide to you to try doable experiments of giving yourself what you need. For example, you may need self-acceptance but can’t imagine making it happen. I may suggest instead of accepting yourself completely now, how can you increase self-acceptance by 5%?

Keep practicing this process.

All of these skills require practice. It is only with trial and error that you can increasingly know yourself.

Where you may slip up:

You may feel discouraged during some practice runs and want to give up.

How I can help:

I will guide you to stay calm with the feelings of disappointment, and hone the skill of understanding and learning from unsuccessful attempts.

Use the skills in your relationships.

Overtime as you gain the competence of knowing yourself, you may want to start exercising these skills in you relationships.

Where you may slip up:

Trying something out in a relationship can feel very high stake and scary that you revert back to old ways of being.

How I can help:

I will give you low-risk ways to practice relationship scenarios, such as role-playing in session. This deepens your understanding of yourself and the relationship, regardless of whether or not you decide to actually speak to the other party.

What you can expect from me:

My role is to practice with you.

The therapy is a space where you can try different ways of being with yourself and your relationships, and fumble, be confused, be scared, and have a kind and competent presence to guide you back to a grounded place.

Overtime, each practice/trial becomes an opportunity to understand more of what you need and value. And with each trial and error, you become more and more competent at meeting your needs, be it through yourself or others.

The above steps are based on the work of Emotion Focused Therapy by Dr. Sue Johnson, Parts Work by Dr. Janina Fisher, and Mindfulness approaches.

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