Holding the space, I use this term “hold the space” in counseling with families, couples and teens. I see with teens that when they come to me for issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse anger, family discord etc., it is often hard to express how they feel or talk about these issues at home for a reason. I hear often times clients say they feel unsafe expressing something with their loved one or at home. They feel that it won’t be validated. They say they’re not allowed to discuss certain things for fear of a parent yelling and saying it is not allowed. You cannot own your own feelings.
I tell my clients that in counseling I want them to know that I’m holding the space for them to do their work. By this I’m saying I will not make it about me. I will not interpret your feelings as right or wrong. I will not have you caretake my feelings from my interpretation of what I hear you say. Space is created for the client to feel how they feel. To be able to interpret truly how they view and process what others say. Only then can a person truly fall into alignment with their true self.
For example: A father has a confrontation with a teenage daughter. She is upset because he will not allow her to go to the senior prom. From the teenagers point of view she’s confused, angry and resentful. She intuitively knows that she makes good decisions not because she’s told to but because she wants to. When she asks her father why, his responses are “because I said so, because you’re not mature enough”. She then may ask for him to give examples of how she has not shown maturity. At this point he’s unable to respond and lashes out saying “you’re a spoiled brat. You get to do everything you want to do. “You have no right to feel angry”. The message she is getting is that she does not have a right to feel her feelings. Her reality and experience is not real or valid. There is only one way to view the situation.
This above example is a perfect illustration showing that the issue has nothing to do with his daughter but all about the father and his fear of possibly losing “control” of his daughter or a fear of abandonment if his daughter leaves and goes off to college. He may have been called selfish when he was her age. He is unable process his experience and how it felt.
She’s unable to feel her own feelings. Unable to validate her own reality. She is told she has no rights to her feelings. This is a clear example of a family system incapable of holding space as individuals for each other. As each person strives towards self actualization they will achieve the desired results in an atmosphere capable of holding space.
Therapy is one place to open up and feel safe. This time in counseling is for you. Some therapists do not hold the space and that is unfortunate. It is important that you find a therapist near you that has done the work themselves and have gone through a transformation that is mental, spiritual and physical.